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Sarah Is a Busy Bee

So, I had a lovely time in America!

The Smart Chicks tour you have heard about: I also saw New York, Baltimore and Massachusetts, attended not one but two weddings and not one but two debates on zombies versus unicorns. (Naomi Novik of His Majesty's Dragon renown secured my support for team unicorn by feeding me cupcakes. I am easily bought: all you need is cupcakes.)

Here is a picture of me, Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman, taken by Maureen Johnson on our way to one wedding.

Right after this picture was taken we got into a van. The van door was beside me. It kept opening and closing, as if pulled by a magic hand. We could not get it to stop.

SARAH: Just drive, my fine driver!
DRIVER: drives
CAR DOOR: opens and closes, opens and closes
PASSING PEOPLE IN CARS: all stare
PASSING MOTORCYCLE: circles back to get another look
SARAH: waves. Like the Queen.
ROBIN: You know how you always say that you're cursed? I BELIEVE YOU NOW.

You would this moment have video footage of this event, except both Scott and Maureen were laughing so hard they both fouled up taking video with their phones.

The final thing I did on my trip away was attend Sirens, a convention in Denver about women and fantasy.

I was on two panels: one about fans and feminism, in which we discussed (among other things) how female creators get hated and male creators get loved. See people saying things like 'Joss Whedon is my master now' - I have never seen anyone talk about female creators like that. Women also get to create TV shows much less often, but a lovely member of the audience pointed out that Shonda Rhimes created Grey's Anatomy and is vocally hated by many fans of the show.

It is the same with writers: popular guy authors like Neil Gaiman? A lot of love. Popular lady authors like J.K. Rowling? Not so much.

In the end our only conclusion was that we must all try not to judge ladies, both real and fictional, more harshly than guys! But it was nice to all rant together.

The other panel was on YA fantasy, and is ably recapped here! Though I think I said what I wanted when I was younger was fiction on the corner of magic and deviance. (Not that I don't love a vampire. But I wish to be clear my heart is also open to demons and magicians and werebeasts of all kinds. Except the werepossum. Werepossums are out!)

I also very much enjoyed going to roundtables and discussing stuff loudly. Holly Black, Mallory Loehr (Tamora Pierce's editor, so a very fancy lady indeed) and I walked into a roundtable on sexuality in YA, and were all immediately outspoken about wanting to see diversity: there should be books for all teens, with all different experiences.

Also Malinda Lo, with Cindy Pon as her right-hand lady, ran an excellent roundtable on faeries and the fey.

During that roundtable and also the panel on YA, Malinda and I both got to talk a lot about gay characters in YA: how we're seeing more of them, and less of 'the only story is the coming-out story' but how it's very much a process, and how a lot of readers are still just not expecting gay characters at all.

In Malinda Lo's Ash, which I have previously recommended here, the Cinderella-ish heroine falls for the king's huntress rather than the prince, and readers write to her saying they were stunned when the two girls get together! I myself have received emails from people who were very surprised when Jamie turned out to be gay in The Demon's Covenant, which always makes me picture a couple scenes in The Demon's Lexicon with great amusement.

NICK: What are you looking at?
JAMIE: I was just thinking something.
NICK: What.
JAMIE: Well, speaking purely heterosexually, dude, you are smokin'.
NICK: I get that a lot.

But even though people are surprised, we see progress by seeing how people mostly accept it much more happily than they would have done in the past. My own sister was I think a little taken aback that Jamie was gay, but she likes him best and thinks that I made a Serious Mistake by not writing The Demon's Surrender from his point of view. Holly and I both got to talk about how great it was to see the massive outpouring of fan love for Alec and Magnus (a serious young demonhunter and a sparkly bisexual warlock), the gay couple in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.

So in conclusion: Sirens, it was lovely to meet so many great people and discuss the Things I Love Discussing in-depth! And here are some Sirens pictures.

I got back to Ireland on Tuesday. It's children's book month in Ireland, so I have library events every day this week and next, and this weekend I am attending Octocon, an Irish fantasy convention, on Saturday discussing Paranormal Romance Vs Urban Fantasy at 12, and Likeable Anti-Heroes at 2pm. On Sunday I will be doing a workshop on writing YA with Claire Hennessy.

Guess who else will be at Octocon? George R.R. Martin, of A Song of Ice and Fire fame. I think this means everyone will be staring at him in fascination, and I will be able to say all the scandalous things I can think of and not get in trouble...

I also have a book to finish, a book to edit, two short stories to edit, and I have to move house. (Alas, Cherry Bomb of my heart, goodbye forever.) And I must put up chapter one of The Demon's Surrender for all of you!

So in November... I may die. We shall SEE. Until my death, I'd love to talk about books, my curse, zombies versus unicorns, feminism or anything at all.

Comments

( 88 comments — Leave a comment )
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sabriel75
Oct. 14th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Whew! *takes deep breath*

You did a lot and I felt rushed reading this.

George R. R. Martin, gu-uh... say embarrassing things because you will post here and I can fangirl him vicariously through you.

Have a great day!
thegreatmissjj
Oct. 14th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
I happen to love Alec and Magnus, but I am a wee bit distressed at their (apparently huge!) age difference. But then again, mortal/immortal romances do tend to make me a little uncomfortable. (Yes, he may look like a young twentysomething, but he's actually 107! I have been told I look 16, but I would never date someone who is 16. That's nearly 10 years and a lifetime of experiential differences!)

ANYWAY, I do think it's progress that we are able to accept incidentally LGBT characters without much problem, although the blindness to queerness still attests to the overwhelming heternormativity of our current society. But I may not be one to talk--I tend to read many things with a queer bent and I may be in the minority. (For example, I tend to read a slightly Sapphic vibe into Mae and Sin's relationship.)

Too bad I missed you in NYC! Would have gone to the zombies vs. unicorns panel, but we were hosting two girls from France. :)
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Well, being immortal is different from being old, I think? And their age difference and differing life experiences does get taken on in the next series! But I admit, I never loved Magnus until Clockwork Angel, when I got to see him be younger and more vulnerable.

I think lots of us can read subtext into books, and that that can be problematic - reading subtext and never expecting text - as can the people who just Never See Gay People in their fiction. And I say that as someone who loves subtext, as it indicates people being complex, which I love. (You're not wrong to see a little extra about Mae and Sin's friendship: it's meant to reflect that experience of being a teenager, and having a friend who is so cool that you're not sure quite what you feel about them.) But subtext is not representation, which we all need.

Heh, I was being very boring in the audience, but Maureen Johnson's Sarah Palin, Zombie Supporter impression was a truly epic moment, so you did miss out!
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dawtheminstrel
Oct. 14th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
Someone read Demon's Lexicon and didn't notice that Jamie was gay? Seriously? That's a great set of blinders. Like in life, I guess.
sgt_majorette
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Proves once and for all that gaiety is no threat to Our Way of Life. Because if people didn't even notice that Jamie entered flaming...
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sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
I liked it! I did not get the chance to chat with all the people I wished to (I would have loved to talk more with Sherwood Smith) but I felt it was a chatty atmosphere.
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(no subject) - sarahtales - Oct. 14th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rachelmanija - Oct. 14th, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
mein_profil
Oct. 14th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Well, speaking purely heterosexually, Girl, you are smokin' in that red dress! Just sayin'.;-)

It's true that female writer's are more often the target of hate attacks. I have the feeling many people (unconsciously?) consider it legitimate to attack a woman but not a man - even if I have no idea why. I remember how some fans got positively RABID when Marti Noxon became executive producer of Buffy and they didn't like the new theme of the show. Like lunatics! I always thought they wouldn't have been just as aggressive had it been one of the male writers of the show.

Oh, and: Please don't die? At least not so soon?

sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And yes, Marti Noxon was brought up at the panel. Nobody says 'Marti Noxon is my mistress now' and I agree with you completely that the attitude would have been less virulent if it had been one of the male writers.
(no subject) - mein_profil - Oct. 14th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
elucreh
Oct. 14th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
I can't decide whether or not it would help you to know that you are very, very high on my list of Celebrities I Would Totally Make Out With, but in the spirit of female creator love: you are! You and Greta Salpeter/Morgan and Alyson Hannigan, who is an actress rather than a writer but hey. Also I hate Eric Kripke with a passion and wish he and his misogynism would die in a fire, so there is a little equality for you?
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
I do not think I count as a celebrity, but thank you. ;) Especially as Alyson Hannigan is a most attractive lady!
(no subject) - kermit_thefrog - Oct. 14th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
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shiraz_wine
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Your post made me realize another disparity: the lack of female equivalents to "buddy movies" and "bromances". When's the last time you saw/read something that featured two main female characters that go on an adventure together? The only thing that comes to my mind is Thelma and Louise, which didn't exactly end well.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Sarah Connor Chronicles for TV shows? And Mercedes Lackey's Vows and Honors series is about two ladies who go adventurin'. But there should be more!
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book_huntress
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
One important thing I must know, because it is my favorite holiday.. What are your Halloween plans this year? And is Halloween as big a deal in Ireland as it is in America?
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure yet, due to possibly having to move house that day. I may also have an event. And a True Blood party has been discussed. But I think it is a bigger deal in America. You guys know how to be fancy!
radioactivepiss
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
I am desperately trying to work out how somebody did not see that Jamie was gay. I cannot get over this! How? But then I remember not everyone is like me and desperately searching for it, I guess. But even so. Does not compute.
alaerien
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
In a wild moment I nearly bought a last-minute flight to Dublin so I could see you and GRRM at Octocon, but decided to be a responsible student and save money. Now I have a sad. :(
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
George R.R. Martin is pretty fancy! But I am not really fancy, and I will probably be visible elsewhere other times, chattering away, as is my way. ;)
(no subject) - alaerien - Oct. 14th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
CityofAlec
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
just a little question...umm... a while ago, you tweeted some excerpts. Phases, to be exact, about what all the characters say in DS and i was just wandering if there will be a more of Jamie/Seb issues?
cause' i really liked it but i'm since it is from Sin's POV...well... she kinda hates magicians...so i don't see how we would see much about Jamie

Love U :)
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :) I admit we don't see much of Jamie at first, since as you say he is off being magiciany, but later Sin's life intersects with the magicians dramatically, and Jamie plays an important part! It was fun to write Jamie from the POV of someone who is scared of him. Plus Seb has some things to do early on... and later on as well. ;)

To make a long story short, I promise more of Jamie and of Seb and their issues! And I promise to put up some excerpts of Surrender with Jamie and Seb in them soon.

Edited at 2010-10-14 04:41 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - CityofAlec - Oct. 14th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
myr_soleil
Oct. 14th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
I just want to say that I love you and your blog updates and I can't wait for the first chapter of Surrender. And the cover(s)! Time, it is slow (for me, I suppose not for you).
hypatia_eidos
Oct. 14th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to throw out there that I love your comments on how we seem to be, collectively, so very down on female creators. (Not that every fan is, but that fandom as a culture is.) If you ever wanted to, say, do an entire breakdown of this (since you surely have ever so much free time on top of writing, touring to promote your books, and being your own person) it would make me happy. I've never seen this addressed before, and when you raised the point at Sirens I was pretty much blown away realizing 'OMG she's right' and it sounds like you've been having these thoughts for a while, because you were very clear and direct.

Ahem. This wasn't meant to be a begging comment, it was supposed to be a gratitude comment. So: Thank you for raising this really quite important point. It was very interesting.
hypatia_eidos
Oct. 14th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
I love your comments on how we seem to be, collectively, so very down on female creators. (Not that every fan is, but that fandom as a culture is.) If you ever wanted to, say, do an entire breakdown of this (since you surely have ever so much free time on top of writing, touring to promote your books, and being your own person) it would make me happy. Because: I've never seen this addressed before. Also because when you raised the point at Sirens I was blown away realizing 'OMG she's right', and would very much like to hear more. Also because it sounds like you've been having these thoughts for a while, since you were very clear and direct.

Ahem. This wasn't meant to be a begging comment, it was supposed to be a gratitude comment. So: Thank you for raising this really important point. It was very interesting.
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
See, I'm not sure I can, because so much of my realisation was waking up and thinking 'Why do I feel so hated and beaten upon - why do I feel as if people have been saying I've been doing the wrong thing for years and years?' And that way leads to a pity party really fast, and I don't think anyone's interested in me going 'Mummy, people are so meeeean to me.'

And the personal stuff also means I can't be objective in the slightest, and I don't want to condemn fans! Because I love fans. Fans of mine, especially, but also fans of Georgette Heyer, Diana Wynne Jones, the Vampire Diaries. Fans of all kinds. I love people who get excited about fictional things. And I don't want to go too far because of my hurt feelings. ;)

I don't think I'm brave enough to be as clear and direct as I was at Sirens, even - I felt guilty after the panel, and yet a friend told me she was surprised how much stuff I'd held back.

So, I agree with you I'd love to see a breakdown of it! But I feel I am not the person to do it. *looks speculatively around at others*
(no subject) - hypatia_eidos - Oct. 14th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
ashkitty
Oct. 14th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
...I may have to listen to things you say instead of stare at GRRM. Because otherwise I may shout things at him, and get into trouble, and get deported or something. (Not that I don't love ASOIAF. But have some major gripes with it. And also want to yell things like 'IF YOU DON'T WANT FANFIC, FINISH YOUR OWN DAMN BOOK.' ;)

At least I'm going with the doppelganger, so if I get into trouble, I can say it was actually her!
aome
Oct. 14th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
Having just finished His Majesty's Dragon a few days ago, can I just say how jealous I am that you met Naomi Novik??

Welcome back home!
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
Every fantasy book but mine, she says, weeping dramatically! But yes, the books are fabulous, and so is she. And thanks!
kermit_thefrog
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Sad that you are leaving the Cherry Bomb! I hope you have/find an equally nice new place to move into.

I WISH there was video evidence of the Ghostly Opening/Closing Door! It would be a viral hit on Youtube, I'm sure.

I don't think of myself as someone who cares one way or the other if the author I'm reading is male or female. I usually pay attention to how they portray men and women, and judge them a little more on that. I never thought about how people worship Joss Whedon, but are less enthusiastic about women directors. (Also, see Kathryn Bigelow and all the rubbish people said about how she didn't deserve a Best Director Oscar because she was a wimmens!)

Have a lovely rest of October, and best of luck to you in November! I hope you survive!
beth_shulman
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Your Ladies, Please essay is my official tract on women in literature. I should read it again :) GENIUS.
rockinlibrarian
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
Oh! Oh! I hope that some day you can share your thoughts on likeable anti-heroes here where people who cannot bump on over to Ireland can see them! It just so happens that I've been kind of obsessing on the concept of likeable anti-heroes this week and wondering if I can write one myself, since that might be fun. I would love to hear your thoughts, or at least hear how the discussion goes!
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC)
I am kind of surprised to be on it, since I don't seem to have the knack of making my anti-heroes likable! I have seen many a person not able to put up with my Nick while they like other anti-heroes. ;)

I actually speculate this is because as a culture we are prone to forgive people who do terrible things but who have a romantic focus: there's a reason tall, dark and Byronic is seen as romantical. Since Nick isn't romance-focused, he's much less forgivable.

Heh, some Thoughts for you ahead of time!
(no subject) - rockinlibrarian - Oct. 14th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
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madhatterpan
Oct. 14th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, but I love my female writers. I want to give them all hugs and chocolate while I lovingly clutch their books.

At the WriteOnCon forum, a grand debate took place about gay main characters. And the whole business of the coming out story, and how, while it is very true that this important and heartbreaking, it is awesome when that isn't the central plot.

The Nick and Jamie exchange had me clamping my mouth shut as I struggled not to laugh in the middle of this office-y place.

I think you could make your sister happy if you did a delicious cookie from Jamie's POV. Solely to win back your sister's affection, of course. (Your sister who possesses excellent taste when it comes to favorite characters.)
amanuensis1
Oct. 14th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
On fans and feminism: hm, how about female songwriters? I've seen tons of female songwriter worship among men and women both.

*inhales slowly* Have you revealed to us the narrator of The Demon's Surrender? Did I miss it? Is it--no, I can't even ask, since if it isn't that character you'll have to disappoint me with your answer and while I will survive the disappointment I WILL NOT MAKE YOU DO THAT, that would be cruel of me. But you can tell me without my specifying in the question and then it will not be cruel of me, yes, please! :D
sarahtales
Oct. 14th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Admittedly, I do not know much about music fandoms, but more women songwriters than men?

I have revealed the narrator of Surrender quite a few times, but I am happy to do so again. ;) It's Sin.

Out of curiosity, who did you want it to be?
(no subject) - amanuensis1 - Oct. 14th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
kilerkki
Oct. 14th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
I have been thinking about this recently, and checking my bookshelves, and it turns out that the majority of the books on my shelves are by women. Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, Lois McMaster Bujold, Naomi Novik, Rosemary Sutcliff, you... (The list continues for quite a while.) I do not buy many books, as I am a poor student and cling to my library card like a lifeline, but I am pleased to find that when I buy books a significant majority of them tend to be by female authors. Lois McMaster Bujold and CJ Cherryh are just about the only science fiction I can read, for example.

I tend to think this is because female writers in speculative fiction tend to focus on the character-development side of things rather than the implausible-adventure or over-the-top-worldbuilding side of things. One of the reasons I eventually gave up on Robert Jordan was because his characters are all so damn annoying, especially the women. I stopped reading Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series because I felt that character development took a backseat to "Look at the shiny magic!" (This feeling was vindicated when I heard him express his theory of minor characters, which was basically "Give them two props and one label, like Ham the Soldier Wearing a Vest [and something else I forget] and mention them every single time and that's how you do a minor character.) And I never managed to break into David Weber's Honor Harrington series because I prefer to know more about the character than about the spaceship, thanks very much.

Of course this is not to say that men cannot write good character-centric stories (Patrick Rothfuss is doing a pretty good job of it--although I think the female characters are one of the real weaknesses in The Name of the Wind). And it is certainly not to say that women do not write good plot-centric stories! But I find that female writers are able to combine character and plot better--or in a way I like better--than many male writers. Of course, maybe that's because I'm a female writer myself. :)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kilerkki - Oct. 15th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
serena_mcmurray
Oct. 14th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
I dislike how often gay characters are used as a sparkily plot interferance. That are just around to make sassy one liners.
It just frustrates me that you hardly see the societal impact on gays, especially the guys. Statistically they have the highest bullying and sucide rates of all teenagers. So with all these angst filled YA books (not saying all here, but a definate patten is starting to emerge) youd think more would reflect on these stats.

Its why I like Holly Blacks Corny, and your Seb. I love, love, love the contrast between, Seb and Jamie reflecting on the difference between having a support network (aka a very cool protective older sister)and being left to defend yourself.
You sort of want to give Seb, a hug, than smack him over the head for doing such silly things.
I also loved Ashling, because it was very much a 'wow this person is amazing, and beautiful and my one true love who also happens to be a girl.'
blamebrampton
Oct. 14th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
People thought Jamie was straight in the first book? I wasn't even wearing slash goggles and he clearly was not. In fact, this is the first time I've considered whether or not he could have been, and I have no time for a reread. Damn you, Rees Brennan, I'll have to try to remember things!
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