As Jenny and I research marketing analyses of urban fantasy, we’re finding it hard to really pinpoint how to do this proper-like. One of the suggestions from our friend Don was to check out other urban fantasy novels on the best seller lists, which we did. Where, yes, it seems that the majority of the authors in the genre tend to be women, these are also in the “romance” category.
The manuscript is not romance. It’s action adventure urban fantasy which happens to be written by two women, one of them (myself) whom was, at age thirteen, given a belt-full of tools and told “go break down the Stickshift Beetle” because she had stayed up half the night drinking coffee and playing Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis (blood code activated), and had too much energy to stay in the house. The last time I wore a dress was my wedding, and only because my husband did this little “may I please see you in a dress, just once?” bit. (I was going to do a tux originally.) I might have worn a skirt to my grandfather’s funeral–I don’t remember that much, I was distracted by my three-week-old
clone niece crowd-surfing the relatives, and my sister looking up occasionally, asking, “Is that a cousin? Okay, she’s good.” (That and my grandmother mortifying my mother by telling my friend Dave “Now that I’m free, I’ll need your number.,” but I digress.)
Back to the manuscript. Or rather, the gender genre gap. Granted, there are some really great female authors in the genre. (And then there are the disappointments in which, yes, really great writing, but then fridge logic strikes and one realises, “Good Primus on Gallifrey, she ripped off Sailor Moon!” or, my most recent, “BATTLE ROYAL!!! PRIMUSDAMMIT TO SKARO SHE RIPPED OFF BATTLE ROYAL!!!” [Da Boss witnessed that one.])
Right now I’m reading The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind. And before that, A Kiss Before The Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski. Before that, Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock, but that’s my guilty pleasure. (I read pulp sci-fi. I love pulp sci-fi. I’m reluctant to see John Carter because I have fond, dated memories of my childhood reading A Princess of Mars. I have a hard time with movie adaptions anyway. Except for A Clockwork Orange. But that’s probably because I love Malcolm McDowell. And if I start singing “Singing in the Rain”, be forewarned: I just did something really, really evil. Usually in a literary sense. Like kill off a supporting character, torture a lead character, or blatantly trying to make it through one of the Twilight movies. I made it through the scene where Bella arrives at the Cullens, by imagining Alex and his droogs bursting in and starting the ultraviolence — real horrorshow. By the baseball scene, I was missing half-a-bottle of Crown Royal and I think Clark Nova from Naked Lunch walked across the diamond a la Bigfoot footage. Again, digression.)
I think the last series I read where the author, female, had really captivated me was The Living Ship Trilogy by Robin Hobbs. High fantasy, yes, but it felt as though she had done her research on sailing and sea battles during the 15th and 16th centuries Europe. Yes, there was romance, but it was all second to the primary plot of an heir trying to find a place in the world, with the love of sailing and a taste of battle.
I think the closest I’ve found to my own writing taste is Karen Traviss’s City of Pearl. At least judging by the MINERVA library system, she’s better known Stateside for her Halo and Star Wars novels. Here’s a lady after my own heart: her books are militant in nature, with a root in scientific realism for science-fiction, and quite a bit of human behaviour woven it, be it love, revenge, or justice. Although I haven’t read her franchise-based works (I pretty much stick with Han Shot Period, and I don’t have an XBox to play Halo), I devoured City of Pearl in no time flat. But she’s not urban fantasy.
Well, back to the research board.