Saturday, 4 December 2010

Spotlight on Urban Fantasy: Is UF just for women? - Guest post by Carolyn Crane + Giveaway

Today I have the great pleasure to cede the scene to one of the greatest author discoveries of 2010:

my illustrous guest is none other than the creative mastermind behind the Disillusionist trilogy, the fantastic Carolyn Crane!!

If you have read Mind Games (and Double Cross) you know exactly what I mean when I say this series is mindblowing: it is incredibly original, with unique UF ideas, interesting characters, sizzling chemistry (there are so many steamy choices for the heroine, you won't be able to make up your mind with which hero you would like Justine to end up with) and amazingly fresh, witty and sarcastic humour. (And if you haven't read Mind Games yet, what are you waiting for?! Put it on those Christmas wishlists because trust me, any die hard UF fan absolutely has to read this series!)

Mind Games (The Disillusionists Trilogy: Book 1)   Double Cross (The Disillusionists Trilogy: Book 2)

So please give a warm welcome to Carolyn and the extraordinary Disillusionist hit squad!

Roundtable: Is Urban Fantasy just for women, or is it for both men and women?

I sometimes see discussions on whether urban fantasy is primarily for women, or if it is for men and women alike. In fact, I have been asked that question, and I never know how to respond. It partly depends on the books. You have people like Jim Butcher or Anton Strout or Mario Acevedo writing male protagonists, and clearly they have a male and female following. But what about the books with female heroes? I know from emails I get that both women and men read my books, but it’s mostly women. Then again, I’ve heard 80% of all fiction is read by women. (I think this is a US statistic. It would be interesting to know what the figure in Europe is!)

Anyway, I thought I would put this question to the characters from the psychological hit squad, the disillusionists. It’s a characters round table!

Simon (disillusionist specialty: infuses people with recklessness)
Shelby (grim outlook)
Carter (freak out anger)
Jordan (the crazy therapist)
Moderator: Justine (the hypochondriac)

~Roundtable begins~

Justine: Okay, question, my friends. Is Urban fantasy just for women, or what?

Mind Games (The Disillusionists Trilogy: Book 1)Simon: I’m going to bet a million dollars that it’s equally for women and men.

Justine: Wait a minute, you always lose your bets, so that means you think it’s just for women.

Simon: Wanna bet?

Justine: *narrows eyes suspiciously*

Carter: What I’d like is for people to pay a little less attention to books, and more attention to NOT DRIVING LIKE IDIOTS!

Justine: But what about when they’re not driving? Do you think men and women alike enjoy urban fantasy? Some people say that men aren’t that interested in reading about female protagonists.

Carter: Who says that? I WILL BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF THEM! Just kidding. As long as there are fight scenes, I like female protagonists fine. But, I read voraciously, so my range is wider. Given a choice, I think most men will go for a male protag, if it’s, like their one series of the year. That’s just how it is. People go to the familiar.

Shelby: I will answer you, Justine. Is no such thing as happiness. Only grim prison walls of life. Books provide illusion of escape from that.

Justine: So you vote that urban fantasy is for men and women both.

Shelby: Yes. Both crave escape of urban fantasy. Yet, urban fantasy will make neither gender happy.

Justine: * Pops aspirin * Jordan, what do you think?

Jordan: I see a lot of talk out there about some urban fantasy having too much sex and relationship stuff in it. I think some people believe that if there is any graphic sex in it, then it is for women. Even porn for women. That’s something I’ve never understood. See, all people, of course, are totally screwed up. There are a few major ways people are screwed up—jobs, money, drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, relationships or sex. Those are the biggies.

Double Cross (The Disillusionists Trilogy: Book 2)Justine: So you say sex and relationships is a major craziness area.

Jordan: Yes. But for other people, it’s the one and only place they’re not crazy. Or, it’s a place where they overcome emotional obstacles. So, to cut out that whole part of a character’s life, to suggest that books should close the bedroom door, that means you cut out a whole chunk of the human experience, the flashpoint of growth for some characters, the demise for others, places where character is revealed in unique ways. I think it’s demeaning to suggest that men don’t want that fullness of character. Where did that even come from?

Justine: Interesting. *holds ice pack to head * So you’re suggesting if romantic entanglements of any kind advance character, the book is gender-neutral.

Jordan: All humans are obsessed with sex. Turn on the radio, 80% of the songs are about love. Are those songs just for women? No. In fact, half the people who are obsessed with their jobs, you scratch the surface, and it’s still all about sex.

Carter: I’m obsessed with sex, but I skip over the sex scenes in books. I think they’re boring. I think most men aren’t interested in long, detailed sex scenes, because it makes them feel like they’re reading romances. Short ones, fine.

Simon: I like to have sex in grungy alleys. I’m obsessed with public sex. That tends to be not long and detailed.

Justine: What about the female protagonist issue, Simon? A lot of urban fantasy has heroines instead of heroes. Do you think men have a harder time relating to books about heroines? Is it about going to the familiar, as Carter suggests?

Simon: I think that’s partly it. If you are a plumber, you might choose a mystery series about plumbers. But if that’s all you read, you miss a lot of great mysteries. For some men, there is baggage with female protagonists and that’s a cultural thing. Girls can play with trucks, but boys playing with dolls is still frowned on. Women can wear men’s clothes, but men who run around in women’s clothes get stares. Down on Malcolm Road, you get beat up for wearing women’s clothes. I should know. Wearing women’s clothes on Malcolm Road is one of my favorite hobbies.

Justine: I don’t think having a female protagonist is like, playing with dolls or wearing a dress. What about shows like Buffy? That had a female lead, but it was embraced by more men than women. And many men are into, for example, the Mercy Thompson series. Or Kate Daniels.

Simon: I think this is something that is changing incrementally.

Shelby: Nothing ever changes. Humans are not capable of evolving.

Justine: I think they are capable of evolving.

Simon: * Snort * that’s exactly why you’re in the situation you are in today.

Jordan: *Jordan laughs. *

Justine: *Justine scowls * Stella, thanks so much for having us here to discuss this! We love your blog, and this has been a really great chance to get out of decrepit Midcity and travel to beautiful Europe!

Thank you very much Justine, Simon, Jordan, Carter and Shelby (Packard was sorely missed.. lol), it was nice to have you over and if you ever feel like taking an instant getaway from Midcity, you are more than welcome to pop by, I could offer some yummy Belgian waffles (fruit beers) or original French créme brulée and champagne (or melted hot chocolate) :-) Of course this offer stands for you too Carolyn :-p

You can get in touch with Carolyn over at her official website, blog, Twitter or Facebook account.

Thank you Carolyn for discussing such an interesting and thought provoking topic. And you dear UF readers, what do you think? Is urban fantasy as a genre read mostly by women? Or maybe just certain authors? What are your thoughts on this subject?


For every meaningful comment you leave on any "Spotlight on Urban Fantasy" post (like this guest post of Carolyn and the disillusionist hit-squad) you'll get 1 entry into the UF Mystery Book Giveaway I'll reveal on Sunday ;-)

Giveaway is international and will end on December 12.

So keep those comments coming!

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