Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guest Blog with Leslie D. Soule - Women in Fantasy

Hey there, everyone! Thanks for joining me today.

Today I’m going to be discussing the roles of women in fantasy novels. Well, I had the pleasure of attending last year’s RT Booklover’s Convention in Los Angeles, where one of the panel discussions I listened to was on this very topic. I saved my notes from this panel discussion, knowing they would come in handy (as they are proving to at this very moment!)

One of the things that was discussed is how women have become more accepted as characters in the fantasy genre and action/adventure genre books, which traditionally featured male characters. A social demand grew for strong female characters – characters who weren’t afraid to get out there and fight alongside men. It is socially acceptable to have a woman character who is a fighter, and it is gratifying to women to read these stories, that show strong women who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in.

This change in female roles in fiction may be the result of social changes in history that determine women’s social role. In this way, art imitates life. However, a novel can also be said to be an image of what is possible, and in this way can serve as an example for further social progress to be built upon. Since literature is so powerful, it should be examined for how it instructs or creates an example.

Personally, I question the purpose of characters like Bella in the Twilight books. Although she seems to know what she wants in life and isn’t afraid to go after it at all costs, which seem like admirable qualities, all she wants for herself is to be in a relationship and to have a child. She has no further aspirations for herself. She is willing to be “dead” to the world, so that she can have the man of her dreams, a guy she would throw herself off a cliff for, crash a motorcycle to see, and repeatedly put herself in harm’s way for. To me, Bella seems like the anti- strong woman. So I wonder whether throngs of Twilight fans are going to grow up using Bella as an example, throwing themselves after a guy at all costs, even of life and limb.

It will be interesting to see how social discourse and literature play off of each other and how women will be portrayed in future fantasy novels.

Well, thanks for joining me today. If you’d like to be entered to win a Barnes & Noble gift card, please leave a comment, along with your name and e-mail address.


Leslie Soule lives in Sacramento, California. Fallenwood is her first fantasy novel. She has received her B.A. in English from Sacramento State University and is currently working on her Master’s degree in
English at National University.




Fallenwood—a land where magic is the life force, dragons are sages, and wizards good and evil battle for supremacy. When 23-year-old Ash is thrust into the middle of Fallenwood’s power struggles, she is also forced to face her own inner battles. Life on Earth was hard enough on Ash, who is locked in grief for her stepfather. Now, the fate of Fallenwood rests on her shoulders. She must destroy the Great Crystal—the catalyst for all the land’s magic. As the kingdoms prepare for war, Ash must look inside to find the power to save the world, and herself.



The dragon’s eyes glowed, for a flickering moment, with white light.

“Ash,” the dragon continued, “Welcome to Terra Illumina…or as it is more commonly known,
Fallenwood.” Then a fierce roaring laugh erupted from the stone, as though the dragon thought the new
name a joke. “A dark, difficult, dangerous path lies before you, Ash Kensington.”

Ash’s heart grew heavy. In truth, she knew that she was destined to some terrible, dark fate. For so long, her life was filled with sadness and doubt, and one horrible thing after another. What else can I hope for?

“But Ash, you must not lose hope. Our world needs you..."


Thanks for joining us today, Leslie!

And readers, don't forget that Leslie will be giving away a $25 Barnes and Noble GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more you comment on the tour stops, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Leslie today.

Talli Roland said...

Wow, what an interesting post! Thank you, Leslie!

MomJane said...

I think most women are stronger than even they think.

Tonja said...

I think young women are smart enough to know Bella is a weak character. It's kind of a twisted Disney story line, which might be what gives its appeal. I do look forward to amazingly strong female characters in new literature. Great post.

Angela Brown said...

I can certainly see what you mean regarding the Bella character. It's part of the reason so many "We hate Bella" teams cropped up alongside the throngs of Team Edward and Team Jacob loyals.

Sarah McCabe said...

I suppose I'm in the minority, but I'm actually more worried by the new breed of female "kick butt" characters having a negative effect on my gender. I think they give the false impression that women need to be strong in the same way that men are strong. They reinforce the false idea that men and women should be equal in the sense that they should be the same. I can think of little that is more dangerous to the modern woman than that.

Karen H in NC said...

I knew there was a reason I didn't finish watching the first Twilight film. Couldn't stand Bella! Unfortunately since the films are geared to the teens, she is a poor example of what a woman can, and should, be.

Thanks for an interesting discussion today.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She has a point about Bella!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great, thought-provoking comments, everyone! I will be away from the computer for most of the day, due to work, but I look forward to coming home and reading your comments when I get back later tonight!

Also, thanks for hosting me here today, Nicole Zoltack!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Leslie, on your book!

I think it is great that there are more strong female characters in novels.

I do agree that Bella seems like the anti-strong woman. I wonder not only what kind of message it sends to girls but also to boys who think they want that type of girl.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cherie!

And thanks for participating today, everyone!
If you'd like to check out the next stop on the tour, it's tomorrow at We Fancy Books