Tuesday 26 February 2013

Blog Tour: Sarah-Jane Lehoux - Women in Fantasy

I am part of Lehoux's Blog Tour and today she stops by to talk about women in fantasy. Welcome!

Years ago, when the first of the Lord of the Rings movie was being released, I joined an online forum to get info on the films (yes, I was a Tolkien geek back then), and I stumbled into an RPG thread. I thought it sounded fun and that it would be a good way for me to practice my writing. I was all set to create my Middle Earth avatar and join in, but then I read one of the RPG’s rules, which went something along the line of: If you are playing as a female, you are not allowed to be a warrior, and should be such things as a bar wench, farmer’s wife, etc. The reasoning was that women didn’t do stuff like fight.

And let’s face it: Tolkien’s world was pretty testosterone-based, so maybe this rule made sense to the thread’s moderators. But it pissed me off to no end. I loved the books just as much as any of the men on that forum. I wanted to create a character in that universe and have fun with it, just as much as any of the men were. But I was only allowed to join if I made my character become what they thought a woman should be in a fantasy realm: pretty much invisible or arm candy.
Thanks, but no thanks.

See, when I write, I like to bring as much of the real world into it as I possibly can. The fantasy aspect is a bonus, but it’s not the whole show. I like fully realized characters, and believe that even if they are only minor characters, they still need to be individuals, not just cut and paste copies of outdated gender role ideas. And since I base my fantasy world (The Sevy Series) on more than just a romanticized verison of medieval Europe, my female characters can be any damned thing they want to be.

Warrior? Sure. Assassin? No problem! Queen, priestess, healer, politician, pirate, scientist, philosopher…you name it, you got it. A simple Google search reveals that women have been all these things and more throughout the centuries, even if they aren’t often mentioned in history class.

And let’s not stop at profession. What about family structure? Sick of one man + one woman (ie his property) or one man + his harem? Me too. That’s why I love looking at different cultures, with different family structures. Guess what? The reality of humanity is that we are very versatile, and traditional fantasy has not even begun to explore all the possibilities that real life civilizations have.

See to me, that’s what fantasy is…possibility. It’s a tool I use to explore the human condition. So why on earth would I limit myself, my characters, and my world to such boring, played out stereotypes when I have thousands upon thousands of cultures, and millennia of history to draw inspiration from?

My female characters are not invisible. They are not arm candy. They are proud and strong because they are based on generations of proud and strong women.

In the end, I did not join that little Tolkien RPG thread. I joined another RPG thread, on another forum, and thanks to that, I created Sevy, my feisty orphan who grew up to be one bad-assed bitch. The main character of the eponymous series, Sevy was just the first of many female characters to fill my universe. Each one of them is different, as cookie cutters should be reserved for, you know, making cookies, not in helping making characters.

And now I want cookies. Thanks for that.  

thank you S-J!

Never trust a liar, especially when they’re telling the truth

Starting over isn’t easy, especially when the world isn’t ready for you to change. Sevy, thief turned assassin turned mercenary, isn’t having any fun adjusting to a normal, law-abiding life. Luckily for her, an old partner in crime arrives with an irresistible proposition: a getaway to a tropical island, an adventure of a lifetime, and an amazing friendship ready to blossom into an even more amazing romance.

Things are looking up for Sevy. That is, until a pack of maniacal fairies with a taste for human flesh arrive on the scene.

Now she must unravel a web of magical intrigue hidden behind the outwardly idyllic atmosphere of the islands of Belakarta. Nothing is as it seems, and no one can be trusted. Trapped under the spell of a handsome and mysterious stranger, Sevy must fight fairies and tricksters to regain her freedom.

Or spend an eternity as a sorcerer’s plaything. 


  1. What a great guest post! I love how Sevy came about. :)

  2. I fancy cookies too now...
    I hate it when women are only characterised by their relationship with men as well. As if it's not possible for them to be more than 'mother' or 'girlfriend' on their own. Great post - though I kinda want to thank the RPG post now as they helped to create Sevy! :-)

  3. Very interesting guestpost, thank you! I want my heroines to be feisty and self sufficient, and kick ass if necessary. For example: The Chronicles of Aurian by Maggy Furey :)

  4. A nice guestpost and you do deserve the most delish cookies there are available.

  5. Wow! That is disappointing to hear that. I know Tolkien didn't have very many female characters in his books at all, but don't rule out Arawyn and the Elf Queen. That is just shallow. I am glad that most authors don't subscribe to this shallow view. I like my heroines feisty and kick butt!

  6. Good for you! I love maverick ladies with attitude :) Your writing is refreshing.

  7. Thank you for the guest post Sarah-Jane :)
    *gives cookies*

  8. Well, I'm upset that you have now made me want cookies... but am so glad that the character isn't a cookie cutter version of arm candy! Love that! I also love the way the character came about. What a great post!

  9. LOVE IT! I would have been pissed off to if they told me I could only be a bar wench or farmer's wife. Um. No. Give me a kickass weapon and let me at the bad guys along with everyone else! I think I'll like Sevy:)

  10. Wonderful post. :D And glad to see women making their way in the fantasy world just like the real on in the years past. :) Thank you!

  11. Wow that LOTR rpg thread makes me so angry! Kudos to you for sticking to your guns and writing the kind of women you want to read about. Sevy sounds so cool! (And now I'm also craving cookies :D)

  12. Thank you, everyone! It's heartening to see so many readers who want to change things up. :)

    And thanka again to Blodeuedd for having me visit.

  13. Give me strong female characters anyday. The weak ones always annoy the heck out of me.

  14. wow, i can't believe that role playing rule! just wow.

  15. Fantastic post! I was a Tolkien geek at one point as well. That rule is just plain dumb.
    I like strong minded heroines too. The book sounds great!

  16. I love strong female characters, and loathe whiners. I did and still do love Tolkien. Great guest post!

  17. Masquerade sounds intriguing. I am very curious about it now that I read about it here. Great cover! Thanks for sharing.

  18. For me Robin Hobb is the quintessential woman fantasy writer...love her stuff!

  19. Thanks everyone for stopping by :)



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