Sarah Rees Brennan has a new post up about her experiences (some of them heart-breaking) as a now-published author who used to write fanfiction. It’s well worth a read, especially for the way it highlights the role that gender may play in these issues.
What this post made me think about is the…
I love superheroes.
I grew up watching Wonder Woman, my sister and I spinning around in the family room in our Underoos and pretending to fight bad guys. I watched Super Friends, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, He-Man, Jem and the Holograms, and later Batman and Superman. The Spider-Man segments on Electric Company were my favorite part. Our family loved the Superman movies (all but 4, of course) and yes, even the Supergirl movie. I didn’t know it was terrible. It was Supergirl!
And I was a voracious reader. But I never came across a superhero book.
My husband grew up reading superhero comic books. I didn’t have access to comic books growing up. They were a “boy thing.” But I’m certain I would have loved them. I began to read them as an adult—Wonder Woman, X-Men, Justice League, Invincible, Runaways. Dean and I saw all the superhero movies in the theater and walked away feeling as though we could vanquish all the bad guys ourselves!
I was still a voracious reader, but still never came across a superhero book. Why are superhero stories so fundamental to movies, cartoons, and comics but mostly skip novels altogether?
I wanted to write that book. The one that I would have loved when I was younger. The one I would gobble up now.
The superhero genre is a subset of science fiction. Growing up, our library coded books by genre with a sticker on the spine. The fantasy books had a unicorn, the scifi had a Saturn. I went straight for the unicorns. The Saturns, I understood, were for the boys, not for me. Not until adulthood did I question this. Why is science fiction only for boys? And science too, for that matter?
So, yeah, I definitely wanted to write science fiction. As a girl. Starring a girl. Superhero YA scifi, something I hadn’t seen before but to my mind so logically needed to exist.
As a writer, what excites me is crossing genres. A western-fairytale-graphic-novel. A literary-princess-story. An Austen-romantic-comedy-murder-mystery. With this book, I wanted to take the realism and depth allowed in novels + superhero adventure story + young adult. Could I pull it off? And would people accept a popcorn movie/Saturday morning cartoon type story in a realistic medium?
Smart People told me that it wouldn’t work, and for many reasons.
1. The only kinds of science fiction you can do in young adult books are dystopian and steam punk. You can’t do YA scifi in a contemporary setting (which is what the superhero genre typically is).
2. Girls don’t read science fiction, and boys won’t read about girls, so there’s no audience for this book.
3. Superhero stories are the domain of Saturday morning cartoons (targeted at boys) and Hollywood action movies (targeted at men). You can’t do it for a teen audience, and certainly not a female teen audience.
4. The superhero story has passed over into the overdone realm. In novel form, you can only parody it, not take it seriously.
But I have this problem. When people tell me I can’t do something, I want to do it all the more. It took me time to get it right, no question. The book creation spanned a decade.
2003 I knew I wanted to write a YA scifi superhero story and began to invent it.
2004 I first named a character Daisy Danger Brown (changed her name to Maisie several years later).
2005 I sold a synopsis and outline of the book to my publisher, Bloomsbury.
2009 I finished a first draft.
2013 I finished a final draft.
Maybe in 2003 we weren’t reading for a superhero-female-MC-contemporary-scifi-YA-novel. Hopefully by 2014 we are. At least, I am ready for Maisie Danger Brown. If I had Maisie Brown Underoos, I’d put them on right now and spin around in the living room.
Wren: I have a new friend at school.
Papa: Oh yeah? What’s your friend’s name?
Wren looks at Papa, puts a finger to her lips, and says, “Shh.”
She starts to walk away, turns back and whispers, “There is no Jewel-bat.”
All writers and aspiring writers out there, put March 22, 2014 on your calendar! I have tried hard to really up the quality this year at WFC and I hope that our audience will respond. We have special guests Maryrose Wood of The Incorrigibles. Also Joe Monti, executive editor of Simon and…
Wanting to wish my fellow Austenland fans (all 740 of you!) a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Tomorrow (Feb 11) Austenland releases on DVD & Blu-Ray! And it’s already available for digital download from iTunes and Amazon. To celebrate, on Friday authors and bloggers and book fiends across the country held Jane’s Night In parties. Here are a few photos from my party and others, and check my twitter feed for posts.
My friend put framed #Austenland photos out. She found one with me in the background!
Ally Carter and Jennifery Lynn Barnes served high tea for their party. Check out the spread!
Tea service ready! My friend did this. I swear I don’t decorate with my own books.
Becca Fitzpatrick’s party was comfy cozy pajama style. These ladies are ready to watch the flick.
We had a special guest at our party. (not me)
Decor musts: Jane Austen, JJ Feild, and taxidermy birds.
Keeping our pinkies up.
Thats-normal.com is ready for their movie party.
Several bloggers held a google hangout with Stephenie Meyer about the movie. Tiff from Thats-normal.com took a selfie with her.
Director Jerusha Hess with Erica Elmer at their fancy dress-up party!
And they had gentlemen callers
At Margaret Stohl’s and Melissa de la Cruz’s party in LA.
(check out the Austenland pinterest page to download these cute Austenland bingo cards plus other party ideas)
Mundie Moms LOVE this movie! You guys have to pick it up on Tuesday! It’s HILARIOUS!
Thank you so much to everyone who hosted and attended the parties and everyone who is helping get the word out about the video release. Check my twitter feed for chanced to win a DVD this week, and enjoy the movie. Tallyho!
Here’s my book tour and events schedule for DANGEROUS (March 4), with a little EVER AFTER HIGH: The Unfairest of Them (March 25) All mixed in.
Tuesday, March 4
Wednesday, March 5
South Hadley, MA
Thursday, March 6
Buttonwood Books and Toys
Friday, March 7
Tuesday, March 11
8030 South 1825 West
Viridian Events Center
West Jordan, Utah
(hosted by King’s English Bookshop)
Monday, March 17
Tuesday, March 18
Schuler Books & Music
Wednesday, March 19
North Shore Library
(book sales by Boswell Book Company)
Thursday, March 20
St. Paul, MN
Red Balloon Bookshop
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Writing for Charity annual writing conference
Tuesday, March 25
EVER AFTER HIGH: The Unfairest of Them All hits bookshelves!
Launch event at Changing Hands
Saturday, March 29
Event for Ever After High 2
The King’s English
Salt Lake City, UT
Texas Library Association annual conference
San Antonio, TX
Saturday, April 26
Houston Teen Book Con
International Reading Association annual conference
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
American Library Association annual conference
Los Vegas, NV