Category Archives: Women Authors In Science Fiction

Karen Carlisle Blog Tour!

1.         Who inspired the character of Aunt Enid? Is she based on a real person?
Aunt Enid is an amalgam of my own Great Aunt Enid and my grandmother. . I have fond memories of them; both were strong, independent women.  When I was at uni, I shared a granny flat with my grandmother. She wore trousers and rode a motorbike when she was young. I used to help my great aunt make lemon butter on her big, old, metal wood-burning stove with a multitude of doors (back in the 1970s). She lived in an old Queenslander house, with large hydrangea bushes at the bottom of the front stairs; one on each side.

2.         The Protectors are such a great concept. What inspired them?

I’ve had the idea for a fantasy series – called The Otherworlds – whirling around in my head for over thirty years. It will happen one day… I decided to write The Aunt Enid Mysteries as a ‘fantasy’ mystery on this side of the portal to that fantasy world – with the advantage of less world building.

Having hit the big five-oh a little while ago, I realised/was frustrated/annoyed/dismayed TK at the lack of older female protagonists, let alone ‘women of a certain age’. The hero/heroine in fantasy stories were usually the ‘chosen one’ fated to save the world (ie. protect it), so I thought: why can’t they be a group (usually three, isn’t it?) sworn to protect our world from the hordes of Darkness and magical creatures invading from the Otherworlds.

Hence, the ‘Protectors’: (Great) Aunt Enid and her friends. But, of course, they aren’t just little old ladies…

3.         Why is it important to you that you use Adelaide as a setting? (As I like to use Brisbane because I can research the settings personally.)

Adelaide is my adopted home, having moved here in 1988. It’s a city rich in history. I find out more interesting snippets with each round of research. Many don’t know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited here in 1920, for a lecture tour. We were the first state in Australia (and second place in the world) to give women the vote.

There are many stories set in England, or the US, but not nearly enough stories set in Australia. I wanted to add a local Adelaide flavour to my stories – and the research is easier. I love walking around the local area and finding historical places and stories. And the Adelaide Hills are a perfect setting for a cosy mystery.

4.         I enjoy the fact that Enid is ‘a feminist’ thinker in an era when it was a scandal to be an independent woman. Was that always your goal?

Yes, it was. I wanted to channel my great aunt Enid and my grandmother. Little old ladies (or not so old in A Fey Tale), aren’t always frail and withering.

5.         You have an excellent use of humour in this novel – do you find it hard or easy to write humour?

Yes, and no – and thank you!

Humour is subjective and is suited to everyone. I read to escape, as many of us have over the past couple of years. I read a lot of stories with whimsy and love Gail Carriger’s ‘etiquette of humour’. A bit of light-heartedness is always a good foil for darker, ‘Australian’ cosies.

I know other readers plan the humorous beats to their stories. I can’t force the humour. It feels stifled. I do look for potential ‘situational humour’ opportunities when I plan scenes. When a cheeky idea pops into my head, I let my imagination run with it to see if it will work. If not, I rewrite.

6.         How much research do you do for your historical references?

A lot.

I’m a research geek! I devour documentaries, often ending up with several ideas for stories. I usually am working on a few stories when in the research phase. I love speculating and twisting history. I’m always asking ‘what if?’. But you need to know something well to be able to play with it convincingly. I spend months (sometimes several) researching before I start work on a story.

I collect old books and facsimiles of books written at the time I’m researching. I have a couple of bookcases and several stacks of books, dedicated to history, especially sixteenth century Florence, and 19th century society in general. I also love Ancient Egypt. I’m fascinated by eras when science was emerging, and folklore was still ingrained in society. Science, art and legend create an interesting mix.

7.         How does writing these fantasies contrast to how you write your Steampunk novels?

My steampunk is set in an alternate ‘real’ world, so a lot of my world building is already done. I just need to work out how technology has changed and how this has affected society. In fantasy, there is a lot of world building: maps (I love maps!), climate, cultures, society, economy, history, etc – the reason why I’ve delayed writing my fantasy series. I haven’t got all the ducks in row, as it were. The Aunt Enid Mysteries is a ‘suburban’ fantasy (not quite an urban fantasy), set in the ‘real’ world with fantasy elements hidden all around us. We’re just not aware of it.

It’s much easier and quicker to build on existing worlds and not have to start from scratch.

8.         Who are your writing ‘heroes’? What do you read for fun?

There are so many. I’ll give you the short list:

Classics such as:

  • JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings  for world building and setting
  • Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh for mysteries/detective stories.
  • HG Wells, Mary Shelley, Jules Verne – for early science fiction

Then there’s:

  • Gail Carriger for whimsical steampunk, humour and voice.
  • Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams for quirky narrator (so jealous), humour and voice
  • Jim Butcher for fun, urban fantasy, and use of first person that doesn’t grate on me

And so many more, for many reasons; some have great ideas, some a wonderful writing style, and some for description.

9.         Where can people source this book and your backlog?

If you’re in Australia, you can buy original music and print books direct from my website shop (and get them signed) – www.karenjcarlisle.com/shop

With less events this year, I’ve got my first Victorian mystery series, The Adventures of Viola Stewart, on sale til new year (or while stocks last). https://karenjcarlisle.com/product-category/books/

eBooks and print books are also available at many online book shops. Check out Books2Read for listings. https://books2read.com/ap/nmAy7z/Karen-J-Carlisle

Book blog specials: A Fey Tale

And don’t forget Viola Stewart’s Christmas story, Tomorrow, When I Die (eBook only): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/742528

10.       Are there more Enid novels in the works?

Oh, yes, until I run out of ideas. They’re novels I write between others. The third book already has a dedicated ideas box, with a few scenes and lots of notes. It’s set back in current-day Adelaide, and will be next in line after the second book of The Department of Curiosities is finished.

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Blog Tour, Karen Carlisle, Magic, Women Authors In Science Fiction

Women Authors in Science Fiction

mary-shelley-1

Mary Shelley

That old, tired, perennial concept – that women don’t write or read Science Fiction  – has reared its ugly head again. I could add to this list Kate Wilhelm, Anne McCaffrey, Diana Wynne Jones, Jennifer Fallon, Elizabeth Scarborough, R. A. MacAvoy, Judith Tarr, dear goddess, a host of others, to the list below.

Just one of List of Women Writers of Science Fiction

 

Speaking of lists, I did a quick review of some ‘best of’ lists.

One third (33%) of Buzzfeed’s top 24 science fiction books of 2015 were authored by women.

In the Barnes and Noble list of the Best 24 Science Fiction and Fantasy books for 2015, fourteen women authors were represented on the list. That is 58% of the list.

The Guardian’s list of the Best Science Fiction Books for 2014 listed fourteen books, and six of the authors named were women (42%), with special mention being made of Anne Lecki.

Gizmodo’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy books of 2014 listed 22 books and eight women authors made their list. That is 36% of the list.

Overall, this means over forty percent of the top books of the last two years were authored by women. Women not only represent a large proportion of SF authors, they are also among the best known. We study them at school and university (as I well know), and not in Gender Study classes but in Literature classes. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Just about anything by Ursula Le Guin.

More than half of the readers for Science Fiction and Fantasy are women; mainly because more women read these days than men.

*rolls eyes*

I hope I don’t have to bring this up again!

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Filed under Feminism, Steampunk Feminist, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, Women Authors In Science Fiction