As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I'm in the middle of a high fantasy kick. I recently started reading The Hobbit to my two little brothers, who love it (despite my horrible attempts at dwarf-singing), and we're also about halfway through watching the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien has been one of my favorite high fantasy writers since I was little, and remains so today. But one thing's struck me this time through both the movies and the books--the almost total absence of fleshed out, interesting female characters. In The Hobbit, the adventuring tendencies of Bilbo's mother Belladonna Took are hinted at, but of course after she marries the perfectly respectable (read: boring) Mr. Baggins, she becomes perfectly respectable herself. In The Lord of the Rings, we are introduced to elves Arwen and Galadriel, and warrior-princess Eowyn--all of whom are pretty awesome, but are still greatly outnumbered and out-pagetimed by their male counterparts. Other favorite fantasies of mine--such as Eragon by Christopher Paolini, and the guilty-pleasure-pretty-damn-campy-awful Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan face the same problem.
It's only been in recent years that I've discovered authors like Cindy Pon, Melina Marchetta, Malinda Lo, Tamora Pierce, and Kristin Cashore that I've found female characters I can truly relate to, that are every bit as interesting and important as their male counterparts, and that capture the complexity of gender in our own world as well as in their fantasy realms. This is how we create the female geeks, nerds, and fantasy lovers of tomorrow--by showing them that they, too, are valued and represented members of the community.
And that, dear readers, is why I'm so excited for Bitterblue. Who else is counting down till May 1st?