5/28/14

“Women's Fiction”

If you've visited my ever-changing About Me page or looked at the Amazon genres that hold my books, you might've noticed a little hard-to-define genre called women's fiction.

Even a Google search - "what is women's fiction" - turns up a long list of sites with loosely interconnected definitions.  Wikipedia sums it up pretty well, I think:

"Women centered books that focus on women's life experience that are marketed to female readers, and includes many mainstream novels."

As with anything that draws a divide between two groups, especially men and women, there are supporters and opponents of the phrase and distinction "women's" fiction.  As Wikipedia points out, there's no specific genre for "men's" fiction.

It's easy to see why many writers, me included, don't want to feel marginalized by this title.  Most of my main characters are women.  A lot of the issues I cover are generally known as women's issues - pregnancy, motherhood, being a victim of abuse or assault.  And I'd understand if many men didn't want to read my writing, but there's a big part of the women's fiction label that doesn't apply to me.

I don't write for women.  I write for people.  As a woman writer, I gladly accept responsibility for representing women and our lives as they are - the roles we play and the choices we face.  But as a human being, someone with empathy and a longstanding power of observation, it's always been my intent to translate all of life into the stories I make.  All of the grey areas, all of the struggles, all of the complexity, the beauty, and the madness.

At the same time, that's the angle to women's fiction that I wholly embrace, the sharing of women's lives by the women who live them or a life that's similar or know someone who has.  Women's fiction produces some of my favorite books - Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, One True Thing, The Bonesetter's Daughter, all of them converging at that precarious yet perfect place between career, partnership, family, past, present, and future.


I can't deny some of my work does the exact same thing.  XZA: A Novel follows Xan and Jessie through the maze of love, friendship, family, disaster, and finding balance between them all.

But I don't want my books to be labeled by their assumed or actual audience.  I want them to be defined by what they are and what they accomplish.


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