I’ve always been a reader, devouring anything and everything I could get my hands on. If my mom couldn’t find me, odds were, I had my nose in a book. For most of my life I’ve read books written by women with female protagonists, both by conscious choice and just being drawn to it naturally. I read about Meg and Jo, started my own baby-sitter’s club, and tried to make my own butter like Laura and Mary.
Along the way I discovered Fantasy and SciFi. I vividly remember reading Susan Fletcheer’s Dragon’s Milk, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, and Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons in Junior High, which led into the Menolly books, then all Anne McCaffrey’s books. Then I found Elizabeth Moon, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Mercedes Lackey and others. (I have to admit, I didn’t discover Tamora Pierce until college.) I spent a lot of time in both the school library and my favorite indie bookstore.
By sophomore year of high school, I was only reading Fantasy and Sci-Fi (which is a story in itself). Where I read a few male authors, like Piers Anthony, (Michael Swanwick’s The Iron Dragon’s Daughter was a huge influence) mostly I sought out book by women, with female leads. I chose the books I did because as a teen and a college student books by women about really awesome women and girls called to me.
These stories taught me that smart, strong women were awesome in a time where I was being told the power was in the pretty. They also showed me that I could do whatever I wanted, even when people said I couldn’t. Especially when people said I couldn’t. That even if I didn’t have psychic powers or a spaceship or a dragon, that I had my own magic inside me. I was mistress of my own fate. As an impressionable young woman, I really needed that.
Naturally, the first stories I wrote when I seriously started writing were high fantasies about sassy women with swords and space tales about more sassy women who chased space pirates.
Never, once, in all those years of reading did I choose a book by a women because it was easy. Never did I ever think a book written by a women was lesser. In fact, they were more awesome than books by men and I went to great lengths to find new female authors.
Even now, I still read mostly female authors, from a variety of genres. They inspire me. They are my people. They are why I write what I do. They helped me become who I am.
These books helped through times that were good and times that were not so good. Without the magnificent worlds these who knows where I might be. Probably not getting ready for my second book to come out in two months.
Women writers, write on, no matter what you write. You’re doing a very important thing–inspiring the women of tomorrow.
Suzanne Lazear is the author if the YA fairytale steampunk series the Aether Chronicles. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now. CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. She builds fairy houses and makes rayguns to match her ballgowns.