Fringe, Dead Sherlock & Writing as a Woman

Last night’s BristolCon Fringe was really good. The podcasts will be available in due course, but you can hear Paul Cornell read from Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? at his previous Fringe appearance in March last year.

Martyn Waites chose to read from one of the stories he had written under his Tania Carver pen name. Naturally I was interested to know how writing as a woman worked for him. After all, we hear endless stories of how women in SF&F have to hide their gender in order to get published, or because they fear that their books will be ignored otherwise.

Again Martyn’s full explanation of the story will be in the podcast, but I wanted to highlight a few things here. First up, the whole thing came about somewhat by accident. His editor was bemoaning the lack of a hard-edged British female crime writer and Martyn, being a former actor and wise to the ways of freelancing, immediately said, “I can do that, gis a job”.

The important point, however, is that it worked. Tania’s first book was heavily promoted and became a best seller. The question is, why? How does this sort of thing work in crime but not in SF&F?

Martyn has some ideas. I do too. One thing that particularly fascinated me was Martyn’s assertion that women like gory crime stories. So why is there this impression that they would not like equally gory fantasy?

On the spot I came up with a panel idea for BristolCon. Obviously the idea has to be approved by MEG and pass the audience interest test, and participants have to agree, but hopefully we can make it work. I’d want to chair it, and have Martyn on the panel. I’d also want Sarah Pinborough who is one of this year’s Guests of Honour and a purveyor of gory horror tales, and Sarah Hilary who is turning out to be exactly the sort of crime writer that Martyn’s editor was looking for when they invented Tania. I think the panel also needs a publisher representative, and probably a male one for panel parity reasons. Any volunteers?

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