Author Archive

Writing Fiction from Life

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Some writers that I know are at times so unsure of whether a story is theirs to tell that they will shelve a project for years at a time, waiting for some kind of permission to be granted, or for forgiveness, or for a death. But sometimes those things

First Women in American Literature

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If you’re anything like me (and lucky for you if you’re not) then you’ve spent most of the last week wallowing your way from one shot glass to another and brushing your teeth with the cuff of your old college sweatshirt.

An Unconventional Nobel Laureate

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Have you ever found yourself looking at the heteronormative sausage-fest that is the Nobel Prize lineup and said, “I wonder if the hoity-toity Swedish Academy will ever give the Literature Nobel to a genre-bending disabled lesbian children’s book author?” Funny you should ask.

Chicanas in Literature

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First, let’s you and me get in my time machine. . . . Suddenly we are in a world in which the Mexican-American border is being nationally debated, the Mexican-American people are being treated as second-class citizens—are punished for speaking Spanish, for teaching Mexican-American history and culture.

Reading in a Brown Body

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During my first week of college, at the University of Iowa, several of us students were playing cards in my dorm room, when, unrelated to the game or to the conversation, one of the other freshmen asked me, “What are you?”

Some Call it Dick Lit

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Some call it Dick Lit, others call it Lad Lit, but many male authors reject both of these genre categories as being reductionist, inaccurate, and for unfairly lumping disparate novels into a single arbitrary category. How can gender be a genre, they ask.

Good Bad Women: The Sea Witch

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A band, made up of eight young Swedes playing steel drums, had set up just outside the bookshop where I work. I didn’t step out of the shop to watch them until, almost without realizing it, I was singing along.

Good Bad Women: Goldilocks

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We were discussing the character of teenage girl in a fantasy novel. “I like that the girl is not what you expect,” said one writer, “You expect girls to be sweet and innocent, but she’s strong and takes action,” he said. Huh, I thought. Do we expect girls to

Erotic Parodies of Women

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A writer and I were on the sunny plaza outside the Nobel Museum in central Stockholm and she was telling me about an erotic parody project she’d collaborated on. The project was called Fifty Shelves of Grey and involved a dozen or so British authors doing erotic rewrites of

Violence Against Women in Fiction

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Four of us writers were critiquing each other’s novellas which all happened to have female protagonists. Three of the protagonists were victims of sexual assault, which then caused these characters to suddenly and completely change. One of those protagonists became mentally unbalanced and faded away, another was rescued by