Paige’s debut fantasy Draigon Weather is a tightly-woven, trope-flipping tale of two people caught in the gendered expectations of their regressive society. I found it original, compelling and can’t wait to see where she takes the story next. Here is Paige in her own words on her love of fantasy, the challenges facing feminism and why you should give her book a go!
Have you always been interested in fantasy as a genre?
Yes! Ever since I can remember! I was trying to think of the first Fantasy book I read, and I kept going back and back, and every book I can recall loving, even in my childhood, has a fantastic element to it.
Something about the genre draws me. Perhaps it’s the way any story is possible, from any point of view, told in any way it needs to be told, without the constraint of ‘real world’ considerations. Of course, a good fantasy story must have its own internal logic, or it becomes really annoying to read. But within that, there is so much room to explore morality and religion, and societal concerns, mostly without getting people tripping into partisanship, because it’s ‘just fantasy’. I think that’s the great power of the genre. It sneaks up on you.
Plus, dragons. I love dragons.
What genre tropes would you like to see retired/what unexplored avenues would you like to see the genre tackle?
This is a tough one because some tropes exist to give the reader an anchor in a strange new world. But I’d really like to see the death of the Great White Hope Trope – the perfect stranger in a strange land who sweeps in and understands the ‘exotic’ culture in 4 days and then becomes savior of the world. Enough already.
But the big one is rape as a motivator. Gads, I am so over that. Yes, you can create a world where sexual assault is, as it is in our world, an unwelcome part of culture, but it should never be the only driving force for action of a character. That just makes me want to throw a book across the room.
I want to see women everywhere, doing everything, for clear motivations. Women with energy and depth. Women of all weights and heights and ages and backgrounds and religions and colors and a love of eating all things crunchy.
Draigon Weather is set in a society which oppresses women both socially and intellectually. Why did you choose to depict this kind of world and what do you want readers to take away with them?
What a great question! The premise for Draigon Weather started with a simple idea, what if the girl chained to the rock awaiting to be eaten by the dragon, wants to be there? Why would that be the case? To answer that question, I had to create a society in which that situation would arise in the first place.
More than that, I wanted to hold a mirror to our modern world and give a glimpse behind the veil. We live in a world where women are oppressed, across all societies, to greater or lesser degrees. And yet, there are and always have been, women in the shadows, working to learn and grow, and help each other. Intelligent women take risks, find ways to share knowledge, and raise each other up. It happens each day, everywhere. Strong women have always been behind the scenes, making the world go, since time began. When women have other women, we can get through a lot, create and discover and build toward the future. I wanted to show women and girls that they always have power and worth, even when everyone around them tells them that they don’t.
I also wanted to show how buying into any society’s culture myths of value and superiority can be damaging even to those whom it seems to benefit, namely the men of the society. So, there’s a lot going on under the surface of this story.
Have you experienced sexism as a female writer? Do you feel gender inequality still persists in genre?
I have, and it’s of a rather strange sort. I really haven’t had much pushback since Draigon Weather was published since it’s only been out a few months. But I experienced a lot when I was learning to write, both because I am female, and because I was interested in genre over ‘literature’. I had several male writing teachers who were upset by my choice of subject matter. One even offered to help me find a good therapist because he felt my writing showed too much angst and was too ‘unrealistic’. He even went so far as to call my college adviser to discuss his concerns. She, bless her forever, informed him that she was glad I was an angry woman, and she would only be worried if I wasn’t angry, and that I should write what I want.
There has been a lot of dismissal of strong words from women as ‘shouty’ or ‘bitchy’. So, clarity of language is a powerful tool in combating that. It’s one reason I love to write.
There’s one guy who trolls an online fantasy writing group I’m in, who likes to post that he hates women’s writing because ‘it has all those emotions.’ (Sorry guy, all humans experience ‘all those emotions’.) It’s always the same comment, every time women’s works are posted about. He’s a very unoriginal troll, but he’s been effective at riling people up with the comment, so he keeps using it.
It’s stupid things like that that crop up every day for female writers of all sorts. So yes, it still exists in genre. We’re in the midst of a backlash (I can hope it’s an extinction frenzy) of extreme sexism and racism. Because of that, I went around and around about whether to use a pen name for Draigon Weather. But I decided that if anything was going to change, I had to take the Betty Ballantine route and promote women writing genre under our own names. We’ll see how that goes. Ask me this question again in a year.
Why should a reader pick up your book?
Oh – this question is so hard! I think readers looking for a character driven book that works on multiple levels would find Draigon Weather interesting. I pitched it to my publisher as a Feminist Western with Dragons, so it’s not exactly a typical fantasy book. It’s written with several layers of themes, and to appeal across genders. It speaks from the heart about strength, love, and persistence – all things we can’t have too much of in the world. So far, every reader has picked out something different in the story, so I think the chameleon nature of it is intriguing as well. And the fabulous Janny Wurts, author of the Wars of Light and Shadow series loved it, so there’s that as well!
Paige L. Christie was raised in Maine, and lives in the NC mountains, writing speculative fiction, walking her dog, and being ignored by her herd of 3-legged cats. Always a nerd, obsessive about hobbies like photography, Ghawazee Dance, and listening to the characters in her head, Paige can be found slightly left of center. As a believer in the power of words, Paige tries to tell stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful. Especially of interest, are tales that speak to women, and open a space where adventure and fantasy are not all about happy endings. Find her online at https://paigelchristie.com/