It seems fitting that Breaking the Glass Slipper would make its live debut at Nine Worlds Geekfest in London, a convention that prides itself on diversity, panel parity, and accessibility. As such, we were there flying the flag for women in genre fiction, recording our panel on ‘Barriers to women in SFF publishing’ (or as my much wittier Pop Verse counterpart put it, ‘storming the barricades’) live on the Saturday night with a small and very accommodating, audience (it was an ‘intimate’ room, with seats limited to just 14… but we had a full house!).

We were incredibly lucky to be joined by some fantastic guests who not only know their stuff but are absolute geeks about science fiction, fantasy, and horror. And, let’s admit it, the reason we do this podcast and why you listen to it is because we love speculative fiction. And guess what? This week you get to geek out with us for over an hour (I know, we do go on a bit…)!

Our incredible line-up:

  • Gillian Redfearn – Publishing director of Gollancz
  • Lydia Gittins – Press officer at Titan Books
  • Alasdair Stuart – Owner of Escape Artists

Please note that this episode was recorded live so the audio has some background noise and strange levels at times. You will have to have your volume louder than usual. But please stick with it, it’s worth it, we promise.

Authors mentioned in this episode include:

  • PodcastersMax Frei
  • Aliette de Bodard
  • Sarah Pinborough
  • Charlaine Harris
  • Nalini Singh
  • Robin Hobb
  • V.E. Schwab
  • Joanne M. Harris
  • Iain M. Banks
  • Richard K. Morgan
  • N.K. Jemison
  • Emma Newman
  • Jen Williams
  • Liz de Jager
  • Kameron Hurley
  • Becky Chambers
  • Ezekiel Boone
  • Alison Littlewood
  • Emily St. John Mandel
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Sheri S. Tepper
  • Nina Allan
  • Ren Warom
  • Hillary Monahan / Eva Darrow
  • Mur Lafferty
  • Tanith Lee
  • Robin McKinley
  • Malinda Lo
  • Bex Levine
  • Naomi Novik
  • Adam Nevill
  • Matt Wallace
  • Antony Johnston
  • Mike Underwood

There are so many great authors listed above, you should find your ‘to be read’ pile is suddenly taller than you are! Now go read!

If you are interested in the article that spurred me on to create my bookshelf spreadsheet, you can read it here.

Some of the questions from the audience are hard to hear. In case you have trouble, I’ve written them out below:

1:00:39 ‘You’ve been talking a bit about cover art and how we can form expectations. I’ve noticed a trend in covers to go towards gender neutral or even non-people as subjects. Do you think that’s a trend that’s starting to take off as issues of gender are becoming more prevalent in the decision to even pick up a book and that some publicists and companies are wanting to generalise the experience that any reader would get when looking at the cover? By way of example, one that really sticks out in my mind is the Tor novellas by Matt Wallace and the Sin du Jour series where the covers are very colour saturated and food based because that’s the theme of the books. There are no characters, there are no people. It’s designed to be a very neutral experience and introduction to the novel.’

1:05:07 ‘Yeah, so the question I have is sort of related to the idea… the research that shows that in conversations with men and women that when women talk about 30% of the conversation the perception is that they are dominating the conversation. Do you think that kind of misconception, that kind of gender imbalance, do you think that exists at all in people’s reading habits or with their reviews or with their lists of top 10 books? Do you think those ideas are more widespread?’

1:09:00 ‘I wanted to go back to your point about your spreadsheet… With the female authors you had read, you said that a lot of them weren’t writing female protagonists, they were writing ensembles or male protagonists. From a submissions point of view, do you think that is because it is the prevailing one that’s been successful so that’s what people are writing regardless of the writer’s gender?’

1:14:36 ‘I’m a big spreadsheet nerd too… I was keeping one of my reading but then I decided to start going nuts with it … And one thing I found really interesting when I was looking at it was I started going into bookshops and I was looking at what’s on the recommendations, what’s on the tables, what’s on display and in the fantasy and science fiction section you never seem to get more than – at most – 30% women on the tables and it’s always the same women, always the Anne Leckie, always the [muffled]… and I was wondering, do you think that this is the same problem with the 30% of women talking and you think they’re talking all the time or do you think this is some reflection of what actually the bookshops are being sent?’