Tor’s Liz Bourke has a great interview today with author Karen Miller, where she addresses some of the harsh realities of writing licensed fiction and, in particular, Star Wars and the differences with a female-dominated fandom like Stargate.
The Stargate fan audience is small, compared to the Star Wars audience. The Stargate fan audience is also, overwhelmingly, female—which means that it is far, far more accepting of a female writer and a female writer’s particular POV (and I think there is one). The Star Wars fan audience, on the other hand, is overwhelmingly male. At least as far as I can tell. The vast majority of writers who do the tie-in novels are also male. There is a definite predominance of male voices and male POVs in Star Wars novels. And that makes a huge difference in the reception of the material.
Everything I write is grounded in character. Everything. It’s the people that make a story for me. So my Star Wars work is as much a character study or exploration as it is an action adventure romp. For some readers, that was brilliant. For others, it wasn’t. For a lot of Star Wars fans—the guys in particular—the story is about fighting and space battles and stuff like that. For them, that’s the whole point. For them, the intricacies of psychological investigation are boring and unwelcome. And I completely accept that. But it’s not what floats my starship—and I felt strongly that I can’t be the only one who is in love with the story because of the characters, not despite them. Or who wants to take a breath and spend some time with them as human beings, who wants to explore what makes them tick, the relationships between them, the strengths and fragilities they contain and share.
She goes on to defend Karen Traviss, among other things, though I really must disagree that gender was the only aspect which garnered Traviss venom from fandom. (Though I’m sure some of it was, I’d hesitate to call it the main issue. The lesson one should take away from Traviss’ tumultuous time in this fandom? Don’t feed the trolls, and be respectful of your audience.)
But that quibble aside, it’s so refreshing to hear a Star Wars author actually be in it for the characters. There is nothing else here I have any issues with – it all needs to be said. Though not so much to label it as a niche, even though it’s probably true. Club Jade has been fighting that fight for so long…