Women, we are told, drive the entire fiction market. They will read books by male authors, but most men do not read books by female authors. So the market for women authors is, er, women. But not every female author wants to write chick-lit or more upmarket hen lit.
Even if you want to write literary fiction, it is still expected to be based around relationships and family life. Last time I met other women writers at the Cambridge WordFest and told them my current story was about being lost inside the body, they nearly fell off their chairs laughing.
Female genre writers, such as JK Rowling and sci-fi author CJ Cherryh, were told to use initials so as not to put male readers off, showing we’ve come precisely nowhere since George Eliot and the Bronte sisters had to write under male pseudonyms – Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. How depressing.
Much of this problem stems from stereotypes of women as interested only looking after their partners and children. Like Radio 4′s Women’s Hour, separating off special ‘female’ issues as if women have no interest in politics, business, science etc. Sorry, I don’t have a solution. Please let me know if you do.