E..J. Beaton beautifully articulates the rationale for and approach to writing epic fantasy where genders share power equally. I share the same philosophy about gender-neutral fantasy worlds and the possibilities they create for readers and writers alike.
I began writing epic fantasy (also known as high fantasy), the kind of fantasy fiction set in an entirely imagined world, partly because I am a woman. That might seem strange, in a genre historically known for stories about male heroes and patriarchal dynasties. Women were often constrained by their roles as love interests or victims in the fantasy novels I had read. Yet epic poetry and literature called strongly to me, and the prospect of making it my own glinted like a spear-tip on the horizon.
I wanted to see a person like me as the lead character in a story. I wanted to see a woman driving and shaping the narrative, not merely fitting into it as a complement to the hero’s journey. I had read and loved The Lord of the Rings, but I longed for a story where someone like Arwen could be the ultimate queen…
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