Martha Wells is the latest subject of our Writers of Fantasy Interview series. She has been writing ground-breaking fantasy for over two decades now. Her Books of Raksura series in particular has challenged gender stereotypes and more in every way imaginable and she still has more coming! She has also been doing a Patreon for short Raksura stories!
We chatted about how she has changed as a writer, what her process is, and what she thinks of the industry at large. Even if you’ve never read a word of her books before, this interview is well worth checking out as she has great insights into the world of being a writer.
– When you look back on your first novels, such as The Element of Fire, and compare it to something more recent,like The Edge of Worlds, how do you feel you’ve changed as a writer? Has your process or method changed?
As a writer, I think I take more chances. I think I’m more in touch with the kinds of characters and relationships I want to write. My process has changed in that I write faster, I’m more productive,and I’m more confident in my abilities.
– Many of your works, Books of the Raksura in particular, explore gender and sexuality and there is great diversity within the cast. How important is representation and diversity to you?
It’s very important. Books that explored gender and sexual orientation were very important to me when I was was growing up, and helped teach me about the world in a way that I was not going to get from any other available source. And for me I think it’s an ongoing process and that I still have room for improvement.
– (Related) Is this something the genre as a whole needs to get better at, and have you seen it improving?
It definitely needs to get better. I think there has been some improvement, or at least more awareness of the problem. And some of the most critically acclaimed, award-winning, most exciting and original SF/F in the past years has come from writers who are POC, LGBT, and women,which you would hope would make a dent in the belief that only straight white men write SF/F. But you still see people saying things like “women don’t write fantasy” or “women don’t write SF” and believing it, which is depressing.It’s not encouraging to see the work of hundreds of women writers erased.
The popular, most visible bestsellers are just the tip of the genre’s iceberg, but for most people the rest of the iceberg doesn’t exist. It’s hard to be optimistic about it sometimes.But the other day on Twitter, Kate Elliott said “It’s hard to change the narrative when so many of the narratives that get the most visibility aren’t changing. But change is coming.” I think that’s very true.