This will likely be my first and only post on my experience as a female author in the zombie/horror genre. There are many other women out there who are more passionate about writing on gender equality in this genre and issues of that nature, and while I do have thoughts on the matter, I’d rather leave that to them. I think my actions—and words, when you factor in my novels—speak for themselves.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a rant, you aren’t going to find one here. This is what I’ve encountered and how I deal with it; I figured it was time to share. Rants are unproductive and perpetuate the problem.
I’ve been to eight conventions in the past five years, and at each one there will be at least a handful of people who run through this conversation with me; I greet them and ask them if I can tell them about my novels. “You wrote these?” they ask with some level of skepticism or surprise. “Yes,” I say, and move on to discussing the novel or answering other questions they have.
At my first convention a guy went so far as to ask the question again, then asked if I wrote the whole thing. I didn’t have paperbacks of the book yet, and since he didn’t have anything to flip through he asked if it was a graphic novel. I suppose it was too much to assume I could write 70,000 words with no pictures. “Yes,” I assured him. “I wrote every word.”
I’ve never heard my fellow male authors encounter this situation, and you know what? I don’t mind. This is reality; female zombie/horror authors are uncommon. The numbers are growing, but I would argue the mass majority of them are male. It is also very common for girls, “booth babes”, to loiter around tables to attract more attention. Often I’m the only female in a row of male authors. I am dressed up in tactical gear. I do my hair and makeup for the event. I don’t blame them for thinking that.
I forgive them, for they know not what they do.
To express irritation, to snap back, to rant about this phenomenon does nothing. To go home and complain does nothing. I told you I’d talk about how I deal with it, and here it is: I say with confidence, “Yes, I did write these”. I sell them a book, or maybe both books. When they go home and read it, and love it, I won. And the booth babe misconception? If someone asks me what kind of holster I’m wearing, I explain its mechanics, advantages, and disadvantages. If they ask me what gun I carry, I’ll give them the rundown on my Kahr. I’ll talk shop about where I shoot. When they realize I’m not a “fake”, I’ve won.
I own what I do. My gender has nothing to do with it, and I treat it as such.