Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why Should Women Be Attracted to "Termite Queen"?

       I was asked if I had a post detailing why I think my science fiction novel "The Termite Queen" should appeal particularly to women, so I thought maybe I should address that.  I have a close friend who has been the first to read all my writing, and after reading "Termite Queen," she remarked, "This is women's fiction."  I could see her point.  It's a story with a strong female protagonist who falls in love with a man with a dark psychological secret.  It's a compelling and poignant love story that could easily have been told in an entirely different context.  Set it at the beginning of the 21st century, cut out the off-world adventure and the strange alien characters, fabricate a different catalyst to initiate the plot and take it to its denouement, and you would have the same story.  It then might easily fit into the category of literary fiction for women.
       But it does have those other things and that makes it special.  It has giant intelligent termites, and that's why I spend a lot of time stressing the appeal to women.  I don't want females to be put off by the idea of yucky, giant bugs.  These are not your cliched monsters who ate Minneapolis.  They are not there to provide an agent for the Apocalype.  These are real "people" with real people's subtleties and problems. 
      And I should also make the point that I can understand that some males might be attracted by the space travel, the off-world adventure, the concept of giant aliens, etc., only to be disappointed when they find out that so much of the book is given over to the love story and to the psychological subtleties of the characters.  In particular, I think my book is not suited to the young, macho male crowd (age 15-30) who seek out  stories with furious space chases, car crashes, superheroes, and hot chicks.  I couldn't object if such guys bought my book, but I doubt very much they would like it.
       However, I have had certain men buy the book who became totally fascinated with it.  They were older men, well educated, with literary or scientific inclinations.   I think that's the key.  I've been told the book is literary science fiction, and I like that designation.  The chapter epigraphs, mostly poetry, set the tone.  This book is for educated readers, no matter what sex or age.
      I even know of a smart thirteen-year-old girl who gobbled up Volume One over a period of 24 hours!  So my advice would be -- buy the book, no matter what your demographic, and give it a try!


  1. I'm sorry, but your friend is so off-base. The idea that the inclusion of a strong female protagonist and a love story makes it "women's fiction" is so ludicrous I can't even find the words for it. If you take out every other feature of the book, then you'd probably be left with women's fiction, and I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.

    But obviously, since termites figure largely in it, it's perfectly justifiable to call it "entomologists' fiction."

  2. Have you read the book yet, Catana? You haven't said - I've just assumed you haven't read it. But I disagree with you entirely that nobody would read the book if you took out the termites. I'm pretty sure you haven't read v.2. But I wouldn't expect it to be the kind of book you like.

  3. I can see how some readers might think of TQ as "women's fiction," though I'll confess the thought hadn't occurred to me. It's who the character are, regardless of sex, that motivates me to keep turning pages --how interesting, intelligent, irritating, conniving (for good or evil) that gets me hooked.

    Speaking of which, I don't much like your Mo' gri' ta' tu, yet I keep turning pages--largely because of that 'character's' machinations.

  4. Thanks, Jack! I can't say that I really think of it as women's fiction, either. It's just that I don't want women or anyone else to be put off by thinking, "Oh, this is one of those nasty, cliched SF things about big bugs." It actually has a broad spectrum of interesting characters and plot elements.
    And I would hate to think that anybody "liked" Mo'gri'ta'tu! But he can be appreciated as a great villain a la Iago or Cassius.

  5. I read part of it, Lorinda. Just haven't gotten around to the rest. But I didn't say that nobody would read it if you took out the termites. I said *I* wouldn't read it. If you took out the termites, the science, etc., it might leave you with women's fiction (the romance), but then it wouldn't be worth reading, unless you like romance for its own sake. As it is, it doesn't resemble any women's fiction I've ever dipped into, thank goodness.

  6. I have just one other thing to say on this. "Romance" as a shallow, cliched entity isn't what's important in this book. That's why I prefer not to call it a romance - I would rather call it a love story. The important thing is the character of Griffen Gwidian - what makes him tick, what he has inside him that makes him the way he is. As the book goes on, his behavior becomes more and more enigmatic. And Kaitrin has fallen in love with this strange man. What will be the outcome of that?

  7. I agree. But I get the feeling you think I'm criticizing. I'm not sure why. Having a romance in a book doesn't necessarily make the book a romance, nor does it make it women's fiction.