Author Archive


Courtney Schafer‘s impatience while waiting for new SF books to hit the shelves used to drive her crazy, until she realized she could write her own stories to satisfy her craving for worlds full of wonder and adventure. Her debut fantasy novel The Whitefire Crossing releases August 1 from Night Shade Books. When not writing, Courtney figure skates, climbs 14,000 foot peaks, squeezes through Utah slot canyons, and skis way too fast through trees. To support her adrenaline-fueled hobbies and writing habit, she received a degree in electrical engineering from Caltech and now works in the aerospace industry. Visit her at http://www.courtneyschafer.com.

Voices Not Forgotten

After reading the discussion of the Russ Pledge here on SF Signal back in June, and then Judith Tarr’s fascinating and dismaying follow-up post relating her experiences in the publishing industry (Girl Cooties: A Personal History), I got to thinking about all the excellent YA SF novels written by women that I read as a girl in the 1980s/1990s. Novels that sparked my imagination, broadened my horizons, and helped make me an SF fan for life – and yet aren’t mentioned very often these days.

Sure, some female authors I loved in childhood remain household names amongst SF fans: Madeleine L’Engle, Diana Wynne Jones, Jane Yolen, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, and Patricia McKillip, for example. But theirs weren’t the only books I read and re-read until they were dogeared and falling apart. So I want to shout out some love to a few more women whose books meant the world to me; to say, hey, ladies: your voices were heard, and made a difference.

And if you know a kid who’s already read more modern middle-grade and YA SF books like Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron, or Jeanne DuPrau’s The Books of Ember and is hungry for more – why not suggest they give one of these classics a try?

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Courtney Schafer

grew up reading Diana Wynne Jones and Patricia McKillip and her love of fantasy has only expanded with age. Her debut fantasy novel The Whitefire Crossing will release this August from Night Shade Books. When not writing, Courtney figure skates, climbs 14,000 foot peaks, squeezes through Utah slot canyons, and skis way too fast through trees. To support her adrenaline-fueled hobbies and writing habit, she received a degree in electrical engineering from Caltech and now works in the aerospace industry. Visit her at http://www.courtneyschafer.com.

The Union of Urban and Epic Fantasy is Not a Complete Set

As a voracious reader of all things science fiction and fantasy, I never cared much about sub-genre labels. Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, cyberpunk…bring it on, I said; I only want to know if the book is good. When trying to describe novels to friends, I tended more toward author comparisons: “It’s like Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster trilogy, only darker.” “Reminded me of Dorothy Dunnett, but with space battles.”

But when I researched the publishing industry prior to querying my fantasy novel The Whitefire Crossing, I soon became keenly aware of subgenre labels as market indicators. “Urban fantasy is hot, epic fantasy is not,” agents said. Fellow writers groaned that epic fantasies from debut authors had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting published.

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