David P. Cantrell (Dave) lives on the Central Coast of California. After a spinal cord injury forced him to retire from his CPA practice, he found writing as an outlet for his creative urges. Science Fiction, particularly Hard SciFi, is his first love, but he also enjoys fantasy, mysteries, and thrillers. His first book, Gates of Fire and Ash, is a mix of post-apocalyptic sci-fi and epic fantasy genres.
With the passing of fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin, it seems a good time to reflect on the women authors of my life, especially in science-fiction and fantasy where the percentage has been more skewed.
When I was a young reader, science-fiction got my attention. Imagining other worlds, traveling in space, or dealing with futuristic possibilities was my thing. I started at a young age reading such sci-fi authors as Ben Bova and Robert Silverberg. Also an author named Andre Norton. Mostly these were short stories, often in an anthology edited by Silverberg. One day, though, I was surprised to learn that one of my favorite authors was a woman. I thought Andre was a boy’s name! It made me think.
Boys tend to want to read stories of other boys or men doing things, heroic things. At that age I honestly didn’t care what the girls did in stories. It was just that male authors tended to write about men doing manly things (I’m generalizing, of course), so I had no reason to try female authors. I also did not have much knowledge then of how difficult it was for female authors especially in the genre of science fiction and fantasy; I just wanted a good story. My mother pushed A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle on me, telling me it was a good story, but as a young boy I was not so interested in reading a story about a girl!
Gradually, I grew up. Focusing deliberately on a wider range of fiction, literary and decidedly non-SF works, many of them were written by women. I enjoyed them: I got to experience life as a female character, got to understand the issues they dealt with, and perhaps gained from perspective I did not previously know. It was educational. Whether or not the authors were women still did not matter to me as a reader more than what the story itself was. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s books about Authorian legend interested me, not because of the author but because of the Arthur. Nancy Kress and her sci-fi and books on writing mentored me for a time, as well.
Classic women authors starting with Mary Shelley and continuing through the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen entered my experience in college by making me play along as the man in the pages of their books. I could empathize, to a point, with the women in the novels. That experience helped develop the Romantic qualities which have eventually ruined me. I can’t confidently say, just from reading, that I now “get it” or that I understand all the characters endured and could cheer as they rose up and took whatever position they deemed in the story to be a success. Yet my empathy continued to grow.
In grad school, read Francine Prose and Annie Proulx, partly to see a view of life which I could not see without the lens of a woman author writing about a woman protagonist. A couple years ago I read a teenage romance series by Stephanie Perkins, not for the thrills of young love and relationship conundrums but to understand how a young girl thinks and acts. I used what I learned from those books for my own novel which featured a young girl. More than research, I deliberately tried to learn to see what I could not with my own experiential eyes. And then a film on cable TV one night prompted me to check out Margaret Atwood’s novels, starting with The Handmaid’s Tale. Now, of course, it has returned in a new series.
Having a daughter further instilled in me the urge to seek women authors for her to read. The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer became a milestone in my daughter’s life. Inspired, she even wrote fan fiction herself. No matter what word or label you may apply to me and my experience with women authors, I want the best for my daughter, and for her to understand other women’s lives and times, struggles and triumphs.
More recently, as I worked on my own epic fantasy involving dragons, I returned to the novels of Anne McCaffrey. While her dragons and their world are remarkably different from the ones I was writing about, I very much appreciated the craft, the imagination, the pure exhilaration of the world she invented in Pern. Then the sci-fi/dystopian trilogy by Marie Lu caught my attention as something my daughter might like to read…but I read it first. Before reading these authors, Marian Perera, a fellow newbie, came out with Before the Storm, which wonderfully taught me how women think and act in sci-fi romance. It was liberating as I was composing my own sci-fi trilogy.
Now Ursula has passed on, never to write another novel. Yet we remain blessed to always have the products of her mind, the outpouring of words that frame and construct and fulfill our own hopes and aspirations for years past and years to come…for the world of make-believe is our world, today’s world, in disguise.
THE SOUTH SEAS BUBBLE, book IV of the Crown Phoenix Series
An Edwardian hospital hides many secrets:
A mysterious patient lurks in the cellar…
A secret passage leads to danger…
Coded messages reveal new riddles…
Visions of danger haunt the people of Grimstead Manor…
In the fourth and final installment of “The Charm City Chronicles” saga, Kate finds herself married at 17, and her teen and adult worlds collide. While husband Michael is away at college, her beloved grandmother’s health goes into serious decline and Kate’s graduation is imperiled. These struggles soon become the least of her worries as Michael’s brother, Gabe, just can’t give up the hope of rekindling his romance with her until he sustains life-threatening injuries. “On Gabriel’s Wings” is a roller-coaster ride of young adult love and conflict that will keep you reading until the very last page.
“The Hurting Year”, the third installment of the Charm City Chronicles series, continues the story of sixteen-year-old Kate Fitzgerald in 1960’s Baltimore, Maryland.
Having an older boyfriend does have its perks – until he leaves to go to college. Kate’s troubles quickly multiply when her beloved Nana falls ill, and her best friend, Anita, faces personal disaster. When things seem like they couldn’t possibly get worse, Kate pays an impromptu visit to boyfriend Michael’s dorm, and her life spirals out of control. What happens in the aftermath sets events into motion that will change her life forever.
Jake: Last in line to the Elementi High King throne, sent through time and space to be brought up in an alien world, he has no knowledge of his past.
Mirim: As the caretaker of the mysterious Citadel which hosts the dying crystal mind of the Matrix, her air power is the only link to the old world.
Kiera: A Romani foundling with growing powers over nature, she is searching for a better life away from her criminal past.
They must find the other two heirs and reunite all their elemental powers over earth, air, fire, and water together with the Matrix to defeat the Empire that conquered their parents. With a fire demon on his trail, can Jake bring together the last of the Elementi in time?
When Sam helps out the mysterious Annie, he and his cousin, Nick, are drawn into a world of excitement and danger. Terrifying androids roam the streets of York seeking the awesome power of the Infinity Bridge, a device that could signal the end of our world as we know it. All who stand in their way are being eliminated.
The three teenagers are propelled into an action-packed race against time, involving alternate realities, airships, clockwork killers…. and Merlin.
Sometimes the monsters are real….
They are caught up in several mysteries:
The squire’s oldest son cannot leave the attic
An old typewriter seems to move time and space
A passenger hides in a secret room
A beautiful visitor is plotting against them
And Lizzie discovers that she has a strange, new ability.
She and her sister must discover the secrets of The Lamplighter’s Special before their enemy catches up with them.
In The Night Watchman Express, Miriam and Simon were kidnapped and thrown on the strange train… Now in Book Two of The Crown Phoenix series, they arrive at the terrifying destination known as Devil’s Kitchen.
There they will face human experiments in a laboratory known as The Infirmary.
There Miriam will be forced to work in an underground factory.
There Simon is held in a luxurious prison by jailers who are as beautiful as they are deadly…
And their courage will be tested to the breaking point.
He’s 18. She’s 16. As her alpha-male, athletic boyfriend’s departure for college looms, shy, underclassman Kate worries that Michael won’t be able to resist the siren call of his promiscuous ex-girlfriend, who is prepared to do anything he desires in order to reclaim his affection. As the pressure mounts to engage in a thrilling physical relationship that she may not be ready for, haunting flashbacks resurface from the frightening assaults she endured in childhood. As her gradual seduction intensifies, Kate is torn between waiting until she is older or giving in to her own impatient desires.
When Michael’s brother tries to rekindle his own previous relationship with Kate, and a new boy from a different school falls hard for her as well, she realizes she’s in for a difficult year.
A uniquely humorous, sensual romance, The Body War will keep you reading this story of timeless, maturing young love.
Struggling to cope with unwanted attention from older boys and men, Kate’s childhood friendship with shy classmate Gabe Kelsey begins to blossom, but quickly becomes tangled when she falls hard for his darkly handsome older brother, Michael.
As the brothers vie for Kate’s affections, she doesn’t know how to choose between them without tearing their family apart. She looks to her girlfriends for advice, but the tragic death of a classmate brings them face-to-face with mortality, shattering their facade of invincibility.
Her dilemma deepens when a predatory priest with a hidden past arrives at Holy Sacrament School. And when she silently witnesses a frightening scene between Gabe and Fr. O’Conner, Kate unknowingly becomes O’Conner’s intended next victim.
Miriam has only her guardians’ son for company, and she and Simon dislike each other from the start. But they must find a way to trust each other, or they will end up on the sinister Night Watchman Express.
Full of danger, suspense, betrayal, and a hint of romance, this steampunk adventure is for readers of all ages.
In this second book of the popular Land of Nod Trilogy, Jeff Browning continues his quest to find his father in the strange new world he has discovered. His journey takes him across a savage wilderness in which danger is inescapable.
While Jeff searches for The Prophet, his friend, Artimus, faces a less obvious but just as deadly maze of political conspiracies as he tries to convince a reluctant public that the invasion he helped thwart was only the beginning of a much more serious threat.
An epic science fiction, fantasy adventure with action and intrigue on every page.
War is coming.
Jeff Browning has been haunted by terrifying dreams since the mysterious disappearance of his father (a renowned physicist). But when he finds a portal in his father’s office, he must overcome his fears in an attempt to find him.
The portal takes him to another dimension – one populated by fantastic and dangerous creatures and also an advanced society of humans.
As Jeff looks for clues regarding what may have happened to his father, he is accused by some of being a spy while thought by others to be a prophesized figure . . . who may be the key to victory in a developing war.
Buy it from Amazon here