Some people who know me have asked why I'd choose political fiction when I decided to write a novel. First, I didn't sit down to write The Senator's Youngest Daughter. The story, the setting, and the characters all evolved as I wrote. When I write, I basically type up a movie I'm watching in my head. There wasn't a great deal of planning, especially during this first novel-writing process.
The question surprised me, because it's a genre I often enjoy to read. But apparently I'm in the minority. Many of my female friends lean more towards romance, historical fiction, and YA books. (I'm not ripping those genres; I have some favorites on those shelves, too.) Apparently, I'm also in the minority among female authors. Lots of women write crime, supernatural, thrillers... but it's much less common to find a female writing about politics.
I'm not going to digress into a feminist rant: "I wrote this because anything a man can do, I can do better." Because that wasn't my reason. I wrote about politics because it's something I'm passionate about. I wrote about a future that I fear we're heading towards. I wrote about conservatism and socialism and capitalism for the same reason I wrote about family. They're on my mind a lot.
I did some research and while there are plenty of great names (authors I like!) in the genre (Dan, Christopher), there just aren't a lot of women. Ayn Rand shows up, of course, but that's not exactly recent. I did stumble upon an older great read, though, by Gayle Lynds called Masquerade that I can't not mention. Aside from a rather dating moment where a dude on roller blades (roller blades!) mugs someone, it's the real deal. The worldwide scope is huge, and the legends say that she got rejected for publication over and over because it was so realistic the male publishers didn't believe a woman had written it. (Girl power. Boom.)
Political fiction, in this case, is a loose descriptor for my book. There are a lot of words I'd use to describe it, and of course "political" is one of them. I don't shy away from my political viewpoint, and many of you will disagree. But the political fiction element of The Senator's Youngest Daughter is more the setting than the plot itself. At its heart, this is a story of family more than a story of a revolution.
I am obliged here to bring up science fiction. Sci-fi and politics usually only align in tabloids, but I think they occasionally get similar bad reps among women.
I've known those who've made the suggestion that they think it's weird that I like sci-fi. One went so far as to comment that she thought I was "smarter than that."
Whoa. So, to clarify, a story can only be good if it's in one of your approved/comfortable settings? No, no, no.
All genres have good stories and bad stories. Good fantasy and bad fantasy, good horror and bad horror, good romance and bad romance (gaga ooh la la), good historical fiction and bad historical fiction.
So I'm not going to judge a story as good simply because the protagonists are fighting Nazis just like I won't judge it bad because they're fighting cylons or aliens. I like stories of family survival, so I love Battlestar Gallactica and I wrote my book on the same topic. (Family survival, not cylons and resurrection.)
Brenna Jefferson in The Senator's Youngest Daughter happens to be fighting humans, but I don't really see a difference. Either the story is good or it's not. Setting, enemies... make them what you will. If I love the character I will cheer for her to defeat/eat/cross-over/deactivate the appropriate warlord/prey/ghost/Terminator.
So, political fiction is cool. And if you're a sci-fi fan, you'll know that bowties are also cool. (Eleven says so.)