gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

Women's History Month: Ann VanderMeer

Gillian asked me to guest blog this month in honor of Women’s History Month. March has always been a special month for me, not only because of this celebration but also because my birthday falls in this month! When Stephen Segal and John Betancourt asked me to take over as Fiction Editor of Weird Tales magazine back in 2007, I was thrilled at the idea. Imagine, asking me to do my favorite thing - read fiction. And then I thought some more about the honor and the history and what this all could mean. Women and the weird…

In addition to taking over the oldest fantasy magazine in the world, I was given the opportunity of being only the second female editor of Weird Tales since Dorothy McIlwraith in 1940. So, we decided to make the announcement on Valentine’s Day (why not?), and we opened to fiction submissions on my birthday the following month (which just so happened to be Women’s History Month). This was all very exciting! And just like Ms. McIlwraith, I love finding new writers, the next generation so to speak, and publishing them along with established pros.

And please keep in mind that Margaret Brundage did all those amazing covers in the 1930’s, making her the first (and only) female cover artist of that time. Yes, it’s true that many of her covers were considered controversial and at times even too provocative, but her work was beautiful and remarkable and certainly helped to sell a lot of magazines.

So why did it take over 50 years for another woman at Weird Tales? Certainly weird fiction appeals to women, too. Just look at all the female writers that graced the pages of Weird Tales since back in the day to now: Mary Elizabeth Counselman (who I had the honor of publishing in The Silver Web in the 1990’s), Margaret St. Clair, C. L. Moore, Allison V. Harding, Tanith Lee, Lois Tilton and Carrie Vaughn, among others. As a matter of fact, over 120 women published fiction in these pages from 1923-1954. And if you take a closer look at the Weird Tales Club you see all kinds of women readers (and letter writers), too.

And then…2011 - For the first time in the history of this iconic magazine, Weird Tales has an all-female editorial management team (I became Editor-in-Chief, Mary Robinette-Kowal is the Art Director and Paula Guran is the Nonfiction Editor and Webmistress). And it’s about time.

So yeah…women like the weird. We like to read it, talk about it, write letters about it, and draw and paint it. We really really do. So why not a female fiction editor??? My weird isn’t any more fragile or less dangerous than any male editor’s weird. Don’t be fooled by my size; my weird can be pretty darn ferocious. Just watch me.

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