Recently I stumbled across an article (h/t Laurel Snyder) that throws out a deeply fascinating, philsophically complex theory:
That there's a mystifying, previously undiscovered creature, the "Children's Book Guy" (a.k.a. male writers and illustrators working in kid's lit), and he is so totally HAWT OMGGGGGG.
I never said they were wrong.
Here's the thing. I have no issue with fluff pieces. I write plenty of fluff pieces myself; I think they're amusing, and I think amusement has value.
But this piece is upsetting me on a few levels. Not least the stereotype that female children's book authors are in their mid-50s wearing cardigans. (Sure, some are. Others are me.)
Seriously: the height of hipness and chic, obviously.
First of all, it ignores a very important dynamic that most women in children's lit are extremely aware of: men are by no means the majority of us. They write far fewer books than women across the kid's lit spectrum. But they tend to get noticed more, win more awards, and therefore, often have more successful careers than their female counterparts.
That doesn't mean they don't deserve their successes--Oliver Jeffers's books are very, very clever, Daniel Handler is profoundly hilarious, and Andrew Smith books make me cry...
...it's just they aren't the only people--or gender--that can claim those things (hello, Judith Schachner, Corey Ann Haydu, Anna Breslaw, Rainbow Rowell, and, and, and).
The other thing that makes me sad: the article quotes a bookseller who mentions that, when these hot men come to town, the bookstores go nutso. No one can focus. And it never ever happens for women authors, specifically because women make up so much of the children's publishing industry.
Oh come on, guys. We need to be boosting each other, not losing track of everything the minute a sexy guy walks into the room. I have to believe the "oh my god I want him so bad" impulse influences who you decide to bring in for talks and signings, no?
The thing is, the idea of hot writers isn't new; it's just that when it's applied to women, it is often the reason people dismiss that writer. "She only got attention because of her looks, the book probably sucks."
No one thinks that about these dreamy Children's Book Guys, because they assume the truth: these guys got here on talent and happen to be hot.