I was 25, and attending a screenwriters
networking event in Burbank. An older man walked up to me. “And what do
you write, honey?“
“Sci-fi, action, and horror,” I said.
He winced. "A pretty girl like you? I’d think you would romance. Why don’t you want to write romance?“
I made some excuse and walked away. Ugh. I still remember that jerk, ten years later.
This has not happened to me, though I’ve had similar things happen. I can’t count the number of times I’ve told someone—usually a man—that I write fantasy. “Oh, you mean romance?” he says.
Once, at a book signing with two other female fantasy/sf writers, a man perusing our stacks of books picked one up, exclaimed “These books are for girls! There’s a woman on the cover!” He then dropped the book quite as if terrified that it would contaminate him and perhaps result in the loss of his, er, manhood.
I joked that he would most certainly find himself irresistibly drawn to the women’s lingerie stores as he hustled his wife and daughter away from our table.
I’ve also been asked if men read my fiction (yes, they do) and told that I have never written any hard SF in my entire career. (This while backed into a corner at a publisher’s party.)
To all of this I say, “PPLPLPLPLPLPLPL!” and continue to write whatever the heck I want.
I have had people literally say, to my face, that they would never have read my work as Mira Grant if they had known it was me, because all UF by girls is vampire porn, and someone who writes vampire porn can’t write biotech.
There’s nothing wrong with vampire porn. But I don’t write it, and even if I did, I would still understand zombies.
I write fantasy adventure (and have written adventure-heavy Star Wars and Stargate: Atlantis tie-ins) and have been asked 1) who is the man who helps me write and 2) who is the man who “advises” me and 3) who is the man who writes my fight scenes for me.