Last Sunday (9th October), my sister and I attended Bath Children’s Literature Festival to see Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass series, A Court Of Thorns and Roses series) talk with host Lucy Saxon (Take Back The Skies, The Almost King) as part of her tour since the release of Empire of Storms. I was super excited about it because I’ve been obsessed with Sarah’s books for the last year. I hadn’t been planning to write about it beforehand but it occurred to me whilst we were there, that the stuff these women spoke about is kind of, sort of, incredibly important.
(N.B. now’s a good time for a potential spoiler warning for any of Sarah’s books, though I’ve avoided any biggies)
As you can imagine if you’ve ever seen anything of Sarah outside her books, in person she’s equal parts funny, adorable and dorky. From stories about eating a whole block of Parmesan in one go and crying in a toilet after finding out about the ToG TV show, she’s instantly relatable. The two women on stage immediately created a fun, relaxed environment for the sold out audience of (mainly) teenage girls and young women.
Almost immediately they jumped into the discussion of strong female characters. Sarah mentioned how strongly she was made to feel when growing up that there are two boxes for women – the girly girl box and the tomboy box – but that she always felt she was somewhere in between. This was a feeling I can remember and still relate to strongly. She also mentioned her disappointment at the lack of flawed heroines she’d found as a teen. For these reasons, she cited her love of Buffy, Sailor Moon and Scarlett O’Hara.
Such discussions went on; the male gaze, embracing female sexuality, societal expectations and so on. When asked about the relationship between Celaena and Lysandra (one of my absolute favourite things about the books), Sarah talked about how she hadn’t always intended them to have the relationship they do now; when she’d first written Lysandra she’d imagined her as little more than snooty. It was through thinking about her own female friendships and attitudes towards women, and the way society enforces us to see other women as enemies, that their relationship developed through her writing. Their relationship became what it is because of Sarah J Maas’s realisation that women need to see other women as allies.
It was all of the above that made me want to write this blog post. I loved SJM anyway, but sitting in a room full of teenage girls, watching two strong and successful women on stage discuss these issues just made me feel a surge of, well, girl power. I think it’s so important for teenage girls to have this experience and listen to these ideas from two successful women whom they love and respect. I can’t help but think how awesome, and even empowering, an experience like this would have been for me at that age. Yay for girl power!
That was the good stuff, now on to the even better stuff! As you’ve probably heard by now, the Throne of Glass series is finally becoming a TV show (to be titled Queen of Shadows). As you may know, the two people confirmed to work on it so far are both women (Kira Snyder and Anna Foerster), and whilst I thought that this was important personally, I wasn’t sure whether or not it was simply coincidence. Sarah, however, confirmed that it was intentional and that it’s important to her to have as many women working on the project as possible, and that the company understand this. She also assured us that, whilst there are many steps to be taken yet, so far they have the right team that understand both the readers and the books. Certainly helped settle a lot of doubts in my mind!
- You may or may not know by now that Fleetfoot is the only character confirmed to survive the ToG series, what I didn’t know is that this is because of how let down she felt by Hedwig. So basically Fleetfoot will survive because Hedwig died! (Silver linings etc)
- “Sad things happen. Shirtless men.” – a hilariously perfect summary she gave of her books and how I will now be explaining them to people 😉
- She also discussed Rhysand’s character & arc and how she basically realised how she (and Feyre) were in trouble the minute she imagined him… so we can all guess his new theme song in my head. ❤