In an alternate universe back in 1974, a girl named Jane C. Hines was born. Her family moved to Michigan when she was four years old. She grew up with a little brother, had a three-legged black lab named Silver (after Long John Silver), and wanted to be a teacher, a veterinarian, a psychologist, and ultimately an author.
Her first fantasy novel, Goblin Quest, came out in 2006 from DAW. She sold two more goblin books, then published a series about three kick-ass fairy tale princesses. She’s currently writing the third draft of a modern fantasy book called Libriomancer. She also maintains a moderately popular blog.
But while she and I have had parallel careers, the results haven’t matched up exactly.
- Jane’s sales haven’t been as good as mine. The books were the same, but hers weren’t reviewed quite as widely, and there are some people who simply won’t read female authors.
- As a blogger, I’ve been accused of being an asshole, a pretentious asshat, told to die in a fire and so on. It’s not common, but it happens. Jane, on the other hand, recently started up a “Bitchometer” feature which tracks how many times people call her a bitch. It’s currently in the triple digits.
- A few years back, I had a fan squee and ambush-hug me at a convention, which was … disconcerting. That’s only happened to me once. Jane can’t recall the last con she attended where at least one person didn’t touch, grab, or grope her without permission.
- Remember last year when Jane and I wrote about obesity? We both included a photo of ourselves to illustrate what “overweight” looks like (I was topless; Jane wore a bikini top and jeans). I received hundreds of comments praising me for that post. Jane received a lot of positive comments as well, but she also received e-mails calling her a fat cow, and to this day gets follow-ups from that post demanding that she “Show us your tits!”
- I receive significantly more comments and linkbacks to my posts about rape than Jane, despite the fact that we’re writing the same words. Jane does, however, receive e-mails and anonymous trolls telling her she needs to get laid, or threatening to “Do to her what a ‘real man’ should have done a long time ago.”
- Like me, Jane works a full-time job because she needs the benefits and a steady salary for herself and her family. But where I’m occasionally told what a great father I must be, Jane is criticized for being a neglectful mother and not spending enough time with her husband and children.
- Both my authorly name and my legal name are Hines. Jane began writing as Jane C. Hines, and got married after beginning to build a reputation with that name. To this day, she questions if she made the right choice about whether or not to change her name.
- No one has threatened me, my family, or my pets. I have never received death threats. Jane has not been so fortunate.
- When I post this, I expect the comments will be generally positive, with some argument and discussion. Jane expects to be told, “Shouldn’t this all boil down to quality? Isn’t this really about YOUR books not getting enough attention?”
Both Jane and I intend to continue writing and blogging. We plan to finish Libriomancer, and to blog about everything from fandom to sexual harassment to poverty to kick-ass books, and maybe even to post a few more stick figure comics.
But Jane is stronger than I am. She’s braver than I am. Because for more than ten years now, she’s faced far more negativity and ugliness when she writes, and she hasn’t let that stop her.