Women’s Fiction: A Book With No Heroes

tgw_new_1-680x1024I recently discovered Amy Sue Nathan, an author of Women’s Fiction, whose debut novel THE GLASS WIVES will be released on May 14th (that’s tomorrow). I’m relatively new to Women’s Fiction, so when I visited the author’s page (Women’s Fiction Writers), her blog’s tagline sparked my curiosity: “NO HEROES.” I was intrigued but also bewildered. And so I got in touch with the author and asked:


What’s the significance in the absence of a hero?


She sent me a great response. I asked for her permission to share it on my blog, so here it is:

Writing women’s fiction, or book club fiction, to me, means it’s about a strong woman who doesn’t need to be saved by a man, which is traditional in romance novels. In the books I write and like to read, there might be love and a bit of a romantic connection, but it is not central to the story. The protagonist’s goal is to be okay (whatever that means to her) but not to be in a romance. To me, hero=someone who saves a woman. In my books, the main character saves herself! I don’t use the word heroine either, but that’s completely a personal preference. Certainly there are many ways to interpret a hero. There are everyday heroes we see on the news. There are heroes fighting for our freedom overseas. But in terms of fiction, a hero is usually the male character who is the romantic interest of the female main character. It’s very popular, many people read it and write it, it’s just not my forte or interest.

I plan to pick up a copy of THE GLASS WIVES and some other books within this genre (I’m ALWAYS up for book recommendations!). As a matter of fact, I really don’t remember the last time I read a Women’s Fiction… Anyway, as I explore this genre, I want to get a better grasp of how writers of this genre:

  • Portray STRONG WOMEN
  • What it means to different writers when a woman doesn’t need to be SAVED by a man. And also, if there are Women’s Fiction writers that do create a woman-saved-by-a-man dynamic, then how the author is able to steer away from perpetuating the damsel-in-distress concept.
  • How men are portrayed within this genre and how much/or how little room they take up in these books

On a random note, I don’t think the TRC rewrite will fit into the Women’s Fiction genre… But we’ll see. I need a better grasp of this genre before making any further conclusions.

17 thoughts on “Women’s Fiction: A Book With No Heroes

  1. I’m a little confused by one bit, “Writing women’s fiction, or book club fiction, to me, means it’s about a strong woman who doesn’t need to be saved by a man, which is traditional in romance novels.”
    Meaning, it’s traditional in romance novels to have a strong woman who doesn’t need to be saved by a man, or it’s traditional for romance novels to have a woman who needs to be saved by a man?


    • I think she meant the latter: “it’s traditional for romance novels to have a woman who needs to be saved by a man.”

      I’m going to take the liberty to assume that the author isn’t an avid romance reader. Because these days heroines in romance novels are portrayed as strong and even pro-feminist. So perhaps by “traditional” she’s referring to bodice-rippers, or even further back than that, such as the damsel and her knight romance tradition.

      The big difference between the romance genre and women’s fiction, I’m therefore going to assume, is that While the romance genre DOES allow room for writers to create heroines who are damsels-in-distress (though this is going out of popularity), such a room doesn’t exist in the Women’s Fiction market. I don’t know. Like I said, haven’t read anything in this genre yet. So this is just an assumption based on the author’s take on the WF genre.


  2. It’s interesting how she calls it a story without a “hero,” because a more gender-neutral reading of “hero” would be “protagonist.” I do feel that if the author intends to, afterall, upturn female subordination, then reclaiming the neutrality of “hero” as opposed to erasing the construct altogether would be more productive. This would look like “A Book with Heroines, not Heroes” rather than a “Book with No Heroes.” Though for sure, the latter title is more attention-grabbing.


    • Your comment would make an interesting essay! A book with “No heroes” does really open the door for much discussion, which is part of the reason why I was so fascinated. But yes, I agree that the latter title is indeed a better hook. It’s because of that tagline that I ended up following her blog too haha.


  3. And this is precisely why I have become obsessed with Woman’s Fiction as of late. I too would love to write that genre, since I believe the healthiest women are emotionally stable by themselves, not co-dependent on “love” to feel fulfilled.

    I’m all for living with the love of your life, but no man/woman should be responsible for your happiness! No one deserves to carry that burden.


    • I haven’t read a Woman’s Fiction before (or if I did, I read it without knowing it was of this genre) but I do agree with you that no one deserves to be the means to another person’s happiness. I’ve observed that the happiest of couples are those who would be happy even on their own as a single. If one doesn’t feel stable as a single then they most often won’t feel stable even when in a relationship.


  4. she’s spot on! I write mostly fantasy, but no damsels-in-distress – mostly warrior women who can beat the shit out of their male counterpart when needed! 😉 (not to mention how my Amazons keep their men subdued, LOL). I was always fascinated by the opposite of what is mainstream…
    And even my tougher gals do fall in love at some point – even when they think love doesn’t exist! 🙂


    • I didn’t know you wrote about ass-kicking Amazon women! sounds so intriguing! Do you have excerpts of it on your blog? – maybe I’ll just drop by and search around for it lol


      • At the moment only Jessamine (that was serialized on Serial Central). And there are Amazons in Books of the Immortals – Water. And Death of Queen Amazonia, the first Amazon Queen, but that one is much more adult and don’t really recommend it… (m/m and with a rape scene). I’ll be writing the next one in June! 😉


  5. Junebug!! 🙂

    I’m so happy you found Amy. She’s as sweet as can be. Another wonderful writer to look to, if you’re interested in getting to know more about WF and “hero-less” stories, is Kate Morton. She is my all-time favorite writer and the woman can tell one hell of a story. She’s amazing. Beyond amazing, really.

    Hope you’re revisiting some of those unfinished manuscripts. The world needs more of your stories.



    • Hey! Thanks for dropping by!

      I remember Kate Morton! Well, a blog post about her on your blog (I’m pretty sure it was your blog). I’ll check her out the next time a visit a bookstore 🙂

      I haven’t chatted with you in the longest time so I have no idea how your novels are going! I’ll go hunt and see if you’re still blogging hehe


  6. Pingback: I used to be afraid to tell people I was a writer. | Déborah NK Makuma

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