20171001 Ann Leckie at Book People
Ann Leckie, author of a Hugo-winning science fiction novel "Ancillary Justice", reading from, answering audience questions, and signing her latest novel "Provenance" at Book People in Austin, TX in October of 2017.
When she was starting out to write "Ancillary Justice", Ann Leckie just wanted to write about a culture where gender had no significance. Soon she was faced with a question what pronouns to use. At first she thought of singular "they", which, according to her, is grammatically correct and you shouldn't let anyone tell you otherwise. While the singular "they" is not confusing in real-life (since people know who you are speaking about), it can be trickier to use in prose; in a narrative it's less obvious who are you referring to. But with some maneuvering you can make it work. The trouble is, in case of "Ancillary Justice", the protagonist was a mind inhabiting thousands of bodies. So a singular "they" would not work.
She thought of other, artificial genderless pronouns, but for some reason (I forgot why) decided not to use them. Then she decided, on a lark, to use "she" for everyone. And that's how the book became what it is.
The audience asked if she planning to continue the Ancillary Justice series. No, she's not planning to, but never say never. Is she an outliner? No. When she starts out to write a novel, she has the beginning, the end, and a few points along the way that the plot needs to hit. Aside from that, she's writing without an outline.
Yes, there are lyrics from L'Homme Arme -- The Armed Man (a French Renaissance song) -- in Ancillary Justice. Ann Leckie planted it there as na Easter egg to bring out music majors. She majored in music herself, and she believes that only other music majors would recognize L'Homme Arme. Well, I'm a mathematics major and I know this song, as well as early American music / shape note hymns in Ancillary Justice, such as Clamanda.