This is Dark Matter Zine‘s Best Panel Ever: an International Women’s Day 2020 podcast, featuring three books by women about girls and women who, if they were real, could be part of the #MeToo movement. Despite the sensitive topic, I (Nalini Haynes, the host) enjoyed talking to these kick-ass authors so much that I was on a high for the rest of the day.
Jennifer Iacopelli, Tabitha Bird and Hannah Capin all wrote very different stories that sexual abuse and rape. However, these novels are about empowered and empowering women and none are explicit: the literary door closes during the actual rapes.
Jennifer Iacopelli wrote about an Olympic gymnast who stands by sexual abuse victim in Mean Girls meets Women in Sports novel, Break the Fall.
Tabitha Bird wrote about a child rape survivor who time travels to meet herself in Sometimes Charlotte meets Recovery of your inner child in A Lifetime of Impossible Days.
Hannah Capin wrote a novel that had me equally horrified and filled with admiration; it’s Macbeth meets Kill Bill in young adult novel Foul is Fair.
Please note that these books may have different covers depending on who published your copy. I chose my favorite covers for the above image. My copy of Foul Is Fair is an advanced reader copy so isn’t standard in any country.
In the interests of full disclosure, the discussion that included the quote about being a great group of salty women came after the close of the recording. During a discussion with much laughter. This recording was made on Friday and we’ve published it today so there wasn’t time to get permission to include that bit, which could have been considered off the record. Maybe one day. If you’re lucky.
International Women’s Day Interview Questions
Why write sexual abuse?
All of you ‘closed the door’ on the actual rapes, with sexual abuse happening off-page. Why?
You wrote empowered women or empowering victims or both; this is a contrast with novels like Things We Cannot Undo, another book about rape and its consequences. Why empowerment and not victimization?
You are influencers because literature does influence readers. What do you hope to achieve with these stories?
Jennifer and Tabitha, you both wrote disability: in Break the Fall, Rey has acquired a disability possibly because her coach pushed her beyond her physical limits, not caring about her well-being. And Tabitha, you wrote a character with PTSD, which is not uncommon among adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and violence. Your characters both engage with these issues and avoid them; can you unpack that for us please? Hannah also wrote a character with PTSD but the character is in denial.
What are you planning next?
My last question is who would win: Wonder Woman or Lady Loki?
Find these International Women’s Day authors and their books
All Dark Matter Zine posts featuring Jennifer are here in case you’re coming to this page from the future when we’ve reviewed more of her books or she’s visited again. Meanwhile, our review of Break The Fall is here.
Dark Matter Zine has previously reviewed Tabitha’s book and interviewed her. All posts relating to Tabitha are here. She’s such a regular guest on DMZ that she should be on staff! Nalini reviewed A Lifetime Of Impossible Days; in June 2019, Nalini interviewed Tabitha; and in February 2020, Tabitha joined Meg Mundell and Rohan Wilson to discuss why they all set – or, in Tabitha’s case, partially set – their novels in the mid to late 21st century. Tabitha also pops up in some other Authors For Fireys fundraiser posts because she donated a copy of her book to the fire fighting and bushfire survivors fundraiser.
All Dark Matter Zine posts featuring Hannah are here, just in case you come from a glorious future when we’ve reviewed more books and she’s visited us again. Meanwhile, DMZ’s review of Foul is Fair is here.