Women’s fiction writers are, of course, female authors who share stories from a woman’s perspective. The category of women’s fiction from those who write their artistic works may feature female protagonists and focuses on relationships and an unfolding experiential journey. This broad generalization encompasses all genres of fiction, so here in this list you will find science fiction and speculative fiction, romance writers and Nobel laureates, debut authors, classic female authors, and women from a variety of cultural backgrounds and experiences.
The women writers and fans in this list cover the entire spectrum of a female author’s writing career. Learn some new writing exercises and discover workshops, explore the process of getting published, marketing and promotion tips and tricks, and even what happens at writers’ conferences, where shifts in the publishing industry unfold. So whether you’re a fan of women’s fiction or are an aspiring or current female author, there is something for you to enjoy from this list!
#1. Reading Women
The first thing Reading Women points out on their home page is that women writers are seriously under-represented in the world of literary awards. They aim to promote the great female authors and the women’s fiction they create with the goal of representing at least half of a bookshelf filled with award-winners.
The Hosts: Kendra Winchester and Autumn Privett began the podcast to continue to share their love of women’s literature after they were no longer in close proximity as they were during graduate school together. Since their start in 2016, their hosting team has expanded to include a handful of women from a wide variety of backgrounds.
The Guests: Published women authors from diverse cultural backgrounds and experience come on as guests. A look at all of them shows that women writers from all over the world have stories to tell. Prize-winners and writers who are prominently featured in the press, they have crafted some of the best women’s fiction to “reclaim the bookshelf”, the stated goal of the podcast.
Why You Have to Listen: Their selections are grouped by themes and cover all genres of literature. You can find discussions on graphic novels, mysteries, and fictional universes as well as focuses on Asian authors, African heritage, Indigenous women, and Ramadan tales.
This is a wonderful educational journey to embark upon to learn about women’s experiences all over the world. While there are sometimes mature themes, teens interested in pursuing literature can listen to the discussions about the works before reading them. For readers of any age or gender, there is much to be learned from these stories.
Listen to Reading Women
#2. Hear Us Roar – Debut Author Podcasts
These Debut Author Podcasts from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association have artwork that identifies it as Hear Us Roar hosted by Maggie Smith. Visit the website for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, though, and you’ll see it called Debut Author Podcasts — clear, concise, and to the point!
The Host: Maggie Smith is an author who was a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association long before she finished her first novel. Her writing has been recognized in writing contests and her latest work is due to be published in 2021. On her own website, she calls her idea to host a podcast for the WFWA, “a triple win” because it promotes the organization, supports first-time authors, and increases her visibility in the community. Her experience comes from the community support in the writing process, and she encourages this very feminine quality as she boosts other female authors who have been there are launching to the next level: after publication.
The Guests: The debut authors featured on the podcast come from a range of writing backgrounds. For example, the podcast’s first guest, Sweta Srivastava Vikram, author of Louisiana Catch, has had her writing featured in the New York Times. Carrie Mumford, author of All But What’s Left, has an English Literature undergraduate degree and her short stories have been published in anthologies and journals. Elena Mikalsen, author of Wrapped in the Stars, was born in the Ukraine and works as a Pediatric Psychologist who consults for writers on mental health around chronic illness. Others have no professional background in writing but have joined the WFWA to learn the craft of writing and have made it to publication.
Why You Have to Listen: Not only can you enjoy the thrill of discovering new female authors, but you can learn about the process and the inspiration behind it all from this podcast. The supportive nature of a community of women helping to raise everyone’s status is reflective of what women’s fiction as a genre. By listening to and supporting these debut authors by buying their books, we show the publishing industry what we want, not the other way around.
For anyone who is a fan of women’s fiction, or wants to become a writer themselves, this podcast has a wealth of experience and information to share. It’s a behind-the-scenes on the writing process.
Listen to Hear Us Roar – Debut Authors Podcast
#3. Breaking the Glass Slipper
You’ve heard the term “breaking the glass ceiling”, haven’t you? It refers to the invisible barrier that keeps women from rising to the top of the corporate ladder. Breaking the Glass Slipper seems to indicate the need to break a similar invisible barrier in the world of storytelling. This podcast focuses on women in speculative fiction, which includes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. The British Fantasy Awards recognized Breaking the Glass Slipper for Best Audio in 2019.
The Hosts: Three British women writers, Charlotte Bond, Lucy Hounsom, and Megan Leigh host this show. Megan Leigh is described as a pop culture commentator who had the idea for the podcast. She reached out to fantasy author Lucy and horror writer Charlotte. They each bring additional work experience in the publishing world. Megan is a book reviewer for the British Fantasy Society, Charlotte is a romance editor, and Lucy is a bookseller.
The Guests: Bestselling authors, like Brigid Kemmerer and Christina Henry, each with several titles to their names. Published authors who have become screenwriters like Alex Acks, also with several credits. Each addresses the wider implications of their work on a genre-level, and often how it is adapted for film and television.
Why You Have to Listen: While not every episode is an interview, the discussion episodes are fascinating, too. As an intersectional feminist podcast, they are interested in good stories that push boundaries, told by all voices. They also look at how these stories and depictions affect and reflect upon society.
Breaking the Glass Slipper tells us that women don’t need men to rescue them or even keep them “safe” from cosmic horror, scary monsters, or magic. Women are part of all worlds and should be represented there with their own perspectives, experiences, feelings and choices.
Listen to Breaking the Glass Slipper
#4. Bonnets at Dawn
This podcast combines modern fandom and a competitive “smack-down” approach in comparing and contrasting the classic women’s fiction works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne.
The Hosts: Lauren Burke and Hannah Chapman live on opposite sides of the pond, as evidenced by their different accents–one British, the other, American. They’ve got a wonderful way for listeners to learn about the classic female authors these podcasters are clearly devoted to — Hannah is Team Austen and lives in Bristol, and Lauren is Team Brontë and lives in Chicago.
The Guests: Because they travel and present at conferences and historic locations, they often have access to panels of experts and scholars in the field of English Literature from the US and the UK. They also work with museum curators and pop culture professionals.
Why You Have to Listen: Bonnets at Dawn is a fun and lighthearted way to learn about the history and the lives of women in other eras that still influence and engage us today. Lauren and Hannah help us fangirl and geek out over stories written hundreds of years ago, and they take us to places that connect with the women writers who lived in those historical periods. We learn from them how much has changed, and how much hasn’t changed in society, and take a broader view of it all.
Listen to Bonnets at Dawn
#5. Black Chick Lit
The purpose of this podcast could hardly be clearer. It’s really all about women’s fiction, written by and for black women. The moniker “Chick Lit” covers romance that often leans toward a younger audience. Though the term has been used dismissively, it’s always a power move to reclaim language used against you and make it your own. Black Chick Lit covers all genres though, from literary prose to sci-fi and thrillers, and the authors are as much a topic as their novels.
The Hosts: Danielle and Mollie are the hosts who confess that “as they talk prose, judge every character’s decisions, and laugh at their own jokes.” Dani studied journalism and Mollie was an English major, and as their promotional image says, they offer points of view from two women of color. Though one is in St. Louis, the other is in Southern California, they manage to create the feeling that you’re listening in on their regular phone call as they share the books they love.
The Guests: Because their focus is on the reader’s experience, they very rarely have guests, but they do have BCL Chat episodes where they take questions and comments from listeners. Sometimes they do crossover episodes with Alysia of Mocha Girls Read or the Ice Planet Podcast.
Why You Have to Listen: The hosts are honest and down-to-earth about their feelings about the book they read each month. They can go from sharing their depression after reading Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Beloved, to reading the darkly comical Samantha Irby, to examining racism in the Romance Writer’s Association. It’s real life, through the lens of literature.
Listen to Black Chick Lit
#6. Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast
In its second decade, the Women’s Prize for Fiction began in response to author Kate Mosse’s BBC radio interview suggesting the idea of such a prize. An anonymous donor reached out and it began! Since then, it has raised the visibility, success, and prestige of female authors all around the world. The Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast began in May of 2019 but looks back over the work of prize-winners from over the past decade and a half.
The Host: Zing Tsjeng, Executive Editor at VICE UK, but also the author of the Forgotten Women series, leads a panel of guests. Her series includes 4 books: The Leaders, The Scientists, The Writers, and The Artists.
The Guests: Joining in the celebration of women authors are guests like Dolly Alderton, author of Everything I Know About Love; Liv Little, Editor-in-Chief at gal-dem; Scarlett Curtis, curator of the anthology Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies); and even actor Stanley Tucci, who is married to literary agent Felicity Blunt.
Why You Have to Listen: Learn about the best women’s fiction from the UK and beyond over the past 25 years and perhaps discover a new favorite. Plus, if you’re a female fiction writer, you still have a chance to enter your work for the 2020 prize! It just needs to be written in English, and it can be submitted from anywhere in the world as long as it is published in the UK between April 2020 and March 2021. Whether you listen or enter, you’re taking part in a piece of history and a continuous step forward for women fiction writers.
Listen to the Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast
#7. Hot and Bothered
A really refreshing and introspective approach to writing romance novels, Vanessa Zoltan guides her guests and listeners through the process of writing their own romance novel. She is aided by a bestselling author in the romance genre, Julia Quinn, who gives the weekly assignments for those following along at home. The most interesting aspect of Hot and Bothered is that Vanessa sees writing romance novels as a sort of sacred practice, and listening to her you can’t help but feel the same!
The Host: Vanessa Zoltan is no stranger to sacred practice. She has a Masters in Divinity from Harvard Divinity School and is co-host of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Romance novels were her saving grace through difficult times in her life, since they guaranteed happy endings filled with love, and love is something that she connects to an experience of the Divine.
The Guests: Aside from the friends and family that Vanessa enlisted to write their own romance novels, she calls on romance novelists like Pamela Mingle and Beverly Jenkins, along with weekly assignments from Julia Quinn. Vanessa even calls her mom!
Why You Have to Listen: Hot and Bothered has such depth of heart! Carefully, perhaps even lovingly crafted from script to sound production, you’ll follow the story arc of Season 1, with a premise, a transformational journey, and a satisfying, though not necessarily predictable, conclusion. And as they examine romance tropes, they delve into the heart of friendship, love, and caring and examine the ways we understand and misunderstand them.
Listen to Hot and Bothered
#8. Smart Podcast, Trashy Books
Let’s face it. Romance novels get a bad wrap. But that could simply be cultural disdain from the patriarchy for stories that focus on aspects of relationships that women care about — the courting, the romance, the wooing, the foreplay, and professions of love and adoration. Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is unashamed of the Romance genre and instead revels in it.
The Host: Sarah Wendell, author of the book Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels and co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: the Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels. She’s also the co-founder of the website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which is the parent site for the podcast.
The Guests: Romance authors and others involved in the reading, publishing or promotion of romance novels and related media, such as Nita Basu, Marketing and Publicity Manager at Hachette Audio, for example, are guests on the program. Sometimes Sarah is joined by teammates from the SBTB website, other episodes feature visitors from podcasts like The Mermaid Podcast, Boobies & Noobies, and Tea & Strumpets.
Why You Have to Listen: Smart and funny, Sarah and her team take the romance industry seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. The result is an exploration of creativity and passionate living shared as only women can share.
Listen to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books
Women’s fiction is a broad classification that covers all genres written by female authors. The hope is that one day, there will be no need to identify the gender of an author. Until then, podcasts like these, and the writers they celebrate, will have to show the world women contribute to all genres and avenues of artistic expression. From science fiction to murder mystery, from literature to graphic novels, there are women doing great work who deserve recognition.
Discover More Great Audio…