List Envy
List Envy
Jan 14, 2020
22: Top 5 under-appreciated female authors
Play • 1 hr 11 min


Sara-Mae Tuson

Writer of young adult novels, producer for a boutique podcast company, copywriter and editor.

Writer and podcaster Sara-Mae Tuson kicks off a double-bill of brilliant women in literature. This week, Mark and Sara-Mae discuss under-appreciated female authors.

Sara-Mae is a writer who’s turned her natural storytelling abilities into podcasting magic. Her previous work, The Sugar Baby Confessionals picked won bronze in the Best Sex and Relationship Podcast at the 2019 British Podcast Awards, and she’s now working on a series all about the life and work of her first pick.

Mark and Sara-Mae discuss the value of being talked up to in literature, the perception of romance in literature, and the industry’s apparent reliance on classifying work, and putting authors and their work in boxes.

Here’s Mark’s appearance on Your Own Words, in which he talked about Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, and a little about Gene Kemp.

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Sara-Mae’s picks

In order of discussion:

Georgette Heyer

Sara-Mae is a fan of the often looked-down-upon genre of regency romance, and considers Heyer to be the gold standard. This Wimbledon-born woman wrote not only romances, but thrillers, with over 50 novels to her name.

Elizabeth von Arnim

Von Arnim makes Sara-Mae’s list thanks to the elegence and insightfulness of her work. She wrote from the late 19th to the early 20th century, was a modern thinker, and at one time the breadwinner.

Mary Stewart

Sara-Mae picked this 20th century thriller and romance novelist for her vivid writing, her scene-setting, and her ability to place ordinary people into difficult situations, allowing them to do extraordinary things.

Barbara Pym

Sara-Mae’s next pick is described as “forever being forgotten, and forever revived”. Another author who derived meaning from the ordinary, Pym was once described as the most underrated writer of the century.

Cynthia Voigt

Voigt’s book The Runner was an eye-opener for Sara-Mae, as it gave her permission to worry less about conforming to society’s expectations.

Nancy Mitford

“Nancy the novelist” was a joint fifth pick for Sara-Mae, who wonders how much her writing would have been informed and affected by her life and her other (in)famous sisters.

Mark’s pick

In order of discussion:

Victoria Wood

Mark picked Wood as his first selection, as her writing work can sometimes go unappreciated. As well as an accomplished songwriter and musician, Wood was a highly successful standup, and through Acorn Antiques, Dinner Ladies and the mockumentaries in As Seen on TV, has created enduring comic characters.

Nicole Perlman

Mark’s second pick is a co-writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel and Detective Pikachu. As a comic book screenwriter, her name isn’t usually up in lights, hence her addition to Mark’s list.

Gene Kemp

Mark picked this children’s and young-adult writer as a name he fondly remembered from his past, even if he seemed to be unable to recall any of her actual books. Kemp wrote about everyday characters living mundane lives, but brought out the drama through their inner monologues.

Abi Morgan

The creator of the TV show The Hour, and screenwriter for The Iron Lady is Mark’s fourth pick as a writer whose work many of us have enjoyed, especially within the UK, but that we don’t necessarily always attribute to the correct source.

Tamora Pierce

Mark delves further back into his childhood for his final pick, choosing to highlight Tamora Pierce and her Wild Magic book series.

More of Sara-Mae

You can find Sara-Mae’s podcast work under the Fable Gazers banner. Her current series is Heyer Today, tracks the life and work of Georgette Heyer.


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