Wednesday 13 June 2012

Making That Main Character A Woman

For my new Seattle Emerald City series of books, my main character was a male music journalist – something I did myself in that city. I say was quite advisedly: the company that’s publishing the books (simultaneously as ebooks and audiobooks) suggested making the protagonist female. It wasn’t a demand, by any means, and I understood the practical rationale behind it (one of the women behind the company is American and an award-winning ebook narrator and actress – Lorelei King). But it appealed to me. I’m male, think like a man. Now I’m changing the character’s sex and it’s proving to be a wonderful, deep challenge. It affects every dynamic in the book, every interaction with every character, male and female. More than that, I have to get into her head and learn to think, and more especially feel, as a woman. What writer wouldn’t relish? Seattle in the late 1980s was far more feminist than most parts of the US. Gender politics were rife, as were gay politics, which were interlinked. That has to be part of it, and it’s made me think and become more aware of the sexism inherent in everyday life. It was more so then, and quite casual, but it still exists. It was even there in the music scene, not too bad but still there. There were some female music journalists around, but men remained in the majority and they made up most of the musicians. A woman writer said to me that women feel more. That might not always be exactly true, but in general women are more aware of their feelings, and they’ll discuss them, with partners and friends, so that has to becomes part of the equation of character, too. Add to that the fact that I’m inserting this character into a story that’s already written, although there will be some changes and it becomes even more interesting. Am I enjoying it? Absolutely. Will it succeed? I hope so, but you’ll have to read for yourself to decide. That’s your challenge…

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