So I’ve been thinking about what topic I wanted to tackle today. Thanks to a customer, I had a this great idea about voices. No, not the kind of voices you hear in your head, although there is a time and place for that. However, before we get too deep, I must embark on a momentary tangent, because it’s important to explain why I might periodically lose track of whatever the hell I’m talking about. For the last week and a half, I’ve been afflicted with toxicodendron radicans on both legs and both arms. Don’t worry, it’s not serious. What I’m calling Satan’s Scratch is more commonly known as simple poison ivy, and I have to stop every third sentence because IT ITCHES SO FREAKING BAD. Then I smear more calamine lotion on and hope for the best. Then it’s all fine and good for the moment, and believe me, it can be a very short-lived moment. So anyway. What was I talking about? Voices. Oh yeah.
I work once a week in a small, independent mystery bookstore. Lots of awesome customers come in and we often get to talking about books. Gee, ya think? BWAAAA IT ITCHES! Ice pack! ICE PACK! Ahh, Wee Wee (yes, that’s my wife’s nickname—one day maybe I’ll tell you how she was stuck with that) hurry. Oh, God. Oh. OH. That’s soooo good.
Jeez. See what I mean about distracting? Back on track, Chandler. Back on track. So this customer and I got to talking about writers. This customer happened to be a man, and he was one of the guys who fairly often gave women writers a chance. He was pretty clear about which writers he’d read, so I asked him why. He told me it was because these particular women could write believable male characters. He said that it could go the other way as well. Some male writers can’t write a realistic female character to save their lives, while others can. J.A. Konrath wrote the Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels mystery series, and pretty well channeled his inner gal. Then you have the infamous Robert Galbraith penning what turned into a wildly successful PI novel in The Cuckoo’s Calling after it was revealed J.K. Rowling was the author behind the man.
What qualities allow someone to pull off a successful portrayal of the opposite sex, particularly as main characters? What do you readers out there think? Lesbian fiction is almost exclusively written by women. Most main characters are women, but not necessarily all. How would you feel about a guy writing a lesbian? Would it matter if he were gay? If he were straight? Would you read a book by a lesbian that had a male protagonist? Why or why not? What do you thinks make for an accurate voice, male or female? I know one of my pet peeves is when women or men write their female protagonists as weak and unable to stand up for themselves, needing to be saved by someone, even if that someone is a hot lesbian herself.
See? This is what happens when I think too hard while I’m knee-deep in crime novels. It’s a conversation that I don’t think has any right answers, but should prove to be very informative and interesting. Please share your thoughts while I head back to Walgreens. I think I now fund the itch-relief section in its entirety!