Most of my released works are from the perspective of a female character. This is for two main reasons: 1. being a woman, I understand that point of view and 2. Women are still underrepresented as heroic figures (sad as that may seem with the rise of YA novels).
But, I haven’t gotten there yet. I do have a few stories in my “to be released” folder with a male main character, but they always get sidelined. Often, like in the Rise of the Iliri series, or even in some chapters of The Wolf of Oberhame series, males share the spotlight as one of many main characters, but they have yet to be the primary. I’ve been pondering this a bit lately. First, because I really enjoy writing from the male POV, because it allows a degree of freedom not accepted from female characters. (More on that later.) But I also want to challenge my writing.
So why haven’t I? Because there are so many things that can’t be shown as well from a male’s perspective. Let’s be honest. The horror of slut shaming isn’t the same for men (in most cases!) as it is for women. Pregnancy? Again, not as easy to show the myriad of problems that can run through a woman’s head. Men do have their own issues that deserve the spotlight, but women still end up the one carrying (pun intended) the burden.
And then there’s the current political climate. To me, it’s simply disingenuous for someone so strongly opposed to sexism and misogyny to take the easy way out – and writing from a guy’s perspective is often the much easier path. Just look at how many people complain when a female character uses foul language in a novel, but expects a man to speak like that! They aren’t even aware they’re being sexist, but… someone needs to poke the bear, and I’m totally up for it.
In fact, the current oppression of women has compelled me to write even more. There are these topics that need to be discussed in a way that removes the political party preference from the conversation. Fantasy is a wonderful way to do just that. There is no American president in a world with no America, so it no longer matters who supports and who resists his policies. The point becomes nothing more than if it is or is not proper to enslave humans for crimes, or to discriminate against a man-made species, or even to dwell on the lack of awareness of evolution and the possibility of divine intervention.
A new setting and new rules make all of us rethink the problem and readdress the situation from a whole new starting point. It’s no longer about who we know/knew, how we were raised, but rather it comes down to which side we’re rooting to win. Is the story told from the POV (point of view) of a selfish jerk? Maybe an orphan with a heart of gold and a depressing back story? Does that change how you feel about them stealing and the potential punishment for it?
Now, what if we took all of that and made it about women’s issues? Pregnancy and the rights of the unborn. Should a warrior fight for her freedom and potentially risk her unborn child’s life for the chance that they may live in a better world? What about the sexism of work valuation? And how about gender roles? Oh, I play with that one a lot in the Rise of the Iliri series, and I’m still not sure how many people notice the angle those little beasties took.
But I do have this book in my work list with a male lead…
I promised my husband I would write something steam punkish. Now, since I’m not a big reader of the genre myself (no time!) I won’t even try to be true to it. Mostly, I’m playing with a Victorianesque setting, steam type technology, but in a second world fantasy that focuses minimally on the tech. I am, however, dwelling on the secondary character’s gender. Mouse is… let’s say confused about gender. Taught that boys do somethings and girls do others, Mouse has chosen a more male dominated profession, but still has a weakness for feminine things. Mouse’s exceptionally masculine mentor is beyond frustrated at trying to figure out whether or not external genetalia has any bearing on Mouse’s gender identity – and I’m not sure Mouse knows either! In all honesty, I have no clue what decisions Mouse will end up making about gender roles, or how the mentor will adapt to their friendship, but I have a feeling these characters will be the ones figuring it out. And don’t worry, Mouse’s gender is a very minor role in the whole story.
But, I still have one very jealous gladiator who demands that I write the next chapter. Tristan is adamant that his story will be finished sooner rather than later. The problem is that Sal doesn’t like to share the limelight. There are days that I wake up and I’m like “Ah ha! That’s what happens in chapter 42!” so I’m writing the book that grabs me.
I just need more time, more hands, and a few more keyboards to get all of these stories out of my head. How else can I dive into the diversity of my imaginary friends? Needless to say, if you don’t hear from me for a bit, it means I’ve stepped into another world…..and am writing like mad!
Even when I should be sleeping.