|Ghosts by Shena Tschofen|
The most popular post ever made on this blog was by one of our guest bloggers, a very prominent and popular author, who wrote about what it's like for him (being a "he") to write from the point of view of women. I won't reiterate much of what he said, because 1) You should go find it and read it for yourself and 2) he said it better than I would.
(The gist: women are people. Any writer or reader who says anything other than "duh" in response should probably frequent another blog. Maybe one about trucks. That's a thing, right? )
I, also being of the "he" persuasion, have written a couple of novels from the point of view of not just a female, but that of a teenage female from an ethnic background that is not Caucasian! I've had people tell me I write a good teenage girl. I've also had people tell me I haven't a clue what I'm talking about. But that's an almost daily occurrence on any range of topics; my rhino-esque skin protects me.
The weirdest thing for me was having a friend (who was a writer, or he'd like to be: he spent two hours once drunk-texting me asking how to finish writing a novel he had yet to begin... he didn't like my answer that there's no magic way, just type EVERY DAMN DAY) who asked me: "Why on earth would you do that?"
The implication being, I haven't a clue how a teenage girl of mixed-race lives or thinks.
To which I say, balderdash! (I actually do say that word a lot. Aloud. Because I'm apparently a barbershop quartet-er from the 1920s.)
It's a ridiculous thing to consider. Did Stan Lee know what it was like to be a teen-age boy bitten by a radioactive spider? Did J.K. Rowling really know anything about orphan boys living in cupboards? Is Stephen King secretly an extra-dimensional gun-slinger? Did Neil Gaiman know anything about the madness inside one of the cutest of the Endless?
There is an inherent challenge for men to write from the PoV of women, and vice versa, sure. Adding on extra elements like race, or powers, or problems, just adds to the experiment. With the right amount of research, or better yet imagination, it can come together perfectly. At no time will you satisfy every single reader—I obviously haven't—but the reward when you do get it right and have someone tell you so outweighs everything else.
So what do I do for an encore to my teenage girl protagonist? I am writing a book about a white guy. Sigh. I hope it helps that he's super-powered and homeless and heroic. All things I'm also not (though my dogs do think it's really super when I give them dinner). But hopefully someday it'll be read by someone who says "wow... you really get in the head of homeless super-heroes!" It's a challenge well worth taking.
By day, ERIC GRIFFITH is a writer/editor with a major technology website. By night, he's a layabout and sometimes writer of fictions. His novels include BETA TEST from Hadley Rille Books and KALI: THE GHOSTING OF SEPULCHER BAY. Visit Eric at http://egriffith.info.