Can male authors ever write women well?

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15/09/2016
Goodreads Best Debut Author 2016 semifinalist Beat The Rain
Beat The Rain named semi-finalist in Goodreads Choice Awards 2016
09/11/2016
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men and women
A man writing women's fiction!

CAN MALE AUTHORS EVER WRITE WOMEN WELL?

Can a male author ever write a female character authentically? It’s a question I naively didn’t even ask myself when I sat down to write my first novel, despite the fact that half of it is told from the female protagonist’s perspective.

Then reviewers started commenting on it:

“The genre of contemporary women’s fiction is seen almost as the preserve of women authors, but in Beat the Rain, debut writer Nigel Jay Cooper can hold his head high for penning a moving and gripping read that stands up against the work of his best-selling female peers.

Haunting, touching and at times lyrical, Beat The Rain will undoubtedly draw comparisons with bestseller thrillers such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.” Love Reading UK 

I’ll admit at first, both the man and the feminist in me baulked at that. Women’s Fiction? It’s about a relationship, yes. But I genuinely didn’t set out to write Women’s Fiction.

WHAT CONSTITUTES WOMEN’S FICTION?

Louise (my female lead) takes the traditionally ‘male’ role and goes to work, while her husband Adam stays at home with the children.

I didn’t give much thought to this ‘role reversal’ when I was writing – or rather, it occurred organically. But it’s resonated with readers in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

My characters are emotionally damaged – something I think in the modern, Western world, both men and women can relate to. Stress, anxiety and depression are part of most people’s lives. Beat The Rain is very much about how both men and women navigate that.

MAN UP

To be clear – I don’t have a problem with Beat The Rain being labelled Women’s Fiction. In fact, I am deeply flattered by it.

But I’m also keenly aware of being a male author encroaching on this space – it wasn’t my intention.

Yet, I’m pleased to be part of this debate. With the election in the US, the notions of male and female behaviour, what is perceived to be acceptable (and what is not) have never been more pertinent.

The recent MAN UP CAMPAIGN highlights the fact that men should be ecouraged to feel more, to recognise their feelings more and not bottle things up.

So should Beat The Rain be called  Women’s Fiction because it deals with emotion and relationships – or is this label being applied for another reason entirely?

DOUBLE STANDARDS?

Readers dislike Louise in Beat The Rain a lot. I’d argue there is an element of readers who can’t forgive bad behaviour in her that they may forgive in her husband.

Does society frown more upon some behaviours in women than they do in men?

Can male authors write women authentically? I’d have to answer yes (of course, I’m biased)… I think if you’re a good writer, you write characters that are fully developed and believable, whether they are male or female.

BEAT THE RAIN

Beat The RainBeat The Rain is out now, published by Roundfire Books.

It’s available in paperback and all ebook formats, some of the booksellers are listed below. You should probably buy it 😉

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Barnes and Noble | WH Smiths | Waterstones

2 Comments

  1. Christie says:

    Hi, I tried to share this interesting article on Pinterest but for some reason it wouldn’t allow me to pin the image. Just thought I’d let you know as it may be a glitch at your end.
    Thanks for making us think.
    Happy Writing…

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