Monday, January 12, 2015

Mr. Smith, I Believe?

"Most male authors create male protagonists and women create female protagonists. Have you ever tried to write a main character of a different sex?"

 - from Susan

Important characters, yes. Protagonists, no. I haven’t felt the need in any of my stories to have the central voice be masculine. That’s not to say I don’t have major roles for males in my books, that they don’t have voices, and characters that I hope are convincing.

Richard Argetter III is the bad boy ex-husband in the Dani O’Rourke traditional mystery series, a charming but flawed young man with $450 million dollars, two Porsches, and a pied a terre in Paris. He’s good for laughs and has an open nature that almost compensates for his lack of impulse control. I must be doing a decent job because half my readers love to hate him and the other half want his phone number.

There’s a puffed-up academic dean in the newest book in the series, out in March, who is a pastiche of all the puffed-up deans I have known, and I knew far too many in my previous life. I had fun channeling university characters who felt it necessary to waste time demonstrating their importance. (That is the fate of deans, forever caught between the faculty and the executives, none of whom admire them as much as they admire themselves.)

Dani is attracted to a SFPD homicide inspector who’s a nice guy, and I hope I’ve done his voice and character justice. But it’s hard to make him too much of a hero in her life because he is attached to his cell phone, which interrupts every personal move either of them make toward each other. He’s forever shrugging his shoulders, apologizing, and heading off to answer the call of duty.

I’m excited about a new novel I’m polishing that’s set in rural France, something a little different for me. In it, I have the double challenge of having major male characters who are also – zut alors! – French speakers. It’s quite a lively town, in fact. There’s an old German who lives in a castle and calls out a flippant French neighbor, a moody American teenage boy who looks like someone out of a Calvin Klein perfume ad, an American cowboy songwriter….There are quite a few men in this story, and I like them all and hope I’ve done them justice. 

1 comment:

Robin Spano said...

All those men sound fascinating. So can I have that first guy's phone number?