Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Victor/Victoria

When you're reading, do you need to know whether the author is male or female? Does this affect the voice you hear in your head or your expectations of the content? I ask because I'm reading a book at the moment that is credited to a man but that I know was written by a women. (I'm sorry, but I've got to say it: I met her at Cheltenham Literary Festival.)

Strange thought, to be sure.
It's not the sort of thing I usually read - it's about an assassin and it's a thrilling tale of spies and murder and subterfuge - so I'm having to take it quite slowly in order not to miss anything; but all the time, at the back of my mind is the thought that I can't believe the tiny, smart, funny woman I met is responsible for the violence and swearing and general nastiness in this book. Don't get me wrong: I'm enjoying it, but I just can't reconcile the two images.

What is nice, though, is that the copy of the book I have is the one the author used for her Cheltenham session. She was one of a panel of three crime writers who discussed the genre and gave readings from their books. So not only is it signed to me, but it also has handwritten notes in it, such as: 'Crisis for [the assassin]. Sets him on path to redemption.' and 'Interaction between characters. Push and pull - conflict - driver for thrillers'. Nice insight into the mind of a writer.

Unlike this. I've just been looking back through my 'ideas and snippets' notebook and have come across a line I wrote some time ago. I can't remember when or where, nor do I know what it means: 'Llittle men on handmade stools.' Make of that what you will.


10 comments:

  1. This is interesting, Julia. I am, at the moment, reading a novel called The Shining Girls. My husband and I got quite a lot of books for Christmas and we have decided to work our way through them, regardless of whether we think they are the type of book we would like. Anyway, I suspect this book was from my husband's pile as it is about a serial murderer, is very graphic and has a male protagonist (not my usual sort of read). I was convinced it was written by a man but it's not - it's by Lauren Beukes. So far it is a gripping read and whether the author is male or female has made no difference to me.

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    1. I've just Googled Lauren Beukes, because I've never heard of her. Now I feel bad, 'cos she's written lots of things, including a graphic novel, a genre I thought was a male thing. Interestingly, I see that in 2010, she directed the documentary 'Glitterboys & Ganglands', about Cape Town’s biggest female impersonation beauty pageant. Seems appropriate!

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  2. I think we do have different expectations from male and female authors. However, some women can be nasty and cold, whereas some men can be kind, considerate and nurturing. I don't suppose we should be too surprised.

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  3. I don't suppose you might tell us the name of the book? The snippet I've gleaned sounds very interesting, and I am certainly good for a copy.

    On your theme, I had someone read one of mine and inform me that 'This is a very manly story! I am convinced you lived before as a man!' Ah... Thank you. I think...

    Diana

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    1. The book is Wicked Game by Adam Chase.

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  4. I'm not sure gender makes a difference to me. If the story is good, I'm never surprised by who writes it. I simply add the author to my list, as one I'll likely read again.

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    1. I don't choose a abook just because it's written by one or the other. It's just that its written in the first person and I can't square the two images in my head.

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  5. -Really haven't given this much thought. If the writing is good, doesn't matter to me. However I have wondered how male readers react to female authors.. Is this why J.K. Rowling used initials? Would love to hear some guy perspective on this.

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  6. I very much am interested in this topic. Does it matter? Does anything about the author, other than the ability to deliver a good story which is well-written, really matter? Should it matter?

    The publishing industry told a woman that she had to use her initials if she wished to publish her children's book about an extraordinary young boy. It was the only way to get males to read it, they said. So she did.

    Think any boys have opted not to read Harry Potter since they found out that the "J" stands for Jo, a female?

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