Next Novel: A Gender Dilemma

When I pitched some books to movie producers at the recent Melbourne International Film Festival, it was really clear they were interested in books with strong female protagonists. If your book only had women as damsels in distress, minor characters or weak characters they weren’t interested. I found this fascinating and it made me think about the character choices I’d made in the past. All my books (with the exception of Mug Punter) pass the Bechdel test, but I’m yet to write one with a female lead character.

I’ve started working on a new novel. So far it has a complete chapter outline and a working title of The Sovereign Assassin (mostly since The Royal Assassin has been used before). What’s stopped me from really getting into the writing of it are two things: one, I’m also trying to write a non-fiction book and it’s frustratingly slow work, and two, I couldn’t decide what gender to make the main character. Such a simple choice has been surprisingly difficult and was something I’ve vacillated upon, because, unlike my previous novels, it has significant consequences for the nature of the story and I want to be making the choice for the right reasons (ie not just because of a pipe dream of selling a movie option on the book). Ultimately, what swayed me was the realisation a planned epiphany which would tie together several threads in the story, would have more relevance with a female character, so welcome to the world Princess Niobe of Tantalia.

What I found interesting was once I’d made the decision to make the main character a woman, other parts of the story, some of which I wasn’t sure would work, fell into place. More than that the whole story seemed stronger. This will be the first time I’ve written a novel with the main protagonist as a female. My first novel, The Conversationist had alternating perspectives, one of which was female and I had one reviewer say I wrote really well from the female perspective, so I’m hopeful I won’t offend people with my efforts in The Sovereign Assassin.

Unfortunately, with still needing to edit Colours of Death, chipping away at a non-fiction book and an estimated length for The Sovereign Assassin of around 85,000 words, it’s going to take some time to write. Maybe, just maybe it’ll be out early 2020.

6 thoughts on “Next Novel: A Gender Dilemma

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    1. The cover for Colours of Death is out early from taking advantage of meeting an artist and a cover designer and striking while the iron was hot. It may still have some tweaking. I really like the cover and want to show it off, even though the book itself is a long way from release.
      Mug Punter is at the proofing stage and should be out within the next fortnight or so, so that cover is pretty much set, although the back cover will change a bit.

  1. Battling sexism is quite high news at the moment isn’t it…even T-shirts in Tesco say ‘women are the future’ so i can see why strong female protagonists are fashionable right now. Good luck with your books!😊

    1. Thanks. I just didn’t want to do it as a token thing – if the gender could easily be swapped after the manuscript was written then what would be the point? After looking at my chapter plan, i think the story wouldn’t make sense unless the character was female. Fortunately, I have no shortage of female voices in my life, so with a bit of luck i’ll do the character justice.

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