Michele Regenold, Writing for Kids from the Boondocks

A blog about writing for children and the quest for publication.

Monday, July 03, 2006

First person, opposite gender

Some of my favorite reading when it comes to adult novels is female detective fiction. I mean specifically those novels that are narrated by a woman who earns her living as a private detective. Sara Paretsky is my favorite. I think she writes smart, literary mysteries that also have a lot of action and suspense.

Those are hard shoes to fill. Nevertheless I'm always scouting for more.

Robert B. Parker, who's known for his Spenser mysteries, started writing a female detective series several years ago. I just stumbled on to it. It's in first person. The character is fairly believable, although the narrator's voice doesn't engage me.

There's nothing particularly off about the first-person narrator. But I couldn't stop remembering that "Sunny" was really Parker in disguise. For one thing his author photo fills the back cover.

Sunny describes herself as a feminist. Interesting then that this single, childless woman gets involved with taking care of a teenage runaway/missing person in the first book of the series. I wonder why Parker put her in a mommy role for the first novel in this series. And why, at the climax, when bad guys are chasing her in their Lexus, does Parker send Sunny running to a restaurant filled with men to defend her?

This seems similar to having adults solve the problems in a children's novel.

I'm constantly amazed at how differently men and women think about things. If you know your characters well enough, I suppose it shouldn't matter if you're writing from the opposite gender. And if you grew up with siblings of the opposite gender and/or have kids, maybe that's enough to give you insight.

There's an awful lot of ways you can mess that up.


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