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Writing First Person: Men writing female protagonists / Women writing male protagonists

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Showing 1-11 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 16, 2012, 1:48:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 31, 2013, 4:38:58 AM PST
Dog Lover says:
This came up somewhere on some Amazon forum (can't remember if it was this one or not.)

It reminded me that I was caught by surprise when I discovered that the Beau Beaumont series (which I love) - male protagonist, 1st person - was written by a woman, J A Jance. I remember that I recognized a bias (this was a LONG time ago) for this. I thought I preferred, um, gender line-up between the author and the protagonist when written in 1st person.

No longer the case but I did wonder how many men had written 1st person female POV. Came across a recommendation for this

by Robert B. Parker (author of the Spenser series of course.)

I read the first - Family Honor (Sunny Randall) - and kinda liked it but I did notice something. I can't really describe it. Not very overt just this sensation that Parker can't really get into that female's mind. I wonder how much of that "sensation" was due to the fact that I knew, going in, that I was looking for some sort of problem.

I ordered the rest of the series and all but the SECOND has arrived. (Don't you just hate that? It is virtually impossible for me to read a series out-of-order.)

Off hand, I can't think of other examples of men-writing-female-1st POV or women-writing-men-1st POV other than Jance's Beaumont series.

Have you folks ever thought about this? (My brother refuses to read thrillers or historical novels and such if written by women. Incredible, isn't it?)


Posted on Dec 16, 2012, 2:42:32 PM PST
Cluny says:
The reason some pseudonyms are either androgynous or writer uses a pen name of the opposite gender is often partially due to these prejudices /gender biases. There are authors who do not voice their own respective genders well. Female authors especially in times where female writers were not respected in mystery genre (and other genres) wrote using male names.
Gender does not insure historical accuracy either (you can tell your brother) . Prime example is Doris Kearns Goodwin 's books on Lincoln......accurate! Bill O 'Reilly book on Lincoln.....inaccurate.

Posted on Dec 16, 2012, 3:02:36 PM PST
Mo Hayder who wrote Gone is a female - i haven't read any of her stuff, but she seems to be able to get into the opposite gender's minds from reviews that I have read

Karin Fossum - Don't Look Back - the mc in her series in male

Posted on Dec 16, 2012, 4:41:03 PM PST
I'm so bad at remembering what voice any book is written in that I don't know the answer to this one. I thought of Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey, but I know that wasn't written in first person. Some of Agatha Christie's books were written with Hastings as first person narrator, weren't they?

Posted on Dec 16, 2012, 8:36:19 PM PST
Could this be a male writer writing about a female detective? Alex is typically a male name... Either way, I guess I don't care... It was a great book!

Death of a Player (A Mena Young Mystery)

Posted on Dec 17, 2012, 9:18:58 AM PST
Dog Lover says:
I suspect my own bias is to think that female writers can do male POV better than male writers can do female POV. I freely admit that bias is involved but not fatal to my enjoyment of the work.

For example, I kept getting distracted when reading that Parker book (referenced in my OP) by wonderin' if Parker could have handled the, um, er, "normal" physical realities of womanhood.

Sunny did have a distinctively "masculine" outlook on life BUT Parker set that up with her back-story very convincingly. I really do think that if this had been written under a pseudonym I probably wouldn't have blinked an eye.

Wonder if men will chime in and tell us that women can't do the masculine POV as well.


Posted on Dec 17, 2012, 9:29:43 AM PST
HJ Leonard says:
JR Rains writes the Samantha Moon Vampire series. I could tell that he was a man, and it annoyed me enough that I struggled to finish the 3rd book, and DNFd the 4th (okay, that isn't mystery, but UF/PNR, but still).

A series that I do really like, with a female author writing male 1st person POV is Ashley Gardner aka Jennifer Ashley, aka Ashley James (etc), and her Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries. Since I am a woman, I have no idea if Captain Lacey sounds like he's coming from a woman's viewpoint or not, but it didn't seem so to me.

Posted on Jul 12, 2013, 7:14:23 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jul 12, 2013, 7:28:18 PM PDT]

Posted on Jul 14, 2013, 5:35:56 PM PDT
Funny story... (at least I hope you'll find it so). I'm in a writing group, and when I started, over 15 years ago, I was writing about 2 male cops. The group, rather aggressively (but correctly), pointed out that male cops entering someone's home would not comment on the curtains in the windows, as I had one of them do.
Fast forward 15 years. I was writing from a female POV, and an editor told me the story was too "masculine..."
And so it goes.

Posted on Aug 22, 2013, 5:42:42 AM PDT
Thus Was Adonis Murdered In this book, you don't know if the detective, Hilary Tamar, is male or female.

Posted on Aug 22, 2013, 8:47:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 22, 2013, 8:47:56 AM PDT
Hikari says:
James Patterson alternates pretty evenly between male and female POV. "The Women's Murder Club" series is entirely female-centric. While I can buy his supporting members of the squad, the lead detective, Lindsay Boxer is written like a male fantasy of a tough-as-nails, yet sexy, gorgeous chick. Lindsay is constantly admiring herself in the mirror, describing her hair and body in great detail and just how slammin' she feels that she looks in her clothes. A woman would not do that, unless she has a narcissistic personality disorder. Women tend to be more self-critical. Even the most fit and beautiful will have her insecurities. Patterson writes Boxer as though she is oogling herself all the time, as he would like to. She's not a realistic cop creation to me, more like Playmate of the Month playing homicide detective.
Kate Atkinson writes Jackson Brodie. I haven't read the books, but Jason Isaacs plays him for television and also reads the audiobook versions---plenty butch. :) Val McDermid also has a male profiler, Tony Hill, essayed by Robson Green in the Wire in the Blood series. Tony is a sensitive soul, but obviously a man. Perhaps being a lesbian helps Val to be more in touch with her masculine side.
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Discussion in:  Mystery forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  11
Initial post:  Dec 16, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 22, 2013

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