I am very pleased to welcome Trevor Williams to the blog today. He has written a guest post about being a male author writing for women. As I saw another author say, no-one ever asks thriller writers how they get inside the psyche of their killers but people are always fascinated by how a man can write from a woman’s point of view!
First a brief review of the book from me. I thought What Happens in Cornwall was a thoroughly entertaining read! I had expected a light romantic tale and, while there is romance, it is actually quite a small part of the story. There were lots of surprises, lots of intrigue and lots of humour too. Trevor has created some really good characters in Samantha and the rather aloof James. Professor Miles Vernon was someone I didn’t know what to make of initially but all is revealed near the end. The situations Beppe and Giancarlo, the Italian paparazzi, get in are some of the funniest parts of the book, though an honourable mention must go to Doris the dog! There are some serious issues touched upon too such as post-traumatic stress disorder – not perhaps what you would expect in a book which also features a private island with a celebrity owner and paparazzi desperately trying to get near! Cornwall itself features of course and I felt that the author describes the beautiful landscape so well – and the rain of a British summer! This is the first book I have read by this author but I will look out for his other books now. An easy, fun but very well written summer read.
How easy is it for a man to write about women?
The answer is… not very. In fact, it’s pretty tricky. The old adage is that writers should write about what they know. So, when the main characters in my books, like my latest, What Happens in Cornwall…, are women, I’m having to do a lot of guessing. Now, don’t get me wrong; I haven’t spent the last 65 years of my life in a monastery. I’m married to a woman, we have a daughter, and I spent most of my working life among women in an English language school. So, I know the main stuff. It’s what’s behind the scenes that makes it tricky.
When I was growing up, I used to do what all seventeen or eighteen year old boys did on a Friday night in those days (and still do for all I know). I went to the pub with my male friends and drank five or six pints of beer. I then went down to the Quay Club and there, suitably reinforced with Dutch courage and quite possibly with a cigarette in my hand to make me look more grown-up, I would ask some poor unsuspecting girl to dance. With hindsight, it’s all so clear now, but at the time I just couldn’t see what I was doing wrong. Regularly, after just one dance (or less, if she got a whiff of the alcohol or nicotine on my breath), the girl would disappear into the Ladies toilet and never reappear. What happened in there I still do not know. Was there a secret exit door? Did they don wigs and dark glasses and emerge unrecognised, or did they sit there and spend the evening bemoaning the fact that most of the boys they met were brainless?
Since then, I have gradually extended my knowledge of the opposite sex, but it has taken a very long time, and I’m still nowhere near mastering the subject. Technical stuff, like how front-opening bras work or how it feels to have a leg wax, I can get from my wife. She has long since got used to my appearing with a query about kiss-proof lipstick or how to put that black stuff on your eyelashes without blinding yourselves. But, it still needs a lot of imagination to put myself into the head of a woman.
Of course, it’s all imagination in this game. In What Happens in Cornwall…, I have had to think myself into the head of a mega-famous film star. In previous books, I have had to get into the boots of a Tommy in the trenches and even inside a female vicar and a French butler. But the fact is, there are not so many of them about to object if I get it wrong. There are, however, an awful lot of women about who could potentially take exception to my version of their lives.
So, please bear with me if one of my female characters surprise you with something that you wouldn’t say or wouldn’t do. I’m doing my best, but it isn’t easy. Imagine if the roles were reversed. When’s the last time you had a conversation about changes to the offside rule, the advantages of a lithium-ion battery in an impact drill-driver, or the comparative merits of front wheel drive versus rear wheel drive? Like I say, it isn’t easy…
Trevor’s website is http://www.tawilliamsbooks.com
Follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/@TAWilliamsBooks
and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/trevorwilliamsbooks
My thanks to Carina publishers for providing a review copy. What Happens in Cornwall was published on 20th July and you can order a copy here: What Happens in Cornwall.
What the book is about:
For a very British summer holiday. When archaeologist Sam realises her relationship is as dead as the skeletons she’s exhuming, she knows it’s time to make a change. But with bills to pay her options are limited…until a discovery on Rock Island in Cornwall gives her a reason to escape. Head to the Cornish coast! In Cornwall, questions are thrown up at every turn: who is the glamorous owner of Rock Island that the paparazzi are so interested in? How has the irresistible, but impossibly arrogant, history professor James Courtney managed to get so far under Sam’s skin? And will it ever stop raining so Sam can lose the cagoule and sip a cool drink in the sun? One thing’s for sure: there’s never been a holiday quite like this one!