I particularly enjoy books written by women, primarily for women readers and Jane has addressed this subject in her exclusive article for this blog tour.
WRITING WITH WOMEN IN MIND - Jane Cable
In the days when I had an agent he told me that men never read books by women and women read books by everyone. Sweeping generalisation it may have been, but rubbish it was not. I thought about my own other half’s reading habits and realised that just about the only female novelist he regularly downloaded was Kathy Reichs (although he has recently confounded me by buying a cut price suite of Hilary Mantel for his Kobo).
So as a woman writer, am I necessarily writing for other women? I think so, yes. Although a large number of men have enjoyed The Cheesemaker’s House – despite it being a romance, which over 80% of the male sex pretend never to read. But was it written for them? Probably not.
It is said that as a writer you need to work with your typical reader in mind. For me, that reader was probably my mother; intelligent, young at heart, and bored to tears with predictable boy-meets-girl romances. But not someone who wanted to work too hard at a novel either – after all, reading is meant to be a pleasant pastime and not a chore. If she found herself making lists of who the characters were and how they fitted together then she knew it was time to give up on a book.
It’s one thing to recognise writing with a particular woman in mind but quite another to analyse how I write with women in mind generally. I am not an overly analytical author; I see myself as more of a storyteller, really. There’s a pressing urge to share the characters who populate my head and to make their stories so compelling that a reader will want to follow them to the end of the book – and miss them when they’ve finished reading it.
That’s probably the main way in which writing for women, by women, differs; the narrative is driven by the characters and not the action. We are generally so much more interested in other people than men are. You only have to think about the differences in the conversations men and women have on their nights out or around the water cooler to realise that.
Although a good half of The Faerie Tree is written from the point of view of a man, that man is necessarily filtered through the eyes of a woman and so will doubtless appear more credible to female readers than male. However much you watch men and try to see the world from their point of view, a woman writer can never write a man as a man would. Neither can a man create a 100% perfect female character.
That’s not a criticism – it’s a fact. I write about gay men, straight men, mothers, elderly ladies – I have been none of the above. But as a writer I have imagination and, I hope, keen listening and observation skills. As a woman I am fascinated by people and take time to understand them. It’s what we’re comfortable with – it’s what we do.
Here is a lovely photo of Jane and her Mother.
I'm delighted to say I'm reading the Faerie Tree right now - watch this space for my review as soon as I've finished reading it.