Can a man write Chick Lit?
Should a man write Chick Lit?
I’ve been writing for years. I write all sorts, from historical novels to thrillers and, more recently, romantic comedies. Rom Coms aka Women’s Fiction aka Chick Lit are titles aimed principally at women. But I’m a man. Should I be doing this? We writers have to draw upon our imagination as far as plot and characters are concerned, so why not use this same imagination to think ourselves into the heads of our readers?
So just what is Chick Lit? Wikipedia defines it as, ‘…genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.’ It seems to me there is a potential conflict here. That word issues all too often has nothing to do with humour. We all have issues and few of them make us laugh. Issues can involve work, relationships, health…. You name it, there are issues connected with it. So, as an author setting out to write about issues in a lighthearted way, I knew I would have to tread lightly.
The next problem I had to face was to what extent women readers react differently in the face of issues, as compared to men. My own experience tells me that when it comes to the big stuff, our reactions are strikingly similar. I cried when my mum died. I cried when I had to take the old Labrador to the vet to be put down. When my business hit a bad financial patch, my wife and I were equally worried for the future. When our daughter got a place on a round the world sailing voyage, we were both concerned for her well-being. So, I would suggest, we all react the same way as far as the big stuff is concerned. We maybe show it in different ways, but that is as much to do with upbringing and conditioning as gender. The days of the Victorian father who hurrumphs quietly and returns to his newspaper after receiving the news of his son being eaten by cannibals are long gone. Emotions are closer to the surface nowadays for men as well as women.
The small stuff is a different matter. I acknowledge that. Shoes to me are things I put on my feet to help me walk. They are not objects of desire to be hoarded and cherished. And we all know, boys like toys. I freely admit it. Take a look in my shed. I still have wetsuits from thirty years ago and enough pieces of bikes to build a new one. But even there, that’s as much down to personality as gender.
That leaves the prickly subject of emotions. Women are moody. Women are touchy and neurotic. Men are feelingless, football-obsessed morons. Need I go on? We’ve all heard it before. But I don’t buy it. Stereotypes abound, but that doesn’t mean they are generic. I know some miserable, emotionless women and some soft-hearted men. We shouldn’t assume each sex always reacts as the stereotype dictates.
So where does that leave me? My latest book, What Happens in Tuscany… is written from the perspective of Katie, the main female character. She’s just left her job and her relationship. When her whole world feels as if it’s falling apart, she takes a deep breath and gets on with it. I would like to think that her reaction is the same as mine would have been. Does that make her more masculine or me more feminine? I don’t think so. I think it makes us human. That’s what we all are, after all.
T. A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He has taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.
From rainy England…
…to the Tuscan sun!
But it wouldn’t be an education without a summer holiday – and where better than Tuscany? Decamping to Victoria’s family villa, it’s soon clear that the valley really does have it all: sun, sea…and some seriously gorgeous neighbours. The only question is: when the weather’s this hot, the wine is this smooth and the men are this irresistible…will Katie ever want to make the journey home?
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