I just finished reading an interesting author interview in The Guardian. There were several things I liked about it, one being that it was more of a conversation than an interview, in which the author was as interested in the interviewer’s opinions as the interviewer was in hers.
I’d never heard of the writer, AM Homes, and I’m not sure if I’ll like her books, if I can track one or two of them down. But she’s one of a rare breed, a woman who writes mostly from a male point of view.
“Men have been writing about women for ever. Here was a woman writing dangerously, provocatively, about boys and men, and using the male persona. That was intriguing.”
JW: Why do you write from the male perspective nearly all the time?
AM: That is my imagination. It’s the place I go. I am comfortable there so I can be uncomfortable there. I find it harder, self-consciously so, to write a female narrator.
Until recently, I hadn’t thought about the question of women writing as men. It was just something that comes naturally to me, and if it’s unusual or possibly controversial, that’s something to look into. Apparently, a woman writing from the male point of view is both unusual and possibly something of a freak. Why else would someone bother to edit a collection of science fiction short stories by women, with the requirement that the stories be from a man’s perspective?
I didn’t like the book, and after struggling about 3/4 of the way through the stories, I gave up. What turned me off was the lack of substance. The stories were, for the most part, gimmicky — clever, amusing, and unsatisfying. I find short stories in general unsatisfying, so maybe that was my problem. Or maybe most of the authors weren’t accustomed to writing as men, so chose fairly standard ways of approaching the problem.
I’m not sure there’s any real shortage of women writing from the male POV, or whether it’s actually controversial, but I wonder why those who do object have no problem with men writing from the female POV. All that’s required of either is insight.
Women Writing Science Fiction as Men, edited by Mike Resnick, 2003