Therese here. Today’s guest is longtime WU community member Matthew Turner. Matthew is a writer from Yorkshire, England, who worked on his debut novel for six years. That novel, Beyond Parallel launches on January 8th. It’s a story that examines the big question, “What If?” (e.g. What if you hadn’t chosen a life with that person, if you hadn’t taken that day off, if you hadn’t chosen that day to drive to the grocery store at four in the morning?) In Matthew’s own words, “In the same mould as Sliding Doors, Beyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales” — the life that emerges for characters who choose path A, versus path B.
It’s also a tale told from a female perspective, something Matthew found, at times, challenging. He’s here to share that tale with us, and offer some tips on being a male author drafting a female’s point of view. Enjoy!
Discovering Your Feminine Side
I’ve spent my life surrounded by women. Some men may think this is brilliant, but let me tell you, it isn’t… always. Four cousins…five aunts…a sister…a mother…and numerous friends, all female. I wanted to play with robots and army men, but I was instead forced to film my sister and her friends rein-act the latest Kylie Minogue video. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that my writing is often aimed at the female reader. I wouldn’t call my debut novel Chick Lit, nor would I compare it to that Fifty Shades business, but it is built around romance.
That’s right, in my haste I decided to craft a journey that spends much of its time inside the mind of a young woman, something I’ve never been able to comprehend. I’ve tried, believe me, I’ve tried.
Here are a few of the things I did to bring out the girl in me:
Examined My Own Life
Surprise, surprise, a lot of my inspiration was drawn from sisters and mothers and cousins and friends. I thought about how they reacted to certain situations, how they responded to my questions, and what made them tick on a day-to-day basis.
Oh, and we can’t forget the countless girlfriends who have inspired me over time. Not all relationships have ended well, but they’ve all left their mark.
I complain about all the female influence I’ve had, but the truth is it’s made me who I am. I’m a man who CAN write from a woman’s perspective, and although it won’t always be 100% accurate, I feel I’m better placed than many.
Worked with a Female Editor
I’m not saying I’ll never work with a male editor, but I’m certainly glad the perfect one happened to be a woman. I was lucky to find Susan, who has helped bring things into perspective on more than a few occasions.
It’s vital to have an editor who pushes you and challenges you each and every time. Beyond Parallel required a keen female eye to keep it on the right track.
The final piece of the jigsaw is to find some lovely BETA Readers to help get your manuscript over the finish-line. Again, I didn’t overlook male readers, but my primary focus was to have women look over my work. Each person is unique and you can’t please everyone, but after a few different minds looked over Beyond Parallel, I soon realised that I’d missed certain female traits. Small, but nevertheless important. Things I didn’t consider until women began reading my words.
You can’t say that!
I wouldn’t think that!
There’s no way that would happen!
Matt, you’re an idiot!
That last one is always my favourite, and even though such comments give an ego a beating, it does help craft a more realistic tale in the end. This is the number one, most important part of the whole process. It’s all about making the best book you can!
We Can Survive
If you’re a man reading this, yes, you can… Yes, you can create a story with a female lead. It isn’t easy, but it’s such an enjoyable and inspiring journey—so long as you understand that you will NEVER fully comprehend the female mind.
Readers, you can learn more about Matthew and his debut novel, Beyond Parallel, by visiting his website/blog, and by following him on Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to check out Matthew’s book trailer, just below. Write on!