Trevor Williams: ‘Why shouldn’t men write chick lit?’
July 9, 2014, Article by Tom in Books
Something a bit different today, as we hear from a male author doing something that is probably seen as quite unusual: writing chicklit. Here’s why Trevor Williams has chosen this writing path…
I’ve been writing for years. I write all sorts, from historical novels to thrillers and, more recently, romantic comedies. Romcoms, aka Women’s Fiction, aka Chicklit, 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?
My second book, The Room on the Second Floor, was reviewed by Chick Lit Reviews and News. They gave it a very good rating. As far as they were concerned, they had no problem accepting me as a writer of Chicklit. So, it’s official. Man writes Chicklit.
So just what is Chicklit? When I first came upon the word, it sounded like something poultry farmers use to make cages more comfortable for their young birds. I have since learnt the true meaning. 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 wellbeing. 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, When Alice met Danny is written from the perspective of the main, female character. She’s a high-flying businesswoman, a property developer and shoulder to cry on for lots of the other characters. 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.
Any other male chicklit authors out there? Make yourselves known gentlemen. Give us a tweet @StareAtBooks and tell us about your books.
Trevor Williams writes under the name, TA Williams, for Carina UK. Find out more about his books at: www.tawilliamsbooks.com
His latest book When Alice Met Danny is out now.
And if you do happen to fancy giving some women’s fiction a go, visit In My Handbag. You never know, you might like it.