Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guest Post by Tish Cohen

Please join me in welcoming Tish Cohen, author of Town House, Inside Out Girl, and The Truth About Delilah Blue (my review) to The Book Chick today! Today Tish shares about how she feels about the label "women's fiction":

"When I wrote my first novel, Town House, I felt strongly that my agoraphobic protagonist had to be male. This was a character who was going to have panic attacks and severe anxiety and I wanted the reader to love him through it. I considered making Jack female for a short while but believed there was, at the time, something of a double standard when it came to depicting mentally unstable characters in books or on film. If my agoraphobe was a woman, would readers have the same sympathy for her or would they see her as crazy? I felt Jack would find more love as a man.

Right from the outset, I faced resistance—why would I, a woman, write a male protagonist? Would women read the book? Conversely, because I am female, would men? I didn’t know the answer, I only knew I loved Jack and stood by my decision.

The book wound up selling to Hollywood before selling as a novel and part of that reason was—you guessed it—because my protagonist was male. Hollywood, as you may know, is very male-centric.

My next novel was decidedly more female with the points of view of a single mother, her lovesick daughter, and a man with a mentally disabled daughter. It did wind up outselling Town House and I admit it is likely because of the stronger female focus. So while I wouldn’t change Town House, I did learn a thing or two about female readers—they like their female protagonists. But I do love to write males and continue to include a male voice in my books.

I still have female readers ask me whether or not Town House is considered women’s fiction. I tell them yes, it is. And if you like it, please pass it to your husband."

Thank-you so much to Tish Cohen for stopping by, and to Katerina from HarperCollins Canada for organizing this blog tour!

1 comment:

  1. Labeling things as "women's fiction" or "chick lit" is definitely tricky territory! I'd agree that ladies like their female protagonists, but it's refreshing to read about male leads, too. For a change of pace. And since women are so sensitive and perceptive, their take on a male mind is usually awesome. :)

    Great thoughts from Tish! I read The Truth About Delilah Blue earlier this year and enjoyed it.