Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sex Made the Difference

...or rather changing the sex of the main character did.

When I wrote Pockets of Darkness, the main character was Gavin, an Irish thief with a teenage son dropped on his doorstep. Gavin was smug and cocky and didn't suffer the failings of his subordinates.

I sent the book to my friend Lucienne Diver, of the Knight Agency, and she emailed me that the book didn't feel right, but that she thought it would sing with a female lead instead.


Gavin became Bridget. The ex-wife became an ex-husband. The teenage son stayed the same. And the mother-in-law...I left her a witch.

Lucienne was right. The book felt much better. Bridget was a far better character than Gavin, and it was both delightful and onerous changing the lead's sex through the entire manuscript...and then double and triple checking to make sure all the he and she references were correct.

I really really really like Bridget. And I'm hoping you will too.

She's tough and driven, born in NYC and raised by the streets, a former gang member who used to sneak into a boxing club late at night to hone her physical skills. She's complex...and vulnerable. Gavin wasn't near so amazing as Bridget, not as deep, and not near as elegant. And when she "lays down the law" on the members of her thieving band, it is more serious and frightening than when Gavin tried to do the same thing.

Bridget is AWESOME and bad-ass.

I picked NYC because I like to watch cop shows set there, and thrillers. It is a big, bad city with lots of shadows and secret places. My NYC friends helped...providing blueprints of buildings, detailing what corner bodegas had to offer at 3 a.m., and pointing out which subway stops to stay away from late at night. Naturally, I sent Bridget to the scary parts of the subway. Bridget loves the subway. She's one of those "Yea though I ride through the tunnel of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because I am worse than whatever else might be down here."

I settled on Pockets of Darkness for the title 'cause I figured everyone has pockets of darkness in their souls, places where we put all the unfortunate things we've done and experienced. Bridget has a lot of those pockets.

Bridget--and Lucienne--made me rethink some of the other books I was plotting. I've a novel releasing November 1, The Dead of Winter. The protagonist is a woman, and a decorated Army veteran. She fits the story better than a male character would have...though the secondary characters in her life are all men. She's a bit bad-ass, too, but isn't dark and scary like Bridget.

Back in the day when I wrote fantasy fiction for TSR, a lot of Dragonlance books, I had several strong female characters, but the leads in my first two trilogies were men...the book department at the time wanted it that way because of the demographics of the readers. That third trilogy...about goblins...ah, Mudwort...she was pretty powerful. Gotta love strong female leads that are not cliches.

I am yippy skippy happy that Pockets of Darkness is featured in the Thriller Bundle so new readers will ride the subway with Bridget. She'll take them to the dangerous spots...those shadowy places are much more interesting, ya know.

I have two other books available from the wonderful WordFire Press:

You can find my blog at:

No comments:

Post a Comment