Friday, August 19, 2011

I Am Not a Girl

Happy Friday! I'm delighted to report I've had no more rat-biting-kitten dreams, but the insomnia does seem to have sunk in its teeth a little further. I've been awake since 3 a.m., wheeeeeeeeee!

Ahem. So, I'm delighted to welcome Aussie author M.J. Hearle to my blog, who very obviously is not a girl. Read on for more.... over to you, MJ!

Firstly, thank you so much to the lovely Talli for letting me borrow her blog for the day. I promise to return it promptly and in the same condition it was given (those scratches were there beforehand...honestly!)

Secondly, I’m going to take this opportunity to make a startling confession – I am not a girl. Yes, I know my first novel, Winter’s Shadow is a Paranormal Romance, a genre typically dominated by female writers. Yes, the story is told almost entirely from the perspective of a teenage girl and it’s true M. J. could stand for Mary Jane, (it was in fact the intention of my publisher to obscure my gender) but I would like to state for the record that I am absolutely, positively not a girl.

Michael James Hearle is a man...or a thirty-one year old boy, depending on who you speak to.

Being a man, and concerned with such manly things such as football and cars, one might think it was difficult writing a novel from the perspective of a teenage girl.

One would be right.

Unfortunately, the story that had popped into my head, the story that was making it difficult to sleep at night, demanded to be told in a seventeen-year-old girl’s voice. A girl named Winter Adams. Somehow I had to find that voice, but what did I know about teenage girls? Sure, I’d been through high school with a bunch of them, but I didn’t understand them then and age certainly hasn’t improved my understanding of these mysterious creatures. So, I decided to take a different tact.

I didn’t know anything about sensitive teenage girls, but I did know a fair bit about sensitive teenage boys – I would write Winter as though she was a boy. Winter became me – or a version of me, with alternate plumbing. Once, I’d finished the book I gave it to the three most significant women in my life – my mum, girlfriend and sister – to see if I’d succeeded or if I’d completely missed the mark. The feedback from all three was that Winter felt pretty authentic, however some of the finer details in my characterisation needed tweaking. Here’s a few of the notes I received:

• Middle-aged women in the fifties might have gone to bed wearing facemasks and cucumbers over their eyes, but seventeen year old girls generally don’t. They also don’t get to bed with rollers in their hair.

• Girls don’t just sit around talking about boys and shoes. They can discuss other topics such a music, movies, television, and politics. They probably wouldn’t discuss who won the football on friday night.

• Not all girls love Sex in the City (though most do) and even if they do, it’s doubtful they would refer to themselves as a ‘Samantha’, ‘Carrie’ etc.

• A seventeen year-old girl would probably find Justin Bieber just as lame as a thirty-one year old man.

• Jane Austen isn’t the only author teenage girls read.

• Girls don’t refer to themselves as ‘chicks’.

Tired of the same old glittery vampire and shirtless werewolf stuff, I crafted an entirely new supernatural mythology for Winter’s Shadow. I invented a whole other world, new creatures, new rules, and while coming up with a fresh take on a well worn genre was pretty tricky, I can honestly say it wasn’t half as hard as writing a believable teenage girl.

It’s no coincidence that my next book will be about a thirty-one year old man who likes watching television and eating nachos.

Winter’s Shadow

Blake Duchamp…

He’s all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim’s Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn’t all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.

The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger.



  1. OOH! I like it! And I get to be the first commenter of the day, which is a complete first.
    So glad you ditched the curlers, MJ... your book sounds great - and so what if you're not a 17 year old girl, I reckon 17 year old girls have other things to do besides writing. Will go check it out!

  2. Good morning Talli. I've been up a while too.

    Michael, I totally enjoyed you're post. Your book sounds very interesting indeed. Women write from the male perspective all the time, so it only makes sense men can write from the female. We are all human after all.

  3. Fascinating post! I think the fact that you're a guy makes the book seem more compelling, not less. And - just for the record - girls might also talk about more meaty subjects than music, movies, television, and politics... quite often! Thanks for your thought-provoking and amusing words.
    Jane Gray

  4. Maybe I shouldn't mention that I slept with curlers when I was 17, but that was a few years ago! Your book sounds like an exciting escape! Glad you took over so Talli could get some sleep! Julie

  5. New creatures? Now that is intriguing. Great post. I notice that some men write from female perspectives well while others' style just doesn't fit the female mind set and jars. I guess the same is true of women writing men? :O)

  6. I like the sound of your writing, so pleased Talli let you write here today.


  7. Oooo, "Winter's Shadow" sounds terrific! That's great you had three women you trust to give you feedback on writing from a girl's perspective. It can be tough writing from the opposite gender's POV! Lots of authors do it successfully though. Good for you for telling the story how it was meant to be told despite the challenges!

  8. I can totally understand the gender-obscuring. Smart moe. But I'd love to watch a book-signing. Was he asked if he was MJ's husband or agent? "Will she be here soon?"

  9. Interesting post. I like the sound of this one. I guess you could treat writing from a teenage girl's POV as though she too were a creature from another world :)

  10. Good on you for bucking the trend MJ!!! Good luck and all the best with your book!

    Happy Friday to you and Talli! take care

  11. This was the most kick ass post ever! Talli thank you for having M.J. over! This was so fun!!! I'm glad you were able to learn what girls were not like, each one of them made me giggle more than the last!

    I have a huge grin on my face for the rest of the day.

    Best of luck getting rid of the insomnia Talli!!!

    Three copies of Putting Makeup on Dead People to giveaway at Unedited!

  12. Your book sounds great and I resonate completely with the notion that a character grabs you by the goolies and won't let you go until you tell their story. Of course, I don't have goolies being a woman but I still get it. And even though I'm kind of old - I never go to bed with a face mask and cucumber slices on my eyes either. Who's Justin Bieber?

  13. I love the premise of this Michael! I will have to check it out.

    It's good to have gender critiquers to make sure your character is real. Growing up with 7 brothers gave me quite a perspective for life--and writing males, but I still have trusted men check out my characters and get similar feedback. I have a few skilled fighters check out my fight scenes too.

    Congratulations on your new book and may you have great success!

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  14. Wow I really love it! I'm not seventeen but you got a lot of that right :D the book sounds amazing and will definitely check it out!

  15. So cool! And yes you're right, I never put crap on my face before bed or cared that much about curling my hair. Also, I mostly talked about boys with my boyfriends and other stuff with my girlfriend (can't go there though)...

    Great interview, thanks for hosting, Talli!

  16. YOU BRAVE MAN. Fantastic post; it's great to hear about writing from the opposite side of the gender divide. You picked a tricky point of view--I find it very difficult to write a believable seventeen year old girl, and this despite the fact that I am a seventeen year old girl myself.

    Good thing for your beta readers, though...the vast majority of us hate Justin Beiber and I'd hate any misconception of that fact to reach the general readership.

  17. Don't forget the beer with those nachos and football games!
    My first female character was difficult. Fortunately, one of my critique partners is a romance writer and she helped a lot.

  18. Wow! Looks like a good book! I'll definitely check it out :)

  19. Very intriguing! What is in the attic?? I'm looking forward to checking it out!

  20. I added your book to my list. It sounds great. So glad someone clued you in about chicks and football :)

    FWIW, I love writing from the male point of view.

    Happy Weekend!

  21. ALL the best to you with this project. I have, at times, toyed with the idea of writing from a male adolescent perspective and really admire what you've attempted, here.


  22. Hi, Talli.

    Michael, I really enjoyed your post. Your book sounds wonderful.

  23. Sounds like a great read! Following MJ's blog now. PS: I didn't SLEEP till 3 am! :-/

  24. Glad to read that not all teenage girls are attracted to Justin Bieber.

    I like how you can get into a character's head no matter what the age/sex.

  25. I have never heard of women referring to each other as "chicks". Very good point.

  26. It's great if you have trusted readers of every age group to help point out those little glitches. And I think it's great that you followed your muse and told the story as you felt it needed to be told.

  27. Interesting. Do you have any other female characters ruminating? I once had an eleven-year-old boy named Neal. But his voice was only strong enough for a few chapters then he went bye bye.

  28. Sounds like a terrific book! I loved what you learned from the women in your life! :)

  29. Hey, Talli, Hey, MJ,

    Your story hit so close to home. I wrote an m/g fantasy novel in the POV of an eleven-year-old girl and I am definitely a man.

    I am currently query the story now, but I might have to do the androgynous think too with my name. Agents do seem to by a dude writing in a little girl's voice.

    Your book sounds fantastic and I definitely will check it out.

    Talli have a great weekend... you too, MJ.

  30. What a fun post! Definitely not a girl, love that. We must trust our publishers and their wisdom. :) Your book cover is OUTSTANDING. Yes, I had to shout that, it's that good. Going to put it on my to read list right now...

  31. Haha, so interesting to hear what men think girls do. So glad someone pointed out we don't just talk about boys and shoes! This book looks awesome.

  32. Hi Talli & MJ,
    Love the cover of the book. Kudos to you for "writing" out of the box and using a female teenage voice. That's quite a feat.

  33. Hi Talli - glad to hear no more nightmares.
    Hi MJ- thanks for adding another great sounding book to my TBR pile. Best of luck and cheers~

  34. You had me at Winter from your point of view M.J., and no not all girls watch Sex in The City and yes some do speak of football. :)

    Talli, if I'd know you were up I would have emailed you. I'm in a sleepless time as well. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  35. Talli, sorry about the insomnia. Hope you get some sleep soon.

    M.J. sounds like a great read.

  36. That is SUCH a gorgeous cover, and thanks for the amusing and informative post! I've heard female writers talk about the pitfalls and challenges of writing a male MC, but not vice versa. Enlightening! Ha, good thing you got straightened out on the whole cukes-rollers-Jane Austen-Sex in the City bit. ;o)

    Kudos for you for coming up with a fresh way of looking at/writing paranormal, too. Thanks for hosting, Talli! (and yep, I've heard JK Rowling used initials for pretty much the same reason, to disguise her gender).

  37. Love it!! Thank you Talli and Michael for the post. Can't wait to read it.

  38. Thanks guys so much for all the kind comments. Glad you enjoyed the post. Feel free to drop me a line over at if you have any questions about the book. And thanks again to the amazing Talli for giving me the opportunity.

  39. hahaha! Love your voice, MJ. Sounds like a great book.

    (Talli, I know all about 3 a.m. It loves to mess with us.)

  40. Lovely guest blog - thank you, Michael and Talli.
    Michael, you cover art is very striking and the teaser did just that. As I recall, seventeen year old girls are hurricanes.

  41. Well that sounds like a good book from the female point of view, M.J. and you've made me want to read it now!

  42. LOL I love the tips the women in your life gave you. I doubt that most men could write a teenage girl's POV really convincingly, so you've really accomplished something! :)

  43. I like your tone, young man :)

  44. Thanks for introducing me to MJ! Enjoyed reading this post. :)

  45. Hi Talli, Hi MJ,

    Sounds like a terrific book! I loved reading about you MJ, and thanks Talli!

  46. Hmmm I'm looking for something new to read. Might check it out. I'm all about writing from the perspective of a female but have not yet ventured into the genre of Paranormal Romance.

    Talli I enjoy this blog!

  47. *laughing* about the face mask/cucumbers - I've never done that either and I'm 54 - lawd! Nor curlers - double lawd!

    Loved the post ... and good luck in all your writing dreams!

  48. I like the premise of the book, and find it refreshing that a paranormal romance is not authored by a woman :)

    Talli, I hope your insomnia sorts itself out soon!

  49. Thank you for hosting MJ, Talli. MJ: You are indeed a fascinating "man" and I think it's amazing that you got inside the mind of a young girl. This is the mark of a great writer, IMO!

    Winter's Shadow (great title) sounds wonderful. (BTW, I was a "girl" in the fifties who TRIED to sleep with rollers in my hair, though I never did the facemask/cucumber thing! I never knew that women in the fifties did that; my own mother didn't.)

    This has been a totally enjoyable post, thanks to both of you, MJ and Tallie.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  50. Sometimes it's fun to step out of our gender. I discovered I enjoyed writing from a male perspective far more than from a woman's when I did my YA series.

  51. I don't even know if I could write a believable teenage girl--and I was one. I'm intrigued.

  52. I hate insomnia. Hate it.

    Michael, your post was wonderful and your book sounds great!

    Talli, I've been away and missed so much on your blog! Yaaay for catching up, though!


Coffee and wine for all!