Like most writers, I also had a day job, because one does acquire a certain taste for the luxuries of life, such as shelter and food. I wound up, largely by chance, as a college professor, reading specialist type, working with teachers. So, at the ripe old age of thirty, I looked up to find that my graduate classes were filled almost entirely with women, and this continued to be the case for the next twenty-five years.
In that twenty-five years, I learned a thing or two about women. For example, they are by far the most voracious readers of the species. They have by far the most eclectic literary tastes, are the most forgiving, are the most generous with their time, and are the least critical. They buy more books, share more books, and are more supportive of struggling writers than their male counterparts.
Don’t believe it? Go to your library and see who is carrying out armloads of books. Go to a book club meeting and see who is there. Go to a book signing and check out the line. Go to the used bookstore. Go to the new book store. Go to Walmart. Go almost anywhere and you will discover that it’s women who are almost single-handedly keeping the book business in business.
Now, being the astute observer that I am, I figure it behooves me as a writer to accommodate these readers where I can. Here’s the problem, I’m a man. Given that particular limitation is pretty much permanent, I figure I have to maximize those things that I can change, and here’s how I see it: Remember that there can be beauty in detail and that action is not necessarily excitment. Remember that character is as important as plot, that violence is not synonmous with bravery, and that inner strength is as important as physical prowess. Don’t separate romance from sex, and don’t forget that women can be heroines, or villains, or anything damn thing they want, if I don’t get in the way.
Do I sometimes get it wrong? Well, yes, I am a man. But when I’m standing in front of a group pitching my wares, I’m pretty certain about a few things. Most of them will be women. Many will read my book, and I’m more than likely to get a fair reading.