Female Horror Authors Writing Male Characters (and Vice Versa)

I’ve been mapping out a tale in my mind for the past week or so.  Initially, I thought that my main character would be a guy.  Initially being for about a day.  And then I got to thinking that I would much rather it be a woman.  Why?  I can’t say, exactly.  I know that I enjoy writing strong female characters.  The thing about this one is that she is flawed–psychologically scarred, tough-as-nails, and an alcoholic.  All of the traits the original character possessed only minus the penis.  I didn’t change the character, only the sex of the character.

The feeling that my MC would be better as a female got me thinking about women authors writing male protagonists, and conversely, men writing women leads.  There is no law against it.  If you do a good job with your voice, your characterization, your authenticity; your story will fly, right?

But is there a stigma where women horror authors are concerned?  I know my dad, a rabid horror reader when I was growing up, just about refused to read female authors.  I remember picking a horror novel for his birthday present, going by the blurb on the back (and let’s be totally frank, here–by the creepy cover).  My dad’s reaction was “I don’t read women authors.”

I didn’t get it.  I’m still not sure that I do.  I’ve always given equal billing to the sexes, I think.  Sure the horror I read was dominated by male authors and the romance, YA, chick-lit was all…chicks.  I don’t think that was a conscious decision on my part.  That’s just the way the numbers generally play out.  There are the exceptions.

I wonder if that author had used a manly (or at least ambiguous) pen name, would my pop have given her a fighting chance?  Would he have seen through her duplicity via her naturally feminine voice?  I know I read it and liked it, but, hey, I’m a girl.

See this article…

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/he-said-she-said

The author seems to be saying that employing less gender-specific style and dialog will make your work more appealing to a wider audience.  Makes sense to me.

But what about my main character–a little rough around the edges, even manly in some ways–will her less-feminine attributes make her more likable for male readers?

I don’t plan to change my name.  And I doubt I will play “Pin the Penis on the Protagonist” before I am done with my story.  Maybe guy readers will never get close enough to find out if it’s any good.

At least I can make my dad read it.  I’ll bring my festering outline to life for that alone.  I’m pretty sure I’m his favorite author these days. 🙂

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