Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Women Gone Bad

In my last post I mentioned towards the end that I like to write about "bad women".

I should clarify. I like to write about women doing and saying things our culture has been trying to tell us for centuries are inappropriate for women to say or do. I like to write about women making mistakes, showing self interest, and coming into their power. I like to write about the complexity of their relationships. I like to write about their independence, their sexuality, and the complicated and dynamic way in which they interact with the worlds to which they belong.

I grew up loving women which were singled out as representatives of how the fairer sex should not behave, such as Jezebel, Anne Boleyn, and '80s Madonna. I believed there was more to them. That they could not be summed up in the seedy, one-dimensional drafts I was being given. I found their stories the most compelling, the most curious. I was hungry to know more about their motives, what drove them.

Every one of my characters is born out of these women. Some aggregate of their parts.

Certainly, the women of SONGBYRD are no exception. Someone recently asked me which of the characters on SONGBYRD I relate to most. And I answered that it was Innocence's mother, Dalliance Byrd. Not because I am half so deadly or interesting as Dalliance, but I can relate to the mother in her, the I-would-do-anything-for-my-kid syndrome. I am a bear when it comes to my cubs.

But I love something about each of the Byrd women, even Tempest. They are all fierce in their own way. Innocence is so deeply conflicted and unsure of how to trust herself, her mother, or the world at large. Dalliance, a blaze both tragic and ferocious. Summon is a powerhouse, bright as the North Star, at the command. And Tempest is the storm brewing in every woman, the fury that hell cannot match.

Writing about how they interact with one another and each with their deeper selves, their fears and desires, was a constant joy. I never tire of my characters, of diving into the cogs and wheels that churn at their core.

But then again, I like to write about these things in generalcomplex relationships, conflicting emotions, multidimensional personalities. For me, it just comes easier and more naturally in regards to female characters. Maybe because I am one. Female, I mean. And a character, or so I've been told.

It even extends beyond my writing to my reading. I am almost prejudice in my book selections. I rarely choose books with a male protagonist. They just don't lure me in as often. Maybe because I can't relate as easily.

Overall, I adore complicated and conflicted temperaments, male or female, both in reading and in writing. I don't see the world as black and white. And so I don't reflect that in my work. We all carry the potential for good and bad within us. And from one circumstance to the next, those roles can change.

I usually give my protagonists an edgea juicy flaw or bad habit, something that makes them real. And I give my antagonists a vulnerability that will trigger the reader's empathy. Because I think that hits closest to home and makes a story more plausible, and therefore more influential on the reader. And after all, that is my goal. To sweep you up in the flurry of experiences that are my character's stories, where your own troubles will pale in comparison. To have you feel as they do, to love and rage as they do. And to embrace your own complexities as you do theirs. So that in them, you may come to know yourself as so much more than black or white, good or bad, but as the dazzling, baffling, ever shifting Jackson Pollock masterpiece that you are.

Click here to buy SONGBYRD now.
Click here to subscribe to Anna Silver's newsletter.