Friday, January 3, 2014

Peter Clenott – Why Females Make Better Lead Characters @PeterClenott

Why Females Make Better Lead Characters

When I began writing fiction many years (decades) ago, I didn’t put a lot of thought into the sex of the main character. My early novels usually had male leads even if the main characters were chimpanzees as in PANDORA ISLAND. I think the first novel I wrote with a woman as the protagonist was RED ROSA, but this was a fictional account of an historic person, Rosa Luxemburg, the Polish-Jewish revolutionary at the turn of the 20th century. Subsequently, most of my novels have had female leads.

LIGEIA is the story of Ligeia Taylor, a slave in the White House in 1850. This novel was intended to be the initial saga of a new and distinctive pair of detectives. In the premier story, Ligeia must find out who poisoned her master, President Zachary Taylor.

In ALBERTVILLE, Alma Jesse Westcott is a young black woman who grows up in the segregated Alabama of the 1940s and 1950s. She experiences the horror of racism before going onto a Harvard degree and n assignment by the State Department to the Congo upon its independence from Belgium. Here she bonds with the new nation’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, only to learn that her government is planning to assassinate him.

At this point in my career, I went with young adult and wrote a new adaptation of PANDORA ISLAND. Here trhe female lead was a 16-year-old girl named Chiku Flynn whose father disappears in the Congo. She must return after years in civilization, having been raised alongside to uncover what happened to her father and she must do so with the help of the chimpanzees he has been studying. Chiku can communicate with them through sign language.

BECAUSE I CAN is about another tough and tumble teenager, named Jemma Dalembert, who is 21st century Eponine, a kid raised in a dysfunctional family, who helps them make it by using her fists. Her hero is Gina Carano the renowned MMA fighter and actress who starred in FAST AND FURIOUS.

Finally, DEVOLUTION with Chiku Flynn. Why do females make stronger lead characters in all of these stories. Because, by nature, they have greater barriers to overcome than their male counterparts. Greater barriers make for higher drama. The goals for these characters are harder to attain and so more powerful once reached. In my GOSPEL OF HANNANIAH, the main character is the illegitimate daughter of Jesus of Nazareth. The greatest story ever told would have been even more dramatic had the reluctant messiah been female.


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Genre - Young Adult

Rating – PG

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