09 March 2011

Today, as it’s International Women’s Day I thought I’d take a moment and consider the consequences of having my female protagonist hire a stalker.

This has been the first time I’ve ever really considered a character’s gender, and I find I’m only thinking about it because of what it might be taken to imply. What I mean is, I suppose, what responsibility do I, as author, have when creating a character such as Heather? She’s only one person, so can’t be taken to stand for all women everywhere. But am I doing a disservice to women by having her hire a stalker? Am I making a mockery of stalking victims?

Okay, so what kind of responsibility do authors have when creating characters who are intended to be unlikeable? Ultimately, I think it’s the author’s responsibility to create characters that are interesting. And that’s where it ends for me. I look to books for many things: entertainment, insight, inspiration, new ideas, and sometimes answers, but I don’t how the author responsible for providing all these things, or indeed, providing them in ways that I agree with. There are plenty of characters I’ve encountered that I don’t like. Chip in The Corrections, Chanu inBrick Lane and most of the characters in Haunted. And I don’t hold those authors accountable for writing characters whose actions I disagree with, or just plain irritate me.

But, to be a woman and write a female character seems to often beg questions regarding womanhood. So, I don’t intend for Heather to stand as an example of all women in the Western world. I do hope readers will look at her and recognize something in her behaviour, because I think we’re all becoming more and more self-involved. And I also hope readers will love to hate her.

My intention in having her hire a stalker is to mock our ever-expanding quest for constant attention and praise. I also wanted to include some ideas about the value we, as a society, place on work and how we decide what defines the notion of work.