Monday, August 23, 2010
Women's Fiction is Good Enough For Me!
My name is Lori L. Tharps and as of today, August 24, 2010, I can officially call myself a novelist. If you'd asked me yesterday, I would have said I'm an author because I have written two non-fiction books -- Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America and Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain. And please note, I love both of these books and I enjoyed writing them immensely, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my dream has always been to write fiction. And today, my dream has come true. Today, my first novel, Substitute Me hits store shelves.
Substitute Me is truly women's fiction (except for the cover which looks like a Forensic Thriller). The question I wanted to answer in writing this book was, "Can a woman really have it all if she has the right help?"Or, another way of looking at it might be, "What does a woman have to sacrifice in order to have a successful career, a thriving family and a comfortable home?"In Substitute Me, Kate Carter is a modern career woman on her way back to work after an extended maternity leave. Zora Anderson, a 30-year-old college drop-out from a good family, is the woman Kate hires to be her son's nanny. In alternating chapters we hear from Kate and Zora how the lives of both women and the people they love, are irrevocably altered over the course of one year. One reviewer called the book "a modern-day horror story," while another called it "warm and engaging." I guess it's all in the eye of the reader, but I would definitely place the book in the category of a 'domestic drama.'
Today I had a conversation with a male colleague who heard about my book and he immediately asked, "Is this a book for men?" And I said without hesitation, "no." I wrote it thinking about women, the main characters are women and the issues are ones most women will be able to relate to. Of course I have no problem if men want to read (and/or buy) the book, but I'm not going to boo-hoo if the male species isn't immediately drawn to the material in Substitute Me. That being said, I'm keeping close watch on the recent debates about "women's fiction"being overlooked by reviewers, literary tastemakers and just regular dudes.
Maybe my next novel will feature a male main character that every man in America will relate to, but I seriously doubt it. I'm sure my next novel will feature a female protagonist with an unquenchable sense of wanderlust, a taboo romance and maybe a smidgen of social commentary. Or maybe I might craft a romance as quirky and delicious as Ernessa T. Carter's recent hit, 32 Candles, which I happen to know quite a few guys have admitted to reading and loving as much as their wives. And they didn't even mind being seen with a book with a pretty pink cover.
So, just out of curiosity, what books that could fall into the category of women's fiction, do you think men would enjoy and why?