readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mind of a Girl - Thomas Randall

Guest blog by Thomas Randall, author of The Waking: Dreams of the Dead

I don't presume to know the mind of a girl. That's the key, I think, to being a man and writing from a female perspective. There is no formula I apply to figuring out what to write, what her thoughts are, what she might say or do in a given situation. Any guy who writes about female characters really has only one chance at doing it right, only one trick in the bag: osmosis. I've been told I write girls well. I have no idea whether or not this is true, as I am not a girl. I wouldn't presume (there's that word again) to make any such claims. But if it's true--if the women and girls who've told me that aren't just being nice in the way that the friends and families of so many doomed, deluded, and eventually humiliated American Idol contestants tell them they can sing--then osmosis is the only explanation I can come up with.

I suppose I've absorbed a certain amount of awareness of "girl-think" over the years, but it doesn't feel like anything I actually KNOW. It feels like instinct, to me. If that's true, there are a lot of women I should thank for that.

My parents were divorced when I was young, but even before that, my father wasn't around very much. My brother and I were raised by our mother and frequently left in the care of our sister, which meant we were surrounded by her many girlfriends almost constantly. Two of her best friends were straight. I've joked many times over the years that I was raised by a passel of lesbians. While it isn't true that they raised me, my sister and all of her friends--straight and gay--and my mother, of course, had a huge influence on me. From a very young age, being so constantly surrounded by girls made me far more comfortable with them than I was with guys. As I passed through middle and high school, I always had a girlfriend, but I was also THAT GUY, the one in all of the 80s movies, who the girls would tell their problems and ask for advice about other guys. It didn't seem odd to me at the time that I had such close relationships with girls, but looking back on it in later years, I realize some of my male friends probably thought I was some alien creature.

Even now, I am always more at ease communicating with women than with men. There's so much swagger when you get a bunch of guys in a room, so much bluster, and I have no patience for that. There's a wisdom that comes with maturity, and it seems to me that girls acquire that a lot faster than boys. Some men never find it.

So, does all of that mean I know how to write from a female perspective? Nahhh.

The truth is, I don't ever--ever--think about it. I don't hesitate or worry that I've somehow entered alien territory just because I've got to put thoughts in the head or words in the mouth of a female character. If my female characters are strong, intelligent, gutsy girls, I think that's more a testament to the girls and women I've known in my life than it is to my skill as a writer. If my female characters--like Kara Harper in THE WAKING: DREAMS OF THE DEAD--are smarter and wiser than the boys, tough and capable and full of love all at the same time, there are a lot of women I should thank for that, including my wife and my sister and my mother, and so many friends from my youth and from adulthood, doctors and lawyers and teachers, writers and artists and moms.

I lied to you before, just a little. It's true that I don't think about writing from a female perspective as a challenge...but I do think of it as a responsibility. There are enough girls in fiction who set a poor example. If there are guys reading my books, I want to make sure that they see girls the way *I* see them. And for the female readers...well, I'd love them to see themselves through my eyes as well, so they'll never underestimate how amazing they can be.

I don't presume to know the mind of a girl. But I don't mind giving them a peek inside mine.

- TR

To learn more about The Waking series and the just-released first book, Dreams of the Dead, visit ThomasRandall.net and follow the blog tour:

Monday, September 28th: An interview with Little Willow at Bildungsroman
Tuesday, September 29th: Author Q&A with Courtney Summers
Wednesday, September 30th: Guest blog about writing from the female POV right here at readergirlz
Thursday, October 1st: A guest blog about researching Japanese culture at lectitans
Friday, October 2nd: Q&A at Sarah's Random Musings
Friday, October 2nd: An interview at Steph Su Reads
Monday, October 5th: A guest blog about writing mysteries at Books By Their Cover
Tuesday, October 6th: Q&A with Kim Baccellia
Tuesday, October 6th: An interview with BookChic
Wednesday, October 7th: An interview at Presenting Lenore
Thursday, October 8th: Special post for Michelle at GalleySmith
Friday, October 9th: Last stop with Kelsey at Just Blinded Book Reviews


Little Willow said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog post!

Whenever I write from the male POV, I wonder how authentic it sounds . . . If those WIPs ever get a publishing deal, remind me to have you look them over first! :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.