I was talking to my friend recently, yes I do have at least one, about writing. She is not a writer. She has read some of my books but not all and asked if all my lead characters were male or female.
"Male," I said.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because..." And I didn't really know why. Are the men I invent more interesting than women? Do I find women lacking as a lead character in some way? When writing am I creating a fantasy partner I would like to have as my lover? (Hope hubby doesn't read this). I really don't know the answer.
Thinking about the books I have read recently there are some which have women as the lead character. Faith Mortimer's leads are usually women, as are Gerry McCullough's. Stephen R Hulse has a feisty female lead in The Blue Hour and Robert Craven has Eva in Get Lenin and Zinnman, although in both those books the action is spread amongst other characters too.
But when I sit down to write, or more accurately when I am relaxing in the bath and ideas come to me, they always revolve around a male lead. Females, I am sorry to admit, are add-ons, companions, helpers, lovers. Maybe I am pining for the age when women didn't have to be strong and feisty. Has feminism passed me by in my sheltered existence? Does it matter?
I don't think it will possible to change my writing habits. I'll leave it to others to promote women as lead characters and continue to create strong male leads who can take any crap life throws at them.
But what do you think? Are your characters substitute lovers for real life? Do you go out to make a statement that women can be as tough as men? Or do they simply create themselves in your head and tell you a story regardless of their gender?