Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strong Enough -- A Women's Fiction Novel

Anyone who reads a romance novel is familiar with the two main characters meeting and disliking each other. It's the lovely tension that gets us turning pages. It's a foolproof approach.

My two main characters are women. No, they're not lesbians--though I asked the same question. They always seemed uninterested. At first one seems to be the protagonist and the other, the antagonist. But that's only at first glance. The strongest root of my story, what really anchors it during the tornado of the denouement, is that two women ultimately find deep friendship.

Not every friendship we enjoy was obvious from the beginning and yet, friendship is such a beautiful part of life. As Sadi (one of my characters) observes: "Why love relationships can't be like friendships is a great mystery but they aren't. Maybe it's because there's more space in a friendship."

It's worth asking, what is women's fiction? The answer is fluid. Some chafe against giving a special definition when we don't do the same for Men's fiction. (Insert obvious and boring joke about war and sports.) Here is one definition that I found useful:

"Although women's fiction often incorporates grave situations such as abuse, poverty, divorce, familial breakdown, and other social struggles, it can also explore positive aspects within women's lives. Romantic love stories are also part of women's fiction, and although love stories are found in chick lit and romance, the mature depth and tone of their development within women's fiction set them apart from the other genre classifications." Unknown

I've striven to create fun characters with humorous and romantic interactions living inside a story that culminates in a serious issue experienced by women.

Do you see the layers? The bulk of the cake is friendship but the surprise filling is all about choice. This towering concoction is covered in a luscious icing of love and decorated with bouquets of laughter. Hmmmmm. Did I just describe a chick lit cover?

And now for the official introduction:   

The setting is based upon Springfield, MO the third largest city in Missouri at approximately 150,000 people. I’ve set it in 2002 to take advantage of two elements: radio and the newness of RU486. I am interested in the final gasps of original radio stations as they were taken over by the likes of Alice in many states. This occurred around 1998 in Springfield but in order to include RU486, I had to push it forward.

I centered the story around abortion for a specific reason—too often it is not fully considered in literature but there are plenty of women who have chosen abortion. I wanted to seek these women out to say that they are not evil, are not bad people, that it was stressful, difficult, and emotionally draining, but not wrong. There are options and people who can help.

*Well Fed Head was the name of a local bookstore that is no longer open. It was too good a name not to use. ;)