Friday, November 20, 2015

First Person, Fantasy, and Feminism

Telling a tale in the first person, with a male protagonist, presents some difficulties in the portrayal of women. Their characters are always going to be filtered through his perceptions. Any conversations between women that he might report will be colored by his presence.

I recognize this problem in both my Malvern fantasy series and in my two contemporary Florida novels. There were reasons to go first person with them and I do not regret the choice, but it makes for a less feminist-friendly end result. Not that women do not play important roles. No slave girls cling to burly barbarians in my books.

The “Donzalo's Destiny” series is another matter. One might almost say that, despite the title, the novels focus more on the pair of Lady Fachalana and her friend, the spy Ansa. Certainly, much of the plot is centered on them — they are, in a sense, Donzalo's destiny.

There are, of course, quite a few other female characters, some in leading, some in supporting, roles. And there are many conversations between them, ones that have nothing to do with men or romantic interests (though those do show up). They pass the Bechdel test with no difficulty.

My four Donzalo novels (really, one long novel) are fairly sprawling and have quite a few interweaving plot lines, so one could not really say that anyone is the actual hero. Donzalo? Even if the tale centers on him, he is often swept along in it, not the individual making things happen. Indeed, he tends to resist change. Fachalana is far more inclined to jump in and move things along.

And, as a result, we also get to know her. I am hoping my readers will get to know her better when I return to Lama with my writing. Donzalo himself has found his 'destiny' and will be no more than a supporting character in any sequels. Fachalana, on the other hand, has all sorts of interesting events ahead of her. I keep thinking of new ones all the time!

So, expect a fiery swordswoman and sorceress to take the lead. We left her somewhat damaged, recovering in the caves of the Fays at the end of the last Donzalo book. The Lady Fachalana is bound to come out of there and raise her customary ruckus soon.

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