We recently posted a review of Drummer Girl by Bridget Tyler, in which Harriett said, "I thought it was utterly perfect. I would recommend this to absolutely anybody and everybody who likes to read."
Now we're delighted to welcome Bridget Tyler herself with a fabulous guest post. Also, read to the end to find out about our Drummer Girl giveaway!
Over to Bridget Tyler...
Bridget Tyler On Writing “Strong” Female Characters
I was sitting in a meeting, a few months ago, when a television executive asked me… “Aren’t you worried that audiences will get confused between the two female leads of this show?” I nodded. I’d been concerned about that too. I explained at some length how care would be taken to make sure the two female leads had very different voices and personalities… and that obviously we’d cast a blonde in one role and brunette in the other. I was confident that people wouldn’t have trouble telling them apart.
As I walked to my car, it hit me – did we really think that viewers couldn’t tell the difference between two young women of similar age? You don’t worry about people getting confused by having more than one male character of the same age in a television show. But I’d already been asked that question perhaps a dozen times by various well-meaning people, many of them women. And I hadn’t found it unreasonable. I’ve watched television shows and read books populated with young female characters that were so flat that they blended into each other. I think we all have.
In fact, there are lots of very highly regarded books, movies and television shows in which women serve as backdrop: as objects of romance, as mothers, as pawns. There are so many of them that it’s still striking when female characters aren’t somewhat flat and one sided. That’s why we worry about audiences getting confused if there are too many young women of the same age in a story. It’s not that people can’t tell the difference between women if they don’t have different hair colors. It’s that we’ve come to expect that female characters just won’t be that distinctive.
And frankly, that kind of sucks.
What is a book or a television show or a movie for but to supply us with characters that we can identify with? Characters we can empathize with and learn from? Isn’t that the point? Why should female readers have to learn to identify with male characters in order to enjoy a great story? It’s a seriously uncool state of affairs, but it has been the norm for a long time.
But YA books, and the incredibly varied and diverse people who read them, have started to change all that. Novels about brave, complex young women coming of age in dangerous worlds have become international best sellers in the past few years. They’ve succeeded in finding readers, and in finding viewers on the big and small screens… and they’re paving the way for more characters like them.
As a writer, I hope that DRUMMER GIRL, the story of five very different young women coming of age together, can be part of that change... as a reader, I can’t wait to meet more of the amazing female characters that the YA world has to offer!
Bridget Tyler is a television writer who recently wrapped production on her first pilot, Horizon, for USA Network. She lives in Los Angeles. Drummer Girl is her first novel.
The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been contacted. Thank you for entering!