I admit it.
I just started reading Murder Most Frothy. Upon opening the book I was confronted with *gasp* a brief prologue in which the anonymous killer is shooting the hapless victim. I got through the first couple paragraphs (paragraphs about gun models, bullet calibers, etc.) and had the immediate thought: Cleo Coyle is a pen name and the author is a dude.
I have no problem with dude writers–in fact I read quite a lot of dudes. And, in fact, I immediately liked this book better than the previously-read, obviously-written-by-a-woman Scrub-a-Dub Dead. Am I being sexist? Yes, but the response is important, I think.
Immediately I flipped to the About the Author section in which I learned that “Cleo Coyle” is indeed a pen name–for a husband and wife team. So I was at least half right. A dude was definitely involved in the writing of this book.
Does this mean that women can’t write spectacular scenes that also explain gun makes and models? Hell no. (In fact, I don’t know that the wife portion of the team didn’t write the prologue, I’m just sexistly assuming.) It just means that there is a different sound to the writing in this particular book that reads more masculine. I’m not making any judgement call on it. But, as writers, I think that’s something to be aware of because it can affect your audience. There’s a chance that the masculine tone is even off-putting to some readers of the cozy mystery genre–which is predominately women.
Ali once posted a test where you inserted a piece of writing and it would tell you whether you were a girl or a boy. I consistently got ‘boy’–and I tried not to take it too personally. There are some famous and talented men writing out there somewhere. (Easy fellas! Just teasing.)
How about you? Do you lean toward reading a feminine voice or a masculine voice? How do you think your writing speaks to your readers? Manly Man? Gentlewoman? Troubled Teen?
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.