When a male author writes from a 1st person female POV, it’s not surprising that people are curious about how that works. My easy, and completely unsatisfactory answer, is “not sure”.
A more legitimate answer is that novelists put themselves into the minds of all sorts of people who are not like them. No one questions a writer who has written a 1st person book about a serial killer (“Excuse me, have you killed multiple people?”), so what’s a little gender flexibility?
In my case, this is the best explanation. Jackie Swaitkowski, the heroine of Ice Cap, was already a fully developed, and highly popular, character in the Sam Acquillo series that I started ten years ago. Sam’s descriptions of her gave me a huge head start. I knew what she looked like, how she talked, how she deported herself, her likes and dislikes, her loveable traits and peccadilloes.
I always build a much bigger back story for my characters than I reveal on the page. So I also had a ready reserve of information I could draw from as I told her story. The reverse was also true. Since I had no idea that this minor character would evolve into her own series, I exposed characteristics in the first book, effortlessly at the time, that forced me to stay within certain boundaries later on. Luckily, I inadvertently gave myself some leeway, so it worked out.
The other odd coincidence is Jacqueline was my mother’s name. And everybody called her Jackie. Since, as noted, I had no idea she would ever persist beyond a brief appearance in the first book, there’s little significance in this aside from happenstance.
The other cool thing about writing dual series in the same fictional world is one protagonist can comment on the other in ways that the other would hardly self-reveal. Since both are 1st person POV, all we get is their individual perspectives. The trick is to reinforce their perceptions of themselves, while flowing in new information that’s believable, but beyond the fictional characters self-perception.
There’s an even bigger issue than working between genders. Fans of Sam Acquillo, the original male protagonist in my Hamptons fictional world, can have a hard time with Jackie’s different perspectives. Of course, if she was too much like Sam, that would be cause for legitimate criticism. On the other hand, readers who have come into the world through Jackie are a little disoriented by Sam’s curmudgeonly ways. As the master of their respective consciousnesses, I feel a powerful obligation to keep them harmonious and separate at the same time.
If you happen to get a chance to read Ice Cap, and/or Bad Bird and Short Squeeze, let me know what you think. I relish feedback of any kind.
Meet the author
CHRIS KNOPF is the author of two mystery series set in the Hamptons, one starring Sam Acquillo: The Last Refuge, Two Time, Head Wounds (winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery) Hard Stop and Black Swan, (which was one of only four mysteries reviewed by Marilyn Stasio in the May, 2011, New York Times Sunday Book Review.) And also a spin-off featuring Sam’s lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski – Short Squeeze and Bad Bird, with Ice Cap released June, 2012. He also published a standalone, Elysiana, and has another standalone thriller, Dead Anyway, scheduled for Fall of 2012. A copywriter by trade, Chris is CEO of Mintz & Hoke Communications Group. He lives in Avon, Connecticut, and Southampton, New York, where he sets sail on the Little Peconic Bay. Visit Chris at www.chrisknopfmystery.com
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.