Caroline Hogg has worked in publishing for almost ten years, at Little, Brown Book Group and more recently at Avon, HarperCollins. She's currently at Pan Macmillan as Senior Commissioning Editor for Commercial Women's Fiction. She knows her stuff!
Today's question comes from a Novelicious reader who asks:
there a place for romantic comedy written from a male perspective in the market
at the moment, or is a female lead essential in connecting with the audience
for that kind of story?
Caroline says: Well, now there’s a question! I don’t want to dampen anyone’s chips – I never like to say never – but I do think it’s often a taller order to have a male lead character or narrator in a romantic comedy novel. It has been done – Mike Gayle and Matt Dunn being rather excellent at it – but you have to write with a male voice that sounds genuine and real, which also appeals instantly to female readers. That’s tricky. You need to create a man that women engage with and get behind, but not one so perfect he feels about as real as a Disney prince. Likewise, not one so ‘laddish’ that they want to slap him round the chops. And if you are a male author (which I’m making the assumption that you are, question-asker), you have an extra challenge in that your female characters also need to sound genuine and real and likeable – any stereotypes or lazy clichés and the women reading your book are likely to give up entirely on you. And given that many editors are women, their approval will be your first hurdle. Of course, female writers can be just as susceptible to writing characters of the opposite sex who don’t feel believable or genuine, I should add! I’d advise sharing your work with as many female readers as you can and asking for very honest feedback (so maybe don’t ask your mum).