Guest post: Writing Female Characters by horror writer Armand Rosamilia

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of writing alternative gender is brought to you by horror novelist, short story author and guest blogger Armand Rosamilia.

Writing Female Characters (As A Male)

My latest release, Dying Days 2, is the third book I’ve had the pleasure of writing about Darlene Bobich. She’s witty, has a great sense of humor, is far from superhuman… she cries, she has panic attacks, she gets depressed and hides under the covers for three days. Yet, when her life is on the line she can put a bullet between your eyes without flinching. In short, she’s pretty normal.

I’ve written many flash fiction pieces, short stories, novellas and novels over the twenty-plus years, and looking back, I see that (especially in the first eighteen or so) 99% of my main characters have been male.

Only in the last two or three years have I focused on mixing it up, with female characters taking charge in some stories. I’m not sure why. I’d like to think I’ve become a better writer, more comfortable giving life to any person regardless of gender, race, age, weakness or strength.

But I think there’s a simpler answer: I became Darlene Bobich when I started typing, and fell into the mindset of a character I have absolutely nothing in common with in real life.

Sure, I see her as pretty, feisty, someone intelligent and disarming. She covers all facets of a character, good and bad. At this point she’s simply writing herself.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story by now about how Joe Konrath, trying to sell his Jacqueline (Jack) Daniels series featuring a woman detective, became JA Konrath. Why? Because the thought process is that a woman writes and understands a woman, and men write about men. He proved that theory wrong with a great series of books, but I wonder if he’s the exception to the rule?

I’ve read many, many books in my life. I can also remember books that didn’t strike a chord with me and fell flat, and (without naming names) recently read three books in a row where men wrote female protagonists that were so one-dimensional it was sad. The leads were either Lara Croft Tomb Raider kick-ass, meek damsels in distress that needed a male minor character to save her, or a one-dimensional crack-whore with a heart of gold. Bleh.

I think I’ve done something original with Darlene Bobich and the Dying Days series by offering her up as a strong character, someone you can relate to, someone you root for when the zombies are surrounding her and the bad guys are at the door. She’s the twenty-eight year old you meet at the mall trying to sell you makeup so she can make her next car payment, unlucky in love and with too much self-doubt.

In the third book (Dying Days 2… trust me, it’s the third one) I introduced a tough-as-nails redhead named Tosha. She was written with more of that one-dimension Metal babe, sexual seduction, teaser and killer with no compunction mind-set.

And she’s all that and more, keeping the males in the story on their toes. She was fun to write and offered up so much tension in the story I sometimes forgot it was about zombies. She’s a bad ass, plain and simple… or is she? You be the judge, but in the end, after reading through the first draft, I knew there was more to her.

Don’t let that tough exterior, tight jeans and wink fool you. There’s something else going on in that pretty redhead of hers.

Will I keep writing female characters? Maybe. I never really put two and two together until this blog post. It’s not a conscious decision on my part, but I hope to.

I hope to write every lead character with many facets to the puzzle, whether male or female. I also hope the reader will enjoy the story and not worry about a male author writing in a woman’s voice.

Want to know more about the “Dying Days” series? Want to win free eBooks and maybe print books of them? My contest is simple: e-mail me at armandrosamilia@gmail.com with DYING DAYS in the subject line and I’ll enter you into the daily giveaway… also, post a comment here and you get another chance… follow my blog at http://armandrosamilia.com for yet another chance, and friend me on Twitter (@ArmandAuthor) and simply post DYING DAYS to me, and you’ll get another shot… nice and easy, right? If I get enough people joining in the giveaway there will be a print book given away that day!

“Dying Days” series information can be found here: http://armandrosamilia.com/dying-days-series.

Thank you Armand, great to have you back!

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida. His latest release, the horror short story collection, Skulls, is available now as an eBook. Previous releases include many, many zombie stories… and many more to come…  You can reach him at http://armandrosamilia.wordpress.com to talk about horror, zombies and the Boston Red Sox, and http://rymfirebooks.wordpress.com details all his releases.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical and children’s author Connie Hannah – the three hundred and twenty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.

Guest post: ‘Why I write about zombies’ by Armand Rosamilia

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of all things ghoulish, just ahead of Halloween, by Armand Rosamilia.

‘Why I write about zombies’

Brian Keene is the reason. End of guest blog.

Oh, you want more info?

I’d always been a huge fan of zombie movies, ever since being scared as a kid watching Night of the Living Dead. While everyone else was into vampires, I was the teen getting excited over zombie movies, which were hard to come by. Back in the days before the internet you had to actually go to a video store (no Blockbuster, no RedBox) down on the corner and hope that the mom or pop that ran the place were fans of zombies. I remember the closest video store to me had a huge horror section, but mostly these obscure slasher flicks. I had to go a couple towns over because there was a video store that had an amazing collection of zombie movies, and I ended up renting them all.

But I’d never read any zombie books, even though I read a ton of horror. I was more into scary monster books without honing in on vampires, werewolves and zombies. Instead, demons and ghosts and serial killers were a huge part of my reading experience.

Until The Rising.

I remember being in the local Books A Million and searching for another paperback. The horror section had disappeared, leaving you to search through thousands of fiction books for that hidden gem deemed horror. Sure, King and Koontz had huge sections devoted to them, but everyone else was relegated to being lumped in with general fiction.

As if by fate, Brian Keene‘s book was facing out and the cover immediately caught my attention. I can still remember reading the back cover blurbs and being excited, because reading zombie fiction had never interested me before. The few short stories that I’d read were either about voodoo queens or cliché brain-eating zombies that had no real plot.

This was something quite different, and I read it in one day, amazed at the characters and how the zombies were not the whole story. In fact, I got so into the characters that, at times, you forgot it was even about zombies and just about survival.

I had never read anything from Keene, but went back to the store and bought every paperback he had available, including the other zombie books, City of The Dead and Dead Sea.

Within a few days I was heavily immersed in zombie fiction. I started surfing the internet for other zombie fiction, finding some great anthologies like The Dead That Walk and The New Dead.

I was also amazed at the amount of zombie authors putting out quality releases, and had to read them all.

Then I started writing my own zombie fiction, something I had never done before despite twenty years of writing stories. I thought there was nothing new, nothing fresh about it. I was wrong, and as I started thinking about my own ideas.

As a writer you never want to toss a few cliché ideas and worn plotlines together and get a story. But once I had an idea I thought was unique, I went with it. Suddenly there were more characters, more ideas than I had time to write. What started out as a simple flash fiction piece, “Higher Ground” (released in Daily Bites of Flesh 2011 by Pill Hill Press), became a world of extreme zombie fiction from me. Another half-dozen flash fiction zombie pieces took shape, followed by my Highway To Hell novella. Since then I’ve written and published a slew of zombie short stories, followed up Highway To Hell with Dying Days, and will have a zombie short story collection out in the next few weeks (Zombie Tea Party).

And I owe it all to Brian Keene and that paperback book staring at me.

Thank you Armand. I’ve got ACDC’s Highway to Hell playing on my iTunes now… although I’m more of a Back in Black fan if I had to choose. 🙂

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida. His latest release, the horror short story collection, Skulls, is available now as an eBook. Previous releases include many, many zombie stories… and many more to come…  You can reach him at http://armandrosamilia.wordpress.com to talk about horror, zombies and the Boston Red Sox, and http://rymfireebooks.com/store.html details all his releases.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).