Gender, unlikable characters, and prejudices

09/03/2014 10:53

I’m still playing with ideas for Desert Sands. I just plastered a wall, and while I’m doing something with my hands, my brain likes to work (which is partly why I like travelling so much). At the moment, I’m considering my main character.

He was originally a man – I seem to prefer writing men (I’m sure that says something about me, but I don’t know what) and so I am actively trying to get better at women. But I wondered if a woman would work better in the plot; I haven’t made a big deal of it in the series, but women are the top of the pecking order: inheritance is via the female bloodline, and there are some fun prejudices going on in the various countries. Ziricon’s the fun one as they are considered “backwards” by having men in charge – not something I’ve explored much, but this book might give me the opportunity.

Anyway. So, a female main character…and then I wondered about her. A runner, a solitary messenger who spends a lot of time in the desert – maybe she doesn’t like people? Doesn’t like society? Belmont is quite sophisticated and political, so it could be the sort of place someone would hate. If you didn’t interact with people much, and hated society, you probably wouldn’t be the most polite and gracious of people…and then she gets thrown into a political mix, which could be fun and explosive.

My other character who’s coming in – besides my engineer, Alenna – is Jan. He’s originally from Ziricon, and has worked in Orei. He’d have his own prejudices: however, he’s also sensible enough to realise that he has them. How would he work around those? How is he going to work through the conflict between his own knowledge of Ziricon/Orei politics, and what Meton wants? And he’s got his own personal problems: Toru is a very physically active diplomat, while Jan can’t be (he broke his back in a rockfall, and can’t walk very well. Toru made him a wheelchair). How does he work it?


There you go – another not-very-helpful insight into my writing process!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.