Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Guest blog with Momentum author Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda Bridgeman was kind enough to let me waffle away and guest blog for her in February, so now I am delighted to return the favour as this fellow Momentum author guest blogs her way on a grand tour!
So who is Amanda Bridgeman...?

Born and raised in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, Amanda hails from fishing and farming stock. The youngest of four children, her three brothers raised her on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC. Naturally, she grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring to watch action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard. But that said, she can swoon with the best of them.

 She lived in ‘Gero’ for 17 years, before moving to Perth (WA) to pursue her dreams and study film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies). Perth has been her home ever since, aside from a nineteen month stint in London (England).

She is a writer and a film buff. She loves most genres, but is particularly fond of the Spec-Fic realm. She likes action, epic adventures, and strong characters that draw you in, making you want to follow them on their wild, rollercoaster rides. She has so far released three books in the Aurora series -Aurora: Darwin, Aurora: Pegasus, and Aurora: Meridian. The fourth book will be released this month.

Want to know more?
Follow Amanda here:

Facebook: Amanda Bridgeman

Twitter: @Bridgeman_Books

And of course her books can be found here:

Today Duncan has invited me to chat about being a female writer and writing from a male perspective. I guess when I started writing the Aurora series I never stopped to think about it like that – specifically me being a woman writing a male character and being inside his thoughts. Nor that I was also writing an African-American PoV – as a white woman. When I started writing, first and foremost I saw Harris as a lead character in a particular story, and a very human character at that. After all, that is essentially what we all are: human. Whether male or female. And I think that’s the first step in nailing a character – understanding the fundamental basis of them.
Of course it’s important to get the gender mindset right... If your readers don’t believe the character, their actions, their thought processes, then a writer is in a spot of trouble. So Duncan’s question got me thinking.
I’m not the most girly of girls. I tend to think of myself as 50/50 mix: 50% tomboy, 50% girl. I grew up with three older brothers – the oldest being 8 years old than me – so it’s fair to say they had a heavy influence on my upbringing. My brothers liked the ‘usual’ blokey things like footy, boxing, and rock ‘n’ roll. As a kid I watched the same TV and films they did. From The A-Team and the Alien series, to Rocky, Rambo, Jaws, and The Thing – they were all (what was considered then) male-dominated genres and I’m not sure whether I was ‘conditioned’ to like them because they did or whether I just inherently did.
So, as the youngest, it was only natural that I would look up to my brothers a lot. Whether it was just a kid sister thing or whether it was actually the observant writer in me taking note, I like to think that I just kinda became familiar with how guys act and think. At least in a non-romantic sense. And that is what Saul Harris is to Carrie Welles. He’s her captain, he’s a colleague. It’s a platonic (yet incredibly important) relationship. And I guess my upbringing made me an expert in that (and probably assisted with writing the Carrie Welles PoV too) – growing up in a male dominated house, with blokey brothers and an ex-farm boy for a father. Even my mother isn’t overly girly. She’s the practical kind, and probably stronger than all of us put together. But that’s another blog post…
Plutonic relationships aside, my brothers are all very heterosexual men (all three married and two of them with kids). They were also never shy about pointing out actresses and models they loved growing up (Elle Macpherson, Elizabeth Shue, Demi Moore, etc), so again, perhaps I was ‘conditioned’ to understand/see things from a male perspective in that regard, listening to their comments and conversations, and these observations could only help with writing the actions and dialogue of the rest of the male characters in the series.
I didn’t realise it until recently, but I have always been a people watcher. Everyone I speak to, have any kind of dealings with, I tend to subconsciously observe them. I notice facial/physical features, speech, and mannerisms, etc. More importantly, I always find myself analysing why they are the way they are. Especially people I know well. Sometimes I’ll question why someone is stubborn or afraid or catty or a tight-ass, etc, etc, and I look at their upbringing, or the stress on their life at the moment, and through this analysis I seem to understand why they are acting the way they are acting – how all the little pieces of their life come together and make them up in that very moment. And I realise now just how useful this observation is as a writer – whether writing male or female characters. Humans are complex, period. We are made up of a thousand different experiences, each one different, and it’s important to capture that in your writing to make your characters feel real to the reader.
So when I started writing Aurora: Darwin, the first book in the series, I didn’t really consciously think about having a main character that was male (or African-American for that matter). I just suddenly had this image of a tough but fair leader, and (male, African-American) Captain Saul Harris was born. So the image of him came to me first. When it came to writing him and fleshing him out, I guess the ‘conditioning’ to understand the male mind (to a certain point) was thanks to having three older brothers, but I also drew from my general ‘observation’ tanks to bring him to life - derived in part from every other male I have met, or seen on film/tv, or in interviews, on the news, etc.
Of course I didn’t get everything right the first go. One of my brothers was actually a beta reader and I distinctly recall him saying to me once: “There is no way Harris would use the word ‘buff’” (in reference to another soldier’s physique). So I scrapped that and used another word instead. Anything that bordered on ‘a little too soft for a military man’ was quickly pointed out and altered. After all, if my ‘average man’ brother thought it was too soft, it was definitely going to be way too soft for a tough captain, right?
That said, I think it provides a great disservice to military personnel everywhere to portray them as cardboard cut-out, action-packed, emotionless, indestructible heroes. Because they’re not. They’re humans doing an incredibly tough job (rightly or wrongly), but they are human none-the-less. Humans, who have families and friends, who will feel the same gamut of emotions that everyone else does, regardless of whether they are male or female. Humans, who bruise, bleed and die. Humans that hurt, just like the rest of us.
So, did I get Captain Saul Harris and the other male characters right? I certainly gave it my best shot based on my experiences and observations in life.
But ultimately, I guess that’s for the reader to decide.



1 comment:

  1. Great explanation... I feel much the same way and had two older brothers