In fiction that is.
In romance I already know the answer:
what I don't have.
Women account for 80 per cent of fiction sales. More women than men are members of libraries and book clubs.
Women make up the majority of the audiences at literary festivals and bookshop events.
They listen to more audiobooks, and attend more literary evening classes.
Most literary bloggers are women.
I'm not whining, mind you. All right.
Maybe a little.
Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
Leave no room in the mind for anything but the old verities of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed—
love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.
Until he or she does so, she labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion.
His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.”
I write about what interests me:
the colorful past, the tragic struggles of human souls striving for what they wrongly believe will fulfill them, for if you are not already complete within yourself no other soul with do the job,
the supernatural, the Golden Age of Hollywood and its secrets, and the colorful urban legends of New Orleans.
I answer questions that have interested me:
How was it like to be a lesbian in Hollywood where the false fronts were not only found on the studio lot?
How was it like to be a returning soldier from WWII when PTSD was not even recognized much less treated?
What was it like to be a beautiful actress trying to navigate the treacherous waters of deviant studio heads and amoral directors?
I started each of my last three novels with diary entries from a woman who finds herself resurrected in another woman's body after having died on the battlefront two years prior.
I thought it might ground the reader more firmly into the mind of a major character in the novel's eerie story though it is told through the eyes of her wartime lover.
If you write what you believe readers want, you might be wrong, you will be writing under false colors, prone to be shot at from every side, your heart will not truly be in your prose and it will show.
You might be successful and be trapped writing in a style and genre you do not enjoy,
If you stay true to yourself, you will never steer yourself wrong. It may be to a lonely port, but it will have been a worthy journey for your spirit.
But what do I know?
My favorite Loreena Mckennitt song is an instrumental.