Ugly. Inside and out. In a nutshell, that’s Maxine. There was a certain pleasure I felt when writing such a repulsive character into my book. It was absolutely exquisite. It was a new and wonderful experience. I’d definitely do it again! (and recommend it for other writers to do to achieve a complete creative catharsis)
When it comes to writing novels, male characters fit ‘ugly’ much easier. And, as long as there’s a redeeming counter-force somewhere in their personality, readers don’t usually give Mr Ugly a second thought about his ‘ugliness’ or how hard he falls when he finally fails. He was made that way and it’s okay. Giving ‘ugly’ traits to a female character in modern fiction is risky business. Many of us want to protect femininity. Putting a flawed female upfront defies natural writing logic. Women must be empowered. They should be seen as an uplifting force in a world long fractured by outdated and cruel patriarchy. Vulgar female behaviour doesn’t exist and, if it does, it doesn’t need to be shared inside fiction.
Wrong. It does and it should.
I’ve met vile females. They do exist. Regardless of what society thinks about the matter of bringing the bitch to the page, she is a very real person and she’s one shitty individual. The she-narcissist is out there — and she’s definitely worth mentioning. I wrote Maxine until I birthed her large, rounded ass into life, and then I wrote her until she was dead and buried. As a nod to feminism, I conceded to one thing when writing about this obnoxious super bitch: Her name. When it’s shortened, a male appears in its place. She sounds like a man.
I don’t apologise for creating this royal pain in the butt. I’m just glad to have done it — so much fun making and breaking her, using her demise to lead a much larger story. Her corpse’s discovery becomes a path for readers to walk in a world that includes emerging feminism and newly destabilised masculism. Now, tread slowly and read where it goes to find out why I set up a female to fail so hard.
-Michael Forman (Author – Dark, Adult Fiction)