Having just completed the second draft of my first novel about a woman, I am beginning to realize that writing about the opposite sex could indeed be the male author’s greatest challenge. How many truly great books have been written by men with a woman as the central character? I asked myself. And what is the reason for this? I wondered. Are women too complex for most male writers? “There’s Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and there’s Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and there’s . . . ?” But I couldn’t come up with another example off the top of my head. So I started looking through the novels in my library . . . Hemingway? No . . . Dostoevsky? No . . . Proust? No . . . Joyce? No . . . Shakespeare? Not really . . . Melville? Definitely not . . . In the “Maybe” category I would list Lawrence’s Women in Love, Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Who else, then?
Perhaps it’s folly to attempt such a challenge, although in theory at least a good writer should be able to use his creative imagination to penetrate the female psyche. And isn’t it possible to discover the psychological-emotional territory shared by both the sexes? After all, we both need to love and be loved, and that makes us vulnerable to the same suffering, and of course there are many fears and joys which we have in common. And yet, in the final analysis, the opposite gender may be unknowable to us writers of the testosterone persuasion, and when we write about them we are creating a fabrication made up of plausible approximations, shadowy reflections, wishful projections, portraits painted with moonbeams . . . I’m still wondering about this question as I begin polishing my manuscript.
In any case, after many years of writing about men, I finally felt ready to take up the challenge of writing about a woman. My novel is based on what could have been the life of Mary Magdalene if she were truly one of the apostles and not a penitent prostitute as the Catholic church would have us believe. I’ve worked at making her as complex and conflicted as most women I’ve known. It’s called MARY OF MAGDALA, and it will be available in a Kindle edition by January 2012. I can only hope that readers of both sexes will find her convincingly real.
Causes Anthony Maulucci Supports
Greenpeace, Amnesty Inernational, American Cancer Society, Red Cross, Save the Children