Monday, January 14, 2013

Publishing A Novel: Writing A Plus-Sized Heroine

Today BAND GEEK was reviewed at the blog Buried In Books. The blogger, Heather, wrote a very thoughtful review which has provoked an interesting discussion among commenters: Does having my narrator's mother nag Melinda about her weight send a bad message to young readers?

When I wrote Melinda, I made her a Size 12 (and eventually a Size 10) because I wanted it to be clear that she's not stick thin. She's definitely not fat, but she's curvy -- and it takes her a while to accept that she's beautiful inside and out. The mother, Lydia, is hypercritical, but it's the mom's problem; she can't control the health of her sick father so she's instead trying to control her daughter's weight. Many of the things that the mother says aren't kind, but in her own messed-up way, she's trying to help her daughter. I've had arguments with people in my life about my weight and know that I'm not alone; I wanted to present a realistic and raw dynamic between the mother and daughter. I attempted to show that it was the mom's issue as Lydia eventually comes around and lightens up. Perhaps I should've done more to show that, but the weight storyline is only one aspect of my novel. One of the commenters referred to Lydia as "horrid," but if you read the book, you'll see that she's not horrid at all; she's just dealing with a lot of sress and anxiety and because of that, isn't as kind to her daughter as she should be. The mom is very flawed, but does redeem herself.

In the end, though, Mel comes to appreciate herself, curves and all. Meanwhile, Kathy, the character with the "perfect" figure has her own insecurities. I tried to show how being bone thin doesn't automatically equal happiness. It takes a while for Melinda to learn this, but she does.

I guess weight will always be a controversial topic, one that as a plus-sized woman, I'm all too familiar with. I think it's really great that this discussion was sparked and want to make it clear that I don't see others' opinions as being "wrong." I'm always happy to get a new perspective on my writing and appreciate the posters for chiming in with their thoughts.

Please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD and let me know what YOU think!

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