The highest compliments I received when I wrote my first story were from several readers who assumed I was a man.
I am not a man. I am a woman. There. Now the cat is out of the bag. < – meow – >
I love stories about war and battle. Fighting and swords and guns, oh my. Long-range missiles and hand-to-hand combat, violence and destruction – all will put me in the mood to write. My best friend firmly believes I was a soldier in a past life or two. But, that’s another story (pun intended).
Part of this love for battle developed during my formative years. For better or worse, as a later-in-life surprise baby my father spent more time with me than he had with my older siblings. He and I spent many comfortable hours in front of the television watching his favorite movies and shows: war and crime.
As a youngster, I still watched the requisite cartoons and children’s shows, but the impact of sharing violent shows with my father had a profound effect on my psyche. Since my father had served as a Marine in WWII, many of the movies we watched were about combat.
Even now, given the choice between an action adventure and a chick flick, I’ll usually go with the suspense (unless the chick flick has a lot of action . . . no, not that type of action, the other type).
My father told stories to me as I grew older, tales of fighting in the Pacific Theater on islands against enemies in close quarters. He reminisced about his experiences as a gunnery sergeant and the shipboard guns he controlled. He spoke of the horrors of war.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had a somewhat normal upbringing (things didn’t get really crazy until I became a teenager). My mother tempered my father’s horrific stories with a softer side of death: she spoke (and still speaks) of car accidents, collapsing bridges, and the deaths of friends and relatives.
No, my father’s name was not Gomez and my mother’s name was not Morticia. Our house was not gloomy; in fact, it was super modern for its time. We didn’t converse with dead relatives nor did we have freakish cousins visit (well, not too freakish).
But, we did deal with reality. Typical topics of conversations around the dinner table would include life and death, crime and violence, all with the evening news as a backdrop.
Now that I think about, my family was rather fixated with the more brutal side of life.
The influences in my early years, and other experiences throughout my life, are what shape my writing. Action and suspense come naturally to me, as do battles and war. Being able to write through the perspective of a man is not that difficult; after all, men are remarkably human, too.
J J Dare is the author of “False Positive,” the first novel in the Joe Daniels’ trilogy.