Saturday, September 21, 2013

Give that Hero a Cat. Heroes Love Cats.

By Lucy Woodhull (Guest Blogger)

Hi, I'm Lucy Woodhull and Lisabet invited me to the blog to talk about cats.  Well, about my book The Dimple of Doom.  But I figure cats are a good blog topic, as the Internet is 97% cats on any given day.  The other 3% is porn, of course.

Blurb for The Dimple of Doom:

It may sound like common sense, but never hump an art thief. Turns out, Samantha Lytton’s Common-Sense-O-Meter is super duper broken.

Failed actress Samantha Lytton is getting along just fine in her lonely little life when a charming criminal called Sam or Nate or maybe even Richmond kisses her, square dances most provocatively, opens his not-so-wicked heart, and gets her in trouble with not one, but two international art theft rings as well as the LAPD.

She’s either gonna end up in jail or famous.  Maybe both.

Along the way, she fights for her life and falls for this funny, sexy disaster of a man... and learns that finding happily ever after with yourself is the first step to real contentment. A cute dimple is just the second.


I write romantic comedies, and I've found that a funny book is a great place to secretly subvert gender norms.  While you're laughing at and/or with my heroine Samantha Lytton in The Dimple of Doom, I'm busy trying to change up the status quo because I'm rabble-rousey like that.  Most romances, if they feature animals, give a dog to the dude (dogs are loyal! and manly!) or a cat to the lady (cat ladies die alone lol -- amIrite?)  Everything in our society is relegated to a gender norm -- boys play with trucks and girls play with pink... everything.  They make stupid pens for her.  Boys are taught to be powerful, while girls, to be pretty.  And cats -- well... cats are wussy animals that a real man wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole with a feather on the end.

So what did I do?  I gave my mysterious, uber-cool, religiously single, art thief anti-hero a cat.  And he doesn't just endure the presence of the cat; he cuddles and squeezes and loves on that cat in a way that would make the average person barf:

Excerpt from The Dimple of Doom

Meow.”

Nate hadn’t meowed at me. I followed the plaintive tones of feline dissatisfaction to find a tiny black cat sitting at his feet. Nate scooped the little fluff ball into his arms, stuck his face in the cat’s neck and proceeded to croon a disgusting array of loving goo-goos. The cat seemed unmoved by the display.

I could not say the same for myself.

My normally surly criminal friend didn’t seem to realise he’d turned into a six-year-old. “My dear Captain Taco, this is Samantha.” Don’t think I failed to realise he introduced the cat to me and not the other way around. My ranking in the household was painfully obvious.

Captain Taco licked his nose and yawned, settling back into the crook of Nate’s arm, belly and legs up like a sumptuous pasha. I’d never had a boyfriend squish such unbridled fondness all over me, and this cat looked bored.

Now you might ask:  Why am I so interested in switching up gender norms?  I think romance does this all the time.  Modern romance authors put the heroine first:  her story, her growth, her sexual evolution and enjoyment.  This is such a new concept!  Sad, but true, it's still a controversy -- women taking control of their lives and sexual desires and demanding equality in the relationships they pursue.  So, in my books, I might make that powerful police officer a woman... on purpose.  The doctor.  The attorney.  Heck, the cleverest criminal in The Dimple of Doom is a woman -- a badass middle-aged woman when most older ladies in books, TV, and film are regulated to the kindly grandma role.  My Jane is not kindly.  Her stare will cut you down from fifty feet away.

I recently chatted with some writer buddies and told them that I was making conscious decisions to increase the presence of women in my books, and breaking gender stereotypes.  One of my female writer friends told me that she often defaults to male characters, only making them female when there needed to be a love interest.  Egad!  Women are still only love interests, even when written by women!  This is extremely common -- read some of the facts from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media:

Research Facts
  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.

  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.

  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.

  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.

Via TV, movies, and books, people (including women artists) are programmed to default to an antiquated way of thinking.  Let's change that up!  I figure if I'm a writer, then I can create the ideal world as I see it, and dammit, I see women astronauts and hot dudes with "girly" animals like cats.  Challenging the preconceived notions of "man" is important.  My husband and I have a cat, and he loves that little devil to death.  The world often tells men that being macho and uncaring is the way to be a "man," but so many wonderful males of the species experience actual *gasp* feelings like love and respect.  Who'da thunk it?  Erasing gender norms shows respect not only for women (we're actual people!) but for men as well.  If I were a modern man, I'd get pretty tired of being told I'm a hairy thug who's only capable of swilling beer and regurgitating "make me a sandwich" jokes.  "Ladies are excellent at swilling beer, too," said the author with a burp.  And men love their furry widdle cats, dammit.

I highly encourage all of you to notice the ratio of men to women in the media your consume.  Read books that challenge the status quo.  Pay money for movies that feature women and people of color in leading roles.  And, if you're a writer, twist-up those notions of gender and race.  The world will be a more beautiful, and accepting, place for it.

And get a cat.  Cats are freaking awesome.  When they're not barfing on your duvet.

My latest, The Dimple of Doom, is available from:  Total-E-Bound, Amazon, AllRomance.com, B&N, Sony.  (For iBook users, buy from T-E-B and choose ePub format.)  

Blurb:  Failed actress Samantha Lytton is getting along just fine in her lonely little life when a charming criminal called Sam or Nate or maybe even Richmond kisses her, square dances most provocatively, opens his not-so-wicked heart, and gets her in trouble with not one, but two international art theft rings as well as the LAPD. She’s either gonna end up in jail or famous. Maybe both.

If you like funny sci-fi, I invite you to try the adventures of Ragnar and Juliet:  Juliet is a bounty hunter with a penchant for pie, himbos, and shopping at Sluts ‘R’ Us. Ragnar is a sweet, hunky alien dude who’s wanted by one seriously assy emperor. She’s totally going to turn him over to King Jerkface… if she can stop falling for him. And his surprisingly-sexy tail. Or maybe she’ll just overthrow the government of a planet in order to rescue hundreds of unwilling concubines. Yeah — definitely the latter.  Amazon.com, Liquid Silver Books, B&N, AllRomance.com, iTunes, Sony.

Thanks for reading! Comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Dimple of Doom!

Lucy Woodhull 

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Blog | Facebook




17 comments:

Naomi Bellina said...

I love romantic comedy and I also love when men get all silly over animals. It shows they have a heart! Cute excerpt.

Naomi Bellina said...

Whoops! It's early. Here's my email address: naomibellina AT live.com

Debby said...

The statistics you give are quite intriguing. Women are making in roads everywhere but it is very slow. When I watch British TV, their women are much more realistic. I have a cat and my kids have cats. My mother recently died and my brother took one of her cats. It is the first pet he has had on his own. He dotes on him.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Susan said...

I've actually stopped reading most M/F romance because of the stereotypical women. Your books might just change my mind! I love SF and have a degree in art history!

skadlec1@yahoo.com

Colleen C. said...

I love cats! Your book sounds wonderful... I enjoy how humor adds so much more to a character and their book. Thank you so much for sharing with us today! :)
greenshamrock AT cox DOT net

hotcha12 said...

SOUNDS GOOD ADD ME!

lindarb49@hotmail.com

books4me said...

Romantic comedies are my favorite but it's hard to find good ones. This sounds like a great, fun read!

books4me67 at ymail dot com

J Bur said...

I love a good romantic comedy!

turtle6422@gmail.com

nooknutt said...

That sounds like a great story! I am going to have to check it out!

Jacki
shelby15@clearwire.net

hotcha12 said...

GOTTA TO HAVE HFA!!

lindarb49@hotmail.com

Kate Deveaux said...

Terrific post Lucy!
Romantic Comedy is one the hardest to write (I think as a fellow author) Good for you, Dimple of Doom sounds great!

All the best,
Kate

Anne said...

I was really surprised that men out number women in family films, but then I started thinking about them. Still hard to believe though. And they're always the ones driving the car too.

Cats are freakin' awesome except when they try to wake you up at 5 a.m. so you can perform your official job as the "Can Opener".

acm05atjuno.com

Alexandra said...

Yay for subversive rabble-rousey romance writers! And I've always thought there are not enough heroes with cats! :D

hotcha12 said...

LOVE ROMANCE/COMEDY BUT LIKE DOGS

bn100 said...

Sounds different

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

hotcha12 said...

THANLS FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

lindarb49@hotmail.com

hotcha12 said...

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

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