The Soul of Adam Short and Writing Strong Women Characters
Thanks for inviting me on your blog today Janie. I want to talk about my young adult novel, The Soul of Adam Short, which despite the name is mostly about Julie Lawless, Adam’s girlfriend, upon whose shoulders the weight of Adam’s predicament lies. She is a strong young lady, though, who’s more than capable of bearing it.
Though I’ve always enjoyed reading strong female characters like Jan-nel in The Lost Song Trilogy and Ayla in the Earth’s Children Series, I didn’t realise that I had written my own strong women characters, until some reviewers complimented me on the character of Jessie in one of my other novels, The Ecology of Lonesomeness: “I liked the fact that Jessie was portrayed as a strong woman with strong beliefs.” “I love Jessie, she is independent and has her own mind.” “She is a complicated character and she manages to be complicated without being whiney or annoying.”
That last reviewer surprised me by saying “I don’t think a lot of books by men in the romance genre really and truly portray women correctly. But, this author manages to do that with Jessie very well.”
I don’t think I really set out to write strong women characters. I just write characters. Some are women, some not.
I’m probably a bit slow on the uptake, but I didn’t realise that many of the female characters we see in books and film are, indeed, less than strong. And many of those are written by men. It never occurred to me, though, luckily, to view women as less than strong, or any different to men in their desires, abilities or complicatedness.
I grew up in a time when women were finally beginning to get some rights. Though my mother, and most mothers I knew, worked in the home, when I went to college (after five years in an all-boys school), I was surrounded by female students who had no intention of only working in the home. Those who I hung out with were just as good as I at science, and I relied on their help as much as if not more than they did mine. Nor was there, as far as I could discern (though I confess to being slow on the uptake), any sign of professors looking down on women. The university had made the transition faster than much of society, I suppose.
This made me view women as equals, and the fact that they could get less money than I was surprising too, when I discovered it later. It was not the last of such unpleasant surprises.
Just two weeks ago it was International Women’s Day and in Pamplona there was a huge march demanding proper equality. I hope it will not be much longer that women have to loudly demand what should long have been theirs.
Until then, though, just as I believe it necessary for our books to have diverse characters and to include environmental awareness in our stories, I consider it a writer’s duty to write our characters as strong as the women we see around us, and to create worlds where such women are truly appreciated
The Soul of Adam Short
by David J. O’Brien
Blurb for The Soul of Adam Short
The cares of life are beginning to cloud fifteen-year-old Adam Short’s carefree existence. Important exams are looming, his girlfriend Julie thinks he’s unfocused, and right now he’s about to be late for the school trip. Neither his teacher, nor Julie, will be pleased if he misses the bus.
Adam has much bigger problems when, in an extraordinary accident, his soul is torn from his body. His body loses all consciousness−reduced to a mere automaton existence: eating when food is put in its mouth, moving when guided, reacting only to touch. Meanwhile, Adam, discovering that ghosts are very much real, is trapped without a body, and stuck in a place from which he cannot freely leave.
Only the untiring efforts of his girlfriend Julie−who had never considered the existence of a soul, and for whom the idea of ghosts is laughable−against the advice of everyone around her, including her parents, Adam’s doctor, and his best friend can save Adam. Will she be able to figure out what has happened to Adam? Even if she does, can Julie helpAdam escape the scene of his accident, and return the life to his body?
10% of the author’s royalties will be donated to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund
“Hi, Simon. How’re you?” she asked, as she walked to the bed and kissed Adam on the forehead. He was lying in his by-now-familiar position, staring up at the ceiling. “Hello, Adam,” she murmured. “How are you feeling today? Any better? Feeling up for a chat? We can talk about Simon later on when he goes. I’ll tell you all about the silly things he’s done today.”
“Fine, thanks,” replied Simon. “I was just telling Adam here that I’m off to play a footie match now in a minute. Just a few of the lads making the most of the sunshine before we’re all back indoors. He’d better hurry up and get out of this bed and back on the pitch, or his legs will be too weak to play football till next Christmas.”
“He should be studying, not playing football, isn’t that right, Adam? And so should you, Simon Goodall. The exams are less than three weeks away.”
“Yea, maybe. But it’s a shame to waste the sunshine, isn’t it? The weather’ll probably be terrible after the exams.”
“But since you play football in the depths of winter, a little bit of rain will hardly discourage you.”
Simon smirked, his expression grudgingly giving Julie the advantage in the argument. “Anyway, I’d better be getting on if I’m not going to be late. I’ll see you tomorrow, mate, all right?” He patted Adam’s leg as he walked round the foot of the bed. Adam looked down at his feet, but his eyes didn’t follow Simon as he walked on toward the door, beckoning Julie after him.
She followed out onto the corridor, wondering what he wanted to tell her that he couldn’t say in front of Adam. When he turned around to face her, the cheerful expression he’d been wearing in the room was gone, replaced by a depressed look.
“Jesus, Julie. I can’t believe he’s still like that.”
Julie didn’t quite know what to say. Neither could she believe it, but there was nothing she could do about it. “Well, he is, Si. We’ve got to be patient.”
“Patient?” he asked incredulously. “How can we be patient when he’s in there like a zombie?”
“Well, I am, so you’d better be. It’s not easy, I know, but there’s nothing else for it. It’s all we’ve got—patience and hope.”
“Do you have hope, Julie?”
“What sort of question is that to ask? I hope Adam didn’t hear you say that.”
“He didn’t, Julie. Even if we were inside the room, I don’t think he would have heard me.”
“Well then, why are you standing outside the door?” she asked savagely. Then, in a calmer voice, she went on, “I do think he can. In fact, I’m sure of it.”
Simon’s expression softened also. He looked as if he’d been needing to hear that. “Are you really?”
“Yes,” she sighed. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have spent the last week in that room talking to him.”
Simon nodded. A weak smile broke the sadness of his face. “Fair enough. I’ll try to be patient, and hopeful.”
“Do. For Adam and for me. You’ll see. He’ll come through.”
His smile broadened. “For you both, then.”
Julie smiled back. She wasn’t sure whether she had enough hope for them both, but she couldn’t afford for Adam’s best friend to lose faith.
“I’ll see you tomorrow morning then, yea?”
“Yea. Enjoy the footie. Make sure you aren’t relegated for next year, you don’t want to disappoint Adam when he wakes up.”
“Relegated? We’re nearly top. It’s only been two weeks since Adam’s last match. Don’t you listen to the results when he tells you?”
“As if I ever listen to him when he’s rabbitting on about football.” She laughed.
Simon shook his head in mock exasperation and walked off down the corridor.
Julie turned back into the room, slamming the door as she did. Adam looked toward the source of the bang, but Julie ignored his movement. It had taken her by surprise at first, but she’d found out it meant nothing, just another automatic reflex upon hearing a very loud noise, like flinching at a car backfiring.
She smiled at him, however, remarking to herself that if he’d not been here, he’d have been off with Simon and she wouldn’t have seen him that evening.
But just seeing him wasn’t enough.
The Ecology of Lonesomeness
by David J. O’Brien
Blurb for The Ecology of Lonesomeness
Kaleb Schwartz isn’t interested in the Loch Ness Monster. He’d enough cryptobiological speculation about Bigfoot while studying the Pacific Northwest forests. He’s in Scotland’s Great Glen to investigate aquatic food webs and nutrients cycles; if he proves there’s no food for any creature bigger than a pike, then so much the better.
Jessie McPherson has returned to Loch Ness after finishing university in London, hoping to avoid the obsession with its dark waters she had when younger and first discovered lonesomeness. She knows any relationship with a scientist studying the lake is a bad idea, but something about Kaleb makes her throw caution to the depths.
When Kaleb discovers Jessie’s lonesomeness refers not just to the solitude of the loch, he’s faced with an ecological problem of monstrous proportions. Can he find a way to satisfy both the man and the scientist inside himself, and do the right thing?
10% of the author’s royalties will be donated to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund
About David J. O’Brien
David J O’Brien is an Irish ecologist, poet, fiction writer and teacher. He was born in Dublin, studied environmental biology and zoology at University College Dublin. He taught English in Madrid for four years, biology in Boston for seven years and now teaches English and science in Pamplona, Spain where he lives with his wife and daughter. He is still involved in deer biology and management, and has written about deer watching for Ireland’s Wildlife and deer management for the Irish Wildlife Trust. His non-academic writing is often influenced by science and the natural world – sometimes seeking to describe the science behind the supernatural. His poems have been published in several anthologies and journals, such as such as Albatross, Houseboat, and Misty Mountain Review. His paranormal horror novel, Leaving the Pack, and contemporary adult fiction Five Days on Ballyboy Beach, The Ecology of Lonesomeness, are published by Tirgearr Publishing. His young adult novel, The Soul of Adam Short is published by MuseItUp Publishing. His children’s book, Peter and the Little People, will be published by MuseitUp Publishing this spring. He writes adult romance under the pen name J.D. Martins.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/David-J.-OBrien/e/B00M60M6Y0
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