Guest Author JEANNIE BURT on Why She Prefers the Male POV + Signed Copy GIVEAWAY

CoverPattyWe’re excited to introduce you to a fellow debuter, Jeannie Burt. In her poignant novel, WHEN PATTY WENT AWAY, Jeannie enters the world of a quiet struggling farmer named Jack McIntyre who has just lost his crop to hail. His troubles compound when a girl he and his daughter love disappears. Fifteen-year-old Patty has been so wild the community labels her a thief and a slut and, when she is gone, it dusts its hands of her. Jack makes a heart-wrenching decision to find the girl despite the wrath of his wife and the community—a decision that ultimately takes him to an awful world unlike anything he could imagine.

Jeannie joins us today to talk about why she wrote When Patty Went Away from Jack’s point of view. She’s giving away a signed copy, too! Please see the bottom of this post for details.

Welcome, Jeannie!

Awhile back, I was pitching a novel to an agent, and she asked why I wrote it from the male point of view. I could see she really wanted stories about women. I danced around why I had done that with that particular story, and she was interested enough to ask for part of the manuscript. She eventually passed on it. But her question made me think: Why do I write from the male viewpoint? And what about men can make a story work?

First, something about my past. I was raised in a tiny community with only three girls (including me) in my class; one was a quiet person who drifted into fantasies to escape her family’s poverty and the other a bully who wielded a powerful load of scripture and judgment she liked to aim my way. For many years, until high school, I believed the Bible wielder truly did know what was right, something that on my own I could never quite figure out.

The boys in my class didn’t seem to have such a great hold on righteousness, so I turned to them. I was lucky, I liked a lot of the things they liked: science, math, building stuff. I had a good arm and could throw. It didn’t matter that I had terrible aim and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

It was our sophomore year, I think, that one of the boys looked at me and said, “Hey, you have a mustache.” And, perhaps for the first time in my life I had a comeback. I blurted, “Yeh, aren’t you jealous.” I had spoken their language, and after that I was in. (Though at home I began to make good work with the tweezers.)

I have come to understand our culture doesn’t treat its boys well. It makes them find ways to deal; they turn loud, or angry, or physical, and they do stuff, build stuff, play stuff, brag, shout, act out, in order to cover feelings.

But here is the real thing: I was lucky. The two most important men in my life—my dad and my husband—allowed me in. They opened up to me. To others, they could put on the same front other men did. They could be hard, pushy, brash, sulky, stinky physical, as hard-shelled as clams. But also like clams, they let me see their soft insides, like when they were scared or shed a tear. This dichotomy, this hard outside but tender inside, makes for good storytelling. It is, I think, why men take over my pen when I write.

To me, men are our tender sex. In my experience women are tough. They hide behind smiles and sweetnesses, but they wave their antennae about for slights and seem to create them if the slights are not truly there. Except for a handful of really close friends, women scare me a bit.

I have three more novels in the works, two from the viewpoint of men. The third has to be told by a woman, and I am finding myself wary of her. This is big, because her character doesn’t deserve suspicion. I hope I can learn from her. I hope she can set me right about women. After all, I am her.

What are you thoughts on the way our culture treats boys?

GIVEAWAY! Comment on this post by noon EST on Friday, March 7th, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of When Patty Went Away. U.S. only, please. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!

Jeannie photo-colorJeannie Burt was raised on a farm in Oregon. There were six, counting her, in her high school graduating class. She was related to half of them, a situation that fostered neither romance, nor privacy or adventure, but it did tend to keep her in line. Her career in business and human resources allowed her to escape the confines of small-town life. She lived in San Francisco, New York and Milano where she became passionate about art. She adores Paris and visits often.

Visit her at: website | Facebook | Twitter

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Lisa Alber is the author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (March 2014). Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging at Lisa Alber's Words at Play round out her distractions. Visit her at www.lisaalber.com.

29 thoughts on “Guest Author JEANNIE BURT on Why She Prefers the Male POV + Signed Copy GIVEAWAY

  1. I’m excited to read this book! Boy’s point of view—I lived in a house surrounded by neighbors who were all boys my age. So that’s who I played with. Being an only child, I now had ” brothers”. One of those boys became my wonderful husband. We raised two boys and a girl, and now have three teen aged grandsons and three little granddaughters. Teen grandsons–all with different points of views and different thoughts about the world. Exciting to say the least!! Then , I also spent years working with abused and neglected children. Boys were always expected to buck up and take it, but I often found they they actually had the tenderest hearts. So bring on this book please!! Would love to read and review it—-I paste my reviews everywhere too!

  2. Welcome, Jeannie! Men as our tender sex — that fascinates me! Thanks for writing a thought-provoking post. Jack sounds like a memorable character in a memorable novel!

    • Hi, Lori,

      I agree about the cards we’re all dealt. Girls don’t get a great hand, either. I sometimes wonder what cultures are the best for their kids and try to come up with the perfect one to be raised in.

      Jeannie

  3. I also think girls have it much harder on the other hand the expectations put on young men are not easy to cope with.

    • HI, Rhonda,
      You’re right. Girls aren’t raised with a piece of cake, either, for sure. I have to admit, the thickest stack of novels sitting on my bedstead are about women, or are written by women.
      Jeannie

  4. I can really relate to this. When I started my first novel, I had to force myself to write from a female point of view. I grew up when boys still had all the fun, especially in movies and fiction. I’m glad my culturally encouraged prejudice was pointed out to me in college, but I still gravitate toward the male point of view.

    • Christina,

      Prejudice is one big deal. I know what you mean. It seems like we tiptoe into change and sometimes lose ground in that. But at least we’re tiptoeing, and it makes me want to shout, “You go, girls.”

      Jeannie

  5. What a wonderful post, Jeannie. I like hearing stories from either male or female perspectives, because as you so deftly laid out here, both are so interesting in the ways they cope emotionally with the world around them. Looking forward to reading!

    • Heather, thanks so much. I think you might have nailed it: it is really about how we all cope. Took me a long time to understand that.

  6. It never even occurred to me that people would care if a woman writes from a man’s perspective, or vice versa. To me, if the narrator is interesting and believable, that’s all that matters. But one of my (male) friends writes stories about a female midwife, and it was surprising the suspicion that he had to overcome at first, until people discovered how terrific his protagonist is. Good luck and congrats on your success!

  7. Susanna,

    I have to admit I have to swallow a little something–pride? chavanism?–as well to think a man could write something so intimate. It’s really something wonderful when old beliefs get a little yank.

  8. Thanks for visiting us at the Deb Ball, Jeannine, and congraluations on your debut!

    My book is also told from a male POV and it’s fascinating to me because it’s not something I really thought about when I first started writing it; the story simply needed to be told that way. Later, when I’d read about writing “crossing gender lines” in their work, I found it kind of odd…isn’t the whole point of fiction that we imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes?

  9. P.S. I just caught my terrible typos & misspelling of your name…I hope you’ll forgive me! I’ve been at the AWP conference for the last 4 days and typing on an ipad when you’re sleep deprived is not something I recommend 😉

    • Natalia,

      in truth I didn’t notice. I’ve been called so much worse, this is a treat. Thank you for your good wishes. I hope the conference is going swimmingly.

      Jeannie

  10. My most recent story had mostly female characters, and I did a lot of third person limited (each character got a chapter). I’ve never done first person from a woman’s POV — I think that’s where I might have problems. But of course I only do first person for one character (basically ever), so that could be part of it, and my stories never have One Single Protagonist anyway.

    But I think the “Who has a right” question breaks down when you think about screenwriting. Should only men write dialog for male characters, only women for female, only gay for gay, etc.? No movies or plays would ever get written (or at least no good ones 🙂 ).

    I like the Cloud Atlas movie — where even the actors step across race and gender lines. Creative people (i.e., eveybody) should be encouraged to step outside their own experiences — not pressured to stay with what they know already.

    • This is really interesting about screenplays, particularly when the germ of a screenplay , I think, is often written by one writer. Hmmmmmm.

  11. Jeannie,
    I grew up in a small rural community with mostly boys and one older girl cousin. I thank the boys for my athletic prowess as they always let us in on whatever sport they were undertaking, and it served me well throughout my life.
    Our society puts so much pressure on boys to be “Mr. Macho” and not to show weakness, aka sensitive and feeling. We all need a little of both sides!

    • Jan,
      It’s funny how things; rules, behaviors and whatever else take on such balast in our lives. I suspect we’re all on some sort of continuum that might shift and change. Maybe there’s really no “supposed to” way about any of it at all. I hope so.

      Jeannie

  12. I also agree with the fact that men do have a tender side of them that just needs to be broken down. They try to live up to what society says how men should act and behave. However, inside of every male there is that little boy that needs to be free. I am excited to read the book and see it from the male perspective. Maybe all of us could learn something about ourselves and just be REAL and not worry about what and how we are to be and act because someone says so.

  13. You’ve always had this magical gift of words, making me completely find my way inside your story line and lose myself for a time. What a great premise for a book. I love it and can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    • Jan,

      Thanks for the good words. It’s out in the world now and has its own life, which is a bit hard for me. I could probably have tweaked it forever and never let it go.

      Jeannie

  14. Hi. Would love to read this book. It sounds really good!

    I’m following on Twitter and Facebook.

    • Suzy,

      Thanks for the follows. I’m afraid I’m not real good at them. I’ll do better, I promise.

      Jeannie

  15. My WIP is from a male’s point of view and I find it daunting. I was raised with only sisters so my only close male influence was my, largely silent, father. I am trudging along the writing path, though, and hope that I am doing my characters justice!

    • Stacy,

      Really good luck with this. Viewpoint is so hard and so important. I get it wrong a lot. Have had to rewrite a whole novel because it wasn’t right. Slow learner, I think.

      Best,
      Jeannie

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