I don’t often read women authors. Except when I do and according to my Goodreads’ history, my last five books have been authored by women. Some of my preferred genres lend themselves to men and perhaps my current trend is coincidence. I suspect I read Rachel Maddow’s Blowout to satisfy my confirmation bias after having weaved Putin’s oil oligarchy into my last novel, Full Spectrum Cyberwar. Her story did in fact support my fictional account. I was surprised when she dedicated part of a chapter to the president of Shell, for whom I served as an usher in his wedding.

I read Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider as part of a writing assignment for my writers critique club. It’s a collection of classic stories from 1939. We take turns in my small group of five male writers to assign exercises to each other on a monthly basis. Sometimes, the exercise requires research, which for me is what makes it fun. Research has always been necessary for my novels and I enjoy that. It’s also essential in my day job as a product manager, and one of the roles I most enjoy.

Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game reminded me somewhat of Where The Crawdads Sing. I think because of the setting; even though it was in the U.K. rather than America, as it was on the coast. There are other similarities in the mystery format. The main characters were all women and it caused me to consider if, on average, women are better at creating female antagonists and men are better at creating male characters. Seems safe to agree to that, but of course some writers are so good they aren’t challenged by gender.

Lucy Foly’s The Guest List is the very first audio book I’ve listened to. Karen and I listened on our long drive to Ouray. It was a great whodunnit for a drive. Each character was voiced by a different actor. That might have been jarring as a read as I suspect Lucy changed the point of view per scene in the text as well as the audio.

Jen Louden is a friend and I’d been wanting to read one of her best-selling books, but I’ve never been interested in the motivational self-help genre. Her latest book Why Bother? was perfect because it’s as much memoir as self-help. I thought once she steamed up the narrative with real-life stories in section two, the book became fascinating. It reminded me of Stephen King’s On Writing, which was as much memoir as instructional. I find the sharing of personal vignettes a successful approach to storytelling. It helps to have lived an interesting life but I don’t think one necessarily has to be Hemingway.

After writing this, it has occurred to me my interest in reading women authors stemmed from making the antagonist in my current novel a woman. Call it research. My first novel was strongly male dominated. My wife gave me grief, and that’s putting it mildly, over the sexist undertones in my story. I was trying to convey a sense of men who travel extensively for their careers. She wasn’t a fan. I corrected that somewhat with my second novel by having the wife of the antagonist tag along during his adventures. I’m comfortable writing from a woman’s point of view. Doesn’t mean I’m good at it. If I pull it off, I credit having grown up with five sisters.