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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest Post: Kersten Hamilton (Author of Tyger, Tyger)

Guts and Gaps: Creating Male Characters
By Kersten Hamilton

I am a huge fan of the male gender. I have spent a lifetime studying guys – brothers, fathers, friends, a lover, and two sons. Like a field anthropologist, I have lived among them. After much up-close and personal study, I think that in our literary YA culture, we do not always give guys enough credit for what they are: male.

Sometimes, we write them as if they were large women with body hair issues. Or worse, accessories — pretty things with rock-hard abs to hang on the arm of a kick-butt heroine. Or, worse still, creatures who are smarter and stronger than the dumb, weak heroines they have fallen in love with.

Out of respect and admiration for the guys I love, I try to write honest-to-testosterone guys into my books. To be able to do that with integrity, I not only study guys in the field, I study books and movies by guys about guys.

Like Rocky, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. Stallone understood exactly how to create a male protagonist with a compelling and honest love relationship. Give them guts and gaps:

Paulie: [talking about Adrian] You like her?
Rocky: Sure, I like her.
Paulie: What's the attraction?
Rocky: I dunno... she fills gaps.
Paulie: What's 'gaps'?
Rocky: I dunno, she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

In Tyger Tyger there are three very different guys, all with as many guts and gaps as I could manage to write into them:

Mr. Wylltson, gentle, literary man, who loves his wife Aileen, a wild Irish girl. Finn, a scrappy street fighter who has no words to wrap around his feelings for Teagan. And Aiden, who is only five, but is trying very hard to grow into a man.

Each one of them is as absolutely male as I can make them, and therefore completely loveable.

I must admit that the kind of book that I like best has a romance between two strong characters, equally matched but delightfully different from one another.

Characters who have gaps. Who need each other.

Tyger Tyger is that kind of book.

I loved each and every one of Hamilton's male characters, so it was great to hear her thoughts and feelings behind writing them!

Be sure to check out my review of TYGER TYGER here!

ALSO, to celebrate the novel's release, Kersten is giving away a Kindle e-reader! Check out the details here on the Teen Book Scene site and don't forget to collect the letter R from this post... you'll need it to enter!


  1. I love what Kersten has to say about male characters and think it is absolutely right. As if I didn't already love the men/ boys she has written about, this brings a new endearment to each of them!
    Thanks for posting this. I was a huge fan of this book before, but the more I find out about this author the more I love it!

  2. Kersten's Guestpost makes me want to read Tyger Tyger even more. It was great to read her thoughts!

  3. I've studied the male gender too, but boy, they really seem to have come from another planet, lol!

  4. It seems Kersten has done a fair bit of research on the so-called 'male' represenation and the ones we need. And of course being a male as well, it's kind of hard to think of myself as any of these things she has talked about.

  5. Thanks for the guest post - you foray into the male psyche is fascinating.

  6. This was a really interesting guest post. I'm looking forward to reading Tyger Tyger and being introduced to the male characters :)

  7. I loved the Rocky comparison! I understand what you mean! Great guest post! Can't wait to read the book!

  8. Wow, that's a really thoughtful concept. I'm really interested in reading Tyger, Tyger now! I'm excited to see the romance. :)

  9. This made me smile--I loved the Rocky snippet and she writes guys so well--especially Finn!

  10. I loved this post! It's so would make the male characters seem so much more realistic...I can't wait to read Tyger Tyger!

  11. This guest post made me want to read Kersten's books so bad. I love when authors talks about their boys :)
    Thanks for this article!

  12. and I also forgot to say, that Kersten has very similar demands of how should her characters and the romance between them look like. I'm sure I will ejoy Tyger Tyger very much!

  13. Now this makes me really think. How can someone write from a boy's POV being a woman.. the quote from rocky made me smile lol

  14. I also love two equally strong characters. It reminds me of my marriage :)

  15. I love what Kersten said.
    As a teen I always had a lot of boys as friends. As a not particularly 'girly' girl I often preferred their company.
    Although there a few that behave like alien monster (mainly those I dated!) most are a lot more interesting that fart machines with abs that appear in most fiction.

  16. Oh that's interesting. I always think guys act a little differently when they're with girl and when they're with guys though, or at least my guy friends do that. -___-

  17. I agree with you, love between equals is the most fun. I definitely think boys act differently when girls are around. That's why sometines they're so hard to figure out :S
    Loved the post! Thanks! :)

  18. You're so right ..especially the "pretty things with rock-hard abs to hang on the arm of a kick-butt heroine" part ...:)
    I tottally agree with you on this one :)


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