Both Mindfire and Jordan’s World have females in their early twenties as the main protagonists. Prior to this, several of my webcomics had similar leads. Some may wonder, how can a male effectively write the perspective of a female character? Personally, I think anyone can write any perspective, if they can both imagine it and have some point of reference and experience regarding that perspective.
In my case, I spent most of my childhood around my mother and older sister. My father was the traditional “breadwinner” and was away a lot due to his profession. We spent time together whenever possible but didn’t develop a truly close bond until I was in my early twenties. Even outside the home, some of my closest friends were females and I learned from their experiences. In many ways, I related to them better than males.
Males had been my childhood bullies, particularly those involved in sports. That’s why I chose creative pursuits such as making my own comics, which doubled as my therapy. Later, I would use music in a similar fashion, to vent my deepest feelings and express my hopes and wishes. I didn't have to be involved in sports or join a team, I could use what talent I possessed all by myself.
Writing allowed me the opportunity to take ideas and experiences and make them relatable to a wider audience, to share my characters’ triumphs and failures, loves and losses. For a large part of my life, I understood the female perspective better than the male one, so that's what I wrote in my comics. Sometimes, that's what I represented in my songs as well.
That said, I never thought of myself as female; I never wanted to be anything or anyone other than who I am. Interestingly enough, it was my mother who instilled a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in me. She wanted me to be emotionally strong enough to face whatever challenges life had to offer. And she succeeded. I have accomplished many of the goals that I set for myself.
But I could not have gotten to where I am now, either creatively (art/music/writing), professionally (in the I.T. field) and personally (as a husband and father) without the Lord’s intervention. He is the one who made me see my need for a Savior. Before then, I could do many things on my own -- except be truly content. Before giving my life to Him, I may have always pursued dreams but just as often, I would get in my own way. It was frustrating, even maddening, to be so close to what should have been "True Happiness," only to have it snatched away by a mistake or mishandling of a situation. And it would be my fault, whether I accepted that or not.
After the Lord saved me, I was able to relate better to my brothers in Christ and then men in general. Having the Holy Spirit to soothe and heal past hurts allowed me to see the world differently. And that made me a better writer, as I could impart more realistic male characters and provide a balance to my storytelling.
I do admit that I enjoy writing female protagonists and strong female characters. In recent years, there has been a lot of progress towards providing rewarding portrayals of female characters, ones who defy stereotypes or define their standout roles well, whether in print, on a screen or a stage.
It’s not necessary to overcompensate and under-portray the male characters. All you need is a balance. If the lead is female, then that’s fine. And vice-versa for males. What matters is good storytelling.
Will I end up writing male lead protagonists in the future? I’m sure I will, I just don’t know when. I’d like to think I’m up for the challenge!
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.