2018 is a milestone year for women’s suffrage, and author Amy McLean believes it is important to have strong female leads in literature. To mark the release of her latest novel We Are Lucifer, which sees a female protagonist throw into the clutches of emotional and mental instability, McLean comments an issue she feels is still a problem for women writers.
“An author I admire used to display their full name on the covers and jackets of their novels, but more recently they've published under their initials. And J.K. Rowling famously wrote under a male pseudonym. While I cannot claim that either of these occurred because of the fact that the female is still often looked down upon as being the weaker, less trustworthy, less able writer, I will say that we still live in a time where there is a prominent divide between sexes. By instilling strong female leads in fiction, it is a solid way of representing the powers of womanhood, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally.”
We Are Lucifer is McLean’s sixth book and it tells the story of Amber Quigley, a young woman who's had a tough few years, and her quest to turn her life around. “Unfortunately, in her mental instability she makes a few poor judgements, and this leads her to clouded judgement, and ultimately being led by her own desires without consideration for those around her. Like many of my other novels, it's a study of the human mind in relation to mental health. I've been asked if I blame Amber for her actions, but even after a lot of contemplation I cannot come up with an answer.
“Perhaps I write female leads because I, as a woman, relate to them more than I would a male protagonist. However, as a writer of thriller fiction, there is great flexibility for creating headstrong female characters who equal, if not surpass, their male counterparts. I'm currently developing a character for my next novel who lacks all conventional femininity and yet, with her attitude and stamina and commitment to her tale, she is a token to her sex. Fiction presents the perfect opportunity to showcase women in their true form, and not how mass media would have them represented.”
Referring to her most recent work, McLean explains that "I think the uncertainty about Amber's mental state was the real driving force behind the story. Most of my other works address mental health in some way, and it's a recurring theme in my writing by default. I gravitate towards it without thinking, and I find that it makes both for therapeutic writing and for an interesting character study. The human mind is such a complex, challenging, and often disturbing phenomenon; while it presents endless possibilities for the writer, it can also produce some of the most frightful and worrying stories.”
McLean has dedicated We Are Lucifer to writer and inspiration Virginia Woolf, and she explains why: “Whenever I hit a wall with We Are Lucifer, I thought about Virginia Woolf. With mental health at the core of my art, I often turn to writers with similar mindsets, and as such Woolf has been an invisible rock for me, and for the novel. I don't think I would have made it to the end of We Are Lucifer without knowing I could turn to Virginia Woolf - her letters, her journals, that precious audio recording on BBC radio - whenever I felt my own thoughts diminishing. It made perfect sense that I should thank her for her support this way.”
We Are Lucifer offers a contemporary character study into mental health and human behaviour as a response to heartache and rejection.
Amy McLean is a writer and film vlogger. She has written six books and has over 15,000 subscribers on YouTube. She can be reached on Twitter @McLeanAmy
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In a peaceful thicket of Hampstead Heath, a recently bequeathed house awaits a new family. For Amber Quigley, however, there is no babe in the cradle.
She is incomplete without a child to nest with in her ancestral home. Rocked by the perils of her tormented mind, Amber promises to herself that she will find a child of her own to love.
Whatever it takes, no matter how daunting, she is determined to fill her rocking arms with her own baby. As she plots to find the family she craves, Amber vows to fight against any obstacles that barricade her from her child, no matter how many lives she may destroy along the way...