yifu: Do you have a favorite character among the ladies you’ve written?
Yes! Wait, no, two favourites. I suppose the second is more a type of character than an actual character. Er, I should stop waffling and provide a proper answer, shouldn’t I?
Actual favourite character: At this point in time it is the main female character in the novel I am working on. Prunella, my Pru! She’s opportunistic and blunt and bossy and passionately devoted to her own self-interest. Whether anyone else will like her is another matter altogether — the one friend I’ve let read the book disliked her for most of it, I think, and my agent wants me to make her more sympathetic. She delights me, but I acknowledge she can be kind of an asshole. She’s got her reasons, though! And I think female characters should be allowed to be unlikeable assholes more often.
Favourite type of character to write: As you can probably tell from things like The House of Aunts, I love writing aunties and grandmas and stroppy unmanageable old matriarchs in general. My favourite of these so far is probably Nai Nai from The First Witch of Damansara (which appeared in Ekaterina Sedia’s anthology Bloody Fabulous), because she is the toughest and meanest of the matriarch characters I’ve written so far.
“You know why I wanted you all to call me Nai Nai?” she said before Vivian closed the coffin. “Even though Hokkien people call their grandmother Ah Ma?”
Vivian paused with her hand on the lid.
“In the movies, Nai Nai is always bad!”
Vivian woke up with her grandmother’s growly cackle in her ears.
I don’t think I will ever get sick of writing incorrigible old ladies. <3 The great thing about them is that they practically write themselves. It saves a lot of work!