I am writing in the vignette style again and there is a moment that shocks me, my narrator halfway through a short story reveals they are pregnant. Up to now I have been in the default setting that the protagonist is male but looking back at what I have been writing, I suddenly realise that she has been a woman from the start. This brings me to the interesting premise that do male writers always default to writing male characters? Or do they write female characters that have masculine traits? It’s an interesting argument and one that I want consider. When I wrote for the theatre I won a number of awards for writing strong female characters, I was always uncomfortable accepting these rewards and I wondered back then why make theatre writers seemed to avoid writing fully formed women on the stage. I know I am not a woman – hell, what gave that away? – but I grew up in a matriarchal household. My late Dad would quip, ‘I am the head of this home and whatever my wife says, goes’. It’s a maxim I’ve taken forward, it is more about negotiation and image. When you start to pick away at how men define themselves, you will find women behind it. I don’t mean the nonsense of ego and pissing contests. I mean what drives men on a day to day footing, you soon find the lessons taught to them by mothers, sisters, grandmothers and lovers. We are all informed by those we love or admire. There is my protagonist brought up by a soldier who deserted, wrapping around her the magic of a drowned world.