I’m facing a conundrum with Holland Bay. One of my main protagonists (there are two or three) is a female cop in exile. She’s been there for about four years, and, over the course of the story, is drawn back into the world of “real” police. That is she’s given some meaty work to perform.
Now, of course, we all know the obvious route to go when a police officer is burned out. They turn to drink. They turn to drugs. They even turn to crime. Why not? It’s not like this person gives a damn. The Wire took this a step further. Jimmy McNulty, the frustrated homicide cop on the Baltimore PD, compounds his borderline alcoholism by becoming a male slut. No one questions this. It’s clear Jimmy doesn’t handle stress very well, and when Jimmy McNulty’s stressed out, he’s an admitted asshole.
I didn’t want my character becoming the cliched drunk. Everyone goes there. Nor did I want her to be lighting up a doobie when her day of prowling increasingly deserted docks and ticketing loiterers is over. She’s divorced as a result of her exile, her ex deciding a disgraced cop would hurt his career, and anyway, it was probably time to get of them there trophy wives his bosses seem to like. So our girl decides she’s on the open market and is going to enjoy something she probably hasn’t really enjoyed since her wedding night: Sex!
See the conundrum? I am a white male writer creating a female character who, in the words of Peaches, f***s the pain away. Now, I can see Theresa Schwegel writing this or Laura Lippman or Robin Burcell. But Theresa and Laura and Robin all have something I lack. They have ovaries. So how do I walk the tightrope? How can a male writer portray a sexually ravenous female character without her coming off as wish fullfillment? Inquiring scribes wanna know.