Jane Heller speaks about Female Intelligence.
As I write in the Acknowledgments of Female Intelligence, the novel
was inspired by an incident that occurred in Jupiter, Florida, not far from
where I live. My husband and I were leaving the local movie theatre when I
spotted -- and then overheard -- another couple on their way toward the exit.
The woman said to her husband, "Harry, what did you think of the
movie?" He grunted. She said, "I asked you, what did you think of the
movie?" He shrugged. She said, "Why can't you talk to me?" He
said, "About what?"
I found their interaction both amusing and frustrating. Why? Because after all the Mars/Venus books, after all the magazine articles, after all the "Oprah" segments, women are still trying desperately to get the men in their lives to communicate with them, express their feelings, share. I thought, maybe women are just better at communication -- smarter, more intuitive, more intelligent -- and maybe I can have a good time writing a novel on the subject.
Before I knew it, I had typed up the outline of a story about a heroine who coaches men in the language of Womenspeak, enabling them to become more connected to the women in their lives. She's no ordinary sensitivity trainer, either. She's an academic -- a linguist named Lynn Wyman who teaches an insufferable alpha male named Brandon Brock how to speak like a lady and then falls in love with him. Yes, the story is reminiscent of the classic film "My Fair Lady," in which Rex Harrison, a linguist, teaches Audrey Hepburn how to speak like a lady and then falls in love with her. I suppose Female Intelligence is a modern-day twist on that tale -- sort of a "My Fair Man."
Mostly, the book is my way of poking fun at the different conversational styles employed by men and women. It's also my attempt to point out that women don't always communicate clearly and honestly with other women. If Female Intelligence has a moral, it's this: that we could all use a little sensitivity training now and then.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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