Women suffer in a patriarchal world each and every day. From domestic violence to glass ceilings, it can all be too much to handle sometimes. Imagine if women got together to conspire against the men who hold them down?
Michael Crawley and Laurie Clayton explore the idea in The Women’s Club, a new crime thriller from Max Crime. Now, if the Crawley name looks familiar, it should. Michael Crawley is my father, and Laurie Clayton is my stepmother. I’ve found their newest novel very exciting, but I figured a book review would be a little biased. So, I sat down with them for an engaging interview.
Dad, was it necessary for you to collaborate with a woman?
Michael Crawley: It wasn’t necessary, but it certainly improved the end product.
Michael: Laurie’s better with feminine dialogue than I am, and she brought a feminine perspective.
Laurie Clayton: Also, I have more knowledge of the history of the feminist movement, and the disappointments that we felt. I generally write a lot of the dialogue in the work we do together.
Were you able to teach him anything about women while working on the project?
Laurie: No. Ha! I don’t think so. It’s possible he taught me more about women, about women’s power over them, in terms of granting sexual favors.
What’s the difference between your writing styles?
Laurie: I’m a little less formal, although we have similar styles. Don’t we, Michael?
Laurie: I like addressing the reader more than you do.
Michael: I’m more of a plotter, when it comes to intricate plots, I’m your guy.
Laurie: When it comes to intricate detail and dialogue, I’m your gal.
Michael: We complement each other.
Laurie: We read everything each other writes. We make comments. So writing together was a natural progression of that.
Dad, is there any you in Jack?
Michael: Yes, bits.
Michael: As a general rule, any protagonist should contain bits of the author. Paternal feelings, always looking for the positive and denying the negative when it comes to personal relationships.
Laurie, is there any you in Lisa?
Laurie: Well, yes, that’s a good game to play, who created who? I wouldn’t say she’s so much me as people I’ve known, artists with no backbone. Divorce is always ugly. But she’s a much more hypersensitive and lost woman than I am. If I had to do my part for The Women’s Club after it was done for me, I would.
Why is castration an appropriate punishment for a pedophile priest?
Michael: It’s not a matter of whether it’s appropriate or not, it’s whether women would think it’s appropriate. It’s a sexual crime, so it’s a sexual punishment.
Do you believe women harbor such collective resentment?
Laurie: Collective? Yes.
I’ve never read a novel where third person limited was used so often. (Third person limited is when third person narrative is written from inside a character’s head. For example: “Bob was scared of clowns. Why are those creepy, evil things used for children’s entertainment?”) The novel is solid third person limited. Why?
Michael: Because it consists of multiple plots. Eighty percent of the time, I use third person limited in an entire book. In this case, when you have so many characters and so many plots at once, it’s the only way to cope. It’s important not to use the omniscient viewpoint because each character was on the stage so briefly that we had to get into them as quickly as possible. The quickest way to get into a person is through third person limited. It’s great fun because you have to keep changing your voice.
Laurie: That’s what was so much fun. The main plot of Jack, and the lots of characters were very different, from a Catholic priest, to an artist, to a street punk, to an academic. It made it easier to co-write. I worked on Del and Daisy. Michael worked on Andrea and Jean. One of my favorite characters was Jean, the lesbian professor on the cruise. When I reached a certain point, I found I couldn’t write what was necessary for the development of the story.
Michael: I continued to write Laurie’s character.
Laurie: He took off with it.
Who do you think is the market for this book?
Michael: Everybody, because the women can get satisfaction out of the comeuppance and the men can get validation of what they suspect.
Laurie: I don’t think it’s an anti-feminist novel.
Michael: It’s not anti-feminist or anti-male, but people will read that into it, very likely. Men will see it as a slur and women might see it as a slur.
Laurie: Women might see it as a slur on the feminist’s movement but it makes a point. We still make less money but do more work. It’s a what-if book.
Michael: What if the feminist’s movement went militant? How would Internet technology affect that? The other fun thing is I’ve always been a fan of Mission Impossible (the television show). It’s where everyone has a little plot to play, not knowing what the end result is, but using teamwork.
Like ‘Ocean’s Eleven.’
Michael: More like Mission Impossible.
Laurie: We’re looking more closely at things we take for granted. In the feminist’s movement, there were mistakes made. The feminist’s movement and the Real Women found themselves on the same side of the pornography debate.
Laurie: The song by Eminem and Rhianna…
‘Love The Way You Lie.’
Laurie: He’s been charged with it (domestic violence) and and she’s been a victim of it. But it’s not that simple. In the book, women make jokes that what they achieved is heartaches and haemorrhoids. We still work harder and get paid less. When you have a woman in the book withholding sex to get what she wants, it may be anti-feminist, but it’s also something some women do.
Are the expectations of men in society detrimental?
Michael: No. Is it wrong to expect men to be men?
Laurie: Feminism was the death blow when it comes to women having successful relationships with each other. That doesn’t make me anti-feminist because it’s a revolution. In a revolution, there’s always collateral damage.
I find most of the animosity I get is from other women. I get backstabbing. Women will blame the other woman in incidents of adultery. Women are catty toward each other. Would such negativity prevent The Women’s Club from forming?
Laurie: The biggest division isn’t pro-choice versus anti- choice, it’s working women against stay-at-home moms. If those women can’t appreciate each other, how can that situation exist? But we’re looking more deeply into it and maybe there’s some good that each does for the other. Women are hard on other women, that much is true.
What about adultery?
Michael: Women will blame the other woman because they have a lower opinion of the men in the first place. That’s why he strayed.
Laurie: There’s a deep suspicion between men and women, women and women, men and men. We’re all suspicious of each other.
What’s the best setting for readers when they read this book?
Laurie: It’s the kind of novel that should be read in just a few sittings. It should be swallowed in one lump, like a movie.
Michael: It’s meant to be fun, it’s not supposed to be a treatise on the state of humanity.
What last words do you have for people who may be considering purchasing this novel?
Michael: Do so! Give copies to your friends. Men will recognize all women in their lives who have done them wrong. Younger men might take warning.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
Michael: If we told you, we’d have to kill you.
Laurie: Who’s to say The Women’s Club is fiction?