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My Protagonist and her Point of View

My Protagonist and her Point of View, guest post by SJ Higbee


Elizabeth is the main protagonist in Dying for Space and tells the story from her first-person point of view. To be honest, I didn’t stop and consider the pros and cons of using that particular viewpoint when I started the book – that decision had already been made at the start of the first book in the series, Running Out of Space.

My Protagonist and her Point of View, guest post by SJ Higbee
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As a Creative Writing tutor at Northbrook Metropolitan College for the past nine years, I’d like to be able to claim that I had carefully thought through the consequences of using the first-person pov before starting to write the series. But I can’t do that, either. Way back in 2007, I was blown away by Regina Specktor’s song ‘Samson’ and vividly dreamt of the opening sequence from Running Out of Space. Elizabeth was an Iberian girl named Jezel Campo and when I woke up, I immediately scribbled down that first scene, thinking it was going to be a short story. Within two days there were six chapters written and it was definitely a novel.

One of the early readers didn’t like the first person pov and at one stage, I did try rewriting the opening sequence in third person viewpoint. However, I lost a lot of her impact and immediacy so reverted to the original first person pov. I also took the decision to breach the fourth wall to directly address the reader. Given she is clearly recounting her past, I wanted there to be a reason why she would do so and set that within a context that makes sense within the story. Part of that reason becomes clear near the end of Dying for Space when Elizabeth reflects upon what happened while living with her biological father, General Norman at the mercenary HQ, Restormel.

As for the name and change of ethnic origin – because that opening sequence had been a dream-inspired piece of writing, I didn’t stop and question the reason or suitability of writing a character from a different culture. When Running Out of Space was picked up by a small American publisher back in 2008, she was pleased to have an Iberian protagonist and I went on to complete Dying for Space and get halfway through Breathing Space, while Running Out of Space spent the next four years being edited. When we finally parted company, I finished writing Breathing Space and then immediately went on to work on another project, leaving the Sunblinded trilogy on a file in my computer more or less untouched for the next few years.

I decided to self-publish the trilogy a couple of years ago, but with several other writing projects also going forward, it took a while to get the project off the ground. Never mind about sorting out the manuscripts so they were of a publishable standard, there were covers to sort out, ISBN numbers to order, a marketing strategy to consider… Which meant that it wasn’t until the final stages of the blog tour organised for Running Out of Space that I realised I was increasingly unhappy about my main character being from a culture other than my own. As a young woman from a tight-knit community, she is rebelling against her father’s insistence that she immediately marry and start producing a large family. So she is critical of her family and background – which is fine if that’s my background and culture. But it wasn’t. So I took the decision to rewrite the books so that Jezel serving on Estrella Fugaz became Elizabeth on the merchanter Shooting Star. Now her ancestors are Londoners who lost their homes along with everything else when the Thames flooded. They escaped into space when given the opportunity to make new life that didn’t mean living in a draughty prefab in a muddy field, existing on UN handouts.

It’s been a lot of work but I’m glad I’ve done it. I write escapist adventures for enjoyment and fun – not to cause any offence with readers who feel I’m disrespecting a culture other than my own.

My Protagonist and her Point of View, guest post by SJ Higbee
Born the same year as the Russians launched Sputnik, I confidently expected that by the time I reached adulthood, the human race would have a pioneer colony on the Moon and be heading off towards Mars. So I was at a loss to know what to do once I realised the Final Frontier wasn’t an option and rather lost my head - I tried a lot of jobs I didn’t like and married a totally unsuitable man.

Now I've finally come to terms with the fact that I’ll never leave Earth, I have a lovely time writing science fiction and fantasy novels while teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook College in Worthing. I’ve had a number of short stories, articles and poems published – the most recent being my story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ which appeared last year in Fox Spirit’s anthology Eve of War. I recently signed a publishing contract with Grimbold Publishing for my science fiction novel Netted, which is due to be released in 2019.

I live in Littlehampton on the English south coast with a wonderful husband and a ridiculous number of books. 

You can find and contact S.J. Higbee here:

My Protagonist and her Point of View, guest post by SJ Higbee

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for taking part in the blog tour, Jo.

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