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Nick Hornby shares the oddest question he gets on writing about women

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NICK HORNBY
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Many readers know Nick Hornby for his music-tinged novels like High Fidelity and Juliet, Naked—a number of which have been adapted for film and television. But the British writer has also achieved great success as a screenwriter adapting the works of others, the latest of which will be Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon.

Wild, like his previous film projects An Education and Brooklyn, is based on a remarkable memoir written by a woman—and people can’t stop asking him one question in particular: What’s it like to be a man writing a female character?

In a feature for The Guardian, Hornby addressed this particular question and why he finds it perplexing:

“When we were doing the press junket for Wild, endlessly people would say, how do you get into a woman’s head? You think, well she wrote the f—ing book. It’s a memoir. It’s like asking how you get in the kitchen. That isn’t the question to ask. What do you do when you get in the kitchen? How do you dramatise this? What decisions are you making for it to become a movie? But the stuff about how you get into a woman’s head when that woman is very articulate and has described the contents of her head perfectly adequately – it’s strange.”

Wild marks the end of what Hornby calls his “Young Girl Trilogy” of screenplays, although recently his novels have started to skew more towards female protagonists as well. “It seems to me quite often that the journeys of young women are more moving, because they are hemmed in more, and dramatically it’s more interesting to think about and write about people whose lives are circumscribed in some way,” Hornby told The Guardian.

For more on the writer’s recent work, including his newest novel Funny Girl, read the full feature on The Guardian

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