In 2000, Bill Moyers talked with writer Ursula K. Le Guin about her 1971 book "The Lathe of Heaven" which was PBS' first original made-for-TV movie, broadcast in 1980. The Lathe of Heaven (film) became one of the two highest-rated shows that season on PBS and went on to become the most-requested program in PBS history.
In this clip from the interview, Le Guin talks about her writing career, and why she started out writing about male protagonists and then, in the late 1970s, switched to focus on female characters. She tells Bill:
"When I started writing, the easiest thing for a woman to do, was in a sense, to be an honorary man, to pretend she was a man, to put men at the center of the story, which does seem to be very important to men. Girls are used to pretending to be men or women protagonists. Boys very often refuse to identify with a woman protagonist in kids' books and this seems to go on into adulthood, that men just can't have their masculinity compromised even by pretending to be a heroine for a little while. And this strikes me as kind of sad. And probably not necessary, because I think most women and men have both men and women inside of them, lots of them, and are capable of being much more than they're told they're capable of being."
"When I realized finally, thanks to feminists, that... I sort of had to sit down and say, well, ain't I a woman? And if I'm a woman, why am I writing as a man? And it was a big step for me, because there are differences in sensibility, there are differences in audience. I knew I would lose some audience if I put women at the center of the story. I knew I would get accused of being a shrill and ranting feminist, which I was. But it was worth it because it kind of put me more in the center of my own being — to not pretend that I was male or that I thought the world revolved around men — so I think it strengthened my writing a good deal."
Le Guin died Monday at her home in Portland, Oregon at the age of 88.