F is for Fearsome Heroines

Recently, CBS Sunday Morning did a piece on how today’s heroines aren’t afraid to kick a little ass. Well, that’s not how they phrased it, but you get the point. Gone are the days of damsels in distress and princesses who sit on their perfect rear ends waiting to be rescued.

Maybe it started with She-ra. I’d like to think so. Buffy definitely helped. But if you look at the shelves of your local bookstore or turn on the television, its clear women are coming into their own as heroines. From the katana wielding main character of Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland vampire series to Snow on Once Upon a Time, wallflowers need not apply. (Sorry Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen proved you’re irrelevant.)

In talking about the new big screen versions of Snow White, CBS Sunday Morning notes, “Like every storybook heroine these days, she FIGHTS.” And they mean that literally – swords and all. Today’s heroines rescue themselves. Now that doesn’t mean they don’t need love or want someone to share the fight with, but like most modern women, they’re not waiting around for a man to complete them. They grab life with both hands and make of it what they desire.

That’s fine by me. That just means my heroine’s time has come. For reasons I can’t reveal until you read the book, my Guinevere can fight as well as any man, and she does. That’s one of the things that makes her different from the traditional portrayal of the character. She is not only physically strong, but smart and not afraid to express herself. (Although one could argue that was typical for a Celtic woman.) My Guinevere is in every way Arthur’s equal, a woman trained to sit beside her King on the throne or stand beside him as they lead their troops into battle. In many time periods – even a hundred years later – that would be anachronistic, but we’re fortunate that the Celts raised fearsome women. (Boudicca, Cartimandua, Maeve and Scathach are just a few examples from history and legend.)

Actress Aly Michalka at a Renfaire. She is the inspiration for a Saxon (sans bow and arrow) you’ll meet in book 2.

It’s time for strong female characters to serve as role models for young (and not so young) women. Even my female characters who don’t wield a sword know how to fight with their brains and their tongues. Morgan will best you in any verbal war and Isolde will out-strategize you before you know what hit you. That’s not to say my books are fueled on feminism. There are several female characters who fill more traditional roles (Elaine, Camille), but they are certainly more balanced with ones who will stand up for themselves than tradition usually dictates.

I know I’m not the first to infuse a little girl power into my books, and I hope I won’t be the last. I’m just proud to contribute to the growing trend of weapon-weilding heroines. IWA girls, this is for you!

What do you think of the new wave of strong heroines? Ladies, who do you most identify with in fiction today? What traditionally passive female roles would you like to see rewritten? And what other “F” topics do you suggest for future posts? (Clean ones, mind you.)

8 thoughts on “F is for Fearsome Heroines

    • Thank you so much for your comment and the reblog! No, nothing in print yet. I’m still looking for an agent, so it will be a while before anything hits the shelves. But I’m so glad you like what you see so far. I really wish I could share more. The more I write (first draft of book 2 is half way done), the more it pains me not to be able to tell you certain things, talk more about the characters, or share deleted scenes, etc.

      I don’t know who the artist is for the photo. I found it by searching Google. If anyone knows who did it, let me know and I’ll gladly give credit where it’s due. My best guess is it’s meant to be Boudicca.

      • I understand what you mean about the sharing. I hesitate to put “too much out there” myself. I think you might like mine as well. It is an epic fantasy, but based on Irish legends and set around the 1st century. I will keep my eyes out and keep me posted on the agent. Have you started the query process? Or tried going straight to publisher? I have the name of an agent looking for historical fantasy if that fits…

        • Your book does sound like something I would like! Are you published? (I know I could look you up, but I’d rather ask you.)

          I queried about a year ago and realized my MS wasn’t quite as ready as I thought it was (lots of positive feedback, but no offers). I’ve been working with a professional editor since then to get it ready for my next round of querying. I think its almost there.

          Historical fantasy would be a good fit. It’s probably the best description of my books. I’d love to know who the agent is. If you’d rather email me than put his/her information out publicly, please write me at nicole (dot) evelina (at) att (dot) net. Thank you so much!

    • No, not published yet. I finished my first novel and decided I didn’t like it. I blindly followed the suggestions of an ineffective critique I was in and ended up cutting 2/3rds of the novel! After that, it just couldn’t be saved. I am now doing the re-write, but it is so different it is basically a new book. But in the end, they inadvertently did me a favor because this one is soooo much better. I am avoiding a working title, but once I get one, I will post about it on my blog. So happy to “meet” you!

      • They say you need to write 10,000 hours in order to get really good at it, so having finished one book and now working your way through a huge rewrite should get you pretty darn close! So like you said, that group really did you a huge favor. Can’t wait to find out more as time goes on. Best of luck and nice to “meet” you, too!

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