"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
It was a long, arduous process at times, but she overcame her insecurities and went for it. And isn't the end result beautiful and totally worth it?
Take it away, M. J.
A Strong Female Character
I grew up in the 80’s in a household where the television was never off, so one of my first role models (apart from my tough-as-nails mother) was Teela from the 1983 animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. She was the captain of the palace guard, good with a sword, and responsible for the protection of the prince. She kicked ass, and did so all while wearing a leotard and high-heeled boots.
Teela led to She-Ra, the Princess of Power. She-Ra was a freedom fighter armed with a magical sword, high-heeled boots, the ultimate mini skirt, and a talking unicorn-pegasus hybrid. Oh, how I wanted to be She-Ra, Princess of Power. I spent a lot of time that decade running around the neighborhood with a stick as my sword pretending to be her. My neighbors now will tell you that I still do that, but it’s not true. Unless they have video. Then it might be true.
|She-Ra…noticing a pattern yet with that hair?|
Anyway, I digress. I watched Teela, She-Ra, Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Emma Peel, and probably other women I can’t even recall at this time. In the 90’s, I became aware of Buffy Summers and the women of the Whedonverse. Talk about strong, female characters.
|How much did I love Emma Peel?! LOVE.|
Meanwhile, Haleine Coileáin came into existence. When Effigy begins, she’s sharp and tough-talking, but she can’t kill you with her pinky. She knows which end of a sword to hold, but she can’t do much damage with it. Mixed martial arts are beyond her, and she couldn’t draw a bow to save her life.
She’s not a warrior. Not in any traditional sense. Her weapons aren’t forged from steel, but rather intellect and fortitude. She’s armed with an overwhelming urge to do right. To be good.
Haleine’s strength isn’t in having the skill to throw someone across a room or shoot the wings off a fly at 1,000 yards, but in her own ability to be able to get back up after being knocked down, to keep fighting when it feels as though all hope is lost.
It’s not easy for her. She struggles. There are enemies determined to tear her down, and she falters. Mistakes are made. She gets lost. By the time the story ends, Haleine is in a much different place than from which she began—and it’s not a particularly strong place.
It’s for this reason that I worry that perhaps she isn’t as tough a female character as she should be, as readers might expect her to be. That said, readers thus far have considered Haleine a strong female character (one called her a kick-ass lady), so perhaps I should stop worrying and take their word for it.
Besides, if there’s one thing I know about the Coileáin women, it’s that no one—and I mean no one—can keep them down for long. Haleine may be lost for a time, but she’ll find her way back.
Because that’s what strong female characters do. With or without a sword.
Armed with a deep and lasting love of chocolate, purple pens, and medieval weaponry, M.J. Fifield is nothing if not a uniquely supplied insomniac. When she isn’t writing, she’s on the hunt for oversized baked goods or shiny new daggers. M.J. lives with a variety of furry creatures—mostly pets—in New Hampshire.
The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine Coileáin, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty.
Did it feel like a scary risk when you published your novels? And what do you think of the ever evolving strong female characters and the way modern authors are reinterpreting the female heroine? If we can just get them out of high-heeled boots and bosom-enhancing corsets I'd be happy -- the characters, that is, not the authors. They can wear what they like. :)
This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Warning: May contain strong female characters.
AND just a heads up I'll be taking a break from the blog for awhile. Got some things to work on that require me to put my head down and just get them done.