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What character attributes should a heroine have?
I believe a hero/heroine should have the same set. That’s what liberation is about!
Do male writers have a harder time creating a super heroine? Is it more difficult than a woman creating a super male?
This conflict for male writers has been simmering for decades, but popped recently when the long-overdue #metoo campaign took off.
The problem is much older and broader than #metoo. And because of #metoo, genuine women’s lib blokes get in an internal turmoil about tacking the topic. What right do I have to right about women in the first person?
Despite these fears, I ignored the reasons why I shouldn’t write a super heroine, and as I constructed my three superwomen, I gave them common attributes.
- Sex drive
- Sense of the ridiculous
Of course, there was more to their characters. They need to
- Display emotion,
- Empathise with those not so strong
- Be fallible
In fact, all the attributes one would want in any man or woman, who one wants to love.
Fallibility, is often the most interesting to write, because that is the thing with which we can most easily identify. Jane Austen knew that truth and used it perfectly.
For my Berlin novel, The Last Stop, I let Maria be Polish and then I can take the liberty of letting her heart rule her head. It is a weakness, but is a paradox – a weakness that gives her strength. Here is the jacket summary.
5 star reviews! Can you take the tension?
- Maria, an innocent from Poland, is caught in the Berlin underworld. To survive, she must learn to fight back.
Maria recruits Jack, the artless retired tax inspector, to help her in this mission. Which is great, until he’s arrested for murder.
- Jack’s wife, Felicity, is otherwise busy while Jack is on ‘holiday in Berlin. Realising all is not well, she journeys to be with him.
And that’s where it all goes wrong.
- Her life is now in danger – and it’s all Jack’s fault. He needs to rescue his wife, save his marriage, get Maria back safely to Poland and make certain he isn’t killed by the people out to kill her.
Someone Tell Me What Is Going On, Millie has desperately poor sight. She doesn’t know what she looks like, because if she removes her specs, she can’t see herself. She thinks of herself as a bit of a vamp, and assumes others see her the same way.
The jacket summary gives some clues.
Every novel needs a turning point. This one will stun you!
Mystery, comedy, suspense. Mendacity, murder and lots of love.
When 19-year-old waitress Millie takes a summer job as companion to wealthy Lady Vera Ashington at her Suffolk stately home, she has no idea that a mystery will unfold which puts her own life and her family’s business at risk. Unexplained deaths will test her morality. Can the end ever justify the means?
Lady Ashington (Vera) fears a breakdown due to personal regrets. She has one last go at seeking long-term happiness. Having taken Millie as a companion, the two women become friends and enjoy arguing about Vera’s wealth and her inability to use it wisely. ‘Too much cake’ is the problem. Millie employs strategies to empower Vera. She keeps a first person diary, and includes Vera’s viewpoint. This diary is the novel. It tells how the talents of two very different women, when harnessed, seem to move mountains.
- Vera’s huge local influence means she can always fix things, but finds that fixes mean there is always a loser. Millie had not appreciated this and as she empowers Vera, she finds conflicts mounting. Eventually, conflicts lead to disasters, but Millie keeps faith with Lady Ashington. She believes in her good intentions, but her doubts grow.
- Millie’s diary reveals her viewpoint, how things appear to her sister (12) and her father. She provides an interpretation of Vera actions and excuses. Above all, the life of an Oxbidge working-class girl, who unexpectedly finds herself sitting at the big table, is analysed. ‘Someone tell me what is going on!’ She shouts in exasperation.
- And games. Vera loves games. Millie loves inventing them for her friend. Love and fun result.
- The diary runs for three weeks, skips a month and then skips nearly a year, to provide a resolution to events.
My heroine in Goddesses becomes addicted to risky sex and gets in a pickle.
Goddesses or 49½ shades of charcoal, is a fitting riposte to the misogyny and cliché of much BDSM literature and is delivered through the chaos of one Connie Grimshaw, a successful business woman in an international consultancy agency. She has worked hard and ignored her emotional needs. One day, on a business trip, she realises the cost of her repressed attitude to sex. Her PA (Dee) recommends she models herself on the pagan goddesses, lives by their rules and develops the vamp in herself. The Goddesses help to rationalise her lascivious behaviour, but don’t stop her getting into hilarious, embarrassing and sometimes, dangerous situations. But there are forces at work, which see the opportunity to make money through mismanagement of Connie’s feelings. Can she defeat the bad boys?
- Connie uses the myth of ancient female goddesses to guide her through her emergence as a sexual being, but they make her reckless and the risks mount.
- Faced with identity ruin, loss of prestige and employment issues, she enlists the help of Abe, the bored insurance assessor. A trip to Baltimore flushes out the enemy – a man obsessed with charcoal décor, to hide the blood.
- He reveals her betrayal by friends and lovers past. He says she is powerless, and is in his hands, but she has other ideas. The fightback begins.
All these women have a steady Eddie around to keep them out of trouble, or, as a last resort, get them out of the stew they are already in. We know that these power women would have managed without the bloke, but a love interest always helps a story go round.
The only heroine to have met resistance from women readers is Connie Grimshaw, in Goddesses. Do women hate her because she has thoughts, no woman would entertain, or because women find her behaviour unacceptable but just a little bit attractive.
They are not telling me. But you can! I will publish the complete chapter on Connie and her lover, trying to work through Beardsley’s Venus and Tannhäuser. Watch this space.
Top reviews from United Kingdom
Richard W Baker4.0 out of 5 stars A stage play methinks. Reviewed in the United Kingdom Verified PurchaseGet on board with a feast of real life characters as they courageously slalom through Berlin leaving a trail of blood.
This is a modern day glimpse of corrupt, drug inspired prostitution set against the backdrop of people trafficking.
Read it if only to experience the sights, sounds and odour of Berlin street life. Terrific appeal from a virgin novelist.