Today, I’m welcoming the fabulous Amanda Pillar to the blog, to talk about a most important subject: the creation of heroines readers will care about!
Amanda is an award-winning editor and author who lives in Victoria, Australia, with her husband and two cats, Saxon and Lilith.
Amanda has had numerous short stories published and has co-edited the fiction anthologies Voices (2008), Grants Pass (2009), The Phantom Queen Awakes (2010), Scenes from the Second Storey (2010), Ishtar (2011) and Damnation and Dames (2012). Her first solo anthology was published by Ticonderoga Publications, titled Bloodstones (2012). Amanda is currently working on the sequel, Bloodlines, due for publication in 2015.
Amanda’s first novel, Graced, was published by Momentum in February 2015.
In her day job, she works as an archaeologist.
by Amanda Pillar
Writing female characters – as a woman – should be a piece of cake. Supposedly. But like any character (male, female, transgender, agender, young, old) you need to really get to know the person you’re creating/writing. Some women are strong and overbearing, some are soft with spines of steel. No one person is the same; even identical twins are different when it comes to their personalities.
So how do you create a female character that people can relate to?
Well, in my experience, you create a person. Someone who is sympathetic to the reader. Their gender, while important in forming identity, should be a part of a whole, rather than a defining characteristic. If a reader were to discard a book simply because the main character is a woman…well, it speaks of a few things: inability to relate, inability to try and experience new ways of thinking, and well, perhaps some deeper personal issues. Of course, it could just represent bad writing or poor character development.
In Graced, I have four main characters: three male and one female. There was no deliberate choice in that representation, although as the author, I guess you could say it is all deliberate. But I am a character driven novelist; characters form in my mind and I try to be true to them as individuals. So while I could have had two male and two female characters, that wouldn’t have been representative of how the characters should be. And so there was one female lead.
Elle is complex; she’s tough but vulnerable, pig-headed but able to learn new ways, individual yet part of a team. She’s also a badass with a steel baton and has no problem bashing heads when the circumstances call for it. All in all, I wanted to make Elle very human. In a universe where there are four different races of people (weres, vampires, Graceds and humans), Elle was to be relatable. She was never going to be a woman who just stood by and let life happen to her, because in the Graced universe, that could mean dying young. Mental strength is something that is important in survival, and if Elle is anything, she’s a survivor.
And so Elle was almost as tough as can be; she works as a city guard, cleaning up the more unsavoury parts of her home town, Pinton. But she’s also just a person – frightened of her powerful and over-bearing grandmother, and desperate to protect her little sister, who she treats more like a daughter due to their 20 year age difference.
All in all, to create a sympathetic heroine, you want someone who is likeable (although not always necessary), relatable, and believable. As a reader, you don’t always have to agree with everything the heroine thinks or does – because in reality, people rarely do what they should, more what they want – but someone whose reasons can be understood.
More about Graced:
City Guard Elle Brown has one goal in life: to protect her kid sister, Emmie. Falling in love-and with a werewolf at that-was never part of the deal.
Life, however, doesn’t always go to plan, and when Elle meets Clay, everything she thought about her world is thrown into turmoil. Everything, that is, but protecting Emmie, who is Graced with teal-colored eyes and an unknown power that could change their very existence. But being different is dangerous in their home city of Pinton, and it’s Elle’s very own differences that capture the attention of the Honorable Dante Kipling, a vampire with a bone-deep fascination for a special type of human.
Dante is convinced that humans with eye colors other than brown are unique, but he has no proof. The answers may exist in the enigmatic hazel eyes of Elle Brown, and he’s determined to uncover their secrets no matter the cost…or the lives lost.
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