When I was a teenager, I don’t remember reading a lot of books that featured kick-ass female characters. Where were Celaena Sardothien and Lila Bard when I needed them?
Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness was revolutionary when I was younger, but I somehow lost sight of these powerful, independent female protagonists. My girlfriends and I still often talk about our turbulent adolescent years, where pressures from all sides were often felt. As young women, we struggled on a daily basis to articulate and come to terms with the underlying misogyny of the world… It was easy to feel alone.
It’s only been in recent years that I’ve realised what was missing – none of us were reading (and discussing) #Girlpower books. So many of the books on the school curriculum were classics, which like it or not – tended to trivialise the experiences of women, and were generally written by men.
However, lately I’ve devoured books like Throne of Glass, A Darker Shade of Magic, An Ember in the Ashes, Queen of the Tearling and The Obernewtyn Chronicles. All written by women, featuring kick-ass female leads. Better late than never, right?
These books and their authors provided me with a new surge of passion and determination. In fact, a recent tweet I saw about Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman pretty much sums up how I feel about reading strong women characters in YA fantasy: “No wonder white men are so obscenely confident all the time I saw one woman hero movie and I’m ready to fight a thousand dudes barehanded”.
Strong female characters have the ability to give us confidence, validation and ambition, which is why it’s so so important that these characters flood the YA genre. It’s why I’m so passionate about creating gutsy female characters in my own fiction.
In Heart of Mist, two of my MCs are strong young women who face different numerous challenges throughout the book. I want to give my readers women to cheer on, and more than anything I want these characters to start the conversations that foster a sense of sisterhood and support.