Please welcome guest author, E. D. E. Bell and her take on kick ass heroines in her fantasy novel, Spireseeker.
Everyone loves a heroic duo. We are familiar with the classic male action duo, flying to the rescue wearing masks, cowboy hats, or intimidating the villains with their casually-toted guns. These days, even the male-female team is old news, solving complex mysteries while mired in sexual tension, adding comic relief as the woman jumps in to save the man during a fist-fight with a quick-witted quip, highlighting that the real punch line is her ability to stay strong under pressure. But the female heroic duo is something less explored, though potentially really kick-ass. This is a character set I really wanted to include in my first fantasy novel, Spireseeker.
Meet Beryl and Kick. Beryl is a reluctant heroine who just recently learned that she is not a human but an elf, with the potential mark of destiny to be the one to save her land from enslavement. She is joined by her companion Kick, a teenage female with a secret past, and a passion to keep Beryl safe at all costs. Beryl is overwhelmed by Kick’s assistance with what she sees as her burden, but Kick’s loyalty is unshaken even by Beryl’s frequent self-doubt:
Beryl got up and paced around the edge of the pond. She looked back at Kick and stared at her intensely. “Kick? Why do you stay with me?”
“I don’t know what you mean, Beryl. We’re friends, right?”
Beryl tapped her foot on the ground impatiently. “Of course we’re friends. You’ve saved my life at least twice, but you haven’t known me long, and following me is like a death sentence. We’re going to confront evil itself, and we don’t even have a plan. Why don’t you leave and save yourself?” Beryl now stood tall, towering over Kick, a defiant look on her face.
“Beryl, do you want me to leave?”
So here’s the additional twist. Beryl, an elf, has no gender, but identifies as a woman. “Foul,” you object, how is that a heroine? But you see, challenging views of gender was one of my goals of Spireseeker. What is more important to the reader, the imaginary anatomy under Beryl’s robes, or the fact that, even while disguised as a male, she still identifies as a female? When I remind readers that Beryl technically has no gender, they say, “But you call her ‘she’ so I always think of her as a woman.” How, then, would the story have changed if I had called her “he” instead of “she?” Beryl identifies as female, and that seems to be enough for the reader.
Kick, on the other hand, is female inside and out, but defines her own ability to be kick-ass outside the traditional boundaries of gender. Petite, muscular, and with a certain lack of care for what others think, she is a master of knives, honing and applying her combat skills to keep the pair safe through their travels and trials. When she arrives at the elven dwelling, they are confused by her masculine yet practical clothing, and refer to her as he. When she finally meets a new friend who calls her “she,” she remarks to Beryl:
“Beryl, tell him I also appreciate him being the first all morning to refer to me as a girl. The elves in the food hall kept calling me Lord.”
Beryl smiled. “Well, they aren’t used to being around humans, and you are dressed like a guy, you know.”
“So?” Kick responded. “That doesn’t make me one.”
Together, Beryl and Kick combat the land, their enemies, and most importantly their own demons. But in the end, they are unshakable, loyal, and genuinely kick-ass.
Beryl and Kick make an unconventional duo. But they are fiercely dedicated to each other, and to their mission to save the land they love. And in the end it is not just their toughness or their skills that make them kick-ass. It is their perseverance, their dedication, and their willingness to do what needs to be done, no matter what the personal cost. What could be more female than that?
Author E.D.E. Bell is a graduate of the University of Michigan with an MSE in Electrical Engineering, and works as an advisor in technical intelligence. Married with three children, she decided to pursue her dream of writing and is excited to share that vision with fans of epic fantasy. More at http://spireseeker.com/. Connect with E.D.E. Bell on Twitter here: twitter.com/atthisarts.