Thanks for inviting me to chat with your readers about one of my favorite topics—Kick Ass Heroines in Sci-fi/fantasy lit. One of the reasons I write young adult fiction is because I want to tell stories about teenage girls with substance.
Girls who are smart and funny, and despite the challenges they face, have a can-do attitude that will carry them through whatever drama comes their way.
They don’t have to be super strong physically, or have magical powers, but they have to have a strong constitution—some inner fortitude that carries them through the tough times that we authors throw at them.
Initially, I wrote contemporary YA stories with heroines that I could admire. Girls who weren’t whiney, but took control of their lives (usually after a lot of heartache and frustration heaped on by family, friends, and boyfriends). But how much more fun is it to give them a special ability, to set them in a world where survival is the challenge. Books like the Hunger Games trilogy and the Twilight Saga came just at the right time for me and for a lot of readers who were ready to see young women stand up and fight for themselves and the ones they love.
When I first had the idea for my dystopian trilogy, the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, I imagined the possible future on the horizon and I wanted to build a world that could be saved by an unlikely heroine. I subsequently saw sixteen year-old Lily, a genetically enhanced teen with the ability to heal, living in a hostile post-apocalyptic environment set in the year 2057.
I realized immediately that she would have to be one tough girl to survive losing both her parents and taking on the role of protector for her younger brother, Zeph, a fourteen year-old with the ability to take life with a touch.
To make life more challenging, Lily and Zeph are being hunted by the Industry, a rogue government agency set on capturing them both and any others like them. So far, they’ve been safe in hiding with their uncle in the hills of the Northeast Sector, but when Lily’s healing abilities don’t work on her beloved Uncle Sam who is dying of cancer, she is forced to leave the comforts of home to journey to Albany, a nearby trading city, on a quest for a cure.
Of course, a sweet romance with a mysterious stranger by the name of Will Callahan, a seventeen year-old with his own secrets, adds to the heart pounding elements of danger that turn Lily’s world upside down.
But I didn’t want to write about one of those girls who hangs all her hopes on a boy (yes, Bella, I’m talking to you), or one who depended solely on some supernatural ability that gave her clear advantage. A true kick ass heroine knows that her real strength comes from within—from accepting who she is and using her gifts and talents, whatever they may be, to triumph over evil with courage, integrity, and perseverance.
Lily’s main conflict throughout her journey is that she is a healer—someone who values life no matter the cost. This is in direct opposition with Will’s survival of the fittest philosophy, and Lily is faced with making some difficult choices when it comes down to protecting the people she loves. Can she be a kick ass heroine and still value life above all else? Or will she be forced to compromise her principles to save her family?
In my opinion, a kick ass heroine is more than a young woman who can physically stand up to an enemy and win, but she has to be someone who believes in something important and who is willing to stand by her convictions…and who has the strength to live with the consequences.
PJ Sharon is the award winning author of contemporary young adult novels, including SAVAGE CINDERELLA, winner of the 2013 HOLT Medallion Award. She is excitedly working on The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a YA Dystopian trilogy. WANING MOON, Book One, was a finalist in the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Book Two, Western Desert is now available.
Writing young adult fiction since 2007 and following her destiny to write romantic and hopeful stories for teens, PJ is a member of Romance Writers of America, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.