Today I was asked, “How do you write an adventurous heroine?”
I paused, knowing they’ve read Rogue Alliance and they’re referring to Shyla, a rough around the edges, detective trying to escape her troubled childhood. Well, rough around the edges is putting it mildly. Let’s be honest. She’s a mess. And readers love her.
It’s such a good question. How could I adequately describe how I created this complex character? I had to stop and think back to what it means for me when I’m reading a new book and discover a fabulous female lead.
What I discovered is that what I love most about a good heroine is her flaws. Does that sound weird? Maybe it does at first but if you stop and think back to some of your favorite books, I think you’ll often discover that some of your favorite characters to read, even if you didn’t necessarily like them, were the ones who struggled with very real quirks and flaws. This is what makes them fascinating. This is what draws the reader in. This is what makes them real.
I’m finding myself more and more disappointed in a good number of books these days because of the fact that they are lacking the flawed aspects of their characters. It seems that a good majority of stories these days introduce the male protagonist and the female protagonist and immediately you sense there will be the formulaic romance to follow, which is fine, that’s a successful formula for a reason. We like romance! The trouble I have is how inclined we are now to write the fairytale version where no one has any real issues along the way. They may have trust issues, insecurities, they may struggle with a small secret, but in the end, it’s nothing real fascinating. It’s fairly boring.
So I ask myself, what do I like to read in a female lead? Well, she has to be tough yet vulnerable. I don’t know about you but I’m tired about reading about women who are so insecure they don’t know how to think their way out of a wet paper bag. I’m tired of reading about a woman who needs saved by a man. Now pause…I’m not saying I don’t like when a man can save a woman. We all love a good hero rescuing his woman scene. Who doesn’t? What I’m saying is that it’s still important to have your heroine be strong without her hero. It’s a fine balance, I know. It is a delicate dance to create a realistic female character these days because if you make her too strong you run the risk of destroying her femininity and then you just have a bad ass female with very little potential for other personality traits. In fact, for some readers it can be a turn-off. That’s when, as the creator of this character, you decide to show your heroines flaws and insecurities. You show what she’s afraid of under that tough exterior. You show what she struggles with. And by all means, you allow her to make mistakes.
So often now, you can be reading along, enjoying a book and you can actually sense the writer hesitating as they hold back their characters. Instead of allowing their female to make a real mistake, something that could be detrimental or even ethical, because they are so afraid of how it will make their reader feel, that their character won’t seem “perfect” anymore, so they keep it safe. I say go ahead, make the mistake! I want to read a book that has me at the edge of my seat saying, “Oh, my god! I can’t believe she just did that!” That’s how your character grows and learns and overcomes. That’s how your character endears the reader. That’s how your female lead becomes THE HEROINE!
Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their four children. She loves to travel with her family. She is desperately confused as to why she lives where it rains all the time because she lives for sunny days and blue skies. She drinks coffee until she’s manic and loves to dance. She earns a living as a registered nurse and writes novels in her free time. As a multi-genre author, she writes suspense, romance, women’s fiction, literary fiction, YA, and her latest is romance suspense with paranormal elements. She has won three literary awards.
ABOUT THE BOOK
While still a child in Redding, California, Shyla Ericson killed her father to end years of abuse. She’d left town shortly thereafter, changed her name, and started a new life, eventually becoming a highly decorated DEA agent.
But some history doesn’t stay buried. When Shyla goes undercover to bring down drug kingpin Victor Champlain, the case takes her back to a town that hasn’t forgotten her, and to a past she thought she’d left behind.
Then, she meets Brennan Miles, a genetically altered kidnap victim, who has been turned into a weaponized super-human. Victor helped Brennan escape from a hidden genetics research facility known only as The Institute, where he’d been held and experimented on for years. In return for his freedom, Brennan now works for Victor as his bodyguard.
Shyla is drawn to Brennan’s strength, and to his humanity. Even after she discovers his secret — he must have human blood to survive. Shyla knows she can’t take down Champlain by going through Brennan — he’s too strong — and he’s loyal to Victor.
Can she face the demons of her upbringing and learn to trust again? Her life, and Brennan’s, depends on it.
Kirkus recently gave a great review. See here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/michelle-bellon/rogue-alliance/
Hey folks! Thanks for showing interest in my book. I’ll be giving away 1 ebook copy (mobi, pdf, epub available) and 1 paperback to a continental US participant. To enter the giveaway, please share this link and comment below. I’ll pick a winner in one week. Pretty simple. Thanks!