Enjoy this guest post by T. M. Roy, on what makes a woman, any woman, a kickass heroine.
I think it’s her capacity for compassion and caring. Her biological instinct to nurture and protect. And her tenacity and fury when something she cares about is threatened. It’s something I see in many women. I see it in my own sisters. I see it in some friends who are mothers or otherwise have those strong mothering instincts. For sure it’s one of the main reasons the small population of the people in my book-worlds have held out so long against a larger, stronger, better-equipped enemy. People who fight for what and who they love have a lot more going for them. You want to unleash the hounds from Hell? Try getting between mothers and their children.
Although she’s never had a child of her own, I think that quality is what truly fuels Rett, my heroine in the Journey to Nyorfias series (Convergence, Gravity, and the forthcoming Stratagem). Sure, she’s strong, physically large and stronger than many men—her height and heft from her father, her way above average strength a genetic anomaly inherited from her offworld mother’s race. Her strength is blessing and curse, something she had to learn to control ever since a single incident of lost temper in her tweens. She’s only unleashed her full strength in battle and it’s earned her a nickname she hates: Killer. She’s not a scholar—getting passing grades was a struggle for her. But she’s very much in tune with her environment, can read the weather, use the terrain around her to advantage. She knows flora and fauna and the ways of predators and prey animals. Her physical prowess combined with her “street smarts” and the love of family and homeworld makes Rett a force of nature.
Of course, one of the drawbacks of such passion is that the heroine takes things to extremes. In Rett’s case, her need to protect someone in her platoon or civilians in danger lead her to thinking the only course of action is making herself a target, the object and focus of enemy attention. Like the prey animals she observed and learned to hunt, she’s made an art of using herself as a decoy to lure the predators on a chase while her platoon gets in and out on a dangerous mission—or escapes a trap. Despite her speed and strength, she doesn’t always get away unscathed. Past horrible personal experiences aren’t enough to make her quit. She pushes the nightmares and pain deep inside and keeps going.
Combined with her nurturing nature, Rett’s denial of facing and letting go her past demons gradually takes over her life. The imagination she had as a younger person, the dreams she had for her future, get pushed aside and buried deep. Almost every waking moment is focused on her platoon, making sure their needs are met and satisfied, even to the exclusion of her own. Sound familiar? It does to me. I’ve seen this (I see it daily, actually) from a few of my sisters, from some friends who are moms. These strong, kickass women often can’t see this for themselves, how they’re running themselves into the ground. Fortunately, Rett’s unit and a no-nonsense medtech aren’t afraid to stage interventions to prevent her from self-destruction. (My sisters and friends have me, but they don’t always listen.)
In that light, writing kickass heroines comes naturally. Surrounded as I am by examples, frustrated by my inability to do more to help them, I can only stand by and be there for them.
Just in case that sounds depressing and too frustrating—it isn’t Through writing, I have the power to effect change. I can’t change these women I love, the ones I see self-destructing. But I can change myself. How wonderful is it that some of the characters I’ve written, based on a myriad of real life women, inspired me to actually DO the things I’ve only imagined doing? Inspired me to be braver, less selfish? Building a world and society in which eco-friendliness is paramount and gender issues simply don’t exist has made me more concerned with environmental and social causes. How much more wonderful would it be that a reader who enjoys the story for the action, adventure, and kick-assness also might be inspired by other messages in the subtext?
I love writing kickass heroines. But they’re not just a salute to those women who serve in our military, police forces, rescue services, or other dangerous jobs. I like to think they honor that kickass mom, sister, auntie, daughter, or friend, too. And inspire the heroine inside all of us.
Another book by T.M. Roy:
Find out more about T.M. Roy here:
The link for Convergence (JTN1) at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0036RTYLA
The link for the Convergence Special Edition (with the funky wrapper and “special features” like maps and extra stories and drawings by me): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009LDI0U4
The link for Gravity (JTN2): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004GKNOI0
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When she’s not writing or gardening, T.M. Roy freelances as an illustrator, cover artist, and designer of pixel and print books. She currently lives in the Land of 10,000 Lakes with an opinionated Quaker parrot named Apple, who has his own blog and writes food haiku, and an eccentric Senegal parrot named Sir Hugo the Naked.
More posts about Kick Ass heroines.