GUEST AUTHOR: Beyond Being a Ninja: Karen Haber Discusses Kayla John Reed, The Heroine of Woman Without A Shadow Series


Enjoy this guest post from author, Karen Haber, where she shares about her kickass heroine and being beyond a ninja!


When I was planning the Woman Without A Shadow series, I wanted to create a science fiction saga about a young girl who was smart, brave, resilient, and forced to become a warrior. Bottom line: I wanted to write about a character who could protect and save herself rather than wait to be saved.  I wanted her to be a hero – the hero – of her own life.

One of the best things about science fiction is the opportunity it provides for unique situations, settings, and characters. My protagonist, Kayla John Reed, faces all kinds of unusual challenges including alien creatures, space pirates, spies and conspiracies.

Writing a science fiction series about Kayla meant I could have her do all the things I’d always wanted to see girls do:  commanding spaceships, leading revolutions, being as tough – if not tougher – than the guys —  and smarter.  That was part of the fun of writing this series. But  a kickass heroine must be more than just a ninja. There’s more to her than physical prowess.

Kayla’s journey from orphaned miner to the leader of a revolutionary force begins with her heart not her fists. As her tale unfolds over the three books, she learns about herself, her strengths, and her feelings. With each book, I learned more about who she was, and that, in turn, influenced how I wrote about her. By the third book, I felt like Kayla John Reed was an old friend.

One of her defining characteristics is her courage. She’s not fearless, but she doesn’t allow it to control her, either.  She acknowledges it and moves forward. She meets every challenge head-on.

Kayla is self-sufficient.  She’s an orphan. No one will take care of her. She must take care of herself.

She’s physically strong.  If you’re going to be working in the mines, or working with on a spaceship, or leading revolutions, strength is a big asset.

One of the key elements to her strength is her resilience. The things that hurt her do not destroy her.

When we first meet her, she is already in a dangerous situation: working as a miner inside an unstable planetoid. She is accustomed to facing danger on a daily basis. The explosion that kills her parents and closes the mines on her home world propels her into a new life where she must be on guard at every moment. Her instincts are good and she protects herself by using her unique mind powers as well as her physical strength

She is confident, and certain of her rights.  When her parents die and her inheritance is challenged, she fights back. Kayla must bear the wounds of becoming an orphan and being forced to relinquish her birthright, flee for her life, and make a new community in a new place very different from where she began.

Kayla has unusual mind powers that enable her to affect the thoughts and emotions of others. She can use these powers in an aggressive way but also in a healing way. She accepts the responsibility that comes with her unusual mind powers. She is respectful of others and does not utilize her abililty to reach into other people’s minds and emotions unless she is in jeopardy, and then only reluctantly. She has a moral code.

Most important: She is a human being. She must be likeable. Not an invincible superwoman, but a growing, changing person able to adjust to whatever challenge she encounters. I kept this concept in mind as I wrote each day’s pages.

Writing about Kayla allowed me to explore what it means to be heroic. She didn’t choose to be a warrior. She is a hero because of her character, her determination, her strength, and resilience, her willingness to embrace change, and her response to the challenges that confront her. She doesn’t cling to the past. She moves forward. Sometimes, in order to move forward, she must move sideways, first.

She’s strong but human

That’s what makes her a kickass heroine.



Karen-0907 final webKaren Haber is the author of nine novels including the Woman Without A Shadow series: Woman Without A Shadow, The War Minstrels, Sister Blood, and The Mutant Season series,  available from ReAnimus Press.  She is the author of  Star Trek Voyager: Bless the Beasts, and co-author of Science of the X-Men. She is a Hugo Award nominee for Meditations on Middle Earth, an essay collection celebrating J.R.R. Tolkien. Her newest book, The Sweet Taste of Regret, a collection of short fiction, was just published by ReAnimus Press.

Her short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine , The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and many anthologies. New stories will be appearing in the upcoming Unidentified Funny Objects 3  edited by Alex Shvartsman and in The Madness of Cthulhu edited by S.T. Joshi.  In her alternate persona  as an art journalist, she authored  Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art, and Transitions: Todd Lockwood,  and reviews art books for Locus Magazine. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, Robert Silverberg, and three venerable cats.





























6 thoughts on “GUEST AUTHOR: Beyond Being a Ninja: Karen Haber Discusses Kayla John Reed, The Heroine of Woman Without A Shadow Series”

  1. I have a 13 year old daughter who is VERY into sci-fi. This sounds exactly like the kind of heroine she would enjoy reading about. I will have to check these out (I always scan for sexual content before I let her read an adult level sci-fi novel, since she isn’t quite ready for much in that direction yet.)

    1. These books should be appropriate for a 13 year old. I didn’t want to emphasize any sexual scenes because the protagonist, Kayla, is so young, and still discovering who she is. I hope your daughter enjoys them.

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