Gail was kind enough to let me do a guest post on her blog, and so I’ve come on to talk about the recent hubbub about the phrase “strong female character” attached to this article: https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters
It’s probably a bit self serving for me to say that I both agree and disagree with the article for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is, I’m a huge fan of “strong female characters” in fiction, television, and movies, and of course love to feature them in my own writing.
But I feel I need to clarify – to me a strong female character doesn’t necessarily mean a physically strong woman who can beat up on a room full of ninjas like Black Widow (which is something I adore about her, btw), but to me can also mean a women who is strong emotionally, ethically, morally, or any number of ways. Essentially a well written, realistic woman, with strengths and flaws, who is allowed to be brilliant and emotional at the same time, or aggressive and forceful without being categorized as a “bitch,” or a princess who dreams of her prince and has the courage to fight for that dream (even if she still needs to be rescued in the end, THAT’S OK. Sometimes the girl needs to be rescued, sometimes the guy does).
Now, where I agree with this article is that I don’t like the box women in media seem to be currently given – meaning, in order to be viewed as “strong” the media is pretty much going for “a dude with boobs and lipstick that will punch you out if you piss her off.”
I think a perfect example of strength is actually someone like Malala Yousafzai (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai) – a 16 year old girl in Afghanistan who dared stand up to the Taliban to fight for women’s rights (peacefully). She was shot, recovered, and is still an activist despite the many threats on her life.
Sooooo, my long winded point here is, there’s a litany of ways to write strong characters (not just women!), and we don’t need media to tell us what strong is defined by.
Now I hope you will forgive me a bit of shameless self-promotion.
I mentioned above that I love to write about strong women in my novels/short stories. In fact, in my first fantasy novel, War of the Seasons, book one: The Human, I created an entire matriarchal society because I was so tired of the default being “men rule.” And of course, my main character, Story, is a 17 year old strong willed young adult who makes many decision (some good, some bad), but definitely controls her own fate/does what she must to survive/save others.
As it happens the kickstarter for the third novel in the War of the Seasons trilogy The Hunter opened about 2 weeks ago and will close on November 5th. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/war-of-the-seasons-a-fantasy-trilogy-by-janine-k-s
The kickstarter also has an option where people can order the two previous novels in either print or ebook format (and any of my books/anthologies currently in print).
Of course anything ordered via the kickstarter would be signed by me (and personalized if people email me to specify who they would like it personalized to).
If you read through the whole kickstarter you’ll see that some of the add ons that can be purchased, like the patch and the art print, all the proceeds from those purchases go to the Make-a-wish foundation & Craven Country Arts Council (per the request of the surviving parents of Will and Katie).
A few other things I want to note: if you buy the print book, you automatically get the ebook for free.
That’s right, you read that correctly. Print book = eBook FOR FREE
Also, in case you haven’t noticed on the stretch goals, pretty much you get EVERY SINGLE ONE just by contributing at the $5 level! So, all the stretch goal novels and short stories? If we reach them, you’ll get them all for free just by having contributed at least at the $5 level.
I also wanted to bring up another project that will kick off in December – an anthology called Athena’s Daughters.
Athena’s Daughters is a collection of short fiction from some of the best female science fiction and fantasy authors in the business (Jean Rabe is editing, Gail Z. Martin, Sherwood Smith, Mary Robinette Kowal, and others have stories in it). This anthology features stories written by strong women about strong women (see my definition of strong above).
While we at Silence in the Library Publishing love male science fiction and fantasy authors, we wanted, in this project, to provide a platform by which our female authors, artists, graphic designers, and editors could showcase their incredible talents.
To that end, Athena’s Daughters is a project conceived, developed, and driven by women. All of the authors in this anthology are women, as are the artists, the graphic designer, and the editor. Everyone involved in this project is a strong, capable, talented woman. So keep an eye out at SilenceInTheLibraryPublishing.com for details.
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Janine K. Spendlove is a KC-130 pilot in the United States Marine Corps. In the Science Fiction and Fantasy World she is primarily known for her best-selling trilogy, War of the Seasons. She has several short stories published in various anthologies alongside such authors as Aaron Allston, Jean Rabe, Michael A. Stackpole, Bryan Young, and Timothy Zahn. She is also the co-founder of GeekGirlsRun, a community for geek girls (and guys) who just want to run, share, have fun, and encourage each other. A graduate of Brigham Young University, Janine loves pugs, enjoys knitting, making costumes, playing Beatles tunes on her guitar, and spending time with her family. She resides with her husband and daughter in Washington, DC. She is currently at work on her next novel. Find out more at JanineSpendlove.com.