When I set out to write Soulless, I knew my main character was going to be a strong hero of a slightly different ilk: she’s a woman, but her gender is basically non-essential to the plot. I could hop in, switch all her gender pronouns to the masculine, and nothing else would need to be changed, and the story would pretty much be exactly the same. And I like that. Sometimes, it’s really nice to have a gender-neutral character leading the narrative, though the fact that she is female instead of male still gives her a slightly different edge.
Now, what I didn’t expect when as I was writing Soulless was the incredible supporting cast of female characters that showed up. It wasn’t necessarily my intention, but Soulless has become an incredibly female driven story. With the exception of one, all the heroes in the story are female. With the exception of one, all the villains in the story are also female. There’s a few other guys and gals scattered throughout, but they’re not driving the story. The ladies are. The beautiful, ugly, diverse, and varied ladies that populate this harsh world.
I don’t consider myself a feminist writer, though I am a pretty feminist person. Still, it makes me happy to think that my debut novel will have such a strong feminine presence infused into it. Anyone (read: my poor boyfriend) who has had to listen to my diatribes regarding weak female characters in media (some of which *cough*Mako Mori*cough* not everyone agrees with me on) knows how much I appreciate strong ones, though I’d also suggest that I like diverse female characters, since strength isn’t only pulled from physical strength. It could also be strength through compassion, like with Veroh. Or strength through intelligence and keeping your cool, like the Queen. Or even strength through family, like Lady Gizak.
Who are your favorite female characters in literature? Any particular books come to mind that have a strong female driven story? Immediately, one of my favorites, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver comes to mind: five female narrators, each with a very different personality, different strengths, and different weaknesses. What else might you suggest?