Monday, March 1, 2010

Mythic Heroines: Why do they matter?

An enchantress? A queen? Sister to the once and future king? A warrior queen? Yes. All of the above and many more. From Morgan leFay to Boudica and so many others, in all cultures of all nations, women have been lauded, worshipped, defiled and reviled. But no matter what their story, they've all left us a rich heritage: an amazing crop of fabulous mythic heroines from which we as writers can use as a springboard for our own stories.

I'm so very glad that so many of us grew up to create our own stories of female heroines; of women who both endure and overcome--whether with guns and leather, with tooth and claw or with magic alone, they give all sorts of readers a heroine they can enjoy. No shrinking violet Penelope Pitstops here. We write women that kick ass and give no quarter.

In the Blood Lines series, Keira Kelly is her own kind of heroine--a mostly reluctant one. Her supernatural background is lost in centuries of legend and myth. The Kelly family (a name they chose) have no beginning that is known to her. Like as with many mythic women, I wanted to build a strong, intelligent woman character who doesn't know all the answers, yet manages to figure them out, piece by piece, puzzle by puzzle. Keira is one of the youngest of the Kelly clan, still technically adolescent in the start of the series (despite her age in years), still struggling to find her identity. It's kind of a non-YA YA...where the character is physically in her late thirties, but mentally and emotionally, she's pretty much just this side of boy band fetishes and Twi-teendom. Technically (and probably most importantly--in marketing's view), Keira's an adult--so I write books for adult readers. But if you can take a step back and look through the eyes of your own younger self, you'll see a lot of teen behavior in her: she can be whiny, selfish and lazy. What makes her a heroine? Overcoming those impulses and letting the adult part of her self come through. Keira's no dark ages sorceress nor leader of the British revolt against Rome, but she's holding her own sort of rebellion in a very modern age.

What woman in history/mythology/folklore gives you thrills and chills?

-- Maria Lima


salamanderstales said...

I always felt that Hera got a bum rap. I'd be cranky and vengeful, too, if my husband was sneaking around in the shape of a swan, seducing the ladies.

Maria Lima said...

re: Hera - so true!! Those male gods really did a number on the women.

Linda Robertson said...

Oooo...thirlls and chills? MEDUSA!

Great post Maria!

Mayhem and Magic said...

Athena and Artemis.