I have decided to do a series of blogs over the next few weeks about what it means to me to write the book I want to read, the five essential qualities that book must possess. This first one is going to get a bit personal.
Quality 1: Strong Female Protagonist
Laurell K. Hamilton talks in this blog about being asked why she writes strong female characters. I’ve been thinking a lot about the question over the last month, but I just answered it yesterday.
Honestly, I never noticed that nearly every book I own features a woman as its main character until I loaned a grocery sack full of paperbacks to a friend. When she returned them, she remarked, “All female leads, huh?”
I have always gravitated to books that feature female protagonists, from Heidi, the first chapter book I ever read, to Nancy Drew 32: the Scarlet Slipper Mystery, the first one I actually understood. I thought this was just because I’m a chick, but apparently many women prefer a muscled alpha male in the protagonist role. Who knew?
In my household, I am the breadwinner, while my husband—who is about as masculine as they come—keeps the house and takes care of our daughter. I may have mentioned before, but we adopted our daughter when she was 11, so she hasn’t had her whole life to become accustomed to the way our family works; all of her foster parents observed more traditional gender roles.
We have lately been struggling with typical teenage
drama behavior challenges, mostly directed at my husband. Yesterday, she told us why. “I don’t respect Dad, because he can’t hold a job.” Though she knows the story of how we came to choose our roles–which most definitely did not involve any inability on his part to maintain steady employment–she finds it hard to believe this is a lifestyle choice we made together, and at a great sacrifice to my husband, so I could have a career and still have time to write, so I could be a mom and still have a life. She struggles to understand that I am proud to be the female protagonist in my own life and to be married to a someone strong enough to ignore the naysayers who tell him he is less of a man because he is, in fact, a domestic god.
I write strong female protagonists because I want my daughter to realize that a woman can stake her own vampires…and that sometimes the most powerful thing a man can do is wipe the blood off her face when she’s done.