Hello, friends! It's my turn to head off Heroines of Fantasy, giving Karin some well-earned time off. There are changes coming to the blog. Great changes. But I'm only going to tease you with that for now. New year, new blog. But for now--
Our guest blogger is the fabulous Jeannette Kathleen Cheney, author of the newly released, The Golden City.
Now we do see writers who skip that. In fact, it's a trope we see on TV a lot. Buffy? Does she train to be the kickass heroine? No, it's an inherited burden. What about River Tam? Nope, brainwashed into it. Trinity in The Matrix? Uploaded. It's all shortcuts. Do you see them doing pushups and arm hangs to build their upper body strength? Do you see them practicing having their thighs kicked just to harden the skin. While it makes a great story twist (pretty girl is unexpectedly kickass!) it also bugs me.
Now don't get me wrong. There are heroines who do earn being kickass: Sarah Connor, Ripley, Zoe, Starbuck...and Michelle Rodriguez in about anything she's in. That's just for starters. It means hours and hours in the gym. Hours and hours learning to do that sort of thing. Hours and hours practicing and keeping their skills up to date.
My heroine doesn't have time for that. Before being deployed as a spy, she has to learn to speak with a Portuguese accent, learn human manners, learn to wear human clothes. She had to learn about the political situation and players in the city. She has to learn basic first aid skills because she can't go to a human hospital or doctor. Add to that a physical limitation: anything that causes her hands to vibrate will disorient her. The webbing between her fingers is highly sensitive to vibration, which is what allows her people to sense movement in the water. So should she hit someone with her hands or fire a gun, the vibrations would incapacitate her for a moment.
More importantly than all the rest, she needs to fit into Portuguese society of 1902. The constant training required to be kickass would be out of the norm for a woman in Portugal. She would call attention to herself that she cannot afford. So for my heroine, kickass just wouldn't work.
Fortunately, a woman doesn't have to be kickass in order to be a heroine. Heroines often start from a position of weakness and grow out of that into the role of a stronger person. Brains help level the playing field, as does courage, patience, and persistence. And having friends helps as well. I chose those for my heroine instead, and I hope that makes her believable for readers.
So what makes a believable heroine for you? Is it all about being kickass? And which ones aren't believable?
For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores....
When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.
Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.
Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone....
J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen's Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella "Iron Shoes" was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, "The Golden City" will come out from Penguin, November 5, 2013.
Find her at www.jkathleencheney.com
On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CheneyJKathleen
And Twitter @jkcheney
The Golden City is available at:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-golden-city-j-kathleen-cheney/1114980111?ean=9780451417749