Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Makes a Leading Lady?

A few weeks ago we talked about heroes. Today I`d like to talk about heroines and what I feel makes a good one in my humble.

Over my many years of being an avid reader I`ve come across just about every type of leading lady there is. From sweet to sassy to sinful and seductive, from good to evil to some who make you wonder if they`re even human, I`ve read them all. So when it was my turn to bring a woman to life on the pages of a book, what was it I was hoping to do? I can tell you what I wasn`t going to do right off.

I was not going to write a teenager. Nothing against those under twenty for there are many I adore (Love you Percy, Harry and Katniss!) but I am a fifty-one year old woman. I simply cannot relate to the problems of a teenager any more. Even with a teen in the house I can`t write about the trials and tribulations of those in high school. I`ve tried, numerous times, and it just doesn`t work for me.

I am far too old and crotchety to pen someone like Bella Swan who curled into a ball, spent months in a funk because Edward left, and then tried to kill herself to get his attention. I won`t go into the message that sends young impressionable women. All I`ll say is that if my man left me I`d cry for a day or two then I`d go out and find a new one or adopt a cat. Upon further reflection, I think I`d go for the cat. They`re quiet, don`t snore in your ear, don`t eat the ice cream up, don`t make crass bodily sounds at the dinner table, and don`t make you watch all day marathons of ‘How It`s Made’.

I wasn`t going to create a great leading lady, get her married or mated and then let her fade into the background. You all know I adore and worship J.R. Ward. I wish I could write men like the WARDen does. And her sex scenes singe my fingers as I grip the books! But even my beloved WARDen slips when it comes to keeping the strong women she creates strong. Many of the ladies in Caldwell simply blend into the background after they get their man. I did not want to allow this to happen to my heroine. She had to be more than an ornament that was quickly forgotten.

So I had to pen a woman: a grown, mature woman who had been around the block a time or two. And this woman had to stay front and center.

This woman had to be resilient. She had to have wit and humor because you can`t survive long in this world if you can`t laugh at yourself and others. Above all, she had to be tough enough to make it alone. She might not like being alone but she managed. Enter Libby Simons.

Libby is everything that I find attractive in a heroine. She is down-to-earth. She`s funny as hell, sharp, clever, loyal, warm-hearted, relatable, and dependable. She`s not a kid. Libby is creeping up on forty. She`s not a Bond girl. She`s a hard-working farmer who rarely wears make-up. Goats don`t care if you have eyeliner on, trust me on that one. My Gods & Goats books are Libby`s story. Ares is her love and her lover but it is Libby that is the star.

I love a story where the woman is out there kicking butt and chewing bubblegum just like the men are. My heroine doesn`t sit back and wait for her man to come save her. Please. Libby is right there at Ares side, battling against the minions of Hades like a dervish. Don`t believe me? Here`s a wee peek at some action from the next book in the Gods & Goats Trilogy Of Heroes & Haybales Libby goes up against a Chimera-


I got to my feet, my eyes locked on the snake that was lashing side to side, looking for a place to strike. Roars and hisses and other-worldly blats filled the underground hiding place, Ares` snarls melting into the din. Then his back hit the wall and the snake struck. Ares` lance glanced off the emerald serpent`s head and deflected the strike. The lion growled. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Ares cursed fluently at the beast as he tried to drive his pike upward into the lion’s neck.

The goat head dropped and it caught one horn under the edge of Ares` shield and ripped the circlet of gold from the god`s forearm. The shield flew across the cavern and embedded in the wall. I shouted at Ares, warning him to watch the snake then the lion attacked, its jaws clamping down on Ares` shoulder. The war god snarled in agony as his fist came up under the lion`s chin. The cat did not let go. Golden ichor flowed from the exposed area of Ares` corded neck. That was when I ran at the combatants. The snake tail lashed out at me, fangs long enough to go through my upper arm were dripping with venom. Ares grunted my name. The goat cried out in anger and tried to drive its horns into the war god’s helmet.

Ares threw up a now bloody forearm and the spikes of his brace slammed into the goat’s nose and eyes. It screamed. The lion roared and tried to get another chomp in. I ran at the snake undulating in mid-air, its glowing eyes just looking for an opening. I knew that I had to eliminate at least one-third of the trio. When I got close enough, the snake darted to the left then aimed at my leg. I danced to the right and swung down with the bronze sword. It opened up a wound on top of the snake`s head. Black blood bubbled out. Ares shouted at me to retreat. I opted to pretend I hadn`t heard him. We were in this together. I wasn`t going to sit there like some Mary-Sue! I had my bandana on!!


Woo-hoo! You tell them Libby! My girl is no Mary-Sue when it comes to action. Libby`s life is hers to lead and she faces the trials and tribulations of what may come with her chin up and her bandana firmly tied around her head.

This bit of action has got me thinking that perhaps I`ll chat about writing action and how I came to learn the hard lessons of a very important aspect of writing what many romance books skip over sadly. But until next time tell me about your heroine. What makes her special? What role does she play in her book and her own life? Is she a shy gal or a grab the bull by the horns type of woman?


Mimi Foxmorton said...

Let's hear it for the strong woman!

V.L. Locey said...

Hurrah is right, Mimi! I love a tough, strong woman.

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