Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Pondering heroines and realism etc.

Say, I have a heroine. Nice girl, average everything. She could be a neighbour or someone we went to school with or whatever. Let’s call her Polly. Now poor Polly is kidnapped by three hot alpha armed men whose shirts have a sad habit of being torn from their hard bodies thus displaying their lightly oiled pecs and eight pack to any passers by. What should Polly do?

You wouldn't like Polly when she's angry.
1. Using her mind powers Polly summons her spirit dragon to flambé their smexy evil hides to ash. Polly’s dragon then shape changes back into his usual football quarterback body and they bonk.
2. Having picked her hand-cuffs with a cunningly concealed tool kit, Polly slips her short sword out of its usual hiding place (don’t ask) and lops off their heads. She then sprints the 15 miles back into town and after giving a thorough report to the local Sherriff she bends him over his desk and HOLY HELL, POLLY. 
3. Whee! Group sex!!!
4. Polly freaks the fuck out and doesn’t know what to do.

Sad fact is the bulk of us would be in basket four. I was away the day of school that the FBI came to do a quick basic training course. Bugger. Also, I have no mind powers, evil or otherwise. A constant disappointment to me. So I just lie to my kids about it and hope that one day soon they’ll magically appear thus making all of my bullshit prescient. Win! But deep down, deep deep down where it really counts. No not that deep. HEY, MY EYES ARE UP HERE, LADY. I’m holding out for a heroine that speaks to me. Someone who can escape from two mad kidnappers, whilst making the third fall helplessly in love with her necessitating some fast and fun pants free action down the back of the log cabin secreted away in the woods. Alrighty then, I don’t want someone totally every day ordinary. I want a girl with some sass. I want a woman that won’t say die. But how much fantasy and how much real life should we let slip onto our pages? Do we need to be able to totally relate to our heroine to be able to cheer her on?

Here’s the thing, it’s going to come down to individual tastes. I like a normal girl rising to the challenge. I like the Sarah Connors of the world who don’t know what the fuck is going on but smash that vile terminator before driving off into the sunset in a really cool looking beat up Jeep to go give birth on their own in the desert at the end of the film. They evolve. It’s interesting that even Alice from Resident Evil had all of the moves, but they began the film with her having amnesia so she could be allowed to grow into them. Was it easier for us to empathise with her because she started out much as we would? What value can we put upon that what the fuck?! moment? Is it easier for us to walk a while in their shoes if they too are spun out by the shit that has just gone down?

Now, I can hear you. It’s those mind powers of mine. Man, they are cool. Where am I going with this? Good question. Let me explain, my love. You see, I wrote Skin with the girl next door in mind. She cannot read minds. She does not know she has been tossed head first into the forced seduction trope. Her hero behaves dubiously, buying her with a van full of canned food, and she judges him accordingly. Her hero chains her to the bed, and she does not like him for it. The snark flies. She fucks up. (Mild spoiler alert) When an opportunity to escape is presented, she takes it. Bad shit happens. Turns out she should have stayed put. But like any normal person, when presented with an opportunity to get away from the maybe madman that’s been keeping you chained to the bed ... see where I’m going with this?

When writing Skin, I fully expected to have to defend Nick. He can indeed be a bit of prick. Having to defend Ros, however, never really crossed my mind. But you live and you learn. Turns out for every reader that enjoyed the realism of Ros’s reactions, there was another who wanted her to shut up and get to it, girl. This is a forced seduction story after all. Did she not get that memo? Damn it! Fire the secretary. Again.

Anyhoo, if you like you can read it and judge for yourself. In conclusion, I like all sorts of heroines. Big, buff, busty ones right through to the meeker, milder ones ... actually that’s a lie. Meek bores the shit out of me. I prefer snark any day. See, individual tastes.But for what it's worth, your designated heroine for book three, Bone, will be a different creature. Not undead. Just, you know, a bit gung-ho from the get go. It's fun to spice things up and explore different characters. Sorry, it won't be out till late this year.


  1. Kylie, I think readers need to remember when they pick up a book like SKIN they have to view the story from the within the context of the setting the author has described.

    We can't thrust upon the characters our views/perceptions/expectations of the present day/real life as those aren't valid in the world you've portrayed.

    And this is what I love about your series - within the context of the world you've created, your heroines/heroes react and interact accordingly.

    I may not like or agree with some of the things they do, I can be as frustrated by Ros or Alli (or any of the blokes) as I like BUT their reactions/responses are logical and reasonable because of the world they live in.

    And those who get that, the richer their reading experience!

    (I'm still looking for my own Finn & Daniel...when's that post-apocalyptic event going to occur?!?!?!) ;-)

    1. Hey Alpha Kylie, thanks for commenting. It's a funny thing, reader expectation vs the writers world. At the end of the day we need to deliver a story that speaks to the audience, but if we weren't passionate about the story and its integrity and exactly how it develops, we wouldn't have had the interest in writing it in the first place. I swear I've got your Finn and Daniel on order I don't know what is wrong with Australia Post these days...

  2. Ooooooh, I can't wait for Bone, I love me a story with some double X chromosome ass-kickin' action! Bring on the ass-kicking...
    I found Ros's reaction realistic. What self-respecting woman thinks 'buying' women is okay? In RL, I think men that buy women (via the sex slave trade) are the scum of the earth. Hence, while Ros is convinced that Nick bought her for you know what, how could she possibly 'go for it'? Girl's gotta have her pride...

    1. Hey Rhyll, cheers for stopping by mate. Yeah, I think a touch of realism doesn't hurt. And a girl should have her pride. You're very right there.