Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why Heroines?

At a children's book conference I attended recently, quite a well known fantasy author made a few comments about the Twilight Saga's Bella. She said that Stephanie Meyer had come under attack for writing such an insipid female lead who wasn't a good role model. She wanted to know why authors had this responsibility thrust upon them of writing 'good role models' when they should be allowed to write whatever they liked. Even if what they like to write is girls with no personality & no plans for the future beyond their man. While this is, in theory, true: authors can write whatever characters they like. In turn readers can choose to read about whatever they like and since my youth my favourite books have always been those with fabulous heroines in them. Heroines who saved the world from evil wizards; heroines who outwitted dragons. Heroines who read lots of books and heroines who stood up for what they believed in. From the age of twelve to around the age of fourteen (fifteen?) I wanted to be a knight. Despite being a bookish, indoorsy girl with animal allergies and being about as far from athletic as you can get; I thought it would be amazing to be a knight. The books of Tamora Pierce obviously had quite a profound effect on me. I now work as a children's bookseller and I get so excited when I sell the very first Tamora Pierce book to a young girl. Invariably the girls come back for the following books in the series and I know they have books and books of heroine action ahead of them.

Luckily for me (and everyone else in the world) it is obviosuly not just YA fiction which has some great heroines - I'll be talking picture books and primary aged fiction as well as YA books. Here's hoping that I point some of you in the direction of some awesome ladies who couldn't help being great role models if they tried.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a really important and interesting discussion. I have two daughters and I am always looking for books with fabulous heroines. It's amazing how much insipid junk there is out there. I don't think writers are responsible for creating 'role models' - their job is to create great characters. Some great characters are weak people, depressed people, suicidal people, horrible people, killers even... they are not 'role models', but they are great characters. And that is what I want from a book - for myself and my children.