Seven Fictional Women Who Influenced Me

little womenI saw an interesting post by Katy Perry in Glamour magazine about ten women who changed her life, which started me thinking that I should write a similar post for the blog. Only when I started making the list, I kept thinking about the women in various books who had an influence on me instead! Me as a person, not just me as a writer…So, here’s that post…in no particular order.

1. Jo in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – our next door neighbor in upstate New York gave me her copy to read when I was maybe seven or eight. This book was the first time I had the concept that you could make money by being a writer. (And I wrote my first ‘book’ at age seven although no one will ever pay me any money for that one LOL.) Other things I gleaned from this were the idea you don’t always get what you want, or at least not easily, but you should never give up. And the guy who seems like The One may not be (Laurie). And when you do find The One, he may not make sense to anyone but you. (Professor Bhaer didn’t appeal to me as a seven year old but he has grown on me.) And scarlet fever can kill you, which terrified me when I actually got scarlet fever, but of course we have antibiotics nowadays.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Mara_Daughter_of_the_Nile2. Mara in Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – I’ve spoken of this book many times. It was the moment I realized you could write your own stories set in the mysterious ancient world. I admired Mara’s spirit, her smarts and her bravery, and I thoroughly approved of the dashing Count Seftu.

3. Trixie Belden by various – oh my, let me count the ways I loved this girl. I wanted to BETrixie this girl. I coveted her friends and her family and Jim (had a big book crush on Jim), and all her adventures. She lived in Upstate NY like I did, which was another bond. I learned from her that adventure is all around you, and to pay attention to details and clues that others might miss.I started reading these books when I was younger than the characters, so they seemed SO grown-up to me…

4. Lessa of Pern, Dragonriders by Anne McCaffrey – smart, tenacious, brave, able to speak to any dragon, rider of Ramoth, the Queen dragon, fiercely self sufficient….running a Weyr, fighting Thread….oh, and then there’s F’lar…

ripley hicks5. Ripley of the Alien movie series – she’s probably my ultimate science fiction movie heroine, although I think she needs more romance (I totally ship Ripley and Hicks). But talk about being in charge, never giving up and  smart…fierce maternal instincts…

6. Sarah Connor of the Terminator series – a close second to Ripley…her world changes in an instant and she rolls right with it, becomes a fighter and a fierce mother…

7. Gillian of Year of the Unicorn by Andre Norton – she saw a chance to help someone else and to perchance better her own life circumstances and she went for it, then never gave up through all the obstacles until the HEA with Herrel. I still reread this one periodically and sigh. I always want there to be more. (Plus Andre Norton’s books were such a huge influence on me that she HAS to be included in this list.)

Thinking it over, I believe the common theme here is that these women never gave up, they took chances, they thought out of the box (whatever box they were in, from Pern to ancient Egypt) and they found romance. (OK, I’ll grant you that Ripley’s Happy For Now moment is a stretch but work with me here.) They were loyal friends and comrades to those around them…some of them were excellent mothers or mother figures…

Do you have fictional women who influenced you along the way?

And since Katy Perry started this, here’s my favorite music video from her:

Tough As Nails SFR Heroines

Heaven's queenOver at USA Today Happily Ever After  I’m interviewing author Rachel Bach for my SciFi HEAEncounters column. Her Paradox Series is one of the best trilogies of science fiction, complete with romance and a kickASS heroine, that I’ve read in a long time. Hop on over and peruse the interview!

One thing Rachel and I discovered we share is an admiration for the character of Ellen Ripley in the movies Alien  and Aliens. Devi the heroine in the Paradox Series has been raised to be a warrior since childhood, versus Ripley who did need to be shown how to use aliens_powerloader
the pulse rifle but then rock-and-rolls with it for the rest of the movie.  I think the two women
would get along fine if they ever sat down for a chat. Ripley had to make do with the futuristic Caterpillar power loader to fight the alien queen and Devi has a much more sophisticated suit to wear into her battles.

There’s another key female character in Paradox, named Maat, which Rachel explained is keying off the goddess Ma’at of Ancient Egypt. In my paranormal novel series Gods of Egypt I feature Ma’at fairly often. She was responsible for keeping the Universe and the world in harmony, preventing chaos. She embodied all the good qualities of truth, law, justice, law and morality. Some Egyptian traditions hold that she was present at the judging of a person’s heart after death, with her red feather of Truth on the golden scales, deciding if the deceased’s ka or soul was worthy to proceed into the Afterlife. You’ll have to read the interview to see how Rachel took the Ma’at concept and applied it to her character Maat.

I think both Ripley and Devi would pass goddess Ma’at’s test, with their strong sense of responsibility and their attempts to do what they believe is the right thing. Ripley and Devi don’t let anything deter them from what they believe is their duty.

FifthElement_264PyxurzAnother strong female heroine would be Leeloo from the movie “Fifth Element,” although she has no suit of armor and is the perfect being, as we get told over and over BUT she’s also a woman with a mission and nothing – not even Bruce Willis at his scruffy best – can sidetrack her from saving the universe. (Although she does need a bit of a pep talk but I always think she’s testing Bruce’s Korben Dallas character at the end there. Oh, sort of like Ma’at weighed the heart? I can find parallels in anything LOL!)

I happen to like the 2010 Science fiction movie “Predators”. I love the character of Isabelle, a tough as nails sniper, played by Alice Braga. She’s not backing down from any challenge and she’s deadly-with-a-heart. “Fear is Reborn” is the movie’s tagline, but not in this character!

Leona the LA police detective, as portrayed by Maria Conchita Alonso in the 1990 “Predator 2” , is another absolute woman warrior in the Predator franchise…

Not all these ladies got to have full blown romance in their stories (although Devi sure does in Rachel’s novel!)

So who’s your favorite gutsy SF&F heroine?