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When the Heroine Isn’t 18, Blonde, and a Size 3

Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Jones from the Alien franchiseOne of the panels I was on at Rustycon was called “When the Heroine Isn’t 18, Blonde, and a Size 3.” The topics we talked about were wide ranging, from books to TV to movies, but the primary idea was about writing non-Hollywood style women protagonists.

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, especially as I’ve gotten older. I know how long it’s taken me to get to where I am in my career and life, and while there are certainly some 18 year olds who might have their lives together, it’s pretty rare. So to me, when you’re writing a competent or even skilled protagonist, it makes a whole lot more sense to have them as a woman who is a bit older than fresh out of high school.

Other things that we talked about were the dearth of moms as protagonists. We had a couple of mothers in the audience, and both wanted to see more moms saving the world. We also talked about having even older women–maybe grandmothers, or those of an age to be a grandmother–saving the day.

We also talked about a lot of the actors we’d like to see playing some of these protagonists who don’t fit the Hollywood mold, and of course Sigourney Weaver was high on our list. Even though her days as Ripley in the Alien franchise are far behind her, she was phenomenal in The Defenders.

If you’re interested in reading books with unconventional women protagonists, you can find them in Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko in Brass and Glass: The Cask of Cranglimmering, Evie and Carlotta in Cross & Circle, and in many of my short stories!


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