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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

GUEST POST: The Lure of the Badass Heroine By Stacey McEwan


(Author image thanks to Fantasy Hive)

I’m a law-abiding citizen. I think we should all keep our hands to ourselves. Violence is bad, etc. But…I’d like to put to you that even the most moralistic among us would, at times, be inclined to push their enemies off a cliff.
We’ve all visualised it. Don’t be concerned, It doesn’t make us bad(der) people. I do believe all conflict can be resolved with communication, but I’m not a liar. Sometimes I wonder if I couldn’t get my point across faster with a weapon. But, since doing so would land me in front of a judge and jury, I owe much to the authors of the fantasy genre and their badass heroines, who verbally and physically do what I’d never. Much to the delight of decent(ish) folk like me. So, what makes a heroine inherently fierce? I’d like to preface this by saying how absolutely chaotic the following will be. 
Here is a list of my top five badass heroines in literature, and that allusive something they share, in no particular order:

1) Katniss EverdeenThe Hunger Games
Traits: stern, pragmatic, protective, courageous, can shoot her shot, weird taste in men, but okay.
Listen, I loved Katniss, but she is the definition of a mood killer. That Capitol party looked hella fun, and miss ‘I’ll be dead soon’, bummed everyone out on sight. Having said that, my favourite quality in Katniss is her ability to remain unflinching. That girl will not crack a smile for anyone but her sister. She’s so painfully stoic. Peacekeepers? Who cares. Game-makers? Take a number. President of the damn Capitol? Meh. Katniss couldn’t give two pheasants. Imagine being that unshakeable? Also, she has a bow and arrow and I support it.

2) Lara VeliantThe Bridge Kingdom
Traits: violent, cunning, fearless, devious, seductive, daddy issues
Lara is a trained killer and I’m beginning to realise that this is oddly attractive to me, or perhaps it’s the idea that a woman doesn’t need another living soul to achieve the impossible. Somehow Lara is sexy and smart and deadly, and barely breaks a sweat toying with two kingdoms at once. There’s something incredibly alluring about the mysterious woman in the shadows. Lara is, in many ways, utterly terrifying, but I’d follow her anywhere.

3) ZhuShe Who Became the Sun
Traits: Resilient, cunning, determined, ambitious
Zhu is morally questionable, and I support women’s wrongs. She is a character whose ambitions transform from an intense desire to live, to something much more. Zhu is power-hungry and willing to lay waste to any who get in her way, and honestly, fair enough. The ladder to the top is treacherous. A little corruption never hurt the corrupter, or whatever. I was rooting for Zhu the entire way.

4) Bree MatthewsLegendborn
Traits: clever, strong-willed, charismatic, can embody the spirit of King Arthur and I dig it.
From the outset, Bree is strong as hell. There is a lot to be admired in a woman who refuses to be treated unfairly. If she were a politician, I’d be at all the rallies. She’s loud and outspoken and unafraid of confrontation and I envy that. This is a woman who has fought through injustice and thrives on the other side.

5) Dawsyn SabraLedge
Traits: skilled, sarcastic, suspicious, weirdly compassionate despite the axe-fixation, will throw you off a mountain
Alright this is a shameless plug because I wrote this character, but you’ve made it this far, so you might as well just let this happen. Dawsyn is, I think, a mix of Katniss and Lara. She, too, tends to murder first and ask questions later, and rightfully so. The humans of her world are heinous. At one point she literally rolls an unconscious would-be-rapist off a cliff and I can’t condemn her. All sexual predators into the chasm, I say!

With this research in mind, I’d have to surmise that bad-assery can be condensed to these core elements (just to be clear, this isn’t an episode in How to Get Away with Murder, so if you’re taking notes, it should be with the intention of writing a badass heroine and not becoming one, for legal reasons):
Any honourable badass heroine:
-          Will not pander to others (they’ll smile when they find something worth smiling at);
-          Does not care if they make others uncomfortable;
-          Takes up a lot of space in the room;
-          Is inherently good, even when they’re murderous; and,
-          Does not necessarily do things without fear, but does them anyway.
Actually, I take it back. Apply all these things to your own badass characters if you will, but apply them to yourself as well.

(author pic courtesy of Better Read Than Dead bookstore)

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFO: Stacey McEwan is a school teacher by day and fantasy writer by night. She is a book influencer on multiple platforms and began writing her most current manuscript LEDGE after book lovers of the internet begged her to share her story ideas. Stacey was born and raised on the Gold Coast, Australia. She still resides in her hometown with her husband, two children and one questionable dog. She has been teaching children in the classroom for 9 years to date. When Stacey isn’t writing, teaching, or making ridiculous tiktoks, you’ll find her playing with her children, reading, annoying her husband, or if she’s lucky – all three at once



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