Thursday, September 5, 2013

Virtual Book Tour! [Guest Post ~ Strong Female Characters] Forecast by Elise Stephens

by Elise Stephens
Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Date Published: 7/9/2013

 Calvin isn’t a teenager, not really; instead, he’s spent his life trying to protect his mother and sister from his alcoholic father. Calvin keeps a knife close and sleeps with one eye open, even years after his father has left the family. A summer vacation spent at their late grandfather’s estate promises him and his sister the chance to leave their problems behind.

Instead of blissful freedom, they find the old house harbors secrets at every turn, like a mysterious stone door in the forest with rumored powers to give its entrants the gift of future-seeing. When Calvin faces the return of his seemingly-reformed father, he throws himself through the door to receive the gift of foresight. But the door offers more doubt than certainty, and the future he sees is riddled with disturbing confusion. With a revenge-obsessed lawyer hunting him down and a secret society out to control him, Calvin must figure out how to stop what he’s started before he loses what he holds most dear.

As he battles the legacies of his past and the shadows of his future, Calvin must accept help from unlikely sources, give trust he never thought possible, and learn that the greatest challenges lie not in the things to come, but in the present moment.
Strong Female Characters--Don't Just Give Her a Gun and an Attitude

How many times have you heard this complaint, when watching a film? The female character stands off to the sidelines, cowering, while the male hero rescues her! Passivity isn’t particularly attractive, if you ask me.

Fact: Wimpy characters are hard to like. For some reason, wimpy girl characters continue to slide by without someone standing up and saying, “Come on, give her a little backbone!” And on the flipside, there’s the backlash of badass she-warriors who are trying to make up for ages of passive female ancestors. But making them go-getter tough girls can’t be the only answer. I say this because I began my life as a shy, timid, quiet girl who gradually found her voice and developed it into a strong one.  It wasn’t till sometime after college that I could say I clearly articulated my feelings and opinions. Sure, I had my tough side. I got my martial arts black belt at sixteen years old, but that wasn’t what made me strong. An aggressive attitude and the knowledge of how to use a firearm might be interesting for a girl or woman in a book, but it’s not the formula for creating a compelling girl in literature. 

Why does this matter so much to me? Because I’ve made the mistake myself. The stereotyped passive girl who needs someone else to consistently fix her life is such an ingrained trait in what I’ve seen and read, I found myself recreating it in early drafts of Forecast. 

Calvin’s twin sister Cleo is a sweet girl who wants to make peace out of her chaotic family life, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness. An abusive home has left her skittish, with a fierce tendency to follow rules to the letter of the law. It’s okay to have a character begin in the story as weak, but she has to grow stronger by its conclusion. I learned, through my revisions, that Cleo had to speak out against her brother’s bossy-ness, she had to be the one to make dangerous decisions about trusting her father again, and she had to choose to participate in her brother’s crazy schemes, not just follow along. 

Introverted heroines can be just as strong as the aggressive and outspoken ones. I learned this for myself when writing my book.  The Cle who emerged in the end was a girl I not only respected, but admired and would love to have as a friend of mine.

Elise Stephens received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Forecast is her second novel. Her first novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-finalist for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Her short fiction has appeared in the Unusual Stories anthology, as well as in multiple journals. She lives in Seattle with her husband where they both enjoy swing dancing, eating tiramisu, and taking in local live theater


Elise Stephens said...

Thanks so much for having me here, Michelle!