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Erica Hayes Talks Gender & Ass-kicking

Allow me to introduce you to my fist...

Allow me to introduce you to my fist...

We hear a lot these days about Strong Women in fiction. 'You should write Strong Female Characters!' everyone says, and they talk about female empowerment and the Bechdel Test and if we don't pass it we're disrespecting the entire female gender.

Hell, yeah, let's have some stories that are actually *about women* for a change. Enough female sidekicks and one-dimensional love interests and femmes fatales. We want women taking charge... But is that enough?

We could talk all day about what Strong Female Character actually means, and why on earth it should be any different from Strong Male Character. We could argue about where the line is between Kick-Ass Chick and Man With Boobs, and why no one ever calls an emotionally sensitive male character Woman With Dick, and why no one ever says Kick-Ass Dude, as if any Dude who *isn't* Kick-Ass is somehow not dude-y enough to be worthy of the name...

The Kick-Ass Chick is much maligned, probably because in recent years she's become kind of a caricature of herself, complete with unnecessary snark, tight leather pants, improbable weapons and the famous 'tramp stamp' tattoo. But hey, I write about super-powered crime fighters: kicking ass — and lots of it — is what they do. And what's wrong with having a heroine who knows how to fight her way out of trouble? Verity, the superheroine of my book SCORCHED, may not have miraculous martial arts skills and a tattoo above her butt, but she's unashamedly a Kick-Ass Chick.

Verity's a crime fighter, so she's done her share of beating the tripe out of villains. She's physically tough - she has to be, to survive the wringer her nemesis puts her through. In SCORCHED, Verity's mental strength is also put to the test, when her memories are tampered with and she can no longer trust those who are close to her.

But her problems aren't any harder to deal with because she's a woman. They aren't any easier, either. They're gender-indifferent. SCORCHED isn't a book about a female superhero. It's about a superhero who happens to be a woman.

That's another cool thing about superhero stories: having super powers can level the playing field between the sexes. Which isn't to say there can't be romance and sexual tension, or characters with differing world views. But in SCORCHED, when the fists start flying and the action heats up, no one is standing about wondering whether a girl will be up to the job. Verity's story isn't about proving that a woman is as strong as a man — everyone just assumes that she will be.

Including the archvillain, Razorfire. Is he too gender-biased to have a woman as his nemesis? Hell, no. He's an equal opportunity bad guy. Bring 'em all on, so long as they keep him entertained. And he's no gallant white knight, gifting his female adversaries an easy option, either. Just because he's a man, don't imagine Verity can flutter her lashes and sexx him into thinking with his 'little brain'.

 And isn't that what writing Strong Female (and Male, for that matter) Characters should be about - showing us a world where gender truly doesn't matter? Where 'strength' is unisex, and expectations aren't based on body parts but intelligence, personality and resourcefulness?

So, yeah, we could talk all day about what makes a Strong Female Character. Or, y'know, we could just let people be people and enjoy some awesome action — no matter who's doing the ass-kicking. 

Rhyll: Thank you, Erica. Below is the blurb for Scorched, which is a ninja-recommended read (see the review here).


In a world where everyone wears a mask, you can't trust anyone… not even yourself.

Verity Fortune was once Sapphire City’s top crime-fighter, wielding her powers of telekinesis to battle the city’s most despicable villains.

Now, she’s consumed by a single burning desire: revenge. Against those who took away her mask, her memory, and nearly her life.

Having escaped from the asylum they left her to rot in, Verity dons her mask once again and becomes the Seeker, a vigilante warrior for truth.

But when she unwittingly uncovers an evil conspiracy deep within her own family, she’s suddenly on the run, alone and hunted by those she thought were on her side…


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