In my thriller/suspense trilogy, VIGILARE, female detective,
Gina DeLuca consistently challenges her counterpart, Detective Tony Gronkowski.
She does so with grace, quick wit, and a true desire to excel at her position.
Their mutually respectful yet heated repartee often mirrors foreplay. The sexual
energy between the two is certainly tangible. "DeLuca and Gronkowski have a
palpable chemistry going, a playful flirtatiousness that's fun to read. Their
interaction, both among themselves and with almost everyone they come in contact
with, is fast and funny." -Gabino Iglesias, Austin Post
Which brings me to my quandary: How tough is too tough for a heroine?
Growing up, I would sneak my mother's western romance novels into my room and
read into the wee hours of the morning. I enjoyed those books, although my
generation was more inclined to believe we could rescue ourselves. When the book
would draw to its climax, pitting the hero against the villain, I remember
thinking, ‘Why doesn't she help him? Do something, lady!' I always wanted the
heroine to be part of the resolution. And as times progressed, we have witnessed
that trend. Just the other night, my sweet, handsome beau and I had date night.
We watched The Hunger Games. There is no guesswork involved in
identifying the eminent hero in that story...or heroine rather, Catniss
Much like Catniss, my female lead, Gina DeLuca, carries VIGILARE. The hunky,
charismatic male lead is still featured, however, he plays second fiddle.
Granted, Vigilare is also the story of a kick-butt female vigilante, as
the Italian term Vigilare means to watch out, to guard, to look over. Therefore,
the female perspective is booming. "Gotham has Batman, Vanguard has Vigilare.
Viva Vigilare!" Amazon Review.
Bearing its superhero nuances and scientific paranormal twist, it is based in
realism. "VIGILARE walks
the line between a thriller and a supernatural adventure while safely anchored
in a scientific discourse around blood that James put together so well that it's
reminiscent of a Douglas Preston or Michael Crichton novel. With action,
romance, a strong female hero and a likeable group of characters,VIGILARE reads like a good
action movie." -Gabino Iglesias, Austin Post.
I see superwomen everyday in my real life, mothers, for one. These superwomen
are my inspiration for writing capable, competent female leads. I'm of the
opinion, so long as our heroines have some vulnerable characteristics, some
flaws, some soft qualities that allow us to relate and empathize with them, we
will fall in love with them and their story.
Which brings me to my next quandary: Would I even consider the question, how
tough is too tough for a HERO?
One of my favorite writers, Jane Austen, once said, "But when a young lady is to
be a heroine. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way." I love
that quote. In fact, it hangs on the wall of my living room. But what happens
when that hero doesn't find us? Are we to sit and wait? Consider this: By
pushing ourselves to become the heroine we've always wanted to be, we may
inadvertently attract the hero we've always wanted. Like recognizes like, right?
I believe we attract the very energy we give.
Excerpt from VIGILARE: Hell
Hound Acknowledgments: I'm a singer/songwriter in Austin, Texas. We were
tearing down from an acoustic gig one night, myself and my guitarist, John. I
grab up two rather heavy pieces of equipment, one in each hand. John says,
"Geez, Brooklyn. How very manly of you. You're making me feel bad here." My
response, accompanied by a chuckle, "I am not manly. I am capable." Divert to
the next gig. Once again, we're tearing down at the end of the night. I grab up
a few pieces of equipment. John holds the door for me, a grin across his face.
"Brooklyn, if I may say, you sure are capable," he says. Ha! My point: Thank you
to every competent, capable woman I have met in my walk of life. It is your
grace, your respect for yourself, and your ability to define yourself by your
own terms that inspires me to write about strong female characters. And to any
man fortunate enough to share his life with a competent, capable woman...thank
you for being strong enough and secure enough in yourself to walk beside her.
I don't think a heroine can be too tough. I love seeing a strong woman in books and movies. I love it to though when the guy helps the woman, when they work together :) Your book sounds great! Looking forward to reading it. (MaDonna Lemmen 12:50pm April 7, 2012)
I love a strong herione but i agree she has to be soft when it. Counts. (Lisa Kendall 1:12am April 7, 2012)
I wouldn't want to see a female lead be tough in a mean way or one that put down others. I am reading a book now with a heroine with a big chip in her shoulder. It is almost too much. If anyone tries to help or even be nice to her, she jumps down their throat. She is pushing the limit, but of course part of the story is her discovering she doesn't have to be on the defensive all the time. I think women have been held back for so long they seem to be bursting out now. Being the quiet, little woman waiting to be saved is an image we will no longer accept. The reality is that it wasn't true very often in history and isn't true now. There are many capable women out there and men have been threatened by them. Looking at women in leadership roles and the response to them is an indication. If they take an action a male would, they are pushy. If they are assertive, they are bitches. If they are introspective or compassionate, they are hormonal. Only secure men can accept women as equals and it doesn't look like there are enough of those around. thanks for an interesting post. (Patricia Barraclough 1:31am April 7, 2012)
she has to be strong but not to other wise the guys wouldn't to be with her (Patricia Kasner 2:07am April 7, 2012)
I think a heroine would be too tough if she acts too unkindly to everyone around her for no logical reason. If she were to have some type of abusive past, then it might be understandable. Otherwise, I love strong heroines who have that certain soft spot that makes them human. :) (Hyunjin Jeon 2:17am April 7, 2012)
I like a strong woman and one that knows how to take control when needed, yet show a softer side at times too. (Bonnie Capuano 7:30am April 7, 2012)
I think a heroine is too tough is she cannot be flexible. (Mary Preston 8:34am April 7, 2012)
I don't see what Katniss and your lead have in common. (Molly Wilsbacher 10:12am April 7, 2012)
I don't mind tough, but I don't want role reversals, where the guy is weak. The great thing about your reference to Hunger Games is both are heros. Peta has one goal, to get Katniss out alive, even if it means his death. That is a much being a hero as Katniss. Both represent rebelling against the capital. (Pam Howell 12:24pm April 7, 2012)
Women today have to be tough/strong in order to survive so I don't think there is any such thing as "too tough". How else could we deal with everything that is thrown our way? There will always be people that think differently than you and even those that call strength weakness. Write/be who you are comfortable with and screw the rest. :) Good luck and happy writing! (Tracie Travis 12:31pm April 7, 2012)
Sometimes a woman that is too tough will push men away from her because a man needs to feel manly. We need to be able to survive on our own but we don't want to make our men feel inadequate. (Kathleen Yohanna 12:51pm April 7, 2012)
i agree i dont think she should be to tough. women need to be tough today but i still think men want to be able to feel like they are the man in a relationship. i really love your books thanks for the oppertunity to enetr to win this great book!!! (Denise Smith 1:32pm April 7, 2012)
I appreciate a strong heroine and am thrilled that we find more of them in fiction now. However, I want them to be able to accept help when they need it just like what I want from the heroes I read about. (G. Bisbjerg 2:00pm April 7, 2012)
Sounds like a great combination of talents for a heroine. Blessings, Marjorie (Marjorie Carmony 2:16pm April 7, 2012)
Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I am enjoying your opinions. Good points here! I agree that a heroine does not have to be mean or unkind to others in her pursuit to be competent and successful. And yes, flexibility is a must for our heroines, as humility is a true asset in knowing we are not always right :) And that there are other ways to do things...heroines are never above being taught and accepting wisdom.
I love that many of you mentioned enjoying strong female leads and that you like them to work alongside the male leads...helping one another. That's what it's all about, right? In any relationship, be it friendship, family and/or a lover, it should be a team. A team is stronger than any one of its individual parts. Many of you brought up the fact that men still want to feel like men and be needed. I agree one-hundred-percent! And I feel, as women...our heroines want the same. Everybody, regardless of how strong and capable, needs a soft place to fall, even if only for a little while. And what better place than the comforting, encouraging, strong arms of a beautiful man. Especially if he wants/needs to do that for us to feel as though he is fulfilling his destiny.
I say beautiful man because it reminds me of my beau. The first time I told him he was beautiful, he said, "I don't know that I've ever been called beautiful. Can men be beautiful?" To which I replied, "Oh yeah. They're rare, but there are some beautiful men, baby." I know some folks may think calling a man beautiful sounds strange. Men are handsome, not beautiful, some may say. To me a beautiful man is an extraordinary man. He's not beautiful just because of his looks. He's beautiful because of who he is. A man is beautiful to me when he is strong enough to hold me when I need to be held and secure enough to let me hold him when the need arrises. Do you think men can be beautiful? What a makes a man beautiful to you? (Brookly James 2:44pm April 7, 2012)
It's never too tough so long as she knows when the tough has to step back and the women comes through. The same goes for the man. It's there and we know how and when to use it. :) This book sounds Fantastic! Thanks (Margie Gagarin 3:38pm April 7, 2012)
I don't mind reading about a tough, strong heroine since it's not unusual, since roles have changed over the years, with women holding jobs previously held by men and as single parent head of households. It's always nice to discover she may have a soft side, somewhere, that comes out in the story. I do think a man can be beautiful in many ways. Being helpful, loving, kind, considerate and thoughtful with gentleman mannerisms shown toward his partner. Yes, Extraordinary=Beautiful! This sounds like a great book! (Linda Luinstra 4:26pm April 7, 2012)
I think that every Heroine should have their strengths, as every woman does have their strengths in real life - we all feel the need to be self-sufficient, should we have to take care of ourselves if in a relationship, or if we are ready to take that leap of going off on our own. However, there is a thing as overdoing such a thing which makes a Woman begin to appear way too manly, and as such, unapproachable and almost in bad taste. It's fine to have those qualities, but men prefer to see the soft side, and I know I have that "butchy" side of me, but feel so much better and more comfortable in my skin when I can let my sexy side out, so to speak. Perhaps sexy wouldn't exactly be the right term, but you get the idea. Sexy or tender side, that shows she's more of a woman, but yet can take control of a situation should the need arise. To me, that's the ultimate woman or heroine!! (Peggy Roberson 4:28pm April 7, 2012)
I like strong characters, so a heroine can be tough or not. (Alyson Widen 5:24pm April 7, 2012)
I like strong female characters. They can have soft moments and be sensitive but I don't like characters who won't stand up for themselves. (Amber Hall 6:43pm April 7, 2012)
I enjoy having a strong feminine lead. (Pam Scott 6:53pm April 7, 2012)
I like strong female characters that are also smart. Your books sound great. (Tammy Yenalavitch 7:39pm April 7, 2012)
I agree, a woman does not have to over extend her toughness as though she is compensating for something. It's kind of like the old adage that there is no need to tell someone how good you are, let them find out for themselves through your actions, as actions always speak louder than words.
I love a heroine who is witty and charming, even feminine, yet carries herself with a subtle confidence. Like my Gina, in Vigilare...one would definitely notice her when she walks into a room. Not by the volume of her voice or the beauty of her presence, but by the cadence of her walk.
It reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman. It's so good, I have to share, at least the first stanza:
"Pretty women wonder where my secret lies, I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size. But when I start to tell them, They think I'm telling lies. I say: It's in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips. The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I'm a woman, Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me." (Brookly James 8:48pm April 7, 2012)
A heroine can never be too tough and when she meets her love in the story then she can bring out the woman . (Ann Thaxton 9:01am April 8, 2012)
Our heroines are always going to be tough but down to eather in our eyes. This is how we want them.. This sounds like a great read (Diane Castiglione 12:26pm April 8, 2012)
Thank you for your post, Brooklyn.
Can a woman be too tough for her culture? Yes. But can she be too tough in dealing with the hardships, challenges, injustices, and dangers she must confront? No! And that applies in both fiction and real life.
Good luck with the release of "Vigilare: Hell Hound". (Mary Anne Landers 1:18pm April 8, 2012)
Sounds like it's going to be a great book! Women have been dominated by men for a long time. It is time to show a tough woman who knows what she wants, even if it's not a turn on to a man. One of the titles I love-isn't from a book but movie that would have made a great book and it is "Enough." (Theresa Smith 9:37pm April 9, 2012)