Today is the Kick-Ass Girls of YA Blog Hop, where we’re talking about pretty much anything involving strong female characters in young adult books. But strength doesn’t always look alike. And strength isn’t the absence of flaws (perfect characters are boring).
In my 1918 mystery, I have two awesome girls who demonstrate two different kinds of strength. They’re so different and, at first, so unable to imagine what the other is thinking, that they start out the book hating each other.
Emmie’s the protagonist and point of view character. She’s living in a world where the odds are stacked against her–and all women–and she’s not afraid to push back and stand up for herself and her gender. Emmie has been lucky enough to be raised in a family of suffrage activists, a family that has been unfailingly supportive and loving, and also well-off enough to pursue their progressive causes. As a result, she has a strong sense of civic duty, but is more than a little ignorant of her own privilege. Her personality also has a heavy dose of recklessness. If you tell her to stay in one room, she’s apt to run upstairs when your back is turned and find a murder scene.
Dessa also comes from an economically privileged family, but the two families couldn’t be more politically different. Dessa is aloof, reserved, and cautious to a fault. To Emmie, in a word: frustrating. And Emmie’s got a big beef with her for getting her in trouble at school. But Dessa is a bit mysterious. She’s got secrets and good reasons for protecting them. Will she find her own strength?
Below is a short excerpt of an early scene when Emmie starts to realize there’s more to Dessa than Dessa lets herself show to the world…and that something is very wrong in their little town.
I pressed my nose to the glass. What on earth was she still doing out at this time of night? She passed the house, heading toward the center of town. I wondered how she’d like it if I tattled on her for once. Her family had a telephone. A few moments to call would be all it would take. But I stopped, shook my head. I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of getting me to stoop to her level.
Someone else stepped into the road, a bit behind Dessa. They were both so far away, I couldn’t make out any features of the person. They wore trousers, but that was no guarantee they were male. Whoever they were, they sped up, approaching Dessa at a pace that left me cold. I threw the window open, but then hesitated.
I wasn’t afraid of stepping out onto the tree branch. Nothing like that. I simply had a healthy dose of caution around second story windows and spindly, oh-so-breakable branches and possible falls to my death. The window was large enough that my original idea was to take the transition from house to branch standing, but my legs wobbled a little too much for that. I sat, derriere on desk, legs hanging out the window. I scooted forward. The world shook. I stopped, gripping the edges of the window hard.
If you’d like to find out more about these two kick-butt characters, you can read The Poison in All of Us for free!
Winter breaks are supposed to be exciting, but this one is murder.
A novella of suffragists and secrets.
In December 1918, sixteen-year-old Emmie McAllister was supposed to be fixing her motorcycle and gently getting on her mother’s nerves, but when she and her boarding school rival Dessa stumble across the murdered body of her town’s most prominent suffragist, the holidays take a darker turn.
But the more they poke around, the harder life gets for outspoken women in town. With a mysterious stalker, anonymous threats, and more, if Emmie and Dessa don’t work together and find the culprit quickly, they could be the next victims.
And do check out all the blogs on the hop today!