[ Show Background ]
Subscribe to Blog RSS Feed
Subscribe to Blog RSS Feed  

Beyond Saga Blog / News

The Female Lead Protagonist

Posted by author on 10/23/2014 8:23:59 PM

Brooke Davis, the main character in science fiction novel Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg SpryA number of people have asked me why Beyond Cloud Nine and many of my other stories feature female main protagonists. This is a pretty interesting question, so I gave it some thought, dug deep, and came up with several reasons.

First, I think my natural inclination toward writing about a female lead began with the boyhood crushes I had on the strong women in the shows, movies, books, and comics I immersed myself in at a young age. The heroines of Anime particularly captivated me as a prepubescent, back before I understood why, if you know what I mean. Characters like Lisa Hayes, Lynn Minmay, and Rook Bartley from Robotech were not only sexy (as sexy as animated characters can be, anyway), but they played major roles in determining the fate of the universe. Same with the strong-minded pilot of the blue lion, Princess Allura, who refused to be left out of the action while the other boys formed Voltron. Or how about the high-tech armored gals of Bubblegum Crisis. As I got a little older, slightly more sophisticated series with heroines like the Major from Ghost in the Shell continued to compel me. Atypical influences for a sci-fi author now writing for an adult audience, to be sure. Of course, there were many more strong female characters in live action shows and movies, too. Therefore, I got used to the ladies playing major roles early on, and my interest in them has only increased over the years.

Second, from the standpoints of uniqueness, marketing, and history, the heroine hasn't been (over)done as much as the hero. Traditionally, the man is the knight in shining armor and the woman is the damsel in distress, but as women have gained more equality in modern times, so too have the roles flipped. Lately, there have been more and more female leads in major books and movies (Katniss in the Hunger Games and Scarlett Johansson in Lucy are just two of many recent examples). Still, there remain far more stories where guys take the lead.

Now, don't get the wrong idea. I never set out to become an advocate for women's rights. If somebody benefits from my writing, that's a good thing, but that's not my purpose. Rather, I simply believe in mixing things up. For example, we've all seen the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants male fighter jock. Tom Cruise basically set the standard as Maverick in Top Gun. It's been done, and we know that character all-too-well. But while we've more recently seen Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galactica series, the female fighter pilot hasn't been done nearly as much. Years before the new BSG aired, I wondered what one of my favorite Anime shows, Macross Plus, might be like with a female lead, and Brooke Davis and Beyond Cloud Nine were born. I believe putting a woman in the cockpit gives the story a very different and more unique feel.

Here's some more food for thought. Have you ever thought about Princess Leia's role in Star Wars? In my view, she gets the short end of the light saber. Both Luke and Leia are twins, brother and sister. Why is Leia not training to be a Jedi with Yoda like Luke? Why can't Leia learn to use the Force as well as Luke? And why is Luke the one to go up against Darth Vader while Leia plays a substantially lesser role? Vader is her father, too. I know the siblings don't realize that they're related until Jedi, but still. There really isn't a good reason for her subordinate role that other than that we, as an audience, are used to seeing the guy take charge. Incidentally, this realization played a part in the conception of my novel Destalis and the casting of its sword-wielding heroine, Lyana.

Finally, let's get to the dirty, honest truth of the matter. I have more a practical and less noble reason for casting a female lead. Being a heterosexual male, and given that I spend multiple years focusing on a particular main protagonist for each book, each lead character might as well be an attractive woman. That's not to say that any of the ladies I've created necessarily match the type of woman I'd date in real life, but they're nevertheless compelling characters.

So there you have it. That's my reasoning. Let me know yours!