Charlene Challenger tackles the Heroine Question

Posted on July 8, 2015 by

20140728_180543Charlene Challenger is a writer and graduate of Ryerson Theatre School. Her first novel, the young adult fantasy The Voices in Between, was published by Tightrope Books in 2014. Her work is also featured in Stone Skin Press’s Gods, Memes and Monsters: A 21st Century Bestiary. She is currently working on the sequel to Voices. She lives in Toronto. You can find her online at www.charlene-challenger.tumblr.com.
I asked her: 

Is there a literary heroine on whom you imprinted as a child? A first love, a person you wanted to become as an adult, a heroic girl or woman you pretended to be on the playground at recess?

Who was she? Honestly? Cinderella. She seemed so perfect, so wonderful, and she didn’t even have to try. She endured abuse and emerged triumphant, with a handsome prince and a kingdom of her own.

Can you remember what it was she did or what qualities she had that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly?

She was what I thought I had to be as a child: beautiful, sweet-natured, effortlessly kind.

How does she compare to the female characters in your work? Is she their literary ancestor? Do they rebel against all she stands for? What might your heroines owe her?

My characters certainly owe their ability to face adversity to Cinderella. But they never go gently into that good night. They’re not always graceful, they’re not always kind. And they’re never defined by their beauty (or lack thereof).

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About this post: The Heroine Question is my name for a series of short interviews with female writers about their favorite characters and literary influences. Clicking the link will take you to all the other interviews, with awesome people like Jane Lindskold, Gemma Files, Caitlin Sweet, and Jessica Reisman.

Also about this post: A friend has recently asked about my use of the gendered word, heroine, in this series. I could have gone with hero, true, or “female heroes” since I was looking for female influences. To be honest, my initial inspiration came from my ever-mature desire to make tacky-sounding drug jokes: Gemma Files on Heroin! Oops! Heroine! That kind of thing.

I hope to get up a post that takes the answer further than “I pun, therefore I am.” And I have folded a question about this word into the later interviews; you’ll see other writers examining it, too, in a few weeks’ time.

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