Brit McGinnis is an author and freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She works in social media consulting and as the editor in chief of Fangirls Read It First. Her coverage of film and insider views of horror culture earned her the nickname of the Princess of Dread. Brit’s next nonfiction project is a memoir called “Film School Was Too Expensive.” Her next fiction project will involve ancient gods and skydiving.
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?
I absolutely imprinted on Sorcha, the lead heroine of Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. Most of my early adolescence was spent re-reading that book! Other than that, the main heroine of my childhood was Belle from Beauty and the Beast. So many bookworm role models, so little time.
What was it Sorcha did–what qualities did she have that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly?
Sorcha was such a beautiful role model because she is both conflicted and committed. She is given a mission from the Queen of the Fairies and she leans into it. She knows what she has to do and is willing to do it. But she’s also emotionally conflicted about her mission and all the people that she comes across because of it. She is very brave and very strong. But she doesn’t see her emotions as detracting from that strength.
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 creations owe her?
Sorcha’s definitely the ancestor of most of my heroines. She is defiant when it makes sense for her to be, and acknowledges her own limitations. Just like Andy (the heroine of Maskheads), she longs for the simplicity of childhood and the simplicity that comes with that. Both of these ladies are fueled by (and are also magnetic to others) because of their single-mindedness. That’s also going to show up in later works, which I can’t talk about yet.
Mika from my first book (Romancing Brimstone
) is a bit more complicated, because she is emotional in a way that Andy certainly is not. I see her as a rebellion against the idea of Belle, or perhaps an honest portrayal of the frustration that maybe would have resulted from a Beauty and the Beast
type of arrangement in real life. She grows from passive to passionate, unafraid to express her anger and doubt her reasons for running away from her old life.
Bonus round: How do you feel about the word heroine? In these posts, I am specifically looking for authors’ female influences, whether those women they looked up to were other writers or Anne of Green Gables. Does the word heroine have a purpose that isn’t served by equally well by hero?
I love the word heroine because it suggests that women can be heroic without feeling that they have to be like men to do so. When I think of heroines, I think of both Xena and Scarlett O’Hara. They can be both strong and war-like or endlessly steadfast scrappers, but they are heroic in their own unique ways. I don’t like the idea of women only being seen as heroic if they are warriors. Not that female warriors shouldn’t exist, but I think a more nuanced definition serves everyone better.
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 allow you to browse all the other interviews, with awesome people like Linda Nagata, Kay Kenyon, and Louise Marley. If you prefer something more in the way of an actual index, it’s here.