A (barely) belated Happy Book Birthday to Martha Wells, whose Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two came out yesterday! Martha has written over a dozen fantasy novels, and this particular series, Books of the Raksura, includes The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, The Siren Depths, and Stories of the Raksura Vo.l I as well as this new volume.
I asked Martha a few questions about her literary heroines. Here’s what she had to say:
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?
Okay, this is going to sound weird, but it was Erma Bombeck.
What qualities of hers captured your affections and your imagination so strongly?
My mother had her books, Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own, I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression, and The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank. I remember the first one attracted my attention (I was probably around ten, maybe younger) because it had cartoons in it by Bill Keane. I know I liked it at first because it was funny stories about a family, and I was an extremely lonely kid. But it was also probably my first realization that authors of books were a) real people, and b) could be women. Here was this woman who lived a normal life in the suburbs and was a wife and a mother, but she also had a career as a writer. I think this was my first inkling that me becoming a writer was possible, that it wasn’t an impossible thing to want.
How does she compare to the female characters in your work? Is she their literary ancestor? What might your own heroines owe her?
I think her sense of humor made a huge impression on me, and probably helped form how I do characterization and humor in my own books, probably more than I realize. I haven’t re-read those books since I was in college, and I still remember lines and scenes from them. And she was the hero of her own stories, the one who had to deal with everything and who made mistakes but got things done. So Erma Bombeck probably is the literary ancestor of my female heroes.
About this post: it has been awhile since I did an interview series, and I’ve been wanting to ask some of my colleagues and friends about their artistic influences and their heroines. I’m planning to arrange for you all to see answers to these three questions, and variations on them, popping up throughout the summer from a number of terrific authors. Enjoy! (Or, better yet, comment, tweet, and repost!)
More about Martha Wells: She is the author of The Wizard Hunters, and the nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer, as well as the YA fantasies, short stories, and non-fiction. She has had stories in Black Gate, Realms of Fantasy, Stargate Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and in the anthologies Elemental, Tales of the Emerald Serpent, and The Other Half of the Sky. She has also written the media-tie-ins, Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary, Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement, and Star Wars: Razor’s Edge. Her web site is www.marthawells.com.
Only three questions? 🙂
Erma Brombeck. Nope, didn’t see THAT answer coming.
I suspect there’s a generation of girls who remember Bombeck being in their mothers’ bookshelf, and they were very accessible and funny.