Epic Women in Fantasy

We all know women in novels can be particularly susceptible to stereotypical characteristics. Even the most willful woman can be prone to a complete change in personality once Mr Hero steps onto the scene.

In fact, there’s even a test to see if women in books and movies are fairly represented. It’s called the Bechdel Test and it assesses if two women can have a conversation with each other where the topic doesn’t revolve around a male character. Next time you read a book or watch a movie, apply the Bechdel test. You’ll be surprised by how many fail.

But today is International Women’s Day. Today we celebrate women as their own entities – we celebrate their strength, ambition and what they’ve accomplished in leaps and bounds to progress society. And I want to celebrate some of my favourite female characters in fantasy who hold their own. They are strong, empowered, but are not without their flaws:

Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones

Every woman in Game of Thrones is a bad ass babe in her own way, but I can’t help but be drawn to Cersei. In a patriarchal world where her own family (husband, brother, father) try to quash her ambitions, she proves them wrong, time and time again and often under brutal circumstances, to rise as the victor.

George R R Martin was once asked how he writes women so well and differently. His response?

“You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.”

Boom, there it is! Women are subject to the same ambitions, strengths and pitfalls as men and CAN be written accordingly.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

I feel like Hermione was the character who made smart girls cool again. She proves you can enjoy books, learning and backing worthy causes while also having fun getting dressed up in pretty clothes and going to parties and then topping it all off by getting her wand dirty in epic battles. She proves that you don’t have to stick women in a single stereotype. Interests can be vast and one doesn’t have to preclude the others.

On a side note, Hermione’s actress, Emma Watson, is one of my favourite feminist activists. I love her inclusivity of all genders when calling for social change.

Surreal SaDiablo from The Black Jewels

The Black Jewels series is a feminist epic in itself, with role reversals that, at the time, tipped conventional gendered fantasy tropes on their heads. While female lead – Jaenelle – often falls prey to needing to be saved repeatedly by male characters, Surreal definitely makes my list of strong female characters in fantasy.

A prostitute and an assassin, Surreal turns the undesirability of the former occupation into a kick ass job that sees her assassinating some far-too ambitious foes. She does have weaknesses though, and she knows them which speaks to how much of a well rounded character she is.

Vin from Mistborn

Vin may start out as an underdog, but she’s a girl who knows how to work situations to her advantage. She’s the sort to have a quiet confidence, who can get the job done while others fumble through.

While I love Sanderson’s work, I do find his female characters often lack depth, but Vin holds her own and stays true to herself whilst rising through the ranks.

Cori from The Dragon’s Song

Yep, how could I go past my own creation? I wrote Cori with specific feminist goals in mind. She is empowered, but also headstrong. She doesn’t know when to back down from a fight and that’s a lesson she needs to learn.

She is surrounded by men, and as in real life, some empower her to be stronger while others try to bring her down. Her rise to power is not without its struggles, and I haven’t shied away from exploring these in my writing.

Do you have a favourite female lead? Share her in the comments!

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Emily is the author of The Dragon’s Song series – an epic fantasy in which human-born Cori finds herself thrust into a society outside her understanding and must fight to secure her place there, all while battling dragons that sabotage her dreams and rip her apart from the inside out.

You can read the first installment – The Dragon’s Throne – on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited now.

Avengers: Infinity War Review (Spoiler Free)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie in the cinema, so thought I’d celebrate the occasion with a review.

Opening day of Infinity War… Heck yeah this die hard Marvel (movie) fan was gonna be there!

This is a Spoiler free review so read on without qualms.

Now, I’ll start this off by suggesting that if you haven’t seen ALL the other Marvel movies, you best do that first to save yourself more than one ‘who dis?’ moment. Every superhero and their side kick features in this movie and at the pace it moves, there’s scarcely a moment for introductions, and there’s definitely no back stories offered.

The movie starts off flying and doesn’t slow down. Tender moments are rushed through or inturrupted and personal conflicts are resolved quickly and without a great deal of journey, thus giving the storyline a fairly superficial feel overall. Oddly enough it’s the antagonist, Thanos, who is given the greatest breathing room in terms of back story and character building and it’s he I felt drawn too rather than the superheros who, frankly, were getting around like headless chooks.

The Avengers themselves made new friends and many of them spent time running in squads that they don’t normally belong to. While it was fun to watch new interactions (Quill especially provided a bit of a laugh when meeting the Avengers, and I quite enjoyed the duo of Rocket and Thor), again, the rushed pace didn’t give the new relationships the time they deserved.

I’ll watch it again for the LOLs, but the formula did stick to the tried and tested Marvel style of witty one liners, big explosions and a male-heavy cast.

Overall though, the movie provided just enough dramatic tension and heart-string pulling to make it more than just a shoot-em-up comedy, and already I’m looking forward to what part two (yes, this movie is in parts apparently!) brings us.

Book Review: Like a Queen (Constance Hall)

I’ve never done a book review before and this one is outside my usual genre of reading, but I felt compelled to write about it.

Constance Hall has been creating quite a stir on the internet with her apologetically truthful posts about womanhood and parenting, as well as her movement towards the Queenhood of all women. And now she’s released an autobiography called LIKE A QUEEN which details her life, her family and her passions as a writer.

Constance is raw and flawed in a way that we can all relate to. She’s also incredibly funny. It’s hard not to read her stories without pissing yourself laughing (even more likely if you suffer postnatal incontinence). She talks of her children and the struggles – and triumphs – of being a mother four times over as well as the juggling (at almost a pro level) that is required to get them all through the day alive. She spills on her imperfect marriage and how she didn’t understand what love was until it was almost too late.

Her experiences are relatable, from her pretty regular (what is regular anyway?), though still fascinating upbringing, to her suffering of mummy guilt and how she discovered that this makes you a good parent (because shit and abusive parents wont suffer such things).

Did I mention that Con is fucking hilarious? She doesn’t hold back, detailing everything from the dreaded after-birth poo to the fully sexy (but not so sexy) romps that are an inevitable part of married life with kids. She explains the disappointment of husbands who are pretty fucking useless, but why we should love them anyway for giving the art of husbanding a red hot crack. She also gives zero fucks about having a clean house (a woman after my own heart) in favour of loving the fuck out of your kids.

But the best thing about this book is her mission for self empowerment and the empowerment of other women. Con has had some lows in her life, and she’s had her highs and through it all she’s discovered what it means to have self worth, to love yourself as you are and to love all other Queens as they are, despite whether their crowns are shiny or jagged, or have yet to be discovered. If you love yourself, Con says, then your children will grow to love themselves by way of your example. Others will gravitate to you because of your beautiful Queenly glow.

I’ve lately found myself following a few feminist pages on Facebook. Despite what some haters would have you believe, feminism can come in all shapes and sizes, with many missions and goals for the betterment of women all over the world. From Clementine Ford who unashamedly calls out the haters and the fucking piss weaks, who cops the blows on the chin in her quest to eradicate the ridiculous notions of the ‘not all men’ movements and to out those who partake in ‘harmless’ locker room banter to the Emma Watsons of the world who strive for equality on a global stage by raising awareness that women’s rights are not just a women’s issue. I admire them all for their bravery to cop flack to better the world and continue the fight for women everywhere.

Con is no different. She calls for her Queens to band together, to break free of the habits we’ve fallen into where we as women tear each other to shreds for the decisions we have to make. Whether we’re great at something, or struggling just to get through each day, we should offer a smile and a hand to our fellow Queens. Tell them we care and empower them to hold their heads a little bit higher.SOFT_COPY_large_78a44926-0865-4317-b4b5-1fefd452cec6_large.png

Like a Queen is a must read for all women, whether they are young Queens trying to make their way in the world, or seasoned Queens who want to reminisce on those days. It’s a book for mummies of one, mummies of five or those soon to be mumma bears. It’s a book for wives, sisters and daughters. It’s a book for anyone who wants to join the Queenhood of awesome self empowerment and the unity of women across the world.

And if you don’t want to read the book, at least follow Constance’s Facebook page. She’ll have you in fucking stitches with her antics.

Character Profiling: The Leaders

I thought I would do a little profiling on some of my characters from The Dragon’s Song Series. Many of my characters are leaders at various points of time so here is a little about each of their leadership styles. I’ve also included likeness pictures of each character, which were sourced from Pinterest.

Rowan – The Intimidator

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Rowan seeks submission from his followers by intimidating them. While he dislikes the way they tend to worship him, he allows it as he finds it easier to sway them to do what he wants (unless he’s in their heads, forcing them to do his bidding anyway).

If looks could kill… Rowan has only cemented his position as a ruler that only a fool would reckon with by effortlessly maintaining the aura of being aloof. He commands respect out of fear of what he could do, without needing to take any action at all.

Oddly enough, his follows responded well to him. Despite his reluctance to engage with any of them, they actively seek his favour and speak well of him as a leader. He is frightening, but fair. He maintained peace in the realm for a thousand years.

Cori – The Tyrant

002c4d10dbd146a63c165c47779ff90bCori took the reins of the realm at a time of great unrest. She was dogged by enemies who sought to undermine her rule and take the realm for themselves. She fought back with brute strength and killed all who opposed her in a horrifying manner, earning herself a bloody and fearsome reputation.

Cori doesn’t take advice well and prefers to eliminate competition by removing limbs rather than succumbing to diplomacy. She vehemently hates being an authority and only remained at the helm for so long due to some twisted sense of loyalty to the former Karalis.

Though she is cursed and feared in equal measure, she also has a following among the common folk whom she protects by eliminating any who seek to gain authority over them.

Orin – The Strategist

ed2e4a4b10f8adfea6e015591fd7bd07Once Orin took his father’s place as Head of State, he fell quickly into a strategist role. With so many border skirmishes happening across Tauta, and Cori being in the thick of most of them, Orin had to keep one step ahead of the game to anticipate both the needs of the realm and the enemy’s next move.

When dragged into war, he is brutal and unforgiving, but to his own people he is fair and protective. They are loyal to him without question and Resso flourished under his guidance.

Orin relies heavily on his Advisors when planning his strategies. He valued the input of those with more experience than he and is able to make sound judgements based on this.

Jarrah – The Manipulator

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Constrained by her own people’s ideals and lack of authoritative figures, Jarrah has always been careful in how she sways those around her to her cause.

The oldest Dijem elder remaining after the Last Fight, Jarrah was quietly pleased when the younger of her people began turning to her for guidance. She is able to take advantage of their trust in her to suit her own purposes.

In saying this, Jarrah is not an evil person. She genuinely wants to better the lives of the Dijem in her House, and any others who will accept her help. She is fiercely protective of her own and will let nothing stand in her way of discovering the true nature of those who seek to hide from her.

Adro – The democrat

f77bc61e565883f66f563edfb5b0b2c1Adro thrives on bureaucracy and trade agreements. He is very inclusive of anyone who wants to be involved and maintains a flat hierarchical structure within his team. He prefers to solve disagreements with words rather than weapons (though he is partial to a good pub brawl on his rare nights off) and has managed to sign more trade alliances with other nations than any other ruler of Tauta.

Though he is more than capable of running things on his own, he allows for regular public feedback on any projects that he plans to implement and respects the decisions of those he’s asked when they veto his ideas.

Adro is a firm believer in always doing things better and provides generous funding to scholarly pursuits, medical research and economic advancement.

His followers have a healthy respect for him, though they are known to speak outside their station, as allowed by Adro. He’s known to work too much and neglects other aspects such as family and health.

Cadmus – The Visionary

044fc971677792ed38d7f1213646c0bcPhilosopher turned action taker, Cadmus had a clear idea of how the realm should run, particularly with him at its head. His methods of control leave some things to be desired and he puts much space between himself and any unorthadox actions that are carried out on his behalf.

He wants to make Tauta great again, with Dijem in a position of power and influence. He believes that those who live the longest can better teach those who don’t. Tauta is merely a stepping stone and eventually he intends to have the whole world under his authority.

The Possessive – A Teaser

The below is an excerpt from The Possessive, a Vampire/Witch romance now available on Radish Fiction.

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She took both bottle and glass to the lounge room and dropped down onto the lounge, kicking her feet up onto the glass coffee table. She sipped the wine and pulled her laptop into her lap. She opened the lid and stared at the website that she’d been stalking for two weeks now.

Eli Damiani, CEO of the entertainment industry’s shining star SinCorp, has announced the purchase of five new land holdings across City Central and Hamilton Bay and says that SinCorp plans to use at least three of these holdings to open new nightclubs.

Despite vocal objections from local lobby groups that insist Damiani is creating a culture of ‘booze and strippers’ in otherwise upper class neighbourhoods, stock prices for SinCorp have soared to over $121.61 per share.

Soph let her eyes drift from the article that she’d already read a dozen times to the accompanying picture. Eli Damiani stared back at her, his arms crossed over his chest and a knowing smirk on his lips.

In the two weeks since they’d had drinks together she’d only seen him a handful of times across the street. He’d never noticed her. She sighed and opened a new browser. Maybe she should Google Marco instead.

A loud crash behind her made her jump and someone began hammering on her door. She lurched to her feet to open it, aware in the back of her mind of the fact that her doorman, Harvey, hadn’t buzzed her to tell her someone was coming up.

She put her hand on the door knob and felt her amulet flare hot against her chest. The warning didn’t deter her; she pulled the door open.

Eli was there, his dark hair in a tousled – as if he’d been running – and his eyes wild with panic. His chest heaved and he was braced against the door frame as if some invisible force was stopping him from coming inside.

Beyond him, she could see that the door to the fire exit had been almost ripped from its hinges and from within she could hear a guttural shriek echoing up the stairwell. It was coming closer.

“Soph,” Eli begged, his voice hoarse, “please let me in.”

Writing Tip 01: Writing Realistic Relationships.

I’ll begin with a bit of a rant.

A big problem I find in reading stories with relationships, particularly on Wattpad, is that they aren’t very realistic and therefore difficult to invest in. Some of the problems I’ve come across:

  1. Two people fall absolutely, devoutly in love faster than three day old pizza takes to heat up.
  2. A man is unnecessarily overprotective to the point of domestic abuse and the woman finds this romantic.
  3. The couple is perfect. They have no flaws, or disagreements. They have as many dimensions as The Simpsons.

Now how many relationships do you see like this in real life that aren’t shallow, violent or doomed for failure? None. (Feel free to mention your cousin’s dog’s brother’s mum and her boyfriend if you want to disagree.)

Now, with my (in)expert opinion, I will try to offer some tips on setting up realistic relationships in your stories.

Feelings take time to develop

Sure, there’s always that one weirdo who falls head over heels the moment he sees a gal, but for it to be reciprocated in such a way is unusual, and if it is, I call LUST. It’s cool for someone to start the relationship in their story this way, but I want to see ramifications -such as lack of compatibility – before the end!

Love isn’t always even

One person often loves the other more than is reciprocated, and that’s okay. It’s fine for one person to declare feelings to the other person before the second person is ready. It’s fine for one to dote on the other more than is returned. It’s fine for the person who loves more to wonder if/why they do love the other more, just as it’s fine for them not to care and to be confident in that adoration.

Overprotective is NOT romantic

You heard me. I said OVERprotective, not just protective. If you take a punch to the face for your girl to save hers the beating, that’s cool. Telling her she can’t wear a mini skirt to a nightclub because other dudes might take a looksie, that’s not cool. And it’s definitely not romantic.

Unfortunately, some women who get caught in these situations cannot see past the man. If this happens in a story, I expect her mother, friends and brothers to be telling her how it really is. They’re not stuck in the abusive relationship. They can SEE what’s going on and they better stand up and try and fix it. Not everyone loves an asshole.

Couples are symmetrical. NOT!

Couples who don’t fight? I call bullshit. Even if they don’t scream at each other, I would expect all couples to disagree on something, whether it be how the socks are folded, or if they have kids before they turn thirty or they don’t want to run with the same Alpha anymore. Disagreeing is okay, it shows that two people who are together are also individuals. In a story it gives them depth and something to work towards to strengthen their bond.

So there you go. Things that bother me when reading about couples and tips that may help you with yours in a tight spot. If you think there are other things that would make a couple more realistic, let me know. x