When I look back through the years, thinking about where I found the inspiration and the drive to become a writer, it’s impossible not to think about my childhood. As the youngest of four kids, I spent countless hours chasing after my older brothers, trying to weasel my way into their Nerf games and Lego battles. (Sure, I have an older sister too, but the eight-year age gap between us was insurmountable in those days. Hence my never-ending chase to be included with the boys).
When the long summer days turned into dark winter ones, we’d all huddle in the living room watching movies. And
by movies, I mean war movies. All the war movies. Seriously. All of them. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Braveheart, but I think I should be an honorary Scott by now, lol. My brother’s were obsessed. How could they not be? Brave men palling about and saving the day and getting the girl– what’s not to like? Men and boys like them belonged in those tales.
And though I still have a soft spot for these types of films, they left me wondering; where was my place? What women populated these films were beautiful, sure. But fragile. Flat. They were destined to wait in lonely towers for their brave loves to return. Or worse, their deaths were what drove the hero into action (because being a decent human isn’t enough of a reason to fight against a great evil???)
Was that what being a woman meant?
For a long time I carried this notion within me. That beauty meant frailty. That softness equals weakness. And that by extension, I could be strong, but not pretty. Smart but not funny. It was a world filled with choices.
And then I found books!
I had the wonderful luck to come of age just as Young Adult fiction as we know it came into being on the backs of Harry Potter and Twilight. I learned to wield a sword with Alanna. Clung to a love of learning with Hermione. I fought necromancers with Sabriel, rode through vast green forests with Karigan. whole world of new voices were coming to life. Voices who said that you didn’t have to chose- to live your life within the boundary of or. You can be pretty and strong and smart and yes, you can even be angry!
To say it was liberating is an understatement, and it undoubtedly changed my life. The girls and women both in and behind those books gave me the strength to dream bigger and further than I ever thought possible. And they still do.
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