When I write strong female characters, I think of it more with the emphasis on strong character, creating heroines and female main characters that are strongly written, fleshed out and three dimensional. The character isn’t strong, necessarily, because of her physical abilities or emotional capacity. She is strong because the characterization is strong and complete.
Romance novels create a utopian relationship, critics often squawk. There aren’t any real men like this. Every reader or writer of the genre has heard the refrain in some way, shape or form and there’s a reason for that. It’s called sexism.
In the case of this book, I learned a little about what not to do.
Diversity in race, sexuality, socioeconomic background and more in YA books plays a fundamental role in providing young people with a sense of identity, belonging and validity. Most of the time.
Through that long and lasting journey, romance has cultivated a reputation. For the diehard enthusiast, it is a positive one – a love for books that represent female stories, friendships and love. For the uneducated, myths abound about the role of romance and how it impacts our world. I’d like to set a few of those straight.
Before we can avoid writing her, or accidentally scare ourselves into a corner and avoid writing women altogether, it’s important to ask: What exactly is a Mary Sue, and why don’t we want one?
The discussion is ongoing, but the panel was insightful, educational and full of actionable steps that authors, readers, and industry professionals can take to further an fully inclusive, fully intersectional romance genre.