All posts by Belinda Crawford

[D&B Vol. 1] Episode 0004

‘Sword Uthor!’ She barely heard Della yelling behind her, deliberately shut her ears to the power of her friend’s voice, to the command in the name she’d left behind when she’d stuck a knife in her own heart and launched herself into new life.

Not again. Not again. Not again. The chant matched the pound of her feet. Nurses scattered before her, adding their voices to Della’s command to stop. But she wouldn’t, not after the things she’d seen. Oh Powers, the things she’d seen. 

Byrne burst through the doors at the end of the long hall, ignoring the “No admittance” emblazoned across the front. There were more yells, a man hurrying towards her, white coat  flapping, another in the solid blue of a police uniform starting with surprise, hand falling to the gun at his hip. 

She let it flow around her, concentrating on the solid pulse in her chest, the link only a Sword could feel, the one that drew her to her sisters. A window separated her from the emergency care ward, beds and the quiet hush machinery, some occupied, others not and there, there a pale blue curtain blocking the view at the end of the room.

The doctor stepped in her way, towering over her. There was compassion on his face, buried under the anger as he reached for her—

She put him on the ground, stepping over his body as he wheezed for air, already rushing the police officer as his gun cleared its holster. He hit the nurses station, back sliding down the shiny white front before his arse smacked the floor, gasping for air like the first, pieces of his weapon shattered around him.

The curtain at the back of the ward called her, the hot pulse behind her breastbone telling her to hurry. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. 

Byrne ripped the fabric aside.

Sunmetal didn’t glint or glow. In the grip of one of the royal blood it burned, a ravenous flame fit to rival a star, just like the tip of the dagger hovering over Nova’s chest.

Fear obliterated moderation and Byrne sent her youngest sister crashing into the wall. The dagger fell from Suun’s hands and Byrne caught it on reflex, snatching the burning metal out of the air. It turned black in her hands, the fire eating itself until nothing by but the pitiless cold of space remained.

In the hands of the blood sunmetal burned, but in her hands, the hand of the royal Bastard, it wasn’t flame that licked the metal.

Nova slept, her long black hair arranged in one of Suun’s careful braids, her face a mass of bruises, her right arm an ugly stump wrapped in bandages. 

‘It’s what she wants Byrne.’ Suun’s soft voice drew her gaze to the floor, to the baby sister she’d sworn to protect with her last breath. 

Eyes as soft as her voice, and as dark as the blade in Byrne’s hand gazed steadily back. No reproach, no anger, just a steady, soul deep understanding that cut deeper than any recrimination. Not for the first time, Byrne wondered if Suun had seen the horrors she had, felt the pain, the fear in the time between lives.

‘It’s not what I want,’ Byrne said.

Boots pounded behind her, sharp clack of authority and danger that reminded her of long-ago barracks full of soldiers. Reinforcements had arrived, come to take her away, yelling at her to drop the weapon and get on her knees. She let the dagger fall, touched the cold floor with her knees, but her gaze never broke from Suun’s.

‘When Nova wakes up, tell her to do whatever she wants.’ Byrne said as rough hands grabbed her arms. ‘But I’m not going to follow.’

Byrne had time to see Suun’s complexion turned a whiter shade of ghastly, before the hands pulled her up and marched her out of the hospital.


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

I sense something strange about Byrne, something to do with why sunmetal turns black and cold in her hand, while it burns gold when one of her sisters touches it. 

What do you think this strangeness might be?

 

 

 

 

[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 003

Another lifetime. Another war they couldn’t win because her sister and Empress fell for the same pretty face.

Suun had kept Nova alive long enough for the paramedics to find them. The woman and her partner had both had the calm, stoic expressions of those who had seen it all, but Byrne had recognised the slightly too-wide eyes and pale sheen of shock as they’d half-jogged into the gym showers. 

There’d been a handful of seconds where all they did was stare, eyes agog at the four teens in their battle-stained uniforms, before Della had laid a hand on their shoulders. The paramedics had gone about their work then, not seeing the incor stains or claw marks, just like the people around Byrne didn’t see them now. 

The hospital beeped and rustled soft-footed nurses rushing past her in a sea of pale blue and white, the doctors striding past with coats flapping, cocooned in their bubble of command.

She knew that feeling, the confidence of power, the rush of command, remembered it well from that lifetime when she’d wielded the might of a legion in her sister’s name. Remembered too the crushing despair when she held Nova’s body in her arms as the Imperial city burned around her, the strength of its armies laid to waste by her sister’s indiscretion.

And now…now she stood in a hospital ward while the Hordes paced beyond the Veil and her sister struggled to breathe. 

‘We were meant to do it better,’ Byrne said to herself. 

‘We will.’ Della wrapped a hand around Byrne’s arm, hugging it tight to her chest. ‘We know Tellamoth’s true face now, and I know once we complete the ritual, we’ll recognise it in the next life—’

Byrne ripped her arm out of Della’s embrace, horror stopping her heart, making her voice shrill. ‘What?’

The next life? Their lives were now the threat was here. There was no guarantee if they performed the ritual, committed themselves to another go at the Wheel that they would recall anything in another life. 

Byrne remembered the most out of all of them, fragments of memory and snippets of knowledge that pressed against her brain and haunted her nights. Every day the weight of it threatened to swallow her whole, every night she dreamed of blood and terror. And never did she remember enough or soon enough to prevent the same sorry tragedies. 

Even now, she recalled Della as she had been before, tall and statuesque, raven hair cascading down her back, arms banded in the golden marks of a priestess, screaming as the power of the universe pulled her apart molecule-by-molecule. 

Della reached for her again, big dark eyes soft but steady, hiding the thread of steel Byrne knew lurked behind. ‘It was Her last order Byrne.’ 

Byrne shuddered at the way Della’s voice seemed to echo when she used the Imperial ‘Her’, worked to push back the memories of echoing marble corridors and a sea of bowed heads as she stood to the left and two steps behind Nova. Pain and regret swamped her senses, made it difficult for her to concentrate on the here and now, and maybe Della knew that, counted on it even because her next words barely penetrated the haze of memory. 

‘Suun’s with Her now.’

Byrne ripped herself out of the memory. ‘No.’ The colour left her cheeks, she felt the blood drain to her feet but the dizzy rush didn’t stop her from spinning on her heel and sprinting down the corridor.


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

What is Suun doing to Nova and what’s Byrne going to do about it? What kind of empire do you think Nova ruled?

[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 002

The lockers were crumpled and torn; doors shredded by massive talons and scorched by fire bolts, an entire row buckled around the impression of a body, the faded yellow paint smudged with blood. A lot of blood, and under it the shattered remnants of a sword, the rippling sunmetal dull and lifeless, splattered with the same blood that coated the lockers.

A trail of it led through the rest of the minefield,  a scarlet swath just big enough to have been made by her sister’s body. 

Byrne starred at it, hypnotised by the bright red, the way it wended through the charcoal and splinters that were the only remains of the heavy wooden benches and pooled in the ceramic crater at the end, before it continued into the showers.

Della’s hand tightened on hers, a silent gesture of comfort Byrne shook off, along with the dread spiralling in her gut.

Her boots made a solid clack on the tiles.

Where the locker room had been a battlefield, the showers with their half dozen spigots jutting from the wall and barest suggestion of privacy, where…not. There was a stillness, a sense of peace that struck her like a blade to the chest.

Fion stood at the end furthest from the door, arms crossed over her chest, the long blue tail of her mohawk snarled and blacked by the same blood crusting on Byrne’s own battleskirt. She looked up in a slow, jerky motion, like the effort to tear her gaze from whatever lay in the last cubicle hurt. Perhaps it did. Tears had made tracks on her face, long black lines of mascara running through the grime on her cheeks, and she had her thumb between her teeth, ripping into the nail until it bled. 

She stepped back at Byrne’s approach, pressing her back into the wall. Vaguely, Byrne was aware of Fion reaching out, of Della wrapping the other girl in her arms, but most of her attention was on the bloody tangle of limbs slumped under the shower. 

Suun knelt beside their sister, glowing hands over Nova’s chest, expression tight with strain as she fought to keep her alive. How much longer she could, Byrne didn’t know. Their sister was…mangled.

Nova’s legs were stretched out before her. One boot was gone, exposing the talon marks ripping her leg from calf to thigh, bone gleaming a stark white amidst bloody flesh, while her other leg…Byrne swallowed. 

The lower half was bent the wrong way, like someone had taken a sledgehammer to her sister’s shin, snapping it in the middle.

The damage continued the further up Byrne dragged her gaze. Nova’s golden battleskirt and the skintight armour underneath were shredded, the bloody marks in her sister’s skin too neat to have been made by claws. One shoulder hung awkwardly and there were just bones where her hand should have been, her forearm ending in an almost cauterised stump.

Nova’s head lolled but she straightened it, gazing at Byrne with eyes that had once blazed like the sun but were now a dull brown. Blood bubbled at her mouth, the froth trickling down her chin to drip onto her chest and pool around the shattered remnants of the golden medallion that should have protected her.

‘I told you.’ The words left Byrne’s mouth, ripe with the resentment and pain writhing in her chest. ‘When will you listen?’

Nova smiled, the expression revealing the gaping holes where her front teeth should have been. ‘In another lifetime sister.’

Resentment flared to anger and Byrne darted forwards, boots splashing in the mix of water and her sister’s blood as she crouched at Nova’s side. ‘This is another lifetime.’

 


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

Thanks to everyone who sent me their suggestions after the last episode! You inspired me, although maybe not in the way you thought. Check out the episode notes to find out why I responded to your ideas the way I did.

Episode notes

Now, onto this episodes’s question!
I’m struggling a little bit with whether or not Nova lives. I thought it might be kinda cool if she survived but minus the hand and with issues walking. Or maybe it would be a greater tragedy if she died? What are your thoughts?

And hey, what do you think of Byrne’s comment that “this is another lifetime”?

 

[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 001

The staff drove through the demon’s chest with a wet crack. Dark blood splashed up the soldier’s leg, the thick black stuff sizzling on boots and flesh, the faint skin of magic that was her only armour no longer as strong as it had been at the start of the long battle.

She put her foot to the creature’s chest and yanked the end of the staff free. The crescent at the other end shone in the moonlight, sharp prongs black with the same blood that coated her arms and stained the short hem of her battleskirt.

The last faint screams of the dying filled the once-green field. The neat white lines Coach Oldfield had obsessed over were obliterated by talons and the blast tracks on spells, the goal posts broken where they weren’t piles of ash, the stadium seats crushed under the weight of demon steeds, massive bat-like wings shredded by her sister’s lightning.

The sun would rise soon, shredding the demons hard shells and serrated talons like a bull through fog, leaving another scarred battlefield in a town suddenly too full of battlefields.

A shimmer of bells teased her ears before the moonlight coalesced beside her.

‘Byrne?’ Della appeared out of the soft light, her best friend’s dark skin rendered darker by the grime and blood smeared across her broad cheeks and full lips. Della’s skirt and bodice were as stained as her own, but there was blood her gloves, soaking the white fabric a screaming red. ‘Nova needs you,’ she said.

Nova needs you not Nova wants you. The difference reopened the pit in her stomach, the one she’d been filling with demon corpses and the taste of blood.

She didn’t want to go, didn’t want to see what Tellamoth had done to her sister’s face, her body.

‘Byrne?’ There was sorrow in Della’s voice but steel too, something that said if she didn’t come, her best friend would make her.

Grip tightening on her staff, she gave Della her hand.

 


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for an extra peek behind the scenes!

Question time

Okay, so the big question is who is Tellamoth? I have a few ideas but I’m looking for some more suggestions. So far, people seem to feel Tellamoth is a superior in the demon army but I’m not so sure. I’m also tossing up as to their gender.

What are your thoughts?

 

Cookies!

Super yummy writing food.

I came across this last year while making Christmas presents for the relatives and it’s quickly become one of my favourites.

It’s ridiculously easy and quick to make, and the best part, you can switch out the fillings to make different cookies! I’m think my next batch are going to be triple chocolate marshmallow cookies.

Awesome Cookies

They're quick, they're easy, they're delicious, they're totally awesome cookies!! Plus, you can add any filling you'd like.

Course Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 9 cookies

Ingredients

Dry ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar castor or other fine-grained sugar
  • 1/3 to 1 cup filling sultanas, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc

Wet ingredients

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 190ºC.

  2. Add all of the dry ingredients in a medium or large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

  3. Mix in the melted butter, vanilla and beaten egg. The dough should come together enough to form into balls. If it doesn't, add milk a dribble at a time until you can. 

  4. Line a baking tray with baking/greaseproof paper.

  5. Roll dough into 1-inch (golf-sized) balls and place 2 inches apart on tray. The cookies will spread during cooking and will merge if you place them too close together. If they do, don't worry, you can gently separate them with a knife when they come out of the oven.

  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

  7. Remove from oven. At this stage, the cookies are still soft and you can easily separate any merged ones with a knife, just don't try to move them yet!

  8. Let the cookies cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.

Recipe Notes

Cookie Variants

The best thing about this recipe is how adaptable it is. Chuck in a 1/3 cup M&Ms for delicious chocolatey-ness or, my personal favourite: 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon & 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. Yum!

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious's M&M Cookies In A Jar.

 What sort of cookies did you make?

 

My NaNoWriMo Quest

It’s the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I’m a third of the way through my daily goal (wipes sweaty forehead). By the time I’ve finished this post, I’ll be over halfway and then the hard stuff will begin.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with NaNo. I love the idea of writing a book in a month, but I hate the pressure that comes with trying to pump out 1,667 words a day. In my experience pressure does not make diamonds, or even a poorly written first draft. Instead, all I end up with is a heaping mass of frustration and self-flagellation.

It’s an issue and it’s ticking me off.

It’s taken me three novels, seven years and many, many hours of pouring over books with titles like How to Write a Novel in Ten Days2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love and 5,000 Words Per Hour, imagining the day when I too would become a book-writing machine, but I think I’ve figured out the problem. Part of it is, I’m really bad at doing one thing at a time. If you could see my brain, it’d resemble an over-caffeinated magpie on a gallon of red cordial in a forest of mirrors. So many shiny things to investigate.

Like, right now, I’m writing this, watching Man vs Food⁠1 and thinking about what I’m making for dinner tonight.

This year, I’m taking a different tack for NaNo. My NaNoWriMo will be less about the 50k-words and more about developing good writing habits while exploring ways to increase my productivity. Currently, the experiment involves having multiple projects on the go at once, doing a little bit of each every day.

The idea behind the method is to keep my motivation high by having smaller tasks that are easy to accomplish, while also ticking off some of the things stacking up on my to-do list.

My projects for NaNo 2017 are:

  • finishing Regan, the final book in the Hero Rebellion (grab a sneak peek!)
  • writing 30 blog posts, and
  • writing a short story set in the Hero Rebellion universe.

The plan is to revise 2000 words of Regan, write a 500-word blog post and 700-words of the shorty short (or shorty, as I often find myself calling them), every day of November.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

The hardest bit will be the shorty. At the moment, I feel about as creative as cardboard, the really boring brown kind they use for packing boxes. Hopefully, I can kick that feeling and turn the cardboard into a really cool spaceship, or a race track. (That’s a clue BTW. Racetrack. Hero. Think about it.)

Tally for today, I’ve spent three hours on the couch and done my first two tasks. Not bad, but not great either. Will shoot for better tomorrow.

 

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1 Watching TV while writing has to be one of the most inefficient ways to write. I don’t recommend it, but if you can’t help yourself, the Food Channel is awesome.

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Sci-fi books on my TBR pile

Like a lot of bookworms, my to-be-read pile is huge, like monster kanji huge. Genre-wise there’s just about everything in there, from romance to action, crime and (of course) almost every shade of sci-fi and fantasy you can imagine. Here are a few of the sci-fi ones I’m really looking forward to reading.

Descriptions from Amazon and Kobo.

 

Draekora (Lynette Noni)

Cover of Draekora by Lynette Noni“I swear by the stars that you and the others slain tonight will be the first of many. Of that you have my word.”

With Aven Dalmarta now hiding in the shadows of Meya, Alex is desperate to save Jordan and keep the Rebel Prince from taking more lives.

Training day and night to master the enhanced immortal blood in her veins, Alex undertakes a dangerous Meyarin warrior trial that separates her from those she loves and leaves her stranded in a place where nothing is as it should be.

As friends become enemies and enemies become friends, Alex must decide who to trust as powerful new allies—and adversaries—push her towards a future of either light… or darkness.

One way or another, the world will change…

My thoughts
Strickly speaking, I’ve already started reading Draekora but I’d barely started chapter three before I was sidetracked, so it’s back on the TBR pile. I enjoyed the first two books in this series but the third (so far) is a little so-so, still I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

Cold Welcome (Elizabeth Moon)

Cover of Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon
Admiral Ky Vatta should return to her childhood home a war hero, but on the way her shuttle is downed by sabotage.
Marooned in a hostile landscape it’ll take every bit of wit, skill and luck she can muster to lead her fellow survivors to safety, knowing that the mysterious enemies who destroyed the ship are on the hunt, and may have an agent in the group ready to finish the job at any moment. And was the sabotage an attempt on Ky’s own life, or someone else’s?

My thoughts
I LOVE SPACE OPERA! But moving on… I picked this beauty up when I was on holiday in New Zealand. I really enjoyed the earlier series (Vatta’s War), featuring the same universe and characters and I just could resist picking up this one when I saw it. Expecting lots of action and a butt-kicking heroine.

Star Wars: Ahsoka (E.K. Johnston)

Cover of Star Wars: Ahsoka by EK JohnstonFans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance…

My thoughts
I have three words for you. Star. Wars. Ahsoka. Or, if you’re one of those rare individuals who’ve never heard of Star Wars, awesome butt-kicking heroine with glowy swords! ‘Nuff said.

P.S. I totally want a poster-sized version of that cover.

Over to you

What sci-fi books are on your TBR pile? Any new ones coming out, or maybe an old favourite you’re itching to re-read?

Thoughtful & sparing: Jenna O’Connell on Romance & YA Heroines

As a publicist, editor and occasional slush-pile reader, Jenna O’Connell doesn’t just know books, but the ins and outs of getting them on bookstore shelves and into readers’ hands.

BELINDA: Hot topic first. Do you think love is killing the teenage heroine and why?

JENNA: Killing is such a strong word! We’re certainly not seeing an absence of teenage heroines because of the current focus on love/romance. But is it killing originality in the YA genre? I think there’s an argument to support that. Continue reading

Risking her life: Sue Parritt on Strong Female Characters

Sue Parritt is an Australian science fiction author. Her first trilogy tells the tale of a futuristic Australia ravaged by climate change, and racial oppression.

BELINDA: Tell us about Sannah, what makes her strong?

SUE: Sensuous, emotional and dramatic, Sannah, 39, a descendant of Environmental Refugees from the drowned Pacific Islands, is the Storyteller for Village 10. Storytellers–one for each Brown Zone village–are trained to deliver a distorted version of history to ensure compliance and reinforce White superiority. An articulate speaker, Sannah employs both voice and body to weave a spell around her audience. She also plays the role of ‘lover’ to many White men, to gain information useful to the Women’s Line, an undercover group that assists political prisoners on the run to flee the country and find sanctuary in egalitarian Aotearoa. Intelligent and savvy, Sannah knows what it takes to survive in an oppressive apartheid society ruled by tyrannical troopers, but willingly risks her life to ensure clandestine truth-telling continues. In twenty-fourth century Australia, she is a third-class citizen, but despite her low status, she believes in the power to effect change. This, plus the determination to engage in seditious activities whatever the consequences, makes and keeps her strong. Continue reading

Greying, pudgy & menopausal: Laura E. Goodin on Strong Female Characters

Laura E. Goodin is the author of After the Bloodwood Staff, an Australian fantasy about a quest that doesn’t go quite how it’s supposed to.

BELINDA: Tell us about Sybil, one of the two main protagonists in After the Bloodwood Staff: what makes her strong?

LAURA: In a way, it’s her weaknesses and pessimism that make her strong. She chooses to express her pessimism as a relentless drive to be both competent and prepared, because the worst could happen at any moment–and I always had in the back of my mind while writing that at some point in her life it already has. Her inability to make herself vulnerable, even to the people she loves, makes her freakishly focused and almost impossible to intimidate, and it has given her a lifetime habit of self-sufficiency. Her stubbornness really annoys the people around her, but it also gives her a crystalline clarity of intention and tremendous integrity. As is the case with most people, her greatest strengths are her greatest weaknesses.

BELINDA: What drew you to writing Sybil in particular?

The cover of After the Blackwood Staff by Laura E. Goodin
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LAURA: Speaking as a greying, pudgy, menopausal woman, I can tell you that there is a regrettable dearth of greying, pudgy, menopausal woman heroes in speculative fiction. And this is, in fact, regrettable, because once a woman gets to this point in her life, she is badass. She cares less with each passing day what other people will think of her. She has experience, along with the perspective to interpret it wisely. And chances are good that, like Sybil, she has spent her life acquiring a staggering array of skills that are useful in hundreds of different tight spots and baffling dilemmas. It’s a joy to write such a character.

BELINDA: What messages/examples do you think Sybil provides readers?

LAURA: I want readers to go beyond the whole tiresome “age is only a number” thing; instead, I want them to think, “There are wonderful things about being every age. Not everyone is trying to be or stay young: there’s adventure and wonder in being not young.” Sybil, I hope, is an example for readers of someone who stares life full in the face, no games, no pretensions, no struggles to be anything other than what she gloriously is–and to be fully whatever that ends up being at each time in her life.

BELINDA: What traits and/or features do you think make for a great strong female character?

LAURA: When someone–anyone, really–is strong, it means they can keep their head and operate in any circumstances, because they have a fundamental, perhaps even unconscious, conviction that whatever happens, they will find a way to keep going. Women characters (and women in real life, as well) can sometimes have problems developing this conviction: perhaps they have been protected all their lives, perhaps they’ve been actively sabotaged whenever they’ve tried to succeed at even small things. These small successes are crucial, though, because as they accrete, they become confidence and resilience. Back 30 or 40 years ago, people were very keen on the idea that if you develop children’s self-confidence, they will succeed. This is putting the cart before the horse. You have to let children succeed so that they have the evidence that underlies any kind of workable self-confidence. A strong female character–or (and this is often more interesting) a character who becomes strong as the story progresses–has faced an escalating series of challenges, each of which lets her think that perhaps she can handle this one as well. And this one. And this one.

BELINDA: What types of strength would you like to see more of?

LAURA: In the real world? I would love to see more instances of people deliberately turning their back on personal gain or advantage so that they can do what’s right. For example, should I admit that the idea that I’m getting praised for at work is really someone else’s? I could keep my mouth shut and get the praise, and perhaps even the raise. Their mistake is not my problem. But someone who’s truly strong will choose clarity and integrity over personal advantage, and tell the truth, even if there are people telling them it’s a “mistake”. In a world where integrity consistently takes second place to “scoring” or “winning”, I would love to see more people say, “I’ll take the risk: I’ll trust that doing the right thing will not just give me a better life, but will make the world a better place for everyone. I’m not going to scheme and connive and claw scraps of flesh from the people around me. Instead, I’m going to stand tall, arms wide, head up, heart open, and say and do what’s true and just, even if I’m mocked, even if I’m despised, even if it means I don’t ‘win’'”

That’s the type of strength I’d like to see more of.

BELINDA: Who are some of your favourite strong female characters?

LAURA: I can’t go past Xena, Warrior Princess: flawed, tormented, but still constantly striving to be braver, kinder, more committed to both justice and mercy. Also, although this always raises eyebrows, I love Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew (at the slightest provocation, I will argue at length for the play being, at its heart, a feminist text; don’t get me started). Jill in Lewis’s The Silver Chair and The Last Battle was a serious role model for me as a child. I also love Jessica in Dune, Nita in Duane’s Young Wizards series, Thursday Next in Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and sequels, Luna Lovegood, Ellie from Marsden’s Tomorrow series, Mulan (of course), Karana in O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, Aerin in McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, and, perhaps most formatively, Harriet in Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. There are many others, but these are definitely some of my very favorites.

About Laura E. Goodin

Laura E. Goodin, author of After the Blackwood Staff
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American-born writer Laura E. Goodin has been writing professionally for over 30 years. Her debut novel After the Bloodwood Staff was released December 2016 from Odyssey Books; her next novel, Mud and Glass, will be released in mid-2017, also from Odyssey Books. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Review of Australian Fiction, Adbusters, Wet Ink, The Lifted Brow, and Daily Science Fiction, among others, and in several anthologies. Her plays and libretti have been performed on three continents, and her poetry has been performed internationally, both as spoken word and as texts for new musical compositions. She attended the 2007 Clarion South workshop, and has a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Western Australia.

You can find out more about Laura on her website and connect with her via her blog and Facebook.

Feature image courtesy of Neil Moralee. Used under a Creative Commons licence.