Sometimes authors know exactly why they write their protagonists the way they do…they want someone who’s strong and courageous so she can beat the villains; they want someone who’s afraid of the dark so she has to face her biggest fear at the end of the book; they want someone with bright red hair because that reminds them of their childhood best friend. Catherine Linka, author of the award-winning book A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and its newly released sequel A GIRL UNDONE, had a very different relationship with her protagonist, Avie --- she had no idea why she wrote Avie the way she did until the end of the first book. Catherine explains her revelation in her blog post, below. Check it out, as well as both books in her series!
I didn’t know how strong I was until I was totally lost.
I love kickass heroines like Katniss Everdeen, Black Widow and even self-absorbed Scarlett O’Hara. So when I began writing my series A Girl Called Fearless, I just didn’t get why this voice inside me insisted that my heroine had to be someone who wasn’t a super hero or expert assassin or divergent.
I made Avie a real teenage girl facing an almost impossible crisis. She comes home from school to find that her dad has sold her into marriage as part of a business deal to save his failing company. Avie has to choose between marrying a man twice her age or making a dangerous run for freedom in Canada. Avie is scared as hell. She doesn’t see herself as fearless, despite the fact that her lifelong friend Yates calls her that.
Avie goes on the run, and is chased, tracked down and shot at. To survive, she has to make deals with skeezy characters and survive face offs with ruthless politicians. By the end of A GIRL UNDONE, Avie has become truly kickass.
It wasn’t until after I wrote the ending of A GIRL UNDONE that I realized why I was compelled to write about a girl who didn’t start out seeing herself as anything special. I had to write about Avie because her story was my story.
I had just lived through a truly hideous time. My family was in crisis, and for four years, I got up every day not knowing how to fix things but trying everything I could think of. There were so many days when I failed, and I’d sit in my car in the garage and cry because I didn’t know how much longer I could take it. But slowly things got better, and one day I realized, I’d made it. I survived.
I guess when I wrote about Avie, I wanted readers to know they are not alone. We look around us and see people who appear braver or stronger or more talented than we are, but the truth is, we don’t realize just how strong we are until we have to face the worst. We try and fail and try again, and I believe that inside all of us is a kickass heroine waiting to be born.
Catherine Linka isthe author of A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, which was an ABA Indie Next Pick and won the Young Adult Novel Award 2014 from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and the sequel, A GIRL UNDONE (St. Martin’s Griffin; June 23, 2015), are currently in development for a television series with Universal Cable Productions. A frequent speaker at writing and teen conferences, Catherine received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and worked as a young adult book buyer for an independent bookstore for seven years.