Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Prince Dead: A Historical Heroine

Just a reminder… Prince Dead is still on sale for $.99 on Amazon. As always, it is free to read for members of Kindle Unlimited.

Now that I had a character sketch for my hero, and had chosen the setting, I needed to draft an idea for my heroine. She was to be Irish, but beyond that I did not know.

There seems to me to be a dominate popularity in historical fiction for what I call, “bad ass warrior babes”. You know what I’m referencing. These are the heroines whose long hair flows in the breeze without ever getting caught on anything and whose gravity-defying breasts do not fall out of their anachronistically low-cut gowns as they meet their enemies in hand-to-hand combat. They are 5’2” tall and weigh 110 pounds but still boast the decadent curves of a Golden Era Hollywood siren, and they are so mighty that when sword-fighting the 6’5” warrior hero who was trained up for battle from the cradle, they send him straight onto his backside and steal his heart.

As you may have guessed, this heroine bores me.

My heroine would be a strong woman, one who was up for adventure, but not an utterly perfect goddess entirely lacking in self-doubt. She must be intelligent and cunning, I decided, but more empathetic than my hero.

I turned once more to my research. Ireland was in a transition phase during the period I meant to set my novel. The old Celtic ways had already been touched by Roman Imperialism and were now merging with newly adopted Catholic beliefs and culture.

I wanted to capture this cultural strain in my heroine. Ironically, most of the first-hand accounts of the Celts were written by their enemies, just as is the case for the Vikings. We do know that there were high-ranking women of power among the Celts and it seems certain that Celtic women held a better position in society than Roman women. Ammianus Marcellinus, describes meeting Celtic women in battle by stating they were “large as men with flashing eyes and teeth bared”. There is also a notion, first popularized by 18th and 19th century Romantic authors that the Celts were a strictly Matriarchal society, yet there is little direct evidence to support this. The Catholic influence in my setting would surely have put an end to much of this, but I wanted it’s echoes to still be heard in my novel.

My heroine would be a stand-in landlord for her father who left her in control when he went on a pilgrimage. Her younger brother would be coming of age, however, and have the full support of the local church in trying to grab power from his sister. The people they rule over are torn, some happy with the way she has managed things, others sure that their leader must be a man, others simply taking the opinion of their priest as fact. To further complicate it, they face encroachment and possible defeat by a neighboring warlord, one who has fully immersed himself in the old traditions and who has no interest in the culture of the Catholic church.

Thus, my heroine would teeter on the edge of losing all. She would try to balance the needs of her people with her own beliefs. She would barter, manipulate, compromise, and fight to do what she believes right.

Now, to make things just a little harder on my heroine, I would send in the Viking invasion…

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