So I just had an interesting conversation with a Facebook friend who is a voracious thriller reader about using a woman as the main protagonist in the genre. He’s been around the block a time or two and has read tons of both traditionally and indie published thrillers, so I generally listen to what he has to say. He’d just been introduced to Leine Basso, the protagonist in my second series, and mentioned in passing that Leine was what he deemed a “tough broad,” and, although the protagonist’s domain in traditional thrillers has typically been a men’s-only club, he thoroughly enjoyed reading about a woman who was as tough and accomplished as any male character.
And that got me thinking.
I write strong female characters because I can’t/couldn’t find that kind of protagonist in the books I like to read. Yes, I’ve read action-adventure novels with strong female protagonists written by both male and female writers, but of those I’ve read I come away with two main complaints: either the character is some guy’s wet dream (sorry, couldn’t think of a more appropriate description) where, for all intents and purposes, she’s a man in a woman’s body and has the emotional depth of a robot (no offense to any AI fans out there), or she’s tough as nails and self-sufficient until a good-looking man comes along. Then she turns into starry-eyed goo, or worse, lets the guy take over the fighting/sleuthing/whatever. To date, I haven’t read many novels that have a strong female action-adventure protag who kicks people’s asses without apology but also acts like a real human being, with all the inherent flaws. And don’t get me started on the air-brushed babes who can run in heels without falling and who are never without their lipstick. Ugh. Who can identify with that?
Obviously, not me 😀 . (Seriously. You do not want to see me try to run in heels. Or maybe you do–it’s pretty hilarious…the things I do for research.)
Maybe I just haven’t read the right authors. And I’m not talking about brainy female characters who use their smarts to solve a mystery but don’t know how to fight or shoot or kill someone with a piano wire, although those definitely have merit.
My question to you is this: have you read an action thriller with a main female protagonist who doesn’t come off as a man in women’s clothing (which could be a fun genre–Transvestite action-thriller?), or who melts at the sight of a good-looking guy? I’d love to read it.