47North, A Dribble of Ink, ageism in SFF, Aidan Moher, Chrome-assed bitches, Jane Navio, mature heroines, Miserere, MJ Locke, Roberta Trahan, Teresa Frohock, The Dream Stewards, The Well of Tears, Up Against It, women in SFF, Women Made of Chrome
When I set out to write my debut novel, THE WELL OF TEARS, I took some pretty big risks. I hybridized the genre, I layered multiple story lines using many characters with unpronounceable names, and perhaps riskiest of all, I chose a mature female protagonist.
Alwen is a 40-something wife and mother who is also a skilled sorceress and wise leader who is heir to a powerful magical legacy. She is smart. She is strong. She is resilient. She is masterful. And she is a far superior version of herself at 40 than she was at 20. Life has honed her into the “chrome-assed bitch” she needs to be to outsmart a more powerful and far more diabolical mage and destroy the demon horde sent to obliterate her people.
The older the woman, the more dangerous she becomes. Older women didn’t need weapons to take the world down; they changed the course of history with a whisper. A word in the right ear brought down kings and queens, or maneuvered their kin into power. Chrome-assed bitches don’t need guns or swords, they have their brains.
I pulled the above quote from a recent article by Teresa Frohock, author of MISERERE: An Autumn Tale, which was one of my favorite reads of 2012. This quote kind of says it all. Teresa’s stunning debut dark fantasy novel features both a protagonist and an antagonist who are chrome-assed bitches in their 40s. These women have not only fought their way to respect and authority, but they have also acquired the mental discipline, social savvy and emotional seasoning it takes to survive and succeed along the way. With age comes experience.
I’m still surprised by the reviewers who disdain my choice of a mature heroine – calling her “old” and “unrelatable”. Without exception these reviewers are 20-something young women, who I suspect are still finding themselves and lack the foresight to envision the chrome-assed bitches they might yet become. That makes me a little sad.
Here’s the link to Teresa’s article on the blog A Dribble of Ink (edited by Aidan Moher). Teresa’a post includes a list of remarkable women in history worthy of the “chrome-assed bitch” epitaph. Check it out:
So what do you think? Is an over 40 heroine unappealing to you? If so, why?