Thoughtful Thursday: My Favorite Heroines

Thoughtful Thursday is a feature here at The Nighttime Novelist which usually consists of me ranting, raving, and flailing about all manner of things, from books to films to how many ballpoint pens I go through in a given month. It’s awesome.

So let me just say straight up that this post will basically be me + lots of flailing + fabulous women + BAMF commemoration. You have been warned.

Okay, first of all, I cannot be the only one who is permanently pissed off at the damsel-in-distress archetype. It’s like, yeah, sure, I don’t mind if a girl needs help once in a while, but we vagina-owners know that not only is being stuck in a tower boring as hell, but it’s a bit insulting when you get down to it. Women don’t have to be weak and helpless to be attractive, nor do they always require the strong arm of a prince charming to make things happen and get what they want. I mean really.

So then there’s this compromise heroine figure that came up, where the woman can fight or has a cool power or is just a general sassmaster. Don’t get me wrong, I love that, but the fact that these kickass women do most of their kickassery in completely impractical, uncomfortable, skimpy clothing just makes me sigh every time. Think Anna from “Van Helsing”. DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW STUPID IT IS TO LACE UP IN A TINY CORSET TO FIGHT MONSTERS AND RUN ALL OVER EASTERN EUROPE? Like, in reality she would have been winded five minutes in.

That heroine figure also bothers me because it’s basically like saying, “Yes, you can fight and have a mind of your own. Oh, but you have to dress like a hooker pirate in order for that to be cool.” Uh. No.

However, I’ve found a decent amount of female protagonists that I just want to kiss for being so awesome. And I’ve made a list of them, because I love lists and I am a nice person.

Natasha Romanov

1. Natasha Romanov, “Black Widow” (Marvel Comics, Iron Man, Avengers)

CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THIS FABULOUSNESS? I know there’s copious amounts of skin-tight leather involved, but I mean, she is just so freaking smart and strong and fierce and she takes nobody’s shit. It’s like the second you think she couldn’t get any cooler, SHE GOES AND GETS COOLER.

Katniss Everdeen

2. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)

If you don’t love Katniss Everdeen, there’s like a 99% chance we can’t be friends. (Jk, I will just respectfully think you are crazy.) She not only does not do the “oh my God boys what do I do” faint-flutter-flail nonsense with Peeta (or Gale); oh no, she’s just like “I will do this shit” and does what she does, and it’s awesome.

Hermione Granger

3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)

This girl just takes it all in stride and is always in kickass mode. She’s constantly at work to protect the people around her and succeed and she’s so smart and clever. She is also ridiculously good at making me want to shout, “YOU TELL ‘EM, HERMIONE!” at the page/screen. Let’s face it, Harry would’ve died like two minutes in if it weren’t for her. How can you not love her?

4. Daenerys Targaryen (A Song of Ice and Fire)

FEEEEEEEEELS. I mean, she starts out too shy to say boo to a goose, and by the end of the seasons she’s just like “I WILL DO ALL THE AWESOME THINGS RAWRRRRR” and basically rocks my socks off. And she’s not just doing the it’s-my-crown-back-off-bitches routine. Oh no, she is a freaking LIBERATOR. She refuses to play the same game as her enemies; everyone who follows her does it because they want to, and she protects those people like NOBODY’S BUSINESS. I just generally want to bow at her feet and make her president of the universe.


5. Merida (“Brave”)

I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the AWESOME. I mean, Scottish warrior princess wins every time. This girl takes her life into her own hands and even though she may go about it in the wrong way, she doesn’t let people tell her who to be and what to do. She refuses to be put in a cage and she also has a freaking spectacularly cool horse and knows how to shoot with a bow and I just want to give this girl all the kudos.

Those are my top five heroines. To me they’re everything a good female protagonist ought to be: strong, courageous, loyal, smart, fierce, loving, passionate, and carriers of the awesome gene.

Let me know who your favorite heroines are. One can never have too many great female characters in one’s life. (Geez, that made it sound like a harem or something.)

Top Ten Books to Read for Halloween

Top 10 Tuesday Halloween

***Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!

I’ve linked everything to Goodreads, so just click if you’re interested!

Harry Potter pumpkin

1. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

I don’t think this even needs explaining. Witches and wizards and dark forests and castles and pumpkin juice sort of embody Halloween. Plus, is there ever a bad time to read Harry Potter?

2. The Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esmé Raji Codell

I’ve loved this book since I was young. It integrates fairytales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but mainly it’s just this really cute story about a young witch figuring out where she fits in, and in the meantime, there’s some hilarity and chaos.

3. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

It’s a musical AND a book, aka my two favorite things. I actually read this book over the weekend because I saw it in the bookstore and had a “Yes! I need you!” moment. It’s sort of vaguely creepy but also lovely and mysterious and the narration makes it a very charming read.

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

To be honest, I didn’t like this book. For one, while I have a weak spot for beautiful writing, Shelley just goes on. And on. And on. And by the end of it I actually threw down the book and scowled for a good hour. But still. It’s a classic for a reason, so I’m sure there are plenty of people who would enjoy it, plus the scary/creepy factor is definitely there.

5. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I adored this book when I read it for the first time. I haven’t read it in years, but it’s still an old favorite. Kit, the main character, is a serious badass, and the whole Puritan background contrasts against that and highlights her fiery, exotic nature. It’s not really scary, but I still love it.

6. The Magic in Manhattan series by Sarah Mlynowski

This series is kind of awesome. Teenage witches are one of my favorite things, and I love all the fun and madness and coming-of-age hilarity.

7. Edgar Allan Poe

Poe needs no explanation. He’s friggin’ POE.

8. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman*

So I haven’t read this, but I adored the movie and I love the premise of little soon-to-be witches going to live with their eccentric aunts and growing up and living their weird lives.

9. Coraline by Neil Gaiman*

Who doesn’t love Coraline?

10. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Double, double, toil in trouble! I mean, witches and murder and prophecies are the stuff Halloween is made of, and it’s got a nice, dark vibe that’s not precisely spooky, but not exactly a walk through a field of daisies either.

Also, if you’re looking for something Halloween-y to watch, my personal favorites include Hocus Pocus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Bewitched, Harry Potter, The Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Phantom of the Opera, among many others.

If you have some good Halloween books/movies to suggest, I’d love to know about them! My bookcase hasn’t toppled over yet, so that means I still have room for more books! Let me know your favorites in the comments below.

See you Thursday!

*I haven’t actually read this (yet), but I’m still recommending it based on friends’ recommendations and what I know about the book.
Credits: Graphics courtesy of Obsidian Dawn.

The Power of Your Imagination

Disclaimer: I was inspired to write this partly by this video by one of my new favorite YouTubers, the fabulous Meghan Rosette. I should warn you now that I’ve decided not to restrain myself in this post; therefore, prepare for colorful swearing and uniquely-flavored punctuation.

It strikes me that as writers, we are nearly always incredibly self-conscious. It’s practically guaranteed that if you write, you have a veritable library of insecurities and doubts about yourself, your craft, your ideas, your characters, your future, etc… Why do we have these insecurities? Why do we constantly nitpick at what we may or may not be doing wrong in our writing? We worry about our POVs, our literary style, our marketability, possible traits our story may share with a famous work like Harry Potter or Twilight that would doom us to “copycat status” as authors. There’s so much pressure to be unique and sophisticated and artistic and we read articles and books on how to write when really, really truly, we already know the formula. You sit at your desk, on your bed, on your couch, in a coffee shop, wherever you like, open up your notebook or laptop, and set pen to paper or fingers to keys.

It’s not hard. And yet the simplicity of making art is such a brilliant trap. It is so easy to believe that there’s something yet to learn, another trick of the trade, another inside look at a published author’s methods. We make writing into so much more and so much less than it is. Because what is writing? What is the real, honest-to-God definition of writing? To me, writing is peace. To you, writing may be adventure. To a young boy writing a haiku in his freshman English class, writing may be work. To an old woman with a notebook always at hand, writing may be comfort.

There is always, I suppose, something to improve on when writing, but that is the catch. That’s the reason so many writers don’t make it. We are fundamentally afraid of risk. We are afraid of using that word or keeping that paragraph or making that joke and it’s so stupid. Writing is a business, yes. But first, always first, it is an outlet. You enjoy it, you exercise it, you do with it whatever you please, because if you aren’t writing what you WANT to write, you aren’t writing at all. Writing is the act of giving over to imagination and playing God with your own world, your own characters and stories and places, and there’s no point in doing it for others. Fuck the business. Business makes art dispensable. We stick prices onto what is priceless and call it an industry and that’s okay, that’s alright. But to think of all the people, all the creative energy that has snuffed itself out by second-guessing, by hesitating to upset the unwritten etiquette of writing…it makes me angry and, more than anything, sad. What great stories have we missed because of writers’ constitutional perfectionism?

My novel, if one judged merely by the bones, would be considered YA. But because I don’t want to sacrifice incredible characters and unique plotlines for the sake of an audience that doesn’t even exist yet, I am letting myself do exactly what I want. There’s sex, and taboos, and gruesome violence, and complex villains that you love as much as the protagonists, and it’s pure. It’s what I envisioned, what I saw in my head all along.

I can’t understand why people would even want to restrain themselves and reign in all the power of creation they possess. As a writer, you possess extraordinary gifts. Use them for yourself. Give yourself over to the power of your imagination and let yourself tell the story you want to write. When and if others read your words, you won’t have to wonder if you could have done better. You won’t have to worry and regret over choices you made along the way. The business can make art commercial, but what’s the point in that if you haven’t even let yourself make that art the best it can be?