So far in my writing life, I’ve created three main characters, with three things in common: all are girls, all have first person viewpoints, and all have what I hope is a strong ‘voice’.
It’s not that I don’t like male characters, or want to alienate boy readers; I certainly don’t. But I’m not massively comfortable with the ‘boy books’ / ‘girl books’ thing. Reading helps us empathise with others, to understand the world from a different point of view. So I think boys should read girl characters and vice versa. Though I realise this is probably easier said than done.
As important are strong role models in literature: girls who aren’t scared, whose qualities are courage and humour, sensitivity and insight. Who take charge of themselves and inspire others along the way.
So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce my Top Girls.
Tilly Higgins – ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ (Faber)
Dreams: Of helping Kit Barrington. Of being wanted.
Fears: the workhouse
Qualities: strong-willed, daring, driven, loyal
Flaws: Reckless, quick to judge, outspoken.
Special Talent: Communicates with Kit Barrington’s spirit
In her pocket, she’d have: Nothing. It’s got a hole in it.
What she says about herself: ‘ I felt sick at the thought. But I couldn’t help myself, not now the idea had taken hold.’
Louie Reynolds -‘The Girl Who Walked On Air’ (August 2014- Faber)
Dreams: Of being a famous tightrope walker
Fears: Being kept from her loved ones, not having her talents recognised
Qualities: Creative, determined, courageous, caring, ambitious
Flaws: Ambition sometimes clouds her judgment, bit of a show off, misunderstands people’s motivations.
Special Talent: The tightrope
In her pocket, she’d have: A photograph of her hero, Blondin. Dog treats.
What she says about herself: ‘ Under my feet, the rope swayed slightly. It was part of me now. Grown out of my heels and toes. We were all the same thing, this rope and me. It made me light as air.’
Alice Campbell – ‘In Darkling Wood’- WIP
Dreams: Of being back at home with her family.
Fears: Her sick brother will die.
Qualities: As a child carer, she’s practical, sensible, resourceful. Used to thinking of others before herself.
Flaws: A worrier. Belittles herself. Doesn’t recognize her own needs. Has grown up too fast.
Special Talent: She’s a chime child ( no spoilers!)
In her pocket, she’d have: an old mobile phone. House key.
What she says about herself: ‘ There’s plenty I don’t see. Like why Dad never visits anymore. Or why my little brother is sick.’
Alice is my first modern day girl narrator. Whereas Tilly and Louie feel like family now, I’m just getting to know Alice. There’s another girl narrator planned for ‘In Darkling Wood’ too, and it’s her the famous photograph refers to. She’s beginning to take shape in my head. Florence Waterhouse lives in 1919 and believes in fairies. Surprisingly enough, she also happens to be no wallflower!