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Friday, January 22, 2016

Writing the Strong Woman Character by Katherine Silva

This Friday Features column is intended to generate discussion by shaking up preconceptions of who or what strong women are. My hope is to explore the concept in 360 degrees and my next guest, Katherine Silva, dives into the fray with her take on being and writing about strong women. 

Writing the Strong Woman Character by Katherine Silva

Author Katherine Silva
Five years ago, I decided I’d finally commit to writing and publishing a book. Writing had always been a precious escape, a place where I could leave the mundane behind and envision different worlds and inhabit numerous characters. I’d dropped out of college, was working full-time, and had just been dumped. I felt the need to take control of my life, to put it in the right direction. I spent the next five months craning over my laptop, sparks practically leaping from my fingers as I wrote and revised and wrote some more. This book became a series with an enormous range of characters from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and, yes, time periods.

In spite of the hordes of characters, very few of them are strong women. I have a ton of male characters and each is a pleasure to write. Only a few (three to be exact) are female. The reality of it is that I’ve surrounded these three characters, these unique, tested, and resolute women with men because I want them to stand out. I want to show that no matter what they go through, they are just as determined, just as bold, just as everlasting as the guys are.

Each of these characters is strong for their own reason. They’ve all had to overcome their own obstacles. No matter the type of suffering they’ve endured, they are all still survivors. And, I’ve put them through the wringer. One of my protagonists was housed in a mental institution for seven months following the death of her husband, a death that she witnessed. Another one spent her childhood bouncing in and out of foster care, never really finding a place to call home. Another grew up with absent parents, raising her little sister alone and now, that sister is dead. Because my series, The Monstrum Chronicles, is a mystery thriller fantasy series, they are all thrown into paranormal and supernatural tribulations. To make them who they are now, I’ve written them histories where they’ve waded through more lifelike trials, ones that we as readers can identify and empathize with.
The Monstrum Chronicles by Katherine Silva

To me, strength is about endurance. It’s about taking the parts of you that are broken, sweeping them up, and trying to piece them back together. This is never an instant achievement and if it were, we wouldn’t care about it nearly as much. The journey towards that whole, that feeling of completion is what entangles us and inspires us to do it ourselves. Each of these female protagonists that I write about are crawling toward feelings of peace, safety, and overall harmony. These are the things they treasure above all else and are willing to do anything to reach them. Having that goal and surmounting those odds to reach it make for strong believable characters.

I’ve never had it as difficult as any of my characters. I’m lucky. But I know there are some who have. The feelings of abandonment, of loneliness, depression, heartbreak, and fear are ones that can be felt universally. Writing these women helps me to work through my own dark places and hopefully, for readers of my books, it’s a way to help work through theirs. 


Katherine Silva is the Midcoast Maine author of the Monstrum Chronicles series, is a connoisseur of coffee, and victim of crazy cat shenanigans. Her second book in the series, Aequitas, was nominated for a 2013 Maine Literary award. She published her first comedy in November 2013. She is a member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and the New England Horror Writers Association and founder of the Midcoast Maine Halloween Readings series. Currently she resides in Rockland, Maine working on the rest of the books in the Monstrum Chronicles as well as other projects.

Book 1 of the Monstrum Chronicles - Torrent is a lilitu, a race of creatures on which vampire myths are based. Cocky and defiant, he's on a hunt to alter the space-time continuum to change his fate, all the while trying to outrun his sire, who seeks to destroy him. Eileen is an Opera-soprano returning home after several months in a mental institution following the death of her husband. Secluded in a country estate, she soon realizes she isn't alone... Sean hears strange voices. In a desperate effort to save his life, he must discover what they are trying to tell him and why a shadowy corporation values his gift. As all of their paths interweave with twists of betrayal, sacrifice, and murder, each character will have to come to terms with what they are and what it truly means to live.


FRIDAY FEATURES is a steady presence on Out of the Fog where I explore the concept of "strong women." Who are they? What makes them strong? How do we see them in writing and/or in business? If you're an author, what is their place in the world of thrillers of mysteries? If you're in business, how is the working environment impacted by the presence of a "strong woman" and how are they seen as leaders and team members? If you're an emerging strong woman, tell us about your journey. Have other questions you find compelling? Ask away and I'll post the answers here. 

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