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Friday, March 4, 2016

STRONG WOMEN by J.E. Seymour

My guest this week, Joyleen Seymour, is a woman after my own heart. A talented author and equestrian, Joy writes gripping stories populated with complex women. Her characters use readers' pre-conceived notions of what a woman in a crime story should be to lure them deeper into her stories. Read on.

by J. E. Seymour
Crime fiction is full of examples of what I might call the ditzy broad. Dumb women who find themselves getting into predicaments where they need to be rescued. Women who venture into situations where you know they are going to get into trouble, yet they can’t seem to learn not to do it. I always liked Nancy Drew, because she surrounded herself with other strong women, and she refrained from utter stupidity.
I have two main characters in my crime fiction series who are women, who are nothing alike, and yet who are both strong women. I find nothing more annoying in fiction than a weak woman who needs to be rescued by a man. Neither of these women would ever allow themselves to be rescued. But at the same time, they both have husbands, they both love their husbands, and neither of them feels threatened by the men around them.
Cindy Markinson is married to my main character, Kevin Markinson. He is a convicted murderer, a man who is probably a mob hit man, who is definitely an alcoholic, and who is rarely present in her life. For her, it takes strength to stay married to this man. Her values lead her to stay with him, even when he commits crimes, even when he is on the run, even when he brings danger into her house. She loves him, and deep down she thinks maybe he will change. This is the father of her children. I’ve had readers ask me why she stays with him, isn’t that a weakness, but I think this is a sign of her strength. She is strong enough to live this life, with a husband who is in prison (or on the run.) She doesn’t allow him to push her around, this is her choice to stay with him. And she sets limits. No guns left unattended in her house. No smoking in her house. No bad language in front of the kids. She is strong and confident enough to be able to set those limits and enforce them. She works as a nurse in an emergency room, and is tough both on the job and off.
Sally Barnard is a Deputy United States Marshal (DUSM). She has spent her entire life trying to live up to the men around her, her father was a cop, her uncles were cops, her brother was a firefighter. She started in law enforcement in 1969, when women police officers were rare. She learned to be tough, to stick up for herself, and to hang onto her values in a man’s world. She’s often the only woman in the office, and as such has to prove her worth over and over. I’ve had readers call her a bitch, which she would find astounding, because really, she is just trying to be tough. Maybe she comes off too tough at times. But she has learned that she can’t have any soft edges, that she really has to stick up for herself, that she has to be one of the guys. Her job chasing fugitives is something she has been working towards her entire career, and she is proud of her accomplishments.
When I first started developing my series, I knew I wanted a woman DUSM chasing my main character, and I knew he had a wife and kids. I knew these two women would be important in my main character’s life (for different reasons) and I knew they both needed to be strong women. I hope I’ve succeeded in writing these two characters in a believable fashion.

J.E. Seymour lives in a small town in seacoast NH.  Her newest novel, the third in the Kevin Markinson series, “Frostbite,” will be released in March of 2016.  J.E.’s first novel, “Lead Poisoning” was released by Mainly Murder Press in 2010.  The second edition of “Lead Poisoning” was released by Barking Rain Press in May of 2014.  Her second novel, “Stress Fractures,” was released in the summer of 2014.  “Blackbird and Other Stories,” an ebook collection of short stories, was released in May of 2014. J.E has had short stories published in print in an anthology of New Hampshire noir – “Live Free or Die, Die, Die” (Plaidswede Press) and in three anthologies of crime fiction by New England writers - “Windchill,” “Deadfall,” and “Quarry;” (Level Best Books) and in Thriller UK Magazine.  In addition, she has had stories online in numerous ezines, including Spinetingler, Shots, Mouth Full of Bullets, Mysterical-E, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Yellow Mama and Shred of Evidence.   She attended Bread Loaf in 2002 and was a panelist at the Crime Bake Mystery Conference in 2011.
In addition to writing, she has worked as a horseback riding instructor, a ski instructor, ski patroller, librarian and camp counselor.  When not writing, she spends her time riding her pony in mounted games, playing video games, working at a library, or relaxing with her family.

CONNIE'S NOTE: You'll be able to meet Joy and me at the upcoming New Hampshire Women's Expo in Manchester on March 12, where we will be meeting readers and extolling the virtues of Sisters in Crime. Joy will also be one of my featured panelists on the seminar stage at the Equine Affaire in Springfield, MA in November. Check back for more details.

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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