Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Strong Women Make the Literary World Go Round Guest Blog and Giveaway with Gregory Marshall Smith

For those who have read or will read Hunters and some of my other published works like Crawl and the soon-to-be released Land of the Blind will note a (hopefully) encouraging trend -- strong women.

Trust me. I’m not trying to patronize female readers (or should that be “matronize”?). I grew up around some strong women and it shows up in my writing.

In addition to having written fiction since age 9, I have been a professional journalist for 30 years. Among the articles I’ve published in professional media are feature stories on Sandra Vaughn, a bodybuilder and doctor of kinesiology; Jodi Leigh Miller, professional bodybuilder and fitness expert, and Karina Nascimento, professional wrestler and bodybuilder who doesn’t look like a wrestler until she puts you through a wall.

I remember in my interview with Karina, when she worked out at Texas Christian University, she was approached by the TCU women’s soccer team and the volleyball team who all wanted her to train them to look like her. Of course, after the article came out, I also heard from plenty of women who thought Ms. Nascimento looked too “manly” and thought women shouldn’t try to be men or have muscles. Apparently, my features caused quite a stir in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, an area filled with traditional Southern Baptists and a growing number of “modern” women.

Anyone who knows me knows I tend to create amalgams for my characters. I take bits and pieces from different people and combine them into single characters. Thus, it’s no shock that parts of Ms. Miller, Ms. Vaughn and Ms. Nascimento might creep into Angelica Morales from Hunters, my new novel about vampire hunters fighting incredible odds against a super alliance of master vampires in Texas.

I also grew up on Asian cinema and love Michelle Yeoh (Supercop) and Aya Ueno (Azumi), as well as Lucy Liu. So, you know master vampire enforcer Lin Tang in Hunters will kick ass.

I think it offers much-needed balance for my strong male characters in Hunters, like South African mercenary Marcus Van Niekerk and the always volatile Cantrell Ryker.

Two of my favorite book series revolve around strong women. Honor Harrington, aka “The Salamander” delights in reaming the pompous Republic of Haven and its militaristic machinations in David Weber’s Honorverse (now at 11 books and counting). Sadly, Weber is beginning to devolve Harrington (by having her have an affair with her married commanding officer).

The other series is C.J. Cherryh’s Morgaine saga. In this fantasy/science fiction world, an human-like alien species called the qhal have built gates through time and space only to abuse them. After creating havoc for scores of millennia, the gates must be sealed off forever. That task is left to a small band of qhal, of whom Morgaine is the sole survivor after decades of work. Her helper is a human male named Vanye that she rescued and who has stayed loyally by her side even after being released from her servitude. Because of her mission and her fantastic blade Changeling, which opens a portal of its own to a hellish dimension, Morgaine is despised and feared more than she is admired.

I dare say that I did include elements of Morgaine into my character of Devereaux Marshall Fox in Land of the Blind,

I also like to make my work reflect modern times or, with science fiction, the future. Surely we can’t expect women to be damsels in distress in the 21st century and beyond, not when they’re fighting and dying on battlefields or putting their lives on the line in the streets as cops.

That said, just how exactly do we want women portrayed in these modern times? Will it be with strong, independent women who still possess a nurturing side like Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor? Or will it be women who simply emulate men and all their bad habits (like that woman in the old Virginia Slims billboard who says “You’ve come a long way, baby”)?

Can a strong woman be sexy without being seen as a whore?

Should women (young women especially) emulate Viv from C.J. Ellisson’s Vampire Vacation, with her strong sexuality and control or should they be more demure like Bella in Twilight?

Methinks the strongest women are the ones who can successfully balance themselves between both extremes.

What do you think? How would you have women portrayed in books?

Answer below for a chance to win a ebook copy of Hunters.

By Gregory Marshall Smith

For centuries, vampires have owned the night. And in Fort Worth, Texas, master vampire, Louis Riordan, aims to keep it that way. With the help of Lin Tang, his lethal enforcer, he will unite sixteen of the continent’s top master vampires into the most powerful undead alliance the world has ever seen.

Rumors abound that Lin Tang’s most hated enemy, Cantrell Ryker, has returned from the grave and there are hunters in town, ready to take back the twilight. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned, with dissension in the ranks and a traitor in their midst, these hunters fight for humanity side by side. They now have a weapon that could turn the tide of the age-old war between man and vampire once and for all.

Author Bio

Gregory Marshall Smith, born in Somerville, Massachusetts and raised in historic Medford, is a decorated Navy veteran. Though sports writing is his profession, in his career, he has been, among other things, a national columnist, playwright, engineer, asset protection agent, editor, safety auditor, fingerprinter, training instructor and sometime actor (Heiju trilogy; Life As We Know It; The Odd Life of Timothy Green; Detroit 1-8-7; Contagion; Walker, Texas Ranger).

He is the author of the novellas Crawl and They Call the Wind Muryah, along with two anthologies (Dark Tidings Vol. I & II). He has had numerous award-winning short stories appear in Farspace 2, Writer’s Bump, Far Side of Midnight, Spectacular Speculations and SFH Dominion, among others. Hunters is his first full-length novel.

Ever restless, he currently resides somewhere in America.

Answer Gregory's question

"What do you think? How would you have women portrayed in books?"

for a chance to win a ebook copy of Hunters

Be sure to include your email address


Roni said...

I don't eread, so I'll have to get the book in paperback for two reasons. #1 Love the vampires; can't get enough. #2 I'm originally from Massachusetts, (although more towards the Cape) and want to support any writers that grew up there. Best of luck, Gregory.

Rain Maiden said...

I enjoy a woman holding her why not. It's good when characters have weekness too. I can relate more to the character if they are not perfect. Thanks for the post.

Roxanne Rhoads said...

I definitely vote for the stronger female. Bella is way too demure for my tastes- lacking in personality as well. Which fits on many levels for the teenage girl because they can fill in the blanks and relate however they want.

As an older female I have lived and learned and now consider myself to be a much stronger person because of it so I relate better to characters who kick ass, take names, and live life on their terms.

Roxanne Rhoads said...

And by older female I mean I'm past that teenage identity crisis- but no where near ready for a nursing home. LOL

Mid 30s puts me in my female prime doesn't it?

SandyG265 said...

I think characters, both male and female, should be realistic. They should be strong enough to stand on thier own but it's also Ok to need other people and have flaws.

Alicia0605 said...

I love to see females be real. I want them strong sexy and smart but they also need a soft spot!

aliciahall0605 at yahoo dot com

Cylver said...

I love it when the women I read about are strong and tough, but I also like them to be smart enough to know when to go into a situation with guns blasting, and when to take a calmer, more diplomatic approach. And I really, really love when a woman comes off as demure and needing to be protected, only to prove herself as kick-a$$ as any guy!

Gregory Marshall Smith said...

Thanks, everyone, for leaving your comments. I appreciate them.