Zen: How is writing a strong woman different than writing a strong man?
Annie Bellet: I don’t know that it is different. Maybe a lame answer, but I don’t set out to write “strong” women. I set out to write strong characters. People are complicated no matter their gender and we all have common thoughts and feelings. I try to write each character, male or female, in a way that makes them as real a person as I can, because in the end it is characters that interest me, that keep me coming back to stories. I put the same traits into both my “strong” women as my “strong” men. Empathy, loyalty, compassion, courage, and snark in the face of certain doom aren’t gender-specific, after all. And those are the things I like in my protagonists.
Zen: Badass women in books seem to be a burgeoning trend. Why do you think strong women are so much more popular lately?
Annie Bellet: Are they? I guess. I mean, it’s nice that it is easy to find female protagonists who have their own goals and agency and aren’t just there as plot motivation or decoration for men. I’ve read older stuff, like CL Moore’s Jirel of Joiry, that had strong women. I think it’s a thing that went somewhat unnoticed for a while in the mainstream, but strong women have always been there if you knew where to look. As women gain more voice in popular culture and business culture, as we move out of traditional roles and refuse to be invisible, I think it’s natural that we move into fiction in bigger, badasser ways as well. I’m psyched that my 5 nieces will grow up in a world where they can find lots of books full of a range of characters.
Zen: Is it more difficult to write a love interest for a strong, independent woman?
Annie Bellet: Nah. Getting her to trust and actually stick it out with him? Maybe. But I think relationships are stronger when both people have their own things, their own desires and goals, and aren’t psychotically wrapped up in each other. I love the idea of instant connection, but where it takes a while to turn into more than sex, where the love/commitment part sneaks up. What’s tough is writing a woman who likes sex and doesn’t see the point of waiting months or whatever until she is “sure” of deeper feelings. Women who jump into bed with men they are attracted to without falling in love first still face some stigma in our culture, so writing that part was definitely a risk, but I go where the characters want me to go, because it’s their story. I figure an independent woman can make up her own mind about when she’s ready.
Zen: Authors tend to be prolific readers. What was the last thing you read and loved?
Annie Bellet: I’m currently reading my way through Marjorie M Liu’s Dirk and Steele series. So far they are awesome. I have a definite weakness for were-tigers, were-dragons, were-crows, psychics, and mysteries. So it is hitting all my reader cookies so far.
Zen: Who are your favorite badass women in movies?
Annie Bellet: Zoe from Firefly/Serenity. She’s a strong woman who loves her husband and has a totally healthy relationship on top of maintaining friendships, keeping the ship together/crew working smoothly, and dealing with all kinds of crazy situations. She’s amazing. She can shoot, she doesn’t take any shit, she’s honest and compassionate and loyal. Pretty much the perfect woman.
Zen: Finally, just because I’m sure you’ll have an opinion: Who was a better chief of security for the Enterprise-D? Tasha Yar or Worf?
Annie Bellet: Original Series FOREVER! I mean, uh, Worf. Cause he married Jadzia Dax on DS9 and was pretty cool. Tasha Yar mostly annoyed me. Of course, STNG pretty much annoyed me. It’s my least favorite Star Trek. Which I know is weird, since it is almost always the favorite of everyone else (including my husband), but eh. STNG is for casuals. Give me Bones and Spock any day.
Visit Annie Bellet at http://overactive.wordpress.com/