The original Star Trek was my first exposure to science fiction, and ultimately I moved on to reading and writing fan fiction. One of the best things about it was writing stories where I got to pair up various characters.
So once I started writing stories of my own, I didn’t see any issues with having a heroine who was strong, capable and unafraid to fall in love. It was logical, as Mr. Spock would say.
Why would a heroine in a science fictional world be any different than her counterparts in other genres?
But at times there’s outright hostility to the idea of a strong female character having a love interest. As though if she did fall in love, she’d start sighing and draping herself across fainting couches.
Kick-ass heroine? No problem. Kick-ass heroine in a romantic relationship? No good.
When I started to work on my Hathor Legacy books, I was determined to create a heroine who could have it all. In “Hathor Legacy: Outcast,” the first book of the series, I was still defining Nadira, the heroine. She was tough, but not world-weary. Cautious about being in a relationship, but physically attracted to Jonathan, the hero.
In book two, “Hathor Legacy: Burn,” she and Jon are a couple, connected by love and by a psychic bond. As the story unfolds, Nadira’s got a mystery to solve and a relationship to manage. Love doesn’t get in the way of her ability to handle her business. It’s not a weakness or a distraction; it’s an important part of her life.
That’s one of the reasons I decided to create a turning point for their relationship by temporarily removing Nadira’s psychic abilities. To be honest, at first I had a hard time writing about it. I was used to her being stronger and I had to be willing to let her be vulnerable.
By setting the story on another planet hundreds of years in the future, I’ve removed a lot of the norms of the society we live in. Male/female roles are not what we’re used to on Earth in the present day, and I wasn’t looking to recreate a world with the same limitations and stereotypes.
But at the same time, writing about a future world without bringing baggage from the current one isn’t easy. When I write my characters, I want to keep challenging myself (and the reader) to see the world and relationships in a different way.
Sure, the heroine can lead the charge and kick all the asses in the room, but there’s no reason why her strength has to be in conflict with her desire for love and connection. It’s what I’ve come to expect as a reader.
As a writer I’m learning how to strike the balance between strength and vulnerability and create a character who’s not afraid to be both.
This originally appeared on the Galaxy Express.