Shannon Hale, a New York Times best selling author and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believes that there should be more female superheroes. She’s tackling this problem through her own writing as she includes female heroes in her novels.
The Salt Lake Tribune interviewed Hale before the Salt Lake Comic Con, which she was excited to attend, and asked her about the importance of fantasy, how her life has shaped the stories she chooses to write, and her opinion of “strong female characters.” Below are the two questions and answers from the interview that we at LDS.net enjoyed the most.
Some people have become acquainted with you through “Austenland,” but your body of work certainly has its fair share of fantasy. Could you speak to the importance and value of fantasy stories?
Fantasy is fantastic for making stories more universal. I read, write and adore realistic fiction, too, but realistic fiction is more limited in interpretation. For example, when I wrote a novel about a girl who could control fire, I had emails from people telling me how much they identified with her because clearly the fire was a metaphor for mental illness, or addiction, or divorce, or sin or any number of things. Fantasy often allows people to enter a story and get out of it what they need.
You have a lot to say about the concept of “strong female characters,” and how that definition shouldn’t be limited to women who adopt traditionally male characteristics. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that for our readers?
I dislike the phrase “strong female character.” Perhaps it began as a way to applaud the few realistic and complex female characters among the flat ones that merely play a role (mother, love interest, damsel in distress) in a hero’s story. But we never hear “strong male character” because that idea is default. Almost as if the idea that a female character could be strong is so unusual, so unexpected, that it’s noteworthy. It’s also become a way to justify that lack of female characters in stories. “Yeah, there’s only one female character in this show/comic/book, but she’s STRONG!” Variety, diversity, complexity are more important than “strength,” whatever that word means.
Read Michael McFall’s full article and interview at sltrib.com.