As I would imagine is true for most authors, by the time we write that very first paragraph of our very first novel, our brains have absorbed massive amounts of fiction in the form of novels, comic books, fairy tales, short stories, motion pictures, and television shows. And this huge warehouse of information will impact our own works in ways we that may never fully–or even partially–understand.
Back when I wrote Grave Designs, my first Rachel Gold mystery, if you would have asked me how I created that savvy young female attorney, I would have shrugged and told you I didn’t know. And I certainly wouldn’t have known the origins of her unflappable persona, as best exemplified by a favorite scene early in that novel. It takes place while she and a female colleague are waiting for the subway train late at night in downtown Chicago. They are approached on the platform by two drunk college guys, and the following encounter takes place:
The one in front grinned, raised his can of beer, and belched.
“Good evening, girls. How are we tonight?”
“Take a hike, you clowns,” Cindi said.
The guy in front winked and turned back toward his buddy.
“Sure, girls. But first we’d like you to meet Red. Go ahead, Pete.
Let these girls meet him.”
Pete stepped out from behind his buddy, wagging his half-erect
penis in his right fist. “Say hello to Red, girls.”
“Ignore these bozos,” Cindi mumbled as she grasped my
elbow to pull me away.
I didn’t budge. Instead, I stared at Pete’s crotch, and then
glanced at Cindi. “Look at that,” I said to her, nodding at the
display. “It looks just like a penis, only smaller.”
Pete’s face dropped, followed by his penis. He looked down
at his crotch, then back at me, then back at his crotch.
Well, thanks to a wonderful post by Hannah Chamberlain (on Redbubble.com) entitled “12 Female Literary Characters Who Are Total Role Model Material,” I have at last discovered at least part of the origin story for Rachel Gold–and no doubt for many other formidable female characters in modern fiction. As Ms. Chamberlain writes in her introduction, “Check out these kickass female characters and the important lessons they have to teach us.”
Which is precisely what I did–and you should as well. These are twelve remarkable women–role models for fictional characters and, frankly, for the rest of us.
So spend some time with Ms. Chamberlain’s piece and see which of those dozen fictional character resonate the most with you. And see if you can spot any traces of those characters in some of your favorite contemporary stories. Enjoy!
As for Rachel Gold, yes, there’s a little Scarlett O’Hara in her. Some Elizabeth Bennett, too. And, as I discovered, a few dashes of one of my favorite literary characters of all time: Beatrice from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.