We’re very excited to have a special guest post today from Alice Blanchard, author of A BREATH AFTER DROWNING, out April 10 from Titan Books. Her new book features female protagonist Dr. Kate Wolfe, and in this post, Blanchard describes why she should be called the hero of the novel, not the heroine.
Why are female heroes called heroines? That takes the shine off it. Gertrude Stein is famous for saying, “A rose is a rose.” And she’s precisely right. A hero is a hero. So, let’s settle this—heroes are beyond gender.
Here are a few of my favorite heroes:
Claire in Six Feet Under, one of my favorite TV shows ever. It’s about… well, everyone knows (or you can binge watch it—you’re welcome)… about an old-fashioned funeral home and the dysfunctional family that runs it. Claire represents the pure bare-knuckle pursuit of truth. She has the best incredulous eyes. Oh… my favorite moment in the show is when she throws the foot of a dead man into a schoolyard. Claire’s scorching anger at the daily indignity of being a teenager carrying the emotional baggage of living in a funeral home is brilliantly portrayed by Lauren Ambrose and beautifully written by Alan Ball.
Diane Arbus, photographer. She still astonishes me. She was way ahead of her time. Diane walked into people’s lives, and they showed her who they were, and she captured it on film in a way that few others have. She was a magician, seeking out life’s tricky little corners—things we overlook and people we don’t see. But Diane saw them. Her subjects come to life in her black-and-whites—in those scared, scarred, sacred faces we see ourselves.
Exene Cervenka, lead singer of the legendary Los Angeles punk band X. Exene can’t sing, but she’s a brilliant singer. Her vocals are intimate and outrageous, her stage presence is mesmerizing, and her lyrics are poetry culled from heartache. Like a punk Pythia at the oracle of Delphi, she conjures love and ruin. She and John Doe wrote some of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard, and their harmonies are so stormy and primal it scrapes out your heart.
Faye Dunaway of Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatown. Yeah… Faye Dunaway, a somehow underrated actress who played femme fatales with complicated personalities. At the beginning of her career, this exquisitely beautiful young actress endured everything Hollywood could throw at her. She played tough, difficult women fighting for their lives. Her characters have layer-cake depth and sizzling strength, and with each performance she melts the screen.
Sigourney Weaver in Alien and Aliens. Okay, so Alien director Ridley Scott made Sigourney strip down to her underwear because she had a slammin’ bod and he knew it would sell tickets. But Sigourney is a kick-ass brilliant actress who inhabited the role of Ellen Ripley so convincingly, she took it to sublime heights and redefined the archetype of the action hero. Both films are cinematic magic, but Sigourney stole the show and put the whole damn franchise on her back.
Linda Hamilton in Terminator and T2. Sarah Connor loses her marbles because she can see into the future… and it looks bleak. So, like a badass Cassandra from Greek mythology, she’s cursed by visions of the horrifying events to come—only no one believes her, and it’s driven her mad. From fade-in to fade-out, Linda Hamilton gives a muscular, mesmerizing performance as she escapes from an asylum, outwits the Terminator, and saves the world. Sarah Connor is no heroine.
All fantastic examples — thank you Alice! Alice Blanchard’s new psychological thriller “A Breath After Drowning” (Titan Books) comes out on April 10, 2018. Our review for the novel will also be posted that day, so watch this space for more about this beautifully paced, engrossing thriller.