Heroine

My love for Wonder Woman has more to do with Lynda Carter than anything else. And last night, in the stellar documentary, Wonder Women!, Carter said that when she got the role, people warned her women would hate her as Wonder Woman. “Why?” she wondered. And then she decided to insure women wouldn’t hate her and she deliberately created a character that behaved toward women with compassion. Even the villains.

She subverted the drama by being powerful. Right? That’s what she’s saying. And one of the reasons she was so perfectly cast is that she is powerful. She has aged in that amazing way where you can’t look away. It’s not just that she’s gorgeous, but that she’s fucking powerful. Like Anne Bancroft. I never could look away from her. She’s commanding.

One of the essential things about heroines, one of the things so often missing in stories with female protagonists is the role of the general. Is she moving the story or is the story happening to her? Is she responding to the action or is she directing it?

I have heard parents lament the violence of Hunger Games, and I marvel at their response. We are a country at war, and we have been at war for a decade now. Are you under the impression that children haven’t noticed? At the center of Hunger Games, like Harry Potter, is a humanist argument about what is acceptable in wartime. It’s a story about mercy. It’s a story about how to fight without losing your humanity.

If your adversary is lawless, what are you? What are you?

Are you responding or directing? One of the many things that Buffy has so right is that she’s a general. And she gets to be wrong and right and fail and succeed. The way we do. The way we all do. The time for our stories has never been so pressing. We need them. We need to write them. We need to tell them. The whole of humanity, not just the men of steel.

And speaking of stories, tune in tomorrow with Rebecca Swartz for a look inside The Next Big Thing.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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