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C. C. Harrison | Strong Women

June 23, 2008

I admire strong women, don’t you? I’m not talking about famous women who have made important world changing contributions to science, literature, medicine or other areas of our culture. I’m talking about the young women of today who set goals, plan their lives, and make intelligent decisions for themselves. Women like Amanda, Tricia and Melissa, the three college students who were with me on the Navajo Indian Reservation as VISTA volunteers. They were smart and sharp, knew what they wanted, and deliberately set out to get it.

But I’m also talking about fictional women. My favorite is Scarlett O’Hara. I read GONE WITH THE WIND scads of years ago, but I will never forget the feeling of empowerment that came over me when time after time, Scarlett stood firm and met seemingly impossible challenges while everyone around her was going to pieces. Remember when she stood in that weather-ravaged potato field swearing she would never go hungry again? It gives me a thrill even now.

And I loved all the fictional heroines of those wonderful gothic novels of the seventies written by fabulous authors like Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Norah Lofts, and Phyllis Whitney. When the women in their stories heard all those creepy noises and thumpy bumps in the attic, did they slam the door and run away? NO! They went up that creaky staircase to check it out! I loved that! People joke about it, call those women TSTL (to stupid to live), but I thought then and I think now it took guts to do that. To me, courage is being afraid but doing it anyway.

I’m also talking about the women in my books who I hope readers find inspiring in the courage they show over the course of their story.

In THE CHARMSTONE, set in Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation, Amanda Bell leaves the comfort zone of her ordinary life in Beverly Hills when she is called upon to travel to a place she’s never been, and where she didn’t know anyone in order to fulfill her estranged father’s last wish. When she arrived in Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation, a place as foreign to her as if it were in another country, she felt uncertain, out of place, and, yes, afraid. Over the course of the story, she made mistakes that she learned from, overcame doubts and fears, faced mysterious threats, and despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, persevered.

In RUNNING FROM STRANGERS (due out from Five Star in September), child advocate Allie Hudson finds herself running for her life with a child in her care. She raced across the country to the only person she could trust, hoping he’d forgive her for leaving him practically at the altar. Once there, she endured scorn, uncertainty, rejection, and danger, but she never backed down. She had a child to protect.

In SAGE CANE’S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR (written as Christy Hubbard, scheduled for release in July 2009 from Five Star), lack of finances propelled Sage Cane, a prim and proper city woman, to relocate to a rough and rugged mining town in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains. She had to learn to survive in a whole new — and to her, impossible — environment. It wasn’t easy, but she found a way to empower herself and the other women in town, and together they turned the entire place on its collective ear. Sort of Girl power in the Old West!

Before beginning that book, I did a lot of research on women who traveled into the historic frontier, and I am in awe of them for the colossal courage they showed in going to a place that was not only new and strange, but dangerous too. Sage Cane is my tribute to them.

Who are some of the strong women you admire, fictional or otherwise?

C. C. Harrison

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