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Elizabeth Heiter | Writing Strong, Modern Heroines

November 27, 2018

Strong heroines. Deadly villains. Killer suspense. That’s my brand – three things I promise to deliver readers with every book. But what does it take to create a strong, modern heroine?

Sometimes, it’s a FBI SWAT agent, a woman who’s as deadly with her bare hands as she is with an MP-5 submachine gun, like Maggie Delacorte, the heroine of SWAT SECRET ADMIRER. Other times it’s a socially awkward FBI profiler, a woman who struggles with simple small talk but can tell you what a serial killer will do next before he even knows it himself, like Evelyn Baine, the heroine of my Profiler series. Like real women, strong heroines are as varied as the individuals themselves.

Yes, I’ll admit it: I have a soft spot for a woman like Maggie, whose teammates get a kick out of letting her “initiate” the new guy – by going to shake his hand and then promptly flipping him over her shoulder and down to the ground. But even the strongest heroines have vulnerabilities. For Maggie, it’s trusting anyone with the truth about her past and what led her to the FBI: being abducted and raped by a serial criminal who’s still out there, still a threat. What makes her strong isn’t just the fact that she can take down a man twice her size, but that she’s willing to face her worst fears in order to save others.

But strong heroines come in much less obvious packages, too, like Kensie Morgan, the violinist in my upcoming book K-9 DEFENSE. When she was just a child, her little sister was abducted right in front of her. All these years later, Kensie hasn’t given up on finding her. She dedicates her spare time to working with cold-case groups and following leads on her sister’s kidnapping. And when one of those leads pops up in the remote wilderness of Alaska, Kensie hops on a plane. Although she has no law enforcement background or self-defense training, not even multiple attempts on her life will shake Kensie from her quest to rescue her little sister.

When it comes to my heroines, what they do have in common is determination – and not just for their own personal goals, but the willingness to do whatever it takes to help someone else. None of them are just cardboard action heroines; they have fears and often face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. What makes them strong is their commitment to struggling forward anyway. What makes them heroines is that they make the tough choices, and even when they fall down, they keep going.

Read on for an early sneak peek at what Kensie Morgan is willing to do when she reads three simple words left behind in a note in the wilds of Alaska:

“I’m still alive.”

Three simple words in a note. A note signed by the sister Kensie Morgan hadn’t seen in fourteen years had sent her in a frantic rush across 3,500 miles. Kensie had left a brief message on her boss’s voice mail, telling him she needed some time off, then called her family. They’d been less supportive.

But this time, Kensie had to believe, the lead could be real.

The hope had buoyed her from one layover to the next, warmed her as she stepped off the plane in Alaska.

For early October, the temperature was way colder than she’d expected, and it had only gotten worse as she’d paid for her rental pickup truck and headed north.

Desparre, Alaska, was the kind of place you came to to drop off the map. The sort of place no one would think to look—and even if they did, they might never make it out.

About Elizabeth Heiter

Elizabeth Heiter

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages; they’ve also been shortlisted for the Daphne Du Maurier award, the National Readers’ Choice award and the Booksellers’ Best award and won the RT Reviewers’ Choice award.

The heroine of Elizabeth’s Profiler novels was called “one of the most amazing characters created in print” by Fresh Fiction. Her novels have received praise from Lee Child, J.T. Ellison, Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, R.L. Stine, Allison Brennan, Laura Griffin, Suzanne Brockmann, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Zoë Sharp.

The Profiler | Lawmen | Bullets and Brawn


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