It’s an honour to write about my favourite fearless female character. Thank you Tigris for the kind invitation.
What makes a person fearless?
Some individuals are fearless because they have nothing to lose; others are fearless because they believe so strongly in something, they are willing to risk everything for it.
Raven Wood, the heroine of my Florentine Series, works at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence restoring famous paintings. She is fearless because of her belief in justice and compassion, as well as her conviction that a good person can’t witness a crime without getting involved.
Here is a scene from the first chapter of “The Raven”:
“Angelo was a homeless man who spent his days and nights begging for coins. Raven passed him on her way to and from the Uffizi. She always stopped to greet him and give him money or some food. She felt a kinship with him since they both walked with a cane. Angelo was developmentally disabled, which only increased her compassion.
As she walked, her gaze traveled from Angelo to the drunken gang and back again. A terrible feeling of dread passed over her.
“Good evening, friends!” Angelo’s Italian pierced the rainy darkness. “A few coins, please.”
The cheerful hope in his voice caused Raven’s stomach to churn. She knew the cruel fate of hope when it was misdirected.
She began limping faster, her eyes fixed on her friend, willing herself not to trip and fall. She was almost to the bridge when she saw Angelo lifting his hands and crying out.
The largest man was urinating on him. Angelo tried to move away, but the man followed. The other men cheered.
Raven felt shouts of protest bubble up in her throat. But she didn’t open her mouth.
She should intervene. She knew it. Evil flourished when good people walked by and said nothing.
The largest man finished urinating with a flourish, returning himself to the confines of his jeans. Without warning, he lifted a booted foot and kicked Angelo in the ribs. He cried out in pain slumping to the ground.
The men stopped and stared in Raven’s direction.
“Stop,” she repeated in a much quieter tone.
The men exchanged glances and the largest one said something derisive to his companions. He stalked in her direction.
As he approached, Raven could see he was broad shouldered and tall, his head shaven, his eyes dark. She resisted the urge to retreat.
“Go.” The man waved at her dismissively.
Raven’s green eyes darted behind him to where the homeless man was lying, curled into a ball.
“Let me help him. He’s bleeding.”
The bald man looked over his shoulder to his companions. As if in defiance, one of them kicked Angelo in the stomach.
With a predatory smile, the bald man turned back to Raven. He pointed in the direction from which she’d approached.
“Run,” he hissed…
As you can see in this scene, Raven isn’t entirely fearless. She has a healthy sense of danger and realizes that by coming to the homeless man’s defense, she is putting herself at risk. She is walking home, alone, and the streets of Florence are almost empty. Her personal risk is even greater given the fact she is physically disabled and walks with a cane.
But her belief in the homeless man’s dignity and his right to live without intimidation or abuse trumps her concern for herself. Her commitment to justice and compassion makes her set aside her fear.
Raven’s decision to intervene on the homeless man’s behalf has consequences. I won’t spoil the story by telling you what they are, but I can reveal that there are both positive and negative consequences. One of the most positive consequences is that because of her actions she meets her soul mate, William, grows to love her deeply, especially because of her fierce and protective nature.
Later in the novel, William asks Raven why she risked her safety and even her life to defend the homeless man.
Raven replied that she couldn’t stand there and do nothing. By this she means that she couldn’t live with herself if she walked away from the homeless man’s suffering.
It’s this realization that makes Raven fearless – not her physical strength, or her power, or her situation. Her convictions and her courage motivated her to do what is right, despite the risk.
I admire her character very much and enjoyed writing her. Readers in the Spanish speaking community have started a #YoSoyRaven campaign to express their solidarity with her and her bravery.
Raven’s story, which is told in “The Raven” and “The Shadow, comes to a conclusion with the final book of The Florentine Series, “The Roman,” which releases December 6th.
Thank you for reading.
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It’s a bit late tonight for Friday’s Fearless Female, I know. I got home and totally crashed… But here they are… Whitney and Sierra!
A few years back, my son and I went to visit Sierra. She still lived in Colorado at the time, and, it was perpetual winter. After a long debate at Redbox, we decided we were going to watch “The Avengers.” Sierra was less than impressed, and certainly not excited about it. If I recall her words were, “I think I’ll go to bed.”
Kiddo and I, we smirked and let her have her opinion and popped in the DVD, and told her to “give it ten minutes.”
About the time Natalia Romanova, Black Widow comes on the screen tied up, playing the damsel in distress Sierra gets up from the couch. “Oh please, I’m not watching this.”
I smirked again and said, “Just wait. Two more minutes, then you can go to bed.” With great and obvious reluctance, including some heavy sighs and watch-checking, Sierra agreed.
After the movie was over I asked her if it was all that awful. I think, she’s actually a Marvel fan, now. So, Sierra, what exactly changed your mind?
I don’t recall the story happening this way. At all. I fell in love with the Avengers the first time I saw Iron Man. I loved the backstory. Seeing Tony Stark, lying on the ground, dazed, broken, then looking around and focusing on a missile with “Stark Industries” on the side gave me the chills.
So I’m sure it was my idea to rent the Avengers movie. (I dislike a lot of things. Being wrong is one of them. So I will rewrite history when necessary.)
I’m not saying you’re wrong Sierra… I’m just saying you fell in love with Tony Stark when you made me bring Iron Man over AFTER watching “comic book characters” in the Avengers. 😉 Please, continue…
I’ve always had an aversion to “damsel in distress” type of storylines. Like many people, I had a rough upbringing. While parts of my childhood were sunshine, there were unspeakable rough patches. From many years of therapy followed by a divorce I never wanted, I learned to toughen up.
And it was important to me to instill a sense of resourcefulness in the women around me. I don’t believe that Prince Charming is necessarily coming to save us. And so, in my books, my heroines tend to be strong, clever, determined women.
They do become better people once they learn to love, as do my heroes. But you won’t generally find my heroines tied to the railroad track with a train bearing down on them, screaming helplessly while waiting for the hero to rescue the at the very last second.
So when a movie opens with a helpless-appearing female character, I start to twitch. I especially don’t want to waste my time when I could be snuggled under the comforter and dreaming up new storylines.
And then… And then… And then magic happens. Black Widow is no victim. She’s no helpless female just hoping her man shows up in the nick of time.
She is a heroine in her own right. A wicked, gorgeous, clever, kick ass heroine, capable of saving her own life and those around her, while dealing out her own form of justice.
Whitney and kiddo knew all along that I would fall in love with Black Widow and that it would lead to a scorching affair with Thor, Hawkeye, Captain America, and oh-me-oh-my, Iron Man. (Hulk? Not so much. He’s too much effort for me. If I have PMS and no chocolate, I can match his mood in an instant.)
Beyond Black Widow’s general kick-asseryness, I adore the humor that runs though the movies. That’s another thing all my books have to have…a chance to breathe through humor.
Long live brave, competent heroines. And to borrow from a famous phrase, may we be them, may we inspire them, may we raise them.
Sierra Cartwright Website:
Fearless. That’s a pretty big word, in my opinion. The definition is lacking fear. After a week of struggling to write this post, starting and stopping, typing a line or paragraph, only to erase it, I’ve realized something.
I don’t know any fearless females.
I do however, have the honor of being surrounded by friends who despite their fear, carry on and conquer. Authors who write and lift a middle finger to those who judge them for their choice of genre. Artists who struggle to make their world just a little more beautiful and get criticized for not doing it just so. I have friends who are single mothers, who have ‘traditional families’, and friends who are happily single.
They make no apologies for being who they are, and while sometimes they make scary-to-them choices, try to take over the world.
The strength that these women give me to push through another day is everything to me. I look up to these women, these Fearful but Don’t Give a Shit Females, and am awestruck. I hope to one day inspire someone else the way they have all inspired me.