What's expected of us by family and society, may not exactly be what we want for ourselves. Our next heroine, Brigit, shows us there is uncertainty in forging your own path--but also great discovery. Fantasy author Kylie Quillinan talks about strong-minded girls and the main character from her novel, MUSE.
Author Interview: Kylie Quillinan
Tell us about your book in the Daughters of Destiny box set. Who is the heroine, and what is she like?
Brigit is supposed to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a wise woman (a healer). But she wants a life of danger and adventure rather than charms and cures. When she refuses a demand from one of the fey, she is transformed into a dog in punishment and suddenly finds herself in the middle of an adventure that is nothing like she imagined. Lost, injured, and alone, she eventually encounters a bard on a quest. Brigit and the bard team up to complete his quest together. Brigit is strong-minded, although this is often misinterpreted as being stubborn.
What went into creating her, and how does she interact with the other characters around her?
I’ve often been accused of stubbornness, so I guess there’s a little (a lot?) of me in Brigit. When Brigit is turned into a dog (Bramble), people act differently around her than they would if they knew she was really a woman. The bard, Diarmuid, gets very nervous around women and ends up making a fool of himself. When he speaks to Bramble, though, he doesn’t relate to her as a woman, so he lets his guard down and shows her who he really is.
Do you believe it’s easier to write a female main character rather than a male one? Why?
For me, yes, although I know a lot of writers would disagree. Muse also has a male main character and this is the first time I’ve written from the point of view of a male. From the very first time I started thinking about this book, I knew it had to have both a male and a female main character. However, I find it easier to get into the mind and voice of a female character, especially if they happen to be stubborn and a bit prickly like Brigit.
What would you define as a “strong heroine”?
Someone who is confident in her own knowledge and opinions. Someone with the ability to act when it’s necessary but who is also able to acknowledge when she is wrong. Someone who goes out and chases her dream, regardless of what other people say, whether it’s that she shouldn’t or she can’t.
I enjoy exploring time periods when women didn’t have a lot of agency of their own. When society’s expectation is that a woman will marry (usually to a man chosen by her father) and have babies, it takes a strong woman to make something else of her life. I like writing about women who aren’t interested in meeting society’s expectation of what they should be like.
Name some of your personal female heroes (real or fictional).
Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Tory Alexander in Traci Harding’s The Ancient Future. Sorcha in Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest.
Where can readers find out more about you? Give us the details!
Readers can sign up to my mailing list through my website at www.kyliequillinan.com. I send a newsletter once a month, which usually includes a brief update of my current work-in-progress and sometimes a cute photo of one of my dogs.