I have returned to you, oh Smart Chicks blog! They could not KEEP me away!
I was actually a bit unsure what to blog about, until I read the fair Kelley Armstrong’s super informative post last week! There was one particular bit of information that I found very inspiring.
Q: Who are the Smart Chicks?
A: Not us. Well, not me anyway. It’s a tip of the hat to both our characters and our readers. We feel that all the authors on this tour write “smart chicks”—not necessarily kick-ass girls, but capable ones, and that’s what counts. And, of course, a love of reading always improves grades, so we consider all our readers “smart chicks,” too.
I am so glad I am not meant to be a smart chick. While our tour has some very, very intelligent ladies in it, I have to say, anyone who has seen me read a map had good reason to question my brilliance. (Imagine someone with all the sense of direction and cool reasoning capability of a panicked weasel, trapped in a wardrobe.)
But I am also terribly glad to see the celebration of capable ladies!
Have any of you guys heard the song Short Skirt, Long Jacket by Cake? It goes like this: ‘I want a girl with a mind like a diamond. I want a girl who knows what’s best.’
That is basically my theme song when I read books. Not for me, the lady who says ‘Count Squarejaw, I have every faith you will protect me from the ravening alien werepredator. I’ll be upon the fainting couch, waiting for you to answer the really important question of this book: if you like me, circle yes or no.’
Not for me either, the lady who says ‘Yuck, other girls. They’re all so much girlier than me.’ So a lady scorning Miss Swoonhilda won’t work either.
I like girls in books to be awesome in a variety of ways! And the more awesomeness and more variety I see, the more I like it.
Now, some of the Smart Chicks Tour authors have written some of my favourite capable ladies. I mean, really, really awesome heroines. Lots of really, really excellent ladies. But I fear I would seem to be simply bragging of the lovely company I find myself in if I discussed them.
So here are some heroines written by writers who are not in the Smart Chicks tour, but who I think exemplify the Smart Chicks way…
Sophie, the heroine of one of my favourite books, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
SOPHIE: Today an evil witch stormed into my hat shop and enchanted me to be eighty years old.
SOPHIE: Some people would be annoyed. I have decided to take matters in stride and appoint myself the housekeeper of a flying castle owned by the evil wizard Howl, who eats hearts.
HOWL: Uh – I guess – uh-
SOPHIE: All shall look upon my broom of fury, and despair!
SOPHIE: Must clean up bathroom, including all of the evil wizard Howl’s beauty products.
HOWL: Woman, you made my hair turn pink! PINK! It is time for an epic magical tantrum!
SOPHIE: You look silly with green slime on your face.
HOWL: How can I be the most powerful wizard in the land, when even my housekeeper does not fear me?
SOPHIE: Silly man, don’t take it personally. Nothing stops me. Not spells to make me old or wizard’s messy castles or attack by demons or creepy animated scarecrows. I AM A HOUSECLEANING FORCE OF NATURE.
SOPHIE: Just say ‘Yes, Sophie.’
HOWL: … Yes, Sophie.
Kate Sutton, from Elizabeth Marie Pope’s book The Perilous Gard.
KATE: My little sister has got me in trouble with Queen Elizabeth I and now I have been banished to a creepy faraway manor where the daughter of the house has disappeared and her young, handsome, troubled uncle lives in a Hut of Shame and Guilt. Someone needs to get to the bottom of this!
KATE: Seems the young lady has been kidnapped by faeries. And now her Hot Uncle Christopher has traded himself for her safety. Oh lord, nobly sacrificing heroes. I must see to this!
KATE: Being undercover as a servant to the faeries is very tiresome. Faeries keep making personal remarks about humans’ looks and gracefulness. Or lack thereof.
KATE: How’s it going, Christopher? In order to keep up your spirits before you get sacrificed, let’s think about farmland and ditches!
CHRISTOPHER: I know I’m a noble romantic hero, but actually talking about ditches really soothes me.
QUEEN OF THE FAERIES: Kate, I’d like to offer you a nastily tempting faerie bargain.
KATE: Oh Queenie, have you paid no attention to this book at all?
Kate Daniels (Kate is a clearly a good, capable name!) in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, beginning with Magic Bites.
KATE: Dear Diary, my to-do list for the day:
1. Avenge godfather’s death.
2. Insult king of shapeshifters.
3. Do battle with vampires.
4. More battle with vampires.
5. Strangely good kiss with king of shapeshifters.
6. See to serial killer.
7. Must tame city out of control.
8. Better see to plague.
9. Adopt street child, solve her mother’s murder.
10. Rescue werewolf sidekick.
12. Seriously, king of shapeshifters kisses like a minx.
13. Take part in crazy supernatural tournament fight to death.
Pretty much your average day. Could use a lemonade. Kate out!
Ellie Spencer from Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead
ELLIE: I think the handsome mysterious boy in class I have a crush on is hiding magical secrets from me! And so I am going to punch him in the face.
ELLIE: Got to save best guy friend from being made a love slave.
ELLIE: Uh-oh, matters have spiraled out of control, and now I must save NEW ZEALAND. This is going to call for more than face punching. There will have to be some roundhouse kicks in there as well.
Attolia from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, starting with The Thief.
Attolia’s Guide To Royal Etiquette
ATTOLIA: What do you do when your fiancé insults you? Poison him.
ATTOLIA: What do you do when a courtier plots treason? Starve him to death in a cage in the town square. (Plus: Makes everyone else reconsider treason!)
ATTOLIA: What do you do when you catch an insolent thief? Throw him in your darkest dungeon.
ATTOLIA: What do you do when you catch an insolent thief again? GET CREATIVE.
GEN: Uh, as the hero of these books, I’m going to have to ask you to be gentle with me.
ATTOLIA: Queens don’t DO gentle.
These are all very different ladies, with one thing in common: in a crisis, they tend to keep their head (just about, anyway. Usually. Just enough.) They have their own very strong views on things, and when they act, they act practically and decisively, using all the weapons they have to hand (brains, brawn, magic) to the very best of their ability.
Another thing they have in common is that I really, really love them.
So, thank you so much to all the lovely smart chicks who commented on my last post, and congratulations to shaideneuse, who my random numbers generator has declared to be our winner! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your address, and I will send your prize.
And for everyone else, to win a copy of any book (which is already published, that bit is important!) by one of the Smart Chicks tour authors – I thought it would be nice to have a Smart Chicks Festival! So comment here (or link to a blog post of your own, if you find yourself with just too much to say) with thoughts about your favourite smart chicks in books, who they are, what they do, and why you love them.
And feel free to talk about the Smart Chicks tour authors’ characters, even though I did not. Because: wow, those are are some really, really excellent ladies.