What makes a heroine? Leigh Bardugo believes that her character Alina’s weakness was her greatest strength. Erika Johansen thinks her princess’ plain looks set her apart from the pack. While there is no right or wrong way to be—or write—a heroine, author Mary E. Pearson did pick up a few favorite traits while writing her new YA fantasy Kiss of Deception.
The first in a planned trilogy, Kiss of Deception features a princess running away from the life chosen for her and attempting to forge her own path, all while dodging assassins and coming to terms with her destiny. Here, Pearson gives us a glimpse into the creation of Princess Lia through this list of seven characteristics heroines can’t do without.
Seven Things I Like to See in a Heroine
1. Flaws. If I’m going to relate to her, she has to be real, wearing the full closet of human strengths and frailties. In The Kiss of Deception, Lia certainly has them. But one thing she considers to be a flaw, because she’s been told so many times that it is, I consider to be her strength: her tongue. She has a sharp one, especially when she’s impatient.
2. Determination. Even when knocked down by people and events, a heroine doesn’t stay down. She pulls herself up and tries again, no matter the odds.
3. Compassion. In the midst of trials, disappointments, and anger, she is never so hardened that her compassion is extinguished. Lia has a lot to be bitter about, but she can still see and ache for the hardships of others.
4. A sense of justice. A heroine has a strong moral compass.
5. Curiosity. While she may be determined, her mind is open to other possibilities. A heroine changes and grows in her knowledge of the world.
6. A sense of self. While she certainly has doubts about herself, and she may be willing to sacrifice many things, she still has a sense of her own value and rights. She is not a doormat.
7. Recklessness. Maybe this is just me, but for all the calculations I like to see in a heroine, sometimes I like to see her act with her gut—even if it’s not always the safest or most prudent thing to do at the moment. I like to see the lion in her take over.
Mary E. Pearson is the award-winning author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Miles Between, A Room on Lorelei Street, and Scribbler of Dreams. She writes full-time from her home office in California where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers.