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Powerful Female Characters

After receiving a wonderful review from (Elionor Jones), I was particularly encouraged by her remarks about some of the female characters in Beyond The Pyre.

More on that later because according to the Readers Digest and I guess a sizable list of readers, the following female fictional characters are said to be among the best of all time. That’s quite a claim to make when I think of many others I have loved as I read their stories. Not to mention (well I will at the end of this article) a few of my own.

Elizabeth (aka Lizzie or Eliza) Bennett

Elizabeth Bennett is the witty protagonist from Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The second oldest of five daughters and, like the rest of her sisters, she’s not expected to marry for love, rather status and money. True to herself, she would rather stay single; a concept that was not generally acceptable at the time.

Nancy Drew

Her debut was in the 1930s but she remains one of the most iconic female characters. Conceived by Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy Drew’s character was ground-breaking because she wasn’t simply a pretty sidekick to a leading male counterpart. Instead, the bold, physically strong, and fiercely intelligent Nancy used her superior intellect to solve mysteries.

Josephine (Jo) March

Jo is a second eldest daughter and a central focus in the novel Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  At 15, she is strong-willed, confident, and literary. Unlike her sisters, she is outspoken and uninterested in marriage. Jo struggles with and defies society’s expectations of how women in the 19th century should carry themselves, making her one of literature’s most daring female characters.

Lisbeth Salander

My favourite on this particular list! She’s provocative, intense, and probably bi-polar but, most people she meets simply label her crazy. Lisbeth has become one of the most intriguing female characters in literature. As a lead character in Stieg Larrson’s novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, she is a world-leading computer hacker with a photographic memory who fights to overcome a traumatic childhood and helps solve a complicated series of mysteries. Her uncompromising moral code can be shocking but, devastating to those who find themselves on her radar.

Hermione Granger

Frequently collects ten points for Gryffindor, but Hermione is much more than a very intelligent young woman. As the lead female character in the Harry Potter stories and in my humble opinion was superbly cast in the films.  Her keen intellect and powerful memory are consistently evident, sometimes to the dismay of her friends, who often think she’s bossy and annoying. The Muggle-born Hermione transforms from an eager, know-it-all 11-year-old to a confident, loyal, and brave heroine.


Celie is both the narrator and protagonist of the outstanding novel, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. At the hands of her father and then, later, by her husband, Celie is a lonely, dejected, emotionally and physically mistreated victim. Through the power of love and forgiveness, Celie finds her own strength and transforms into a confident, independent, and compassionate woman.

Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen is a contemporary icon. Strong, determined, and fiercely loyal, she is a highly skilled archer and hunter who becomes a leader in the rebellion against the tyranny of the Capitol. By the end of The Hunger Games 3, Katniss becomes a reluctant hero. A girl who was never ordinary who found courage and compassion under constant life-threatening circumstances.

Arya Stark

One of the lead females in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, Arya is a small, fiery force to be reckoned with. Tough with a capital T, the fiercely independent Arya outwardly scorns “noble” female hobbies like sewing and dancing in favour of sword fighting and horseback riding.

I think Martin must have met my youngest daughter. However, adding more of Arya’s stories might result in spoilers for some so I will be kind and stop here.

Now on to a few of my own superwomen in Beyond The Pyre. . .

“I also loved the female characters in the book! I love strong female characters, and this book was full of them. The main female characters were Catharine, from modern-day Britain, Sophie, a French Catholic supporter, and Elionor, a Catholic who supported peace between the faiths. Personally, my favourite of these characters was Elionor, and I loved the banter that went on between Elionor and her husband with regards to women’s position.

Catharine was also a strong female lead, and I liked again how Ben saw her as his equal, and the links between the two couples throughout were interesting and, often, adorable. I thought the fact that the 13th and 21st century couples mirrored each other was also a great element.

‘He knew that ventures into the spirit world could be draining, and Catharine never did things by halves.’”

Ask any writer about the value of reviews and they will tell you something on the lines of, ‘they are like gold.’ Of course they give the ego a pat on the back but they also inform us and help us to improve. Especially if the reviewers are honest about our work, which is exactly what Eleanor Jones gave me when she reviewed Beyond The Pyre; plenty to think about.

What she also gave me was a wonderful reminder relating to the personal side of me.

I was a child of the sixties brought up in a loving family with traditional values. Not much changed until I went to work at British Aerospace where I saw and worked with many women in positions of authority. Some were exceptionally independent; others accepted and bowed to the male dominated higher management. I began to challenge the status quo and found myself in frequent deep-water for doing so.

Moving on to university in the early 80’s and possibly influenced by Thatcher there was a huge increase in ‘feminism’ and sadly some of it was so extreme it turned away some men who were potential supporters. The debate on my course alone was often fiery and led to feelings of us and them.

Looking back, a little change has occurred and realistically, the 80’s explosion has settled and it at least started better recognition of women. There is still a very long way to go before real equality is achieved and I believe it needs to be approached from all aspects of life. Here’s one reason why I like to have strong female characters in my novels.

From a spiritual point of view I believe we are all equal and none are more equal than others (Sorry Mr Orwell), hence the balance between Elionor and Louis who spent much time in a Cathar community where the prevailing belief was equality. Catharine and Ben in the 21st Century practiced their own equality, or, did they carry it with them through the ages?

I’ve only mentioned two female characters but there are others for another day and some in my children’s novel Horando.

What do you think? Who is your number one female character?

I will leave you to consider the featured image that could well be Serdica from Beyond The Pyre.



Send in your synopsis today to be included on Thursday.

Here’s how it works.

You send a synopsis and link to your current or forthcoming book in 500 words (or less if you prefer), and I will present it here. In addition, I will promote the first one I receive each week (for seven days) on my social media accounts which are steadily growing.

No catches, that’s it, send a synopsis today.

Crazy Mind Interview

Interview with author and blogger Steve Costello

Steve Costello is an author and fledgling blogger although he had over five thousand engaged followers when he sent up a motivational blog back in 2000. His passions are many but in particular he loves to use fictional writing to introduce matters relating to human beings and their spiritual nature. We interviewed Steve recently.

How relevant are your personal experiences (such as of sleeping in bomb shelters and the travels/stays in Germany, Greece, Turkey, UK, the Netherlands, Devon, France) on the unearthing of a long-hidden secret in your book ‘Beyond the Pyre’?

My personal experiences are all a part of my life path and they have led me to believe strongly in humanity and the absolute love that resides in all of us.
Sleeping in a bomb shelter was a frightening experience that felt very personal at the time until I realised that I was a lucky one; I had the luxury of a shelter and others like me did not. Those thoughts began to hurt.
I met several groups of people ‘The News’ would describe as coming from both sides of the conflict. We all shared love and hope, we all had families who we loved, we all hoped for peace. None of us were concerned with politics; we saw that as a warning flag that could bring harm, fear and division.
Wherever I have travelled I have seen the same; poverty and corruption exploited by fear. Lies told by politicians and secrets held to achieve their own agendas also creating division and fear of other albeit innocent groups, a minority of whom chose to defend themselves in ways that only exacerbate negativity.
Perhaps The Secret in Beyond The Pyre was placed there to highlight how the threat of something terrible might come about by exposing a “closely guarded secret.” Alternatively, it may be there to say, “go ahead, expose that secret and show the world that the stories are hearsay.” Whatever it does, it creates an “us and them” and denies the universal love that exists between us.

How long did you take to conceptualize the story for ‘Beyond the Pyre’?

Many aspects of the story have always been with me and fermenting until I put fingers to the keyboard in December 2014. Writing and editing was complete by March 2016. Although I found a publisher quickly, the process took fourteen months to publication.

Who inspires you on the character of ‘Catharine’ and the woman who looks exactly like Catharine?

I have a sign close to my desk, “Warning, writer at work. Innocent bystanders may be written into the story.” All of my characters are developed from people I know, have met or have seen in passing. Often I just know that a person or part of them has to form a character. Although they are unaware, Catharine is a mixture of two women I know. The woman who looks exactly like Catharine is another aspect of the same personality.

Which part of the writing process challenges you the most?

I love the writing process. It’s the most natural thing to do. Of course it has its challenges but I believe in Positive, Dynamic Solutions. There is always a way to overcome a challenge.

How did you imagine the setting in your book ‘Horando – Going Home’? If this book has been chosen to be made into a film/movie, where and which two locations (scenes) would you choose to shoot for the trailers?

If Beyond The Pyre or Horando – Going Home were selected by a film-maker I would be thrilled. There are three settings in Horando. One of these is the place where the children who feature in the story live. Their home consists of locations on the Greek island of Rhodes, and The Yorkshire Dales in The UK. The other two locations are purely fantasy although if pressed, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that some areas would be places I have visited on my travels. In the early part of the story, four children and a small herd of horses are pursued through a cave from their world on earth to Horando. Maybe tricky to film but this would be a very atmospheric and thrilling trailer. For the final scene of Horando, I would choose The Pic de Bugarach, the highest summit in the Corbières mountains in the French Midi. Bugarach has an uninhibited 360° view which would give complete security for the finale that needs to take place. Despite the magic, I am only aware of one character that can fly. With a cloudy sunset this would be a perfect trailer and it would be a considerable way into the movie before any viewer realised where the trailer came from.

More info:

Twitter: @SteveCostello8

The Best of . . .

Greetings Dear Readers,

I hope each and every one of you is well today and if you are not feeling so great, I hope you will be soon. Namaste!

I’m particularly thinking about the wonderful musician Sinéad O’Connor who reached out to tell the world that she is enduring very difficult times. She needs our positive thoughts and prayers right now as do many others.

Using a simple networking principle, tell and show 10 people that you care for them and get them to do the same with ten (or more) other people. Before you know it, you have shared your love through thousands.

The Best of Historical Fiction

Well! I was about to write an article about the best of historical fiction until I went over to Quora and found this list containing many of the books I would have picked for a list of my own. Rather than regurgitate and risk boring you, I would like to know what you think. But let’s keep it simple; add a reply at the foot of this page with your number one title, author and no more than fifty words about why you think it’s such a great read.

Feel free to add links back to your blog or books so long as they don’t drown the content.

My favourite will stay under wraps until the next edition of this blog. The first person to choose mine will receive a free hard backed copy of Beyond The Pyre and I will publish a top 10 (with review comments) of what we all think highly of.

Coming Soon . . .

  • Writing, Horando; Going Home – Novel for Children
  • Forthcoming novels by Steve Costello
  • Guest Posts
  • Apps that help

Feedback . . .

Comments relating to this blog or other aspects of my work are welcomed. I am also happy to consider collaboration with other authors. If you would like to know more about me, send me a message at

Wishing you Peace, Love and Happiness always



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