My family and I saw the latest Disney film, “Moana,” on the evening of its release date. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved the film; for the beautiful animation, the music, the story, and the characters; in particular Moana, who is most certainly Disney’s most daring heroine to date.
While we were waiting in line to get into the theater, somehow, one of my favorite novels (and films) The Whale Rider gets brought up – probably due to the similar setting and that one of the actresses from the film is also in “Moana.” With the fact that this was a little over a week after An Absolute Mind came out, that too came into conversation in the matters of my dad saying how I was inspired to write Sonya as a strong female character from The Whale Rider. I had to argue, saying how apart from making some of the characters in the book Maori, The Whale Rider had not once crossed my mind when developing and creating the novel. My dad thought otherwise, saying how sometimes, we are influenced by sources we are unaware of. In this case, I beg to differ.
There are two reasons why: 1. I actually do have a few influences I can refer to when it came to keeping a particular mentality in mind when writing the novel (and they are named on the Acknowledgments page). 2. This is the most important reason of all in my mind, and that is that writing female characters has always come really naturally for me, probably because I’m female myself. While not all of them have been the most progressive or well-developed, that is something that I’ve gotten better at with time, age, and practice. So when my dad tells me that I was influenced by The Whale Rider to make Sonya a headstrong heroine, I have to question him with, “Is that really what you think?”
I’ve always had a bit of a “why not” mentality; which is why even as a little kid, when I noticed how a number of the heroes in “Star Wars” and the Harry Potter books were primarily male, I’ve always believed that females could just as effectively fill those same shoes. You can’t let centuries of what girls and women have been restrained to be undermine the fact that they’re just as human as their male counterparts, and therefore hold the same potential to be the heroes in their own stories. Funny enough, when the vision that would eventually lead to the creation of An Absolute Mind first came to me, the protagonist in question was male. If you’ve read the book, it’s obvious that I since made the protagonist female, because again, why not?
It seems that creators, particularly those affiliated with the film industry, are compensating for lost time by finally creating the kind of bold female characters that my younger self would have liked to have seen way sooner. This direction is practically on blast right now with films such as “Moana,” “The Eagle Huntress,” and “Arrival” having come out within the past month alone, with “Rogue One” set to come out in just a few weeks. However, my hope is that the film industry really is making up for lost time and not doing this, just because a headstrong heroine is “trendy” right now; especially when there are a fair number of examples – from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” to Hayao Miyazaki’s films – that have been in heading in that general direction with headstrong heroines, long before everyone else had caught on to it.
Just this week, I saw the stage production of “The Lion King” again, where there is a much more prominent female presence than the film it’s based on. Tomorrow, I’m seeing a 15th anniversary screening of “Spirited Away,” which, as I had talked about in my listicle of unfrequented strong female characters from earlier in the year, has a protagonist who becomes strong by relying on an inner endurance she never realized she had. Headstrong heroines have always been around; it’s just now about enforcing it as a norm that has always been there.
So back to what I was discussing with my dad earlier: Was the creation of An Absolute Mind influenced by The Whale Rider for its own headstrong heroine? No. Are there other influences that I can name otherwise for reasons other than that? Yes. At the end of the day though, it’s all about portraying the kind of character that has always existed.
An Absolute Mind is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. If you read it, please leave a review, for they’re greatly appreciated and help me grow as a writer. Also, be sure to check out its Goodreads page, and feel free to leave any questions you have about the book.