This entry comes from The Girl Myth in YA Fiction (And Beyond) at Bookriot and Writing for Girls by Courtney Summers. I read these two articles, did a lot of thinking and a lot of swearing, and knew I had to write this. Go read the articles first, else this won't make as much sense.
Back? Good. I'd like to issue a general statement to people who people who believe in the girl binary as detailed in the first article: "Fuck off. I will never listen to you. I write female characters with their own minds and lives, and I will never try to box them into your narrow ideas of likability and 'proper' behavior. Don't like that? I don't care."
THE ACCIDENTAL WARLOCK has two female leads, aged seventeen and somewhere around eighteen to twenty. As I read 'The Girl Myth' for the first time, I kept thinking about how people would react to Shiloh and Alexi, and how much they don't fit into this idiotic myth of how girls should be. Neither of them could be considered the secondary players in their own stories, both go after what they want, both look to solve their problems instead of wallowing in despair or whatever else. I made them as real as I could, and never gave a thought to expectations about what girls should be, because I was trying to write people.
As for the romance and purity issues that the article touches on, ye gods, that's going to start a shitstorm. While Shiloh lacks experience in this area, Alexi most certainly does not; the culture she's from is very open about love and sex and all things intimate. I can see the reviews already, calling Alexi all kinds of horrible things because she dared to be with other people before meeting Shiloh. And that's bullshit. The fact that the two of them getting together could cause problems with their families' business deals will only make things worse, despite that they both acknowledge this issue and try to make things work. No, I'm sure they'll both be called selfish for putting their own desires first.
<sarcasm>Because of course, nobody ever does that.</sarcasm> And I don't even want to get into how different the reaction would be if one of them was male.
It's a rough thing to look at my work and know that some people are going to hate the main characters because they don't match up to expectations, stereotypes, and other foolishness. But I'm going forward with it because I know it's right. Because as 'Writing for Girls' shows, I know there are people out there who will see themselves in these characters. And if my stories can really reach someone, make them feel that there's someone out there who understands, and help them in some way, then I know I've done my job right.
Because I'm not writing to fit some impossible ideal. I'm writing for myself, and for everyone who loves these kinds of stories. I'm writing for people.