While being interviewed recently about the strong, unconventional women in my books, the interviewer asked who were my role models? I was stumped. While there are many women I’ve admired, I wouldn’t say they were role models.
As I drove home, I thought about the question and realized I did have role models, but they were fictional characters.
The first was Annie Oakley—not the real woman, but the star of a 1950’s TV show. Annie could out ride and out shoot anyone, and was admired for her marksmanship, not her cute pigtails. I liked that. Beauty may fade, but accomplishments last.
The second was Katy Keene, the fashion model star of a series of popular comic books. Unlike my stay-at-home mom and those of my friends, Katy had a glamorous career. Readers could be a part of that glamorous world by sending in their own dress designs, and the artist would choose some and incorporate them, with credit given to the designer. My designs were never chosen; I guess my fashion sense didn’t jibe with Katy’s. But a circus horse I drew was accepted and became my first published anything. What a rush! While I didn’t like the frustration and bitter disappointment of rejection, I loved being published and wanted to repeat the experience again and again.
My third role model was Nancy Drew, girl sleuth. I devoured every book in the series, and loved Nancy. She solved mysteries and nobody told her she couldn’t. If I couldn’t solve mysteries, at least I could write stories.
Later, real-life women replaced those fictional characters as my inspiration. Writers like Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis A Whitney. I worked hard at becoming a published novelist just like them, enduring rejection and persevering as those Katy Keene years had taught me.
So, thanks Annie, Katy, Nancy, Mary, Victoria, Phyllis, and all the women who came after. Now when an interviewer asks about my role models, I’ll be ready with my list.
Who are your role models, fictional or real life, and how do they inspire you?