Let's welcome Jennifer Harlow to the blog today!
Mary Sue vs. Debbie Harry-Jennifer Harlow
Urban Dictionary Definition of a Mary Sue:
A female character in FanFic or original stories who is so perfect, so superior to all other characters, so powerful,she's annoying. Often based on the author.
(See Ana Steele, Bella Swan, TV Sookie Stackhouse)
Jennifer Harlow Definition of a Debbie Harry:
A female character who is flawed in many ways but does her best to overcome and accept them, is mouthy or prickly, strong or finds her strength, and who has to work for all she has especially love.
(See Anita Blake, Kinsey Milhone, Lizbeth Salander)
I consider myself a tough broad. I have a mouth on me, dirty a lot of the times, I've walked through dangerous cities at night alone, I've seen someone assaulted and got my friends out of the situation while keeping a calm head, and I've kicked not one but three dudes in the balls when they wanted to play rough and I didn't. I can shoot a gun, change a tire, I kill spiders and open jars for my brothers, and I take shit from no one. I'm not ugly but it takes over an hour for me to become pretty. The only things I'm exceptional at are dispensing advice, story telling, and keeping fish alive (Beta Larry lived 2! years). I'm stubborn, solitary, I have no sex appeal or mojo, and I live with my parents. In other words, I am not a Mary Sue. I am a human being, flawed yet still fabulous. And so should your main character be.
I came across the term "Mary Sue" when I read an article on "Fifty Shades of Grey" (yes, I read the book. Got it from the library. Wasn't great, wasn't terrible, read it in about three hours.) Like most blockbuster books, there was some derision about it, especially from authors. So much was said but for the purpose of this blog I'll just focus on the main character Ana. She was definitely a Mary Sue: perfect, every male falling over her, had the supernatural gift of having mind blowing orgasms every time. The woman would not exist in the real world.
In this article (which I'm sorry I can't remember the name of, sorry) the author also mentioned that this type of character a "Mary Sue" was prevalent in Fan Fiction, which is how Fifty got its start. The term came into existence when Paula Smith wrote a short story about the type of female character prevalent in Star Trek FanFic. Mary Sue was only fifteen, a genius, the youngest lieutenant, with unprecedented skill in everything both mental and physical, and is beloved by all characters in this case especially Spock and Kirk. Mary Sue has no flaws, she struggles at nothing, and everyone fawns over her. In other words, she's boring. Unbelievable. Those are the worst words any writer can face.
If Mary Sue kept herself contained in the pages of FanFic I'd really have no problem with her. Full disclosure, I don't read or write FanFic. My roommate was obsessed with it, especially Wincest and Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy parings (EWWWW to both). I understand the desire to write them. These are characters you love, and in writing the Fic you get to tinker with those characters however you see fit. You put yourself into this fantasy world. You're in control. But before Fifty no one was really making money on it. Now publishers are trolling the sites for the next Fifty. Besides the copyright issues, my main concern is that more characters like Ana (a copy of Bella Swan) are going to be the norm. The only acceptable female lead will be demure, gorgeous, subservient, basically a feminist like me's worst nightmare. Ana let a man tie her up and spank her just to please him. Bella literally became a teenage bride, got knocked up, then DIED in childbirth. This is what has captured the minds of American women. It gives me chills.
And I was aghast to find how close I can to Mary Sueing in my own work. In researching the Mary Sue I did come to realize that I am a little guilty of making my main character Beatrice a Mary Sue, or bringing her right to the cusp. I've gone on record as saying I view Bea as an idealized version of me. I'm tough, but if a zombie horde was coming and it was people I barely knew or me, I'm pretty sure they'd be on their own. (At least I wouldn't hobble them like my bro Liam said he would. He is not going to be my zombie apocalypse buddy, that's for sure). Bea has more patience than me, men do fall over her (sort of), and she is very powerful. But she's also plain, makes very bad decisions that get people killed, and nothing ever comes easy for her. I worked in flaws. She doesn't get the guy right off the bat. Her team mates don't really like her. She saves people a lot more than they save her. In other words, she's not perfect and there's a reason for that. Perfection is boring. Who would you rather hang out with, spend money on? Little Miss Perfect Mary Sue or flawed, funny, tough Debbie Harry? Me, I'd rather spend an hour with an interesting shit than a whole day with a super nice person. You get more from Debbie than Mary Sue. When you're doing your writing remember that.
What about all of you? Do you prefer Mary Sue or Debbie Harry? Why? Am I being too hard on poor Mary Sue? Can you think of any other examples of either?
What’s A Witch To Do?
A Midnight Magic Mystery #1
Genre: Paranormal Mystery/Romance
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Date of Publication: March 2013
Number of pages: 336
Mona McGregor’s To Do List:
20 13 potions/spells/charms
• Put girls to bed
• Help with Debbie’s wedding
• Lose 30 pounds before bachelorette auction
• Deal with the bleeding werewolf on doorstep
• Find out who wants me dead
• Prepare for supernatural summit
• Have a nervous breakdown
• Slay a damn demon
• Fall in love
With her to-do lists growing longer each day, the last thing Mona McGregor—High Priestess and owner of the Midnight Magic shop in Goodnight, Virginia—needs is a bleeding werewolf at her front door. Between raising her two nieces and leading a large coven of witches, Mona barely has time for anything else. Not even Guy, the handsome doctor who’s taken an interest in her.
But now there’s Adam Blue, the sexy beta werewolf of the Eastern Pack who’s been badly hurt, warning Mona that someone wants her dead. Hell’s bells! A demon is stalking her, and Mona starts to suspect her coven members and even her own family could be responsible for it. With two attractive men and a determined demon after her, Mona teams up with Adam to find out who really wants her dead.
.. . and who really wants her.
Aunt Mona, Adam stuck a can of beer up a chicken's butt! It was so cool!
Review: OMG! This book is enough to make me go all fangirly. There is so much to love about it, I just don't know where to start.
OK, I do.
1. The cover is fantastic. In fact of all the cozy mysteries I've read this year, this is the cover that I love the most.
2. Mona! Best heroine ever. She's not a skinny youngun'! Can I get a woo hoo for that? It is nice to know that women out of their 20s are well represented in book and in a real manner. OK, well as real as you can be when the heroine is the High Priestess of a coven.
3. Adam. OMG! It is no wonder all the women in the book are panting and drooling over this werewolf.
4. The mystery. The whodunit is not who you think it is. Of course, when is it ever?
5. The love story. For a long time you aren't sure which guy is going to get Mona, but at the end you'll be happy with the results.
This was really a great cozy and it closed up the right loose ends and left enough open for the coming books, especially the stuff about Sophie and Cora and their mother, Mona's sister Ivy.
I can't wait for the next book in this series. Mona is a fantastic cozy heroine and I fell in love with her in this book.
Rating: 5 flowers
About the Author:
Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills.
Tales From the Darkside Blog http://blog.jenniferharlowbooks.com
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