Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Heidi Schulz

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-four authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Heidi Schulz

Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband, co-captaining a crew made of their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, Hook’s Revenge, published by Disney • Hyperion, is available now. A sequel, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code, will follow in September 2015. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, Giraffes Ruin Everything, in Spring 2016.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

I love unlikable girls, for I have often been one myself.

As a young girl I was keenly aware that I was a pest, a nuisance. I was too loud, too bossy, and a know-it-all. Perfect girls in fiction only served to remind me of the things I was not, and try as I might, could never be. I was always Jo — and sometimes Amy – but never Beth.

I first encountered Lyra Silvertongue, from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, at a time when “unlikable” was not something I’d heard applied to fictional heroines, at least not in the way it is bantered about these days. I’ve no doubt some would apply that label to Lyra, but for me, it is her flaws that make her so likeable.

Like myself as a girl, Lyra can be a nuisance to those charged with caring for her. She is proud and deceitful, disrespectful and impolite, and yes, bossy (which, like “unlikable” is another label attempting to shame girls who know what they want and attempt to have it, but that’s a tangent better suited to another post).

I love Lyra all the more for being imperfect. Her faults add balance to her vulnerability and weight to her strengths. And what strengths she has!

Lyra is filled with a fierce courage, a deep sense of justice, and an unflinching compassion. When her beloved friend, Iroek Byrnison the armored bear, is fighting for his life — and losing – does she turn away and spare herself the sight? Not Lyra.

“Her dear, her brave one, her fearless defender, was going to die, and she would not do him the treachery of looking away, for if he looked at her he must see her shining eyes and their love and belief, not a face hidden in cowardice or a shoulder fearfully turned away.”

I’m inspired every time I think of that.

Later, when Lyra must go alone, accompanied only by Pan, her daemon or animal manifestation of her own soul, to attempt the impossible for the love of a friend, when, after all the struggles and difficulties she has already experienced, it seems at last too much, she says:

“‘Oh, Pan, dear, I can’t go on! I’m so frightened — and so tired — all this way, and I’m scared to death! I wish it was someone else instead of me, I do honestly!’”

I have felt the same fear and anxiety more times than I can count. But then, for Lyra, comes this clarity:

“Little by little, as the storm of fear subsided, she came to a sense of herself again. She was Lyra, cold and frightened by all means, but herself.”

Oh, that we could all find comfort in the same thought, that though our tasks sometimes seem far beyond our capabilities, though we are cold and frightened, and so tired, we could find within ourselves the strength to move forward because that is who we are — that I can find it within myself, because that is who I am.

And who am I? I am flawed and imperfect and sometimes unlikable. But like Lyra, I am myself. There is no one else I’d rather be.

Here’s to all the unlikable girls. May you never become perfect. May you always be yourself.

Title Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code
Author Heidi Schulz
Pages 352 pages
Genre Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fairytale, Re-Telling, Adventure
Publisher Disney • Hyperion
To Be Published September 15th, 2015
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Fresh off a fearsome encounter with the Neverland crocodile, Jocelyn Hook decides the most practical plan is to hunt down her father’s famous fortune. After all, she’ll need the gold to fund her adventuring in the future. (And luckily, Hook left her the map.)

But the map proves to be a bit harder to crack than Jocelyn had hoped, and she’s convinced that the horrible Peter Pan might be the only one with the answers. Of course, he doesn’t really feel like helping her, so Jocelyn takes the only reasonable course of action left to her: she kidnaps his mother. Evie, though, is absolutely thrilled to be taken prisoner, so Jocelyn’s daring ploy doesn’t have quite the effect she’d planned for.

Along with the problem of her all-too-willing captive, Jocelyn must also contend with Captain Krueger, whose general policy is that no deed is too dastardly when it comes to stealing Hook’s treasure. And with the ever-shifting Whens of the Neverland working against her as well, Jocelyn, Evie, Roger, and the rest of the Hook’s Revenge crew have their work cut out for them.

In this rambunctious showdown between characters new and old, Jocelyn puts her own brand of pirating to the test in a quest to save her future and those she loves.

One response to “Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Heidi Schulz”

  1. Masanobu says:

    Lyra was my heroine growing up, too. I also saw myself in many of her imperfections, but at the same time I looked up to her. She could be disobedient and troublesome, but she was also resourceful, intelligent and independent, which are awesome things to teach young girls!

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