A couple of people who have read the draft of my first novel, Walking on Tiptoe, have asked if the main character, Emma, is actually me. The answer to that is always no. True, small parts of Emma's life are based on my own experience, but she is very much a composite character, inspired by the many strong women I know. My second novel is also shaping up to have strong female characters, two of them women who have had extraordinary experiences.
When I was first wanting to write,in my twenties, the traditional romance genre was my aim. But now that I am actually writing novels a totally different type of heroine is emerging in my work, a heroine who gets on with life and can look after herself, a heroine who doesn't need an alpha male. Because, let's face it, for a lot of women that is the reality of life.
My own immediate circle of friends includes a widow, single mothers, women bringing up severely disabled children, women who have suffered the distress of infertility and miscarriage, women caring for sick, elderly parents and women who are suffering circumstances I wouldn't blog about. The one thing that they all have in common is their inner strength. They just get on with life and make the most of it.
I think I've always been quite strong. Perhaps being the older sibling had something to do with it, perhaps knowing that I had to make something of my life to get away from a hometown which suffocated me. That strength made me very independent, but it is also now causing me difficulties as I have to recognise that I do have some physical limitations. It's been quite a journey to get my head around the fact that I have a degenerative condition, but twelve months on from diagnosis little has changed. The prognosis is still quite good.
I need to learn not to get so frustated when I can't do something, not to stress that I am letting others down. I need to learn to accept help. I need to redirect my strength into my writing. I think a lot more characters like Emma may just emerge.