From Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s Blog:
Before there was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Lisbeth Salander, there was Smilla Qaavigaaq Jaspersen, the heroine of a novel called Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. Smilla is part Inuit and lives in Copenhagen.
According to the flap copy of the FSG edition, “she is thirty-seven, single, childless, moody, and she refuses to fit in.” She is complex, thorny, obstinate, blunt, fearless, she loves clothes and, when required, she can—and does—kick ass. Like Lisbeth—who’s a talented computer jock—Smilla has her tech side and sees the beauty in mathematics.
Thinking about these two “difficult” women—Lisbeth and Smilla—I began to realize that the “difficult,” unconventional female character, like Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces, appears in fiction again and again in different guises.
. . . .
Jane Tennison, the DI in television’s Prime Suspect, played by Hellen Mirren, is a “woman of a certain age” as they say in France. Her love life is on the gritty side, she drinks too much, she can be flinty—not flirtatious. The men she works with give her a hard time and she isn’t shy about pushing back.
. . . .
Ellen Ripley. Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, the warrant officer inAlien, is courageous, authoritative and has no personal life that we know of. She’s a sci-fi heroine who must rely on her own guts, brains and fearlessness.
. . . .
Mrs. Danvers, the creepy housekeeper with no first name inRebecca, is dedicated to her dead employer, the first Mrs. Maxim de Winter. She is intimidating, manipulative and willing to drive the second Mrs. DeWinter to suicide.
. . . .
The “difficult” female character can—and will—do the shocking, the unexpected and, as a consequence, will give your story an immediate jolt of energy. She is the character who doesn’t fit the mold. She is the boss (M), the beginner (Clarice Starling), the domestic employee (Mrs. Danvers).
2. The “difficult” female character will live in the “wrong” neighborhood, drink too much, have sex with the “wrong” partners—all good ways to add sizzle and wow! plot twists.
Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog