During Women’s History Month, I would be remiss to neglect discussing the characters who keep the Nephilim Chronicles alive. Ferocious women are the driving force behind my fiction writing and with good reason. Strong women in real life provide enough motivation for a lifetime’s worth of novel writing. As of late, women have shown they can run for office, organize a historical, worldwide march, and make decisions from behind the bench that impact the entire United States, but women don’t have to be politically motivated to be strong. Just ask one of the many athletes who inspire my hashtag #AchillaStrong on social media. Strong women persist and push to achieve their goals, whether they are warned or not, and they succeed. Achilla Johnson is no exception.
“As far as strong women go, Achilla is up among the Ripleys and the Xenas of the world.” – Ryan Walsh, Achilla the Strong reviewer.
Johnson exemplifies ferocity. She’s a protector, an enforcer and a warrior. If it involves conflict, she’s up for it. If it involves violence, she’s good at it. She starts her journey as a strong girl. Now she is a strong woman, one who readers admire as a role model.
“It’s an amazing series and I love that the author uses a strong girl as a role model and a way to show girls that they can defend themselves!! [A] story I want my future kids to read!!” -Bailey Boughton, Achilla the Strong reviewer.
However, strength alone doesn’t make someone a positive example. Readers describe Johnson’s strong will as a positive trait, comparing her to female heroes like Xena. I model her after Wonder Woman, another ferocious heroine. However, much like strength isn’t just for men, it’s not just for heroes either. Johnson’s journey isn’t just about her strength but strong women in general, regardless of whether they are good or bad.
“I saved the worst for last. If Achilla is a super heroine then Ailina is a super villain[n]ess. She’s everything wrong encapsulated in one person. She is also strong and intelligent, through her bitterness and contempt for other people is creating blind spots.” -S., Achilla the Strong reviewer.
Many male heroes fight against male villains who are equally formidable and sometimes more so at first. Batman has Joker. Superman has Darkseid. Son Goku has Freeza. So Johnson contends with Ailina and Artemis Harris, and while she gets the glory for being strong (it’s in the title of her first book after all), so are they. They’re also necessary ingredients in a series that strives for strong women who dominate a story just like strong men. Johnson is the lead protagonist, and her worst opponents are primarily female with the exception of Ares Harris and Leo “Xerxes” Skorupski. All of these characters are strong, ferocious people, but where they draw their strength from often fuels their conflict.
“And best of all, she discovers that her strength does not come from her superior abilities, but from her membership in a loving, supportive family.” -Kate Fister, Achilla the Strong reviewer.
If you haven’t noticed yet, Johnson’s family is everything to her. She sacrifices her happiness and safety to protect them. She kills to defend them. She mourns her family members (blood or not) and seeks revenge for their deaths. While genetics are the source of her physical gifts, her family provides emotional strength.
Ailina and Artemis lack this support. So they draw their strength from their hatred and bitterness and it serves them well. Ailina mostly gets what she wants as a constant thorn in Johnson’s side. Artemis builds an empire before she is old enough for high school. Readers who prefer the hero won’t like them, but their strength is undeniable. They’re strong women, whether you like them or not, and they share that trait with Johnson like a potent but dysfunctional family.
The Nephilim Chronicles makes its case for strong, ferocious women. Just don’t think Johnson is the only one. She grows up cutting her teeth against worthy opponents who draw their strength from their own hatred and ill will. Johnson draws hers from the very love she strives to protect at all costs. Either way, they’re all strong, but only those who use their strength for a noble cause are worthy of admiration. That distinction cannot be overstated, but it doesn’t make one party more vital than the other. We need strong women. They just don’t need our approval. No ferocious woman does.
Be strong, my friends.