It took me a long time to realise that strength wasn’t something people just had, that they had to work for it. It also took me a while to realise that strength manifests itself differently in every person and that being strong can look totally different from one person to the next. Sometimes it’s kick butt strength, sometimes it’s emotional or mental strength, sometimes it’s intellectual prowess.
I wade through this idea constantly while working on my books. My goal is not only to entertain with what I write, but to provide hope. Hope that love does indeed conquer all and that all women—no matter how they might fall outside society’s impossible ideals—can find meaningful, positive relationships.
I tend to write a lot about self-acceptance. It’s a strong theme for the heroines in my books, whether their belief is that they’re not beautiful, not talented, not lovable or emotional enough. To me, a strong heroine is one who’s able to forge on with what she believes is right in the face of her fears.
My latest novella features a plus-size heroine. This is something that I’ve wanted to write for a long time, because big gals need love and acceptance too. Being a bigger gal myself, I’ve struggled with body image issues and bullying so A Kiss in Kite Harbor wasn’t easy to write. Shelby, my heroine, definitely wasn’t easy to write.
For Shelby, it’s all about her learning to trust others and to realise that external validation won’t make her happy. Growing up as a victim of bullying, all she wanted was to be accepted. She then goes off to become a plus-size model and ends up on the cover of Vogue Italia. But it doesn’t make her happy.
The hero helps her to see that family and a meaningful life doing something she loves is more important than having a job predicated on her looking a certain way. But it takes her dealing with her past—and coming back to her hometown—to be able to make that change in her life.
Strong heroines to me are the ones who stick up for themselves, who take charges of their lives but who also have the courage to change and become better people. Because we all know change can be a terrifying thing. Strong heroines don’t rely on the hero to make them happy, but they’re willing to face their fears and let love into their lives. You see, strength can be a bit of a juggling act.
The one thing I love about the romance genre is that it’s more female-focused than any other genre. Women write it, read it and feature prominently in it. As a writer of romance, I feel like I must create the kind of women who I’d respect in real life. The kind of women I’d want my sister and cousin and friends to be inspired by. The kind who represent women today.
And those women are varied and talented, often prickly, sometimes difficult but always strong.
Growing up, Stefanie came from a family of women who loved to read. After sneaking several literature subjects into her ‘very practical’ Business degree, she got a job in Communications. When writing emails and newsletters didn’t fulfill her creative urges, she turned to fiction and was finally able to write the stories that kept her mind busy at night.
Now she lives with her very own hero and dreams of travelling the world. She frequently indulges in her passions for good coffee, French perfume, high heels and zombie movies. Recently she gave up her day job to write sexy, contemporary romance stories and she couldn’t be happier. Keep up with her book news or get in touch via her website.