When I was growing up, my sister and I would put on tights, a pillowcase cape, and a plastic mask to play Batman and Robin. She’s about 4 years older than me so I always had to be the trusty sidekick. The fact that we were pretending to be men never even entered into our minds. We were just superheroes: guys in capes with crime-fighting superpowers.
So it’s interesting to me that, when Leah and I first started working on Couri Vine, we started with a male protagonist. I mean, we just made our hero a guy without really questioning it. It seemed natural; I’d been watching and reading stories that star MEN for most of my life. Only after we started working on Couri did we have a realization, “Why have we been imagining a male protagonist? Let’s write about a girl!”
So Couri, who was initially a supporting character, became our hero. And I took a good look at our supporting characters and made sure that there are numerous interesting, complicated, and fierce female characters.
Moon Leader Todal is our “Bad Guy”, but he has a female counterpart, Anaxia, who is actually a little meaner than the Moon Leader.
And there’s Doo Dad, the “Good Guy” in Book 1. In subsequent books, Thyme, a grandmotherly genius, comes into prominence as Couri’s mentor and ally. Thyme is only mentioned briefly in Book 1, but I promise you that by the end of Book 4 her awesomeness will be revealed.
I believe it’s vitally important for young girls to see strong women and girls in comic books. Yet, as we were getting started, I fell into the same trap that I hope young girls WON’T fall into: I assumed the best person for the job was a boy.
So Couri is a girl – a real girl. She’s eleven years old with strengths and weaknesses, and a hugely obvious, frustrating disability. Her feelings are complicated, but she has a purpose in life that’s greater than just getting some boy to notice her. She has to learn to embrace who she is, and when she does, she’ll find her superpowers.