This week’s Author Takeover comes from Lauren James, who tells us how Hermione inspired her own writing and a new generation of perfectly imperfect female characters.
Lauren James is 23 and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, where she studied chemistry and physics. Her first novel, The Next Together, a YA reincarnation romance, is out now with Walker Books in the UK and Australia and will also be published in Brazil, Germany, Turkey, and the United States. The Last Beginning will be published in autumn 2016. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or Tumblr at lauren-e-james.tumblr.com.
Why Hermione Inspired Me to Write a Flawed Female Lead
I don’t consider myself a Harry Potter fan. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love the series – because I really, really do. But I started reading it when I was six; at this point Harry Potter has been in my life so long that it would be weird to call myself a ‘fan’. It would be like saying I’m a ‘fan’ of my mum and dad.
The Harry Potter series is just . . . part of me.
So when I started writing my first novel, it was understandably a big inspiration. I wanted to write something [that] exemplified all of the things […] I love about Harry Potter (*cough Hermione Granger *cough*) – and improved on things […] I don’t.
In particular, I wanted to make a character […] people would love as much as my eternal love for Hermione.
Hermione is a brilliantly strong female character, who has been a role model for me from childhood. The phrase ‘strong female character’ is thrown around a lot as a selling point for books, in a “Read this novel because it’s got an amazing, strong female character!” kind of way.
However, ‘strong’ is easily misconstrued as ‘flawless’, ‘good at fighting’ and ‘unemotional’ when really it should just mean [‘]three-dimensional[‘]. Women don’t have to be strong to be valid. They just have to be realistic.
Real people aren’t perfect, but that doesn’t make them unlikeable. Harry and Ron love Hermione, not despite her flaws but because of them. She’s annoying, bossy and condescending . . . and it’s incredible. She’s the perfect female role model, just by being herself.
When Hermione started SPEW, it was such a hugely defining moment for me. It was the first time I’d seen a female character working hard [against] something she strongly believed was wrong in the world, regardless of what people thought of her. It really established Hermione as one of my all[-]time favourite female characters. The fact that she did all that as a very young teenager is even more impressive in retrospect.
I tried to make sure that my female character, Kate, is just as realistic as Hermione. She’s witty and brave, but at the same time she’s annoying, silly, exasperating and impulsive.
I love her for her imperfections more than her strengths, and I don’t think I would have realised that was possible if it hadn’t been for Hermione Granger.
I’ll always be grateful to Harry Potter – in fact, I even wrote a Harry Potter crossover fic where Hermione, Neville and Draco meet the characters of my book. But I’m never going to call myself a fan because my Harry Potter feelings are too big to be encompassed in that tiny, three[-]letter word.