Crime Fiction Comebacks: Colette McBeth

In our series looking at which characters authors would like to bring back to the page or screen, THE LIFE I LEFT BEHIND author Colette McBeth talks about one of her original heroes: Wonder Woman...

Posted on August 14, 2015 in Guest Author
Tags: Colette McBeth, crime fiction

I couldn’t say if it was her spin or the bulletproof bracelets she wore that did it for me. Certainly, I fancied myself flying an invisible plane, or throwing a magic lasso. I wanted her crime-fighting, terrorist- foiling abilities, and the Amazonian warrior moves to dispense with villains. I wanted to be her. I still do.

Princess Diana of Themyscira, or Wonder Woman, was my childhood hero. I would have sold my sister for a pair of those silver cuffs. I had the moves, I practised my spin, hoping that if I went round enough times I’d be lifted out of my corduroy dungarees into something more fit for purpose; a pair of red knee length boots, a gold top, blue star spangled pants and the tiara I would use for communication.

I watched Wonder Woman in the days before I knew anything about feminism or gender stereotyping. I watched it before I’d learnt that some people think girls aren’t strong. I saw no reason why girls couldn’t be tough super heroes. My love for Linda Carter’s character came from instinct. I was seven years old and I wanted to kick ass.

I’m forty now and I don’t kick ass. Not physically anyway. But my characters often do. Sometimes I get asked why I’m drawn to writing strong female characters. It’s a bit like asking me why I breathe. The women I write are strong even if they don’t know it yet (they will). They’re never just victims thrown in as a foil to a man’s depravity. Eve in The Life I Left Behind is a victim but you’d be hard pressed to meet a more kick ass woman. I write them because women are tough and complex and sometimes, very, very bad.

But none of that answers the question of why I’d like to see Wonder Woman make a comeback. Up until my nearly four-year-old daughter walked into my study an hour ago, I was all set to divulge my reasons. But she trumped me so I’ll tell you this instead. She looked at my screen with twenty odd images of Wonder Woman and a few other cartoon characters and she said; ‘Oh look there’s Batman. There’s Superman, mummy. I can see Spiderman too.’ She could name every single male action hero but she hadn’t a clue who Wonder Woman was. No surprise given she’s not been around for thirty-five years. But who has taken her place? And who is there to show my daughter she doesn’t have to be a boy to be strong?

So this afternoon we made a start to her super hero education. We’ve just studied Wonder Woman on YouTube, and now we’re practising the spin and deflecting bullets with our imaginary cuffs. Next up is our magic lasso. By tonight, I promise you we will be flying our invisible plane.

*I have just learnt Wonder Woman will be making her film debut in 2016.

 THE LIFE I LEFT BEHIND by Colette McBeth is out now in paperback and ebook

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