UFI welcomes Jennifer Harlow Author of Justice. Thanks for Joining us!!
Sue vs. Debbie Harry-Jennifer Harlow
Definition of a Mary Sue:
A female character in
FanFic or original stories who is so perfect, so superior to all
other characters, so powerful,she's annoying. Often based on the author.
(See Ana Steele, Bella
Swan, TV Sookie Stackhouse)
Definition of a Debbie Harry:
A female character who
is flawed in many ways but does her best to overcome and accept them, is mouthy
or prickly, strong or finds her strength, and who has to work for all she has,
(See Anita Blake, Kinsey
Milhone, Lizbeth Salander)
I consider myself a tough broad. I have a mouth
on me, dirty a lot of the times, I've walked through dangerous cities at night
alone, I've seen someone assaulted and got my friends out of the situation
while keeping a calm head, and I've kicked not one but three dudes in the balls
when they wanted to play rough and I didn't. I can shoot a gun, change a tire,
I kill spiders and open jars for my brothers, and I take shit from no one. I'm
not ugly but it takes over an hour for me to become pretty. The only things I'm
exceptional at are dispensing advice, storytelling, and keeping fish alive
(Beta Larry lived 2! years). I'm stubborn, solitary, I have no sex appeal or
mojo, and I live with my parents. In other words, I am not a Mary Sue. I
am a human being, flawed yet still fabulous. And so should your main character
I came across the term "Mary Sue" when
I read an article on "Fifty Shades of Grey" (yes, I read the book.
Got it from the library. Wasn't great, wasn't terrible, read it in about three
hours.) Like most blockbuster books, there was some derision about
it, especially from authors. So much was said but for the purpose of
this blog I'll just focus on the main character Ana. She
was definitely a Mary Sue: perfect, every male falling over her, had
the supernatural gift of having mind blowing orgasms every time. The woman
would not exist in the real world.
In this article (which I'm sorry I can't remember
the name of, sorry) the author also mentioned that this type of character a
"Mary Sue" was prevalent in Fan Fiction, which is how Fifty
got its start. The term came into existence when Paula Smith wrote a
short story about the type of female character prevalent in Star Trek
FanFic. Mary Sue was only fifteen, a genius, the youngest lieutenant,
with unprecedented skill in everything both mental and physical, and
is beloved by all characters in this case especially Spock and Kirk.
Mary Sue has no flaws, she struggles at nothing, and everyone fawns over her.
In other words, she's boring. Unbelievable. Those are the worst words any
writer can face.
If Mary Sue kept herself contained in the pages
of FanFic I'd really have no problem with her. Full disclosure, I
don't read or write FanFic. My roommate was obsessed with
it, especially Wincest (EWWWW) and Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy parings.
I understand the desire to write them. These are characters you love, and in
writing the Fic you get to tinker with those characters however you see fit.
You put yourself into this fantasy world. You're in control. But before Fifty
no one was really making money on it. Now publishers are checking the sites for
the next Fifty. Besides the copyright issues, my main concern is that more
characters like Ana (a copy of Bella Swan) are going to be the norm. The only
acceptable female lead will be demure, gorgeous, subservient, basically a
feminist like me's worst nightmare. Ana let a man tie her up and spank her just
to please him. Bella literally became a teenage bride, got knocked up, then
DIED in childbirth. This is what has captured the minds of American women. It
gives me chills.
When it came time to write my latest book, Justice, I made the conscious decision
not to let my main character Joanna be anything close to a Mary Sue. In fact,
what makes her special is that she is not special. She is a normal police
officer who lives among superheroes and villains. She cusses like a sailor,
drinks too much, makes tons of bad decisions, and nothing comes easy for her. Yet
she’s also excellent at her job, owns up to her flaws, and loves with
everything she has. When my agent was shopping the book around one of the
reasons editors gave for not publishing it was Jo was too tough. She wasn’t “feminine”
enough, whatever that meant. She was the kind of woman who if someone punches
her in the face, instead of crying and shutting up, she spits blood right back
in his. In other words, she's wasn’t perfect, and there's a reason for that.
Perfection is boring. Who would you rather hang out with, spend money on?
Little Miss Perfect Mary Sue or flawed, funny, tough Debbie Harry? Me, I'd
rather spend an hour with an interesting shit than a whole day with a super
nice person. You get more from Debbie than Mary Sue.
What about all of you? Do you prefer Mary Sue or
Debbie Harry? Why? Am I being too hard on poor Mary Sue? Can you think of any
other examples of either?
Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and
scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to
earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ,
crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and
government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that
restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the
beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card
bills. She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad and
Midnight Magic Mystery series. For the soundtrack to her books and other
goodies visit her at www.jenniferharlowbooks.com
Find Jennifer and her books
Galilee Falls Trilogy #1
It’s hard being a
regular police officer in Galilee Falls, a city with the highest
concentration of superheroes and villains in the country. It’s even
harder watching your best friend, the man you’re secretly in love with
your whole life, planning to marry another woman. Detective Joanna
Fallon has to contend with both. When the vilest supervillain in the
city’s history, Alkaline, the former crime boss who can shoot acid from
his wrists, escapes from the maximum security prison, the whole city is
gripped by panic. Leading the pursuit is Captain Harry O’Hara, Joanna’s
boss and secret lover, and the city’s champion superhero Justice, who
caught the villain last time, much to Joanna’s chagrin. Before her
father was murdered in a mugging twenty years earlier, Joanna worshiped
the hero, but when he disappeared and failed to save her father, that
adoration turned to contempt for all supers. After Alkaline attacks too
close to home and targets Joanna as his next victim, tough-as-nail
Joanna has to contend with her increasing fear while struggling to
choose between her life-long crush and her new-found love.
turns vulnerable and fierce, equally mordant and winsome, Joanna is an
earnest yet emotionally damaged heroine, who despite the tough breaks of
her childhood sees the good in people and vow to protect her beloved
city at all costs. An ass-kicking petite firecracker with no superpowers
of her own, she charges after supervillains unflinchingly, never losing
her wit even when facing her toughest fight. With a coy blend of whimsy
and vivid imagination, she delivers both humor and thrills in an
action-packed and edgy blend of comic book cool, fantasy-noir, and
wolves are at the gate.
I count thirty
police officers on my security monitors, including SWAT, all armed to the gills
led by him. I always knew this day
would come. It has been almost twenty years in the making, but now it’s
here…this must have been how Nero felt as he played that fiddle. My Rome is
burning. Soon my freedom will be gone and yet I could still manage a tune. First things first.
one of my loyal employees these two years, runs into the study. His fear does
not inspire confidence. “Sir, what are we supposed to do? The police and—”
sniveling for one,” I say, taking a sip of my Scotch. I will miss this.
bullet I put between his eyes stops the rest of that sentence. I don’t have
time to answer a million questions. Company’s coming. I down the rest of my
drink as I run the electromagnet over my computer. Cleaner than the day I
bought it. Must leave things tidy. I’ve already set the timers in the file
cabinets. Thirty more seconds before, like Nero, all that remains of my empire
bombs detonate as I walk down the hall, no louder than gunshots but still
rocking the walls sprinkling dust on my paintings. I wonder what will happen to
my art. Probably sold for victim reparations. The Degas alone will cover the
cost of the library we destroyed today. Smith and Rees are waiting in what is
left of my living room. Just looking at it, especially what’s left of Bradley
under that bloody sheet, I feel embarrassed for myself. I never lose control
like that. I don’t know what I was thinking. I suppose I’m paying the price
where do you want us?” Smith, a five year veteran of my service, asks.
over the couch with a sigh. “Gentlemen, I want to thank you both for your loyal
service through the years. You have both been invaluable. I wish things could
have gone a different way. I apologize.” I fire a single shot into Smith’s
forehead. Poor Rees is too shocked to even draw on me before he meets the same
ending. The loose ends are no more. The rest is in the hands of the fates.
of my security doors fall, the sound of steel hitting marble echoing through
the room. I cross my leg, wipe the speckles of dust off my costume, and put a
smile on my face. The bane of my existence, the man I hate, who has consumed my
life for years, super-speeds into my living room as if he owns it. And the
press calls me arrogant.
“Alkaline,” he says beneath that dark mask.
I say with a nod. We stare at each other for a few seconds, even now locked in
safe. You can’t hurt her or anyone else ever again.” He pauses for dramatic
effect, or to savor his victory. “Will this be easy or hard?”
moment, I consider an attack. It always gives me almost orgasmic pleasure when
my fist hits his body and he cries out in pain. One last taste for the road?
No, I quell this urge. My body has not completely healed from our fight a few
hours ago and quite frankly, I need a break. Being the scourge of the city is
exhausting. “You may take me to jail now.”
led out past the frightened police and gawking bystanders, I keep that smile on
my face. Not because I’m arrogant, not to save face, because…I may have lost
this battle, but the war has just begun.
Rome will truly burn.