Guest Post: Writing Kickass Heroines

This is a guest post by Catherine Astolfo.

When I began to write mystery novels, I realized very quickly that I love kickass heroines.  

Whether they are amateur or professional sleuths, I admire their courage, ingenuity, and flaunting of social norms. Even before Miss Marple, there was a spirited female, middle-aged and widowed, who partnered up with Scotland Yard to solve crimes (1860’s). Mrs. Paschal was not afraid to eschew the traditional trappings of a lady back then (e.g. crinolines) to chase after the bad guys. 

Of course, I started with Nancy Drew, who never obeyed her father, drove a cool car, and plunged headlong into danger. I discovered that I like raunchy heroines like Lisbeth Salander, V.I. Warshawski, Kinsey Milhone, Joanne Kilbourn, Gina Gallo, Kate Garrett, Li Fa-Ling, Bliss Moonbeam Cornwall, Emily Westhill…oh I could go ON and ON and ON, but I have now covered all the authors who paid me.

I love a heroine who is independent. (Not that some of us don’t want a partner, but we don’t need them.) My favorites display all their traditional feminine qualities such as tenderness, intuition, and empathy—but use these as a source of strength, not weakness. They are human, i.e. flawed, yet brave. Their response to unusual, dangerous, or traumatic situations is to do whatever is necessary to survive and protect.

My character Emily Taylor is a middle-aged principal of a small-town elementary school. How does she become kickass? Her love for her husband, her empathy, and her nurturing, compel her to act. In every situation, she is drawn into danger when the people who mean very much to her are threatened (The Bridgeman, Victim, Legacy, Seventh Fire). In Sweet Karoline, Anne is a form anti-heroine. I love her because she’s the opposite of what a reader might expect from a female. She has her reasons for the way she behaves. Kira Callahan, star of my two novellas (Twice the Chit), is a retired investigative reporter with a natural affinity for mystery. She may be a senior citizen, but boy can she still overcome the baddies! Now I have Leonora Harrington and her mother Gwenyth (The Grand Art of Murder). Although one of them is a ghost, they can still kick butt. 

My writing career has had its rollercoaster highs, dips, and turns. During one such ride to the bottom, I ditched my website and stopped blogging. Halted any marketing at all, in fact. My heroines still pull at my sleeves and get me out there once in a while. They do insist on being heard. You can find my books (look for the latest permutations) on Amazon.


Catherine Astolfo is an award-winning, Canadian best-selling author of mystery and psychological suspense. Her short stories and poems have been published in a number of Canadian literary presses. Find her on Facebook.

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: Writing Kickass Heroines”

  1. I have been following Catherine’s writing for many years now and have really enjoyed how she has worked the character in to what she has become today bravo Catherine excellent writing!!!

  2. I’ve read all of these books. I have my favorites, but have loved every single book for different reasons.

    Catherine Astolfo is an excellent writer. I implore you to read her stuff.

    She’s the bomb!

  3. Sounds like the author wrote about herself. She has courage, ingenuity and is independent. Read her books, you won’t be sorry.

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