Starving With Bella? Katniss Feeds Paranormal Fans

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

Katniss hunger games

Katniss is a heroine for the hungry paranormal masses who have been starving with Bella.

There is a reason why Katniss defeats Bella in the paranormal heroine competition, and it isn’t because she shoots arrows. It’s because she has an inner strength that pulls here through. That’s why paranormal readers are flocking to the Hunger Games. There has been a pervasive hunger for a heroine who isn’t whiney, can stand on her own two feet, and is decisive.

I read Twilight. And the second one.

Why? Not because I liked Bella. No, I read it because I wanted to see what teens, and even grown women, wanted to read. I’m a paranormal author. I love paranormal romance. And vampires. I read Dracula for fun in high school. In fact I’ve read it at least three times. Gothic romance? Swooning heroines? I’ve read it all. But those stories were written during times when women were considered the weaker sex and even worse, were considered dangerous if they had opinions.

We don’t live in that time anymore. Women are strong capable people. We’ve always known it, but now we can celebrate it. We work and feed our families. We straddle generations, tending to our aging parents and our children, sometimes even our grandchildren while holding down jobs and keeping our marriages together. We aren’t wimpy. So why did Bella take off? Why, when all I want to read are heroines like Anna Strong, from author Jeanne Stein, did Bella become the woman for this generation?

I wish I knew. I wish I could say definitely it’s because women wanted a break from being strong, wanted to fantasize for a moment about some controlling man taking them away, but I can’t. And why can’t I? Because Katniss is here.

Maybe it’s Bella rebound, maybe it’s just the hot new thing, but I believe it’s that everywhere girls and women have been reading Bella’s stories and saying “WAIT! Isn’t there more?”

Yes, there is more.

Even if your heroines aren’t quite the physical, save-the-day, heroine that Katniss is, they can be emotionally strong. Stand up and move through an empowering character arc that ends, not in repeated sacrifice, but in decisive action. That’s the kind of heroine I like to read, and that’s the kind I like to write.

What kind of heroines do you like? Are you a Bella fan? (It’s okay, there are a lot of you out there.) Or are you an Anna Strong type? Do you like kick-ass climaxes? Or do you think it is better to lay down and sacrifice oneself for the greater good?

Oh, and come visit me on Paranormal Freebies on Friday April 4th for another chance to win Little Red Riding Wolf.

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20 Comments

Filed under paranormal inspiration, Thursdays Bite, Uncategorized

20 responses to “Starving With Bella? Katniss Feeds Paranormal Fans

  1. I like intelligent, strong, but imperfect heroines whose flaws help me empathize with them. I don’t like flakes! In books or real life. Everyone has an opinion on endings, for sure. I love the kind of books where I don’t want to get to the end. I just want to stay in the story.

    • That is for sure, Elaine! If we can write something where you just want another page, and then another, after the story is over? Well, that is the goal. And the Twilight series seemed to achieve that for many people. Just not for readers like me. I wanted more. I wanted Bella to find a solution, even if she might die, instead of sacrifice being her solution. Did not make me want to read on. Does make me worry about the state of our teens though and the immense popularity of the Hunger Games has me feeling much better!

  2. Jessica, I know what a prude you are. NOT! I hesitate to gleefully point out the double entendre opportunities you placed, like tiny, dainty pastries on a plate next to my coffee cup this morning.

    Do you like kick-ass climaxes… Um. Was there ever a question on that?
    …do you think it is better to lay down and sacrifice oneself for the greater good? Um. Whose greater good are we talking about? Whoever he is…

    You know my writing. You know my heroine. They’re vulnerable, but snark is their weapon of choice. And, it isn’t ass they’re prone to kick. Signing off now. I should be in class.

    • I think you’re heroines are definitely kick ass. Okay, vulnerable, yes. But not, lay down in the street, oh woe is me types. Strength through emotion, absolutely! And snark is very kick-ass, without the actual kicking! I know a certain whale who needed a kick, and got one!

    • Gloria, your heroine’s may not kick ass, but they aren’t prone to kiss it, either.

      Snort.

  3. I can’t argue with the success of Twilight, it touched a nerve. Teenage romance, first love, and all of the exhilaration and exquisite agony that comes with it. I always felt the novels fell short, and now, thanks to your well-aimed arrow, Jessie, I know why.

    We’ve all felt that crushing blow of lost love. We feel we will never get over it, and perhaps a small part of us never does. But, we do go on. We shed our tears, and then we go on. If love comes back around, we rejoice: it was meant to be.

    Bella is who she is, Twilight is what it is and the romance between Bella and Edward is what it is.

    But,

    what if things had not worked out for Bella and Edward?

    The stroke of reality in the movie Hitch that propelled the film to becoming one of my faves is the heroine and hero’s understanding that, should they not go on together, they would still go on.

    The element of potential tragedy is what, IMHO, made Twilight such a success. When we are in our teens, there are two planes of existence: Never. And forever.

    As much as my 47-year-old self knows that life will go on, as we know it did for Rose when Jack slipped beneath the surface, Twilight transported me to the days when I would just die, absolutely die, if a certain boy didn’t like me. If you gave me a time machine tomorrow, I wouldn’t go back to that time of pure angst, but to do so in a book? Well, that kind of escape I can handle. And enjoy.

    • Ah, you sound like a Twilight fan. That’s good. Twilight definitely touched a nerve with many, many people. Maybe if I’d read it as a teen I would have been more in love with the series, I definitely read a lot of romances at that time and the men were very controlling. The women less than strong. My favorites, though, were the ones where the men changed and the women grew. Hey, those are still my favorites. (I never did read teen romance, I skipped right to the stuff for adults). What I wish had happened with Twilight are discussions about boyfriends and what is a healthy relationship. In an age where boys insist that girls carry phones so they can keep track of them, and if they don’t answer they get in trouble, I find the Bella/Edward dynamic all too typical. Even if the Hunger Games is extremely violent and not a romance, I do like the sign of the times that teens are saying, ‘Heroines rock!’.

      • Hm. A Twilight fan. Not particularly. I read the books, but read the last one just to know how the saga turned out. That said, I appreciate the success and marketing, and acknowledge with awe the author, Stephenie Meyer’s, ability to so keenly target the teenage heart.

      • You do have to respect that she hit home with her books. Maybe it’s wishful thinking to hope that teens see through the Bella/Edward relationship.

      • Kids know there isn’t really a Hogwarts. Teens know there aren’t vampires and werewolves roaming Washington state. I know there isn’t really a hunky mystery writer helping a seasoned NYC homicide cop solve crimes…heavy sigh.

  4. I really enjoyed the Twilight books, but I can’t say it’s because I admired Bella. She seemed like the “every girl” to me. Maybe that is what drew people to the books. I loved the Katniss character because I like to see strong YA heroines.

    • Well, I’m not sure it’s fair for me to compare the books, because The Hunger Games is not a romance. But I still think it’s amazing to see more fans lined up for the Hunger Games movies, than Twilight. I have to say, I not only got tired of Bella, but I also disliked Edward. I got through the first two, but just barely. What I loved was the concept of the glittery vampires out in the sunlight. That was brilliant! But I don’t write teen romance, and I never read it. It’s good there are books out there for everyone.

  5. I know I’m one of a select few who didn’t get hooked by Bella. I didn’t finish the first book. Bella didn’t have enough personality to keep me interested. I saw The Hunger Games, but didn’t read the book . . . yet. I’m with you, Jessica, in that Catniss seems to have more depth to her than Bella does.

    I love complicated characters, but I’m not one for climax battle scenes. I like an ending that finally answers all the questions I’ve been dying to know.

    • For me, Bella had worse than no personality, she whined. And waited for rescue. And accepted when Edward told her she was a danger to herself. That that level of passivity was attractive to teens had me worried. I know we still have problems with girls failing out of school because they don’t want to be seen as smarter than boys, I wish that such a popular book had had a heroine who had chutzpah. Katniss has chutzpah!

  6. I love strong women (ie Elizabeth Bennett from P&P) and I love Catniss (adored the books) but I have to admit that I liked Bella too! I feel ashamed to admit it now but I really enjoyed all the Twilight books LOL Does that make a schizophrenic?!

    • Lots of women enjoyed the Twilight books, they weren’t just a teen phenomenon. Every author, every book has it’s fans and it’s detractors. I am not a fan of twentieth century classics. I can skip Hemingway and all the boys writing about depressing subjects. Oh yeah, the women too. Give me happy endings with my romance and I’m happy. Do I fail as a reader? No. It’s just what I like. I love earlier authors. Poe and Hawthorne and Austin. You shouldn’t be ashamed for enjoying Twilight, but you should know what you liked about it. Debate is the lifeblood of English Lit classes everywhere.
      I see you’re a P&P fan, but what about Sense and Sensibility, where being a rebel is not rewarded? I love that book too, the women are strong, but they don’t buck the system. In order to succeed they must work within the system. There is a real and very harsh punishment when the younger sister doesn’t behave. Still love the book and I’m always rooting for Captain Brandon.

      Can you make a case for Bella being strong through sacrifice? I should re-read it and see!

      • I have only seen S&S and not actually read the book (another on my TBR pile). I think Bella was strong too – she never gave up on her love for Edward and refused to be persuaded otherwise. She faced all the vampires and werewolves etc. I agree she was a pain sometimes, but she was strong too. It’s much easier to give up on our dreams and ‘follow the herd’ than stick to what we actually want, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

      • I think it’s great we all like different stuff, and we should be proud and happy we do. Otherwise the world would be very boring!

  7. Mary

    I actually find Anna Strong to be selfish and aggressive with poor morals. She snapped a woman’s neck and killed her with scarcely a thought about the murder she’d so callously committed and is constantly aggressive to those around her. She often seems to get off on killing and is quite merciless. She’s also not really a good friend to David.

    Sorry but I just find her hard to like. Good on her for being so powerful that she can kick ass and easily kill people. So can abusive husbands and to me that’s how she acts a lot of the time. Slap people around because she knows she can, because she’s tougher than everyone else.

    She just seems overly aggressive, merciless and power hungry to me and I just can’t relate to her.

    Sorry. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I guess I just don’t like Anna Strong. At least Bella still has a sense of right and wrong and still has her humanity.

    • Wow!
      All I asked was if you liked her. You obviously had a strong reaction. Not sure what caused that, but it is your opinion. Bella just whines to me, but I only got through the first two books. Lots of people love her. That is plain to see by the amount of cash spent at the box office and that’s how we chose what gets published and sticks around and what doesn’t. I find complex characters to be interesting, even if they are flawed. Maybe especially when they are flawed. I’m interested in how that works, how the character is able to function with people- or not function. Bella is most definitely flawed, but not in a way I find interesting. But you do and that is wonderful. Keep reading!

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