I’m not sure how I ended up writing a feminist novel. My main character, Rae Lynne Grimes, is a woman who can drive and repair anything from trucks to boats. She is a tough girl with a bad attitude. She is a fighter and a survivor. On the surface, she is as different from me as chrome is to pink.
While writing Chrome Pink, I didn’t think about the oddity of a female tow truck driver, nor did I think it strange that she was able to restore a motorcycle. My husband has often talked of his friend who worked alongside her father as a girl, and has now surpassed him in mechanical abilities. He spoke of women football players and race car drivers, and he pushed me to pursue my dreams, never setting limitations because of gender.
Rae embodies the strength of the women who have influenced my life. She is vulnerable and strong, street smart and naïve, she is an enigma, and she is all woman. I wanted a powerful personality, a character who could deal with life’s crap and give it right back.
I tease and tell people Rae is my husband in drag. That is only the first part of how she was created. I was taking a class online, the instructor told us to describe someone we know well. I described my husband. Afterwards, she told us to make changes: gender, race, religion, etc. and that became the skeleton for my character. Rae does have traits similar to my husband but she has evolved into a woman who has powered past her own weaknesses to do what has to be done.
I often thought my mother was weak. My dad didn’t even want her driving alone at night. When we visited her parents in the neighboring county, (pre-cell phone era), her father or brother would follow her home. After she started attending night classes at the local community college, I rode with her to keep her from traveling alone at night (that’s how I first met my husband but that’s another story). Dad was very protective of mom and I have taken on that role in his absence but she isn’t not as fragile as she sometimes appears. As an adult, I have come to know more of the story of my mother’s life that I was unaware of, like Rae Lynne, she has had to deal with pain and suffering, loss and fear, and as she has told me, she just did what she had to do to get to the other side.
Saying I’m not a feminist is like saying, I’m not a woman. It’s not that I think all women should run for congress nor should all women stay home and take care of the children. Today, we have more choices. I think, we as women, no, we as humans, have to find our own path, whether that is soaring to the moon or running to the grocery store. We are only limited by our own choices.
What I want my characters to say to my readers is simple, be you. It takes each of us to make the world work, celebrate what makes you special and unique. The world would not be the same without you.