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The Art of Creating a Strong & Clever Heroine

The Art of Creating a Strong & Clever Heroine

Django Wexler | The Children’s Book Review | April 17, 2016

The Art of Creating a Strong & Clever Heroine

Django Wexler Discusses Alice, the Heroine of The Forbidden Library Series

Alice was one of those characters that seemed to arrive already finished, with her personality and history ready from the moment I first thought of her.  That doesn’t necessarily make things easier, though.  If you can’t change the character much, the hard part is fitting her into the story and getting her to do what you need her to do!

One thing that proved to be surprisingly easy was getting her started on her adventure.  This is often a tricky part of the story, because it’s best if the heroine chooses to go on the adventure, rather than the adventure coming to her.  But adventures are usually pretty dangerous, so sensible heroines need a pretty strong motivation to convince them.  In The Forbidden Library, Alice has a number of things driving her, including the disappearance of her father, but above all she’s driven by a curiosity that she can’t let go of.  She needs to know the truth about the world — having caught a glimpse of a fairy in her kitchen, she can’t let it go and simply return to being normal.

In part, I think this was easy because I identify with this aspect of her!  I’d have a hard time ignoring magic if it were to turn up in my life. But it meant that when it was time for Alice to sneak out of the house and break into the magical library, it wasn’t hard to imagine her doing it.  She certainly wasn’t going to sit around waiting for something to happen.

On the flip side, one things that’s caused difficulty as the series goes on is Alice’s increasing mastery of her own powers, and how this affects her character.  In the first book, she only has the vaguest idea of what she can do, but by book three she’s much more confident in her abilities, and more aware of how far above ordinary people they have the potential to put her.  

It’s one of the things I love to examine in these books, the idea of the rights and responsibilities of power, and how people change when they gain power.  But trying to keep Alice’s character realistic and grounded in the face of that change was a real challenge, and there were several parts that I had to rewrite until I felt like I’d got the balance just right.  The key is that it’s a struggle for her; she’s basically a moral person who doesn’t want to misuse her power, but she’s offered constant temptation to take shortcuts in the name of achieving her goals.  Sometimes she resists, and sometimes she doesn’t, which for me is what makes the story interesting.

Palace of Glass coverThe Palace of Glass: The Forbidden Library: Volume 3

Written by Django Wexler

Publisher’s Synopsis: An action-packed middle-grade fantasy with classic writing, a resourceful heroine, a host of magical creatures, and no shortage of narrow escapes—for fans of Story Thieves, Inkheart,Coraline, and Harry Potter.

For Alice, danger threatens from inside the library as well as out. Having figured out the role her master and uncle, Geryon, played in her father’s disappearance, Alice turns to Ending—the mysterious, magical giant feline and guardian of Geryon’s library—for a spell to incapacitate Geryon. But, like all cats, Ending is adept at keeping secrets and Alice doesn’t know the whole story. Once she traps Geryon with Ending’s spell, there’s no one to stop the other Readers from sending their apprentices to pillage Geryon’s library. As Alice prepares to face an impending attack from the combined might of the Readers, she gathers what forces she can—the apprentices she once thought might be her friends, the magical creatures imprisoned in Geryon’s library—not knowing who, if anyone, she can trust.

Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0803739789

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About Django Wexler

Django Wexler is the author of the Forbidden Library series, as well as the adult fantasy series the Shadow Campaigns. He lives near Seattle, Washington.

Book Series Giveaway

The Forbidden Library Series, by Django Wexler - Book Giveaway

Enter to win the first three books from THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY series: The Forbidden Library, The Mad Apprentice, and The Palace of Glass, written by Django Wexler.


Giveaway begins April 17, 2016, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 16, 2016, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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Discover more articles and books like The Palace of Glass: The Forbidden Library: Volume 3by Django Wexler, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with , , Fantasy: Supernatural Fiction, and Writing Resources.

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The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by a guest author.

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