by Karin Rita Gastreich
One? Just one? How am I supposed to pick only one?
Long before I began writing The Silver Web trilogy, I became an avid reader of history and historical fiction. I have a special admiration for women in history, especially in medieval and Renaissance times. I’ve come to realize how women’s stories have been erased time and again, and I am grateful for the historians and authors who seek to reconstruct those stories and return women to their place as equal protagonists on the stage of time.
All of the women I’ve read about – and many that I’ve known in real life – inspired, in one way or another, the saga of The Silver Web. But if I must pick only one today, I will focus on a contemporary author, Gioconda Belli, who’s work had a lasting impact on me during the formative years of my journey as a writer.
Belli is a Nicaraguan author and poet who has published many works. The one that sticks with me the most is El País Bajo Mi Piel (The Country Beneath My Skin), memoir of her involvement in the Sandinista Revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.
It seems odd that this memoir of modern history would have inspired my medieval fantasy novels, but I saw many universal themes in Belli’s personal story. For example, the importance of poetry and art in maintaining resistance under oppressive regimes, and the proactive roles women assume in organizing revolutionary movements.
Through her story, Belli illustrates how even in revolution, women often find themselves marginalized. Men who assert control over revolutionary movements often do this on the (predictably masculine) assumption that what’s good for them is good for everyone. As a result, the situation of women doesn’t necessarily change even as one regime is toppled and replaced by another. This is especially frustrating in cases like the Sandinista Revolution, where women like Belli had a significant role in overthrowing a terrible dictatorship.
Finally, I was deeply impressed by Belli’s honesty when it came to women’s sexuality; in particular, her personal experiences with romance and love. I wanted to achieve that level of honesty in my novels; to paint my characters as complex women whose ambitions and passions are not always predictable, and who do not under any circumstances shape their behavior to serve the stereotypical expectations of others.
Belli is only one of countless women who have inspired me. Reaching deeper into history, I could also mention Elizabeth I, Eleanor of Acquitaine, and the Tigress of Forli, among others. The women of The Silver Web were very much modeled after these medieval and Renaissance heroines.
How about you? What women in history have inspired you, and why?
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Karin's Newest Dark Fantasy Romance: Daughter of Aithne
Across the Furma River, Taesara of Roenfyn is drawn out of seclusion and into an ever-more vicious game of intrigue and war. Subject to the schemes of her uncle and the mysterious ambitions of the wizards of Galia, she fights to assert her will while defending her daughter's inheritance.
In the climactic finale to The Silver Web trilogy, threads of love, honor, betrayal, and vengeance culminate in a violent conflict between powerful women, opposed to each other yet destined to shatter a thousand-year cycle of war.
Available Here: Amazon