Some might say we have been inundated recently with stories of young women forced with the decision of standing up for what they believe or falling in line with what is expected of them, we would say this is well overdue. Books turned films like The Hunger Games and Divergent have amassed huge followings due to providing both good storytelling as well as role models for young girls that until recently, were not always easy to find. Catherine Linka’s novels and upcoming television show, are continuing to add success of stories around what she describes as “kickass chicks.”
Linka’s A Girl Called Fearless series, follows a young woman forced to choose between being sold into marriage or losing everything she’s ever known to find freedom.
We won’t give out anymore about the plot however, we cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed interviewing Linka. She has proven through her words, both on and off the page, to be a pretty impressive role model in her own right.
What can you tell us about the origins of Avie and why you wanted to tell her story? How has she changed over time and what should we be expecting from her in this installment of her story?
Sometimes a voice pops in your head and your job as a writer is to get out of the character’s way and let them tell you the story. Avie was a total surprise. I did not plan on writing her story, she just appeared.
Avie lives in an America where young women are so valuable that her father Contracts her into marriage for millions of dollars. Avie doesn’t want to marry the man she’s Contracted to, but her only other choice is to run for freedom in Canada. Avie’s not sure she can do it, even though her longtime best friend Yates believes she’s fearless.
When Avie runs in A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, she gets caught up with people trying to expose high level politicians, and the danger she’s in just explodes. By surviving the worst, Avie learns she’s stronger and braver than she ever imagined.
But in A GIRL UNDONE, Avie has to negotiate for her life, and she sees the horrible consequences of her choices. She learns that sometimes the only way to live with yourself is to be willing to give up your life for others. “Back Against the Wall” by Cage the Elephant was my theme song for A GIRL UNDONE, because it totally captures how Avie feels.
With this journey taking place in an America not unlike the one that exists today, are there specific current events that have shaped the path Avie has taken to this point? Are there events since the first novel that dictated the direction you took for this one?
Wow. Current events definitely influenced my feelings about the way society treats young women, even if they didn’t dictate Avie’s story line. Gamergate and stories of social media attacks on women in the tech industry really shocked me. I just didn’t realize the level of hostility out there. And I’m distressed by the way state legislatures are manipulating the law to block access to safe, legal abortions. It’s the kind of end run I’d expect from a Paternalist government.
Your bio states you worked at an independent book store as a book buyer. What did you learn from this experience about the state of literature? Was your series an answer to something you felt was missing?
Obviously, readers are passionate about high stakes action and kickass chicks, but the more spec fiction and dystopian stories I read, the more they felt like one long chase scene. I wanted to write a book that felt so real that when someone put it down they’d say, “Holy crap, I could totally see this happening.” And I wanted to write about a girl who doesn’t start out as a kickass chick, but becomes one by surviving all the challenges thrown at her. So the book isn’t a classic dystopian–it’s more like a twisted take on reality.
Stories about powerful young women have been taking the world by storm over the past few years. Do you think there are certain societal conditions presently that pushed these stories to the forefront? What do you feel sets your series apart from the rest?
I think women, especially young women, want to feel powerful and they’re looking for role models. We tell girls they can do anything, but then they have to deal with everything from body image to slut shaming. It was important to me to show that Avie doesn’t start out as a superhero, because I wanted readers to see that her strength lies within her.
Avie tries and fails and tries again. She learns that her refusal to give up is a superpower. I want young women and young men to know that they have more inside them than they may realize. Living through hard times makes you powerful. It makes you a survivor.
Many of your contemporaries have gone on to successful film franchises but yours is going to television. With television (and streaming services) ushering in a new era of small screen dominance, do you feel television was the right fit at this time for your characters?
Absolutely! I was so excited by what I was seeing on the small screen, I refused to consider a movie deal. I thought if the books went to film they’d be squished down into a love story and chase scene, but in a series–even a mini-series, my characters would be more fully developed and their stories could even be expanded.
Is there anything you can tell us about where the television series is at currently?
Both A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and the sequel, A GIRL UNDONE have been optioned by Universal Cable Productions. They hired two scriptwriters who I absolutely adore (but I’m not allowed to tell you who they are!!) Two weeks ago, I read the first draft of the pilot, and now it’s in revisions. As soon as it’s finished, Universal will begin showing it to networks.
It’s stated this novel with be the conclusion to the story. Will we get a definitive conclusion or will the door be open for the possibility of new adventures in the future?
I think readers will be satisfied with A GIRL UNDONE, but there’s always the possibility of new adventures. In fact, St. Martin’s and I put a novella about one of the characters up on wattpad.com. It’s called SPARROW’S STORY:A GIRL DEFIANT, and Sparrow’s many fans can read about her tragic love and betrayal. People have asked me to write Yates’ story, so who knows….