author talk · Historical Fiction · Historical Women · Inspiration · Kristin Hannah · warrior women · Writing

Warrior Women & Why They Matter in Story and Life

Samurai

Who Are These Brave and Courageous Women?

Not who you might think. I’m not talking about Wonder Woman or Jamie Sommers the Bionic Woman (okay, I just dated myself, plus we share the same name and, therefore, she was my childhood alter ego). Admittedly, I sped around my elementary school playground with superhuman agility, strength, and auditory profoundness, all in the pursuit of making the world a safer place from mean girls and bad boys. I’m not even referring to Joan of Arc. Although, she was most definitely a warrior and awfully bad***.

Instead, women warriors are all around us–even you (if you are a woman). When I set out to write RUSH, the fictionalized account of my great-great grandmother’s solo participation in the Oklahoma Land Run of 1893 , I had no idea how much her choices, actions, and heroics had and will continue to impact my life. She was born in a time when women mostly held to the coattails of a man–accepting and supporting his dreams and desires often at the expense of her own. I’m sure my ancestor had the best of intentions to be a good wife. But when life threw her the proverbial “lemons”, she made “lemonade”–not just a glass, but gallons upon gallons–enough to fill her own soul, share the encouraging overflow with her contemporaries, and still enough to trickle down through the generations to moisten my lips, the refreshing knowledge that her heroics run in my veins.

OK Grandma 1
One of my favorite “warrior women”, my great-great grandmother, Mary Louisa Roberts – 83 years young!

 

Now, this is no man-bashing spiel, and in fact, there are plenty of wonderful men out there who are in the ranks of warrior men. Pair them with the plethora of warrior women and the world is fired up and blessed by warrior couples. Believe me, I know quite a few of these powerhouses. But I divert …

For now the limelight is on the warrior women. Not because they demand or desire attention and accolades, but because they are deserving and enrich our lives. From the shelves of history to the contemporary, day-to-day moms driving carpools, pushing grocery carts, and nursing babies to those suited up and running the world from an office or home computer, women are a source of light — luminaries in times where darkness and defeat are ever present.

These women challenge us to be brave and fierce in our own lives. They instill the belief, that despite our circumstances, we have much to offer. They bolster our confidence and the will to stretch far beyond fears and doubts that have festered and taken root at seemingly impassable junctures in our lives.

Real or Fictitious and Does it Matter?

I’m a ponderer and a wanderer–two traits I’ll happily own since my passion is to write, especially fiction. No genius needed here. Instead, strapping on my imaginary knapsack and heading off to the next adventure, if only in mind, is my preferred  means of transportation. The view is spectacular from this vantage point–it can be anything I dream of or wish to be. The best part is I can choose, and then create, my traveling companions–those warrior women who are drawn by the same intrigues, mysteries, desires, and challenges in life.

Our common pursuit? Finding answers to life’s biggest questions and willing to run headlong down a path into the unknown for the sake of championing for not only what we believe in, but who we will fight furiously for at all costs. Overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Why? Faith, hope, and love–three small words that have been, and will continue to be, the catalyst for women doing remarkable things–some notable and most unnoticed, since the dawn of time.

Best-selling author, Kristin Hannah, to me is a warrior woman for her writing and story-telling abilities. I share a portion of her name, (Hanna is my maiden name) so I think she’s especially cool. When I was beginning to write, I would see her books on the store shelves and think, “Hey, perhaps that’s a good omen. My name (kind of) in print!”

Her latest book, The Nightingale, is the reason my eyes are blurry and achy today. Thanks to Kristin’s fascinating World War II novel, I read well past my bedtime, captivated by a story inspired by a young Belgian woman who helped create an escape route out of Nazi-Occupied France. The link provided tells why the book had to be written. Here is an excerpt:

“Sometimes a story sneaks up on you, hits you hard and dares you to look away.  That was the case with The Nightingale.  In truth, I did everything I could not to write this novel.  But when research on World War II led me to the story of a young Belgian woman who had created an escape route out of Nazi-Occupied France, I was hooked.  Her story—one of heroism and danger and unbridled courage—inspired me to imagine the women in that world.  I simply couldn’t turn away. I had to keep digging, discovering, reading, and that story led me to others that were equally fascinating.  Stories about women who had saved Jewish children and rescued downed airmen and put themselves in harm’s way to save others.  Women who had paid terrible, unimaginable prices for their heroism. 

Their stories were impossible to ignore.  I found myself consumed with a single, haunting question, as relevant today as it was seventy years ago: When would I, as a wife and mother, risk my life—and more importantly, my child’s life– to save a stranger?”

The Bottom Line … 

Whether a warrior woman is born from pure imagination or birthed from a historical figure, she inspires. And leaning out the window and taking in my view of the world, I’ll take that with open arms.

I’ll be sharing about other warrior women in upcoming blogs and on social media. But who are the warrior women in your life? Please share the inspiration. You might even let that person know who much she means to you. 

jaymeSit2

Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and educator—and feels a bit incomplete when she’s not juggling all three balls. An award-winning author, her debut book Chasing the Butterfly, is a book club favorite and Amazon bestseller. Based on a true family story that begs to be told, RUSH provides a tension-filled, moving tale of a pioneer woman’s determination to survive.

She and her husband live near the base of the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains, having survived raising three hungry, hockey-playing sons. Currently, a very needy Golden Retriever runs the roost. When Jayme isn’t writing, she teaches art to children and adults at her long-time art studio, Piggy Toes. Stay in touch Jayme on Twitter @JaymeMansfield and on her author Facebook, JaymeHMansfield. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jaymehmansfield.com.

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3 thoughts on “Warrior Women & Why They Matter in Story and Life

  1. Thank you for this, Jayme! I look forward to your book as I am researching my own historical series based on family stories of both men and women. My most amazing warrior women are my great grandmother and 2nd great grandmother, both pioneer ranch women with husbands whose love for adventure kept them away from home for extended periods. Both showed undaunted courage in the face of Indian attacks and wild animals. Both shared equally in their marriages and both suffered great loss. Warrior women are great examples for how to live our lives in the face of daily difficulties.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Norma. I agree–warrior women inspire the big and little challenges in our lives. Your family history sounds fascinating! Keep on writing and blessing us with your stories.

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  2. Thanks for sharing, Norma. I agree–warrior women inspire the big and little challenges in our lives. Your family history sounds fascinating! Keep on writing and blessing us with your stories.

    Like

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