I vividly recall my teenage years as being marked by the wide gap between immature guys and sophisticated girls. I wanted to channel that chasm in creating Jonah and Samantha (Sam), the two lead characters in my new, dystopian action-adventure novel: METAWARS: FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE.
METAWARS is the story of two teenagers caught up in the war for control over the internet. The story takes place in a near future when we’re running out of oil and so whoever controls the web, controls the world. Jonah is a sheltered teenager living on a retired bus (with a huge population and no oil, all the London buses have been turned into flats!) with his widowed mother, while Sam is a globe-trotting insurgent, part-assassin, part-terrorist. She spends her nights blowing up buildings that house computer servers in an effort to break the monopoly that one company has over the internet (imagine a mash-up of Google + Apple + facebook + Xbox).
Sam is a much stronger character than Jonah, and I believe this reflects the reality of teenage dynamics.
I didn’t want to have a female character in the book who was just a hanger-on or love interest, I wanted someone who could do more than hold their own, someone who could kick some serious ass.
Jonah is sheltered, naïve, bewildered. Sam is cynical, worldly, and strong. Jonah and Sam have an uneasy alliance. Jonah needs Sam to stay alive because she’s ruthless and resourceful. But Sam needs Jonah, and not just because he knows a valuable secret but because his innocence and naivety tempers her killer instincts. Together, they become better versions of themselves. Jonah helps Sam to learn compassion and constraint, while Sam helps Jonah to become stronger and more confident. It’s a two way street, and frustratingly, in too many stories, the female role is only there to serve the male character’s development.
We’re living through a summer of super-heroes as the cinema. The Avengers have assembled, Spider-Man has been amazing, and the Dark Knight has now risen. Yet in each of these films, the female lead is relegated to supporting role, only there to support the male hero on his journey.
Of course, I couldn’t foresee the summer of 2012 blockbusters when I started crafting METAWARS, but this formula for Hollywood blockbusters is hardly new. There’s some amazing YA fiction out there with strong female characters in the lead, but since this would be a book that is marketed at boys, I wanted to both the boy and the girl in staring roles; showing young male readers a strong, female character and grounding their relationship in realistic teenage dynamics, giving the girl her rightfully earned opportunity to show the boy how it’s done.
Jeff Norton is the author of METAWARS: FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE, publishing August 2nd, 2012 from Orchard Books. He is also a filmmaker and the founder of Awesome, a creative incubator.
Find him on the web at www.jeffnorton.com, ‘like’ him at www.facebook.com/thejeffnorton or follow him on twitter via @thejeffnorton
Expected publication: August 2nd 2012 by Orchard Books