The woman in the picture is Jessie Graff and if you don't know who she is yet, just keep reading.
First a little bit of backstory. Even ten years ago, I never would have called myself a "feminist". Depending on the connotations you assign to that word, maybe I'm still not. But regardless of labels, I know that my world view - especially in regards to women - changed dramatically in March of 2008. That's when my daughter Fiona was born.
Just like all parents, I want both of my children to realize their dreams - no matter what those dreams for the future may be. Doctor, Photographer, President, Singer, Writer, or Superhero. It's one of our jobs as parents (I believe) to encourage our children to dream big and then work together to make those dreams a reality. One step in that process, at least for me, is finding positive role models to hold up as examples for my children.
For my son, Aidan, that has always been an easy process, but with Fiona things are decidedly more . . . complicated. There are so many layers slapped subtly on top of women, that finding the right role model without the added "garbage" of society becomes difficult. Case in point: female superheros.
In the recent Marvel movies there have been a litany of male superheroes. They come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of powers. And there are two girls. Girl superheroes in the Marvel universe are either Black Widow or (the relatively new) Scarlet Witch. And now we start to see some of those layers I was talking about earlier. In the Avengers: Age of Ultron a plot device called for one of the Avengers to get captured. The only prerequisite was for the captive member of the team to know Morse code. They could have literally chosen ANYONE! But who gets snagged? Black Widow - and now the baddest spy in the Marvel universe is reduced to the archetype of the Damsel-in-Distress. (And I know the counterargument - if it could be anyone, why not her? The answer is easy, because it's always a her and in the process a strong female character is reduced to being something less).
Which brings us back to Jessie Graff. This summer, both of my kids got hooked on watching American Ninja Warrior with their Grandmom, and this season Jessie Graff emerged as a revelation. Graff is a stunt woman, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a gymnast, a former collegiate pole vaulter, and an all-around American Ninja Warrior bad-ass. This season she became the first woman to ever complete Stage One of the Las Vegas American Ninja Warrior Finals course. And in the process, she has become a role model of strength and athleticism for my daughter Fiona!
So how does any of that relate to Kira, the Rainbow Princess? I certainly never wrote Kira to explicitly be a "feminist" novel, but I did write Kira, at least in part, for my daughter. That means I wanted to create a female character that could be a reflection of Fiona - smart, brave, funny, competent, and strong. And I wanted Kira to serve as a role model for my daughter - and all the other girls who may one day read her story.
Most of all, I wanted Kira to be a hero . . . someone just like Jessie Graff.