Monday, February 20, 2017

Guest Post: Feminism in YA by The Valiant Author, Lesley Livingston!




Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Random House
Pub Date: February 14th 2017
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her place in her father's war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.
Lesley Livingston is the author of Once Every Never, winner of the inaugural Copper Cylinder Award and shortlisted for the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the BC Stellar Book Award. She is also the author of the Wondrous Strange and Starling trilogies. She lives in Toronto. 
Connect with Lesley: Website | Blog | TwitterFacebook | Pinterest

When I set out to write Fallon’s story in THE VALIANT, I knew that her initial princess status could conceivably cast her as a possible “damsel in distress” in the minds of some potential readers. Mostly because books featuring ancient Celtic warrior societies are a little on the rare side it seems. But Fallon’s truth couldn’t be farther from that assumption and I was so excited about the prospect of writing a character who is born into a society where women are considered equal to men even on the field of battle. Historically, the Celts—much like the Vikings—didn’t bat an eye at their women taking up arms or ruling tribes or owning property. One doesn’t need to look any farther than the example of Boudicca, the Iceni queen who gathered an enormous army in opposition to the conquering Roman Legions, for proof of that. But the deeper I got into the story, the more I realized that it wasn’t just the Cantii—Fallon’s tribe—which operated within the parameters of what can be viewed as early examples of feminism.


Even Roman women had a good degree more autonomy than is generally thought. While they didn’t vote or hold office, Roman women were frequently very active behind the scenes politically. They were free to divorce their spouses and remarry at will, own property and businesses. They kept their names in marriage and inherited equally to their male siblings. This is not to say that these women didn’t face enormous obstacles because of their gender—they did—but the pervasive idea that women of the period stayed hidden and powerless, in need of saving or idolizing, is I think misguided. As a general rule, a Roman woman probably wouldn’t have consider picking up a weapon and entering into the gladiatorial arena of her own free will, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Something to keep in mind as more and more tantalizing bits of evidence come to light—or are re-examined—regarding the existence of female gladiators.


Writing this story also gave me the opportunity to bring together not just a cast driven by female agency, but a cast of women and girls from diverse nations and cultures. The girls at the Ludus Achillea hail from all the corners of the world that the Roman Republic spanned. Having them come together to interact in a setting like a training academy where they develop friendships, rivalries and ultimately a powerful sisterhood, was an exciting exploration for me.


When I wrote THE VALIANT, I was inundated with powerful examples of historical female figures who defined the feminism of the age, Cleopatra chief among them. I also drew inspiration from the legends of the Amazons. And it was their mythic, magnificent Queen Penthisilea who was reputed to have said “Not in strength are we inferior to men; the same our eyes, our limbs the same; one common light we see, one air we breathe; nor different is the food we eat. What then denied to us hath heaven on man bestowed?”

Brittany: Thank you so much for this lovely and insightful guest post, Lesley! And guys, if you haven't already, definitely check out The Valiant—it's a fantastic book!


Week One
2/13 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Gladiator Makeup
2/14 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Interview
2/15 – Alexa Loves Books – Weapon Spotlight: Bow & Arrow
2/16 – Novel Novice – Review
2/17 – Arctic Books – Review + Book Look

Week Two
2/20 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Guest Post (YOU ARE HERE!)
2/21 – What Sarah Read – Review + Mood Board
2/22 – Mundie Moms – Weapon Spotlight: Shield
2/23 – ButterMyBooks – Author Interview
2/24 – Fiction Fare – Weapon Spotlight: Dimachaerus

Week Three
2/27 – Oh the Book Feels – Author Interview
2/28 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Weapon Spotlight: Gladius
3/1 – No More Grumpy Bookseller – Review
3/2 – The YA Book Traveler – Weapon Spotlight: Trident & Net
3/3 – My Friends Are Fiction – Author Guest Post

Week Four
3/6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Weapon Spotlight: Spear
3/7 – A Page with a View – Like/Try/Why
3/8 – The Young Folks – Author Guest Post
3/9 – Icey Books – Quote Candy + Review
3/10 – Book Addict’s Guide – Bookish Scents


Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (ARV: $17.99 each). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 13, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 15, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

30 comments:

  1. This was an awesome interview! I didn't realize that women were more traditionally equal in the Celts than most societies/groups. I watch Vikings, so I knew that they saw women as able to fight, and am so happy to hear that there were more groups like them out there!

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    1. I didn't realize that either, it's awesome. I've been dying to watch Vikings and now I want to watch it even more.

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  2. I love books that feature strong female main characters. There are too many books with damsels in distress! lol It's refreshing to see women cast in strong roles.

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    1. I also love strong female characters. But I think as a whole we need to focus on making female characters in all different roles so this doesn't stand out so much.

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  3. What an inspirational article, especially with a few recent events in our country. It's amazing and glorifying to know that there were women with equal rights in ancient civilizations.

    I can't wait to read The Valiant!

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    1. I agree, if only there were more equal rights for women now.

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  4. I am so excited for this book - strong female characters who are independent and know how to take care of themselves (not to mention intelligent) are what we need more of!

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    1. It's such a good book, and I think you'll love it!

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  5. I have always been fascinated with the Roman culture--it seemed so far ahead of the rest of the world. Thanks for the post today!

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    1. Me too, I always enjoy books, movies, video games, etc with Roman themes. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. This is one that I can't wait for! And a time period that is not done that much is part of what really intrigues me. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. It's sooo good! I think you'll love this book and I can't wait to see your thoughts.

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  7. Man I loved this book so much. You don't find a ton of YA books set in Ancient Rome, so the setting was something that I really loved. But the powerful feminist themes and kickbutt characters really did it for me. I love Fallon! And of course I loved the romance too. ;) I'm excited about The Defiant!

    Wonderful post, Brittany. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. Right? It's so good. I'm shocked that there aren't more books set in Ancient Rome. It seems like an amazing setting for books. I'm so excited for The Defiant!! Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Can't wait to pick this up it looks absolutely amazing :)!!! I love classical settings too so i'm sure i'll love it :) Great post :)!!!
    Kariny @ kariny's boox frenzy

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    1. It is amazing, believe me! I hope you love it as much as I do. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. This book sounds so interesting! I don't think that I have ever read a book that contains Celtic elements before. I am definitely looking forward to reading this one for that girl power, alone! Thanks for sharing this. :)

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    1. Definitely add it to your TBR, you will love it!

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  10. Great guest post! I'm so looking forward to reading this book! Thanks for sharing :)

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  11. Oh wow, I love this notion that seems to be growing in books and the real world of women doing anything, and that they are strong, I love that it makes me so happy! :)
    Great post and thanks for another book to my tbr!

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    1. Yes, and I hope it's a notion that continues to grow and expand. I hope you love The Valiant!

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  12. I love that this book is set in Ancient Rome and that it sounds like it's going to have a badass female cast of characters. I'm more excited after reading this author post than I already was. Great post!

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    1. So many badass female characters! I hope you enjoy it!

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  13. LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!! Can't wait to read this amazing book <3

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    1. You'll love it Becky! I can't to see your thoughts <3

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  14. This is such a fantastic post!! Thanks for sharing. I'm dying to read this one! :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I hope you love it as much as I do!

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  15. Gorgeous guest post Brittany :D I must read my copy of this book soon. Ahh. It seems so, so amazing :)

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