Holden Johnson
Holden Johnson asked Michael J. Sullivan:

Hey Michael, I absolutely loved your books and have gotten my friends/family to read them as well. I was wondering how you go about writing such strong female characters. Arista is probably my favorite female in any book I've read lately, and Thrace is pretty awesome herself. I recently finished writing my first book and any help would be appreciated, as I go through editing.

Michael J. Sullivan Hey Holden,
I'm so glad you have loved the books, and thanks for sharing them with others. At this point, any success they receive has more to do with people like you than anything I've done.

I hope that I write "strong characters" period. The reality is the gender of any number of the characters could have been switched and they would work equally ware. Hadrian - obviously not as his physical strength is a bit part of his prowess. But the physicality of Royce isn't anything exceptional and he could have easily been a man...and Modina could have been a young boy rather than a young girl - although the issues of marriage and who rules would have had to be adjusted.

As for Arista in particular...a lot of her inspiration has come from my wife Robin. They share a lot of traits. That being the case, it was somewhat funny that my daughter didn't like Arista (especially given how well she and my wife get along). By the end of the series she had "come around" and did end up liking her, but she complained about her often earlier on ;-)

In my current work, a number of people ended up gender swapping. And I found that I didn't have to do anything when making the switch. I think if you focus on "the character" and don't pay much attention to their gender it may help with your own writing. Or so I hope.

Thanks again for asking.

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