On Writing Strong Female Protagonists: Read a Q&A from Sarah Barrie, Author of Unforgiven

On Writing Strong Female Protagonists: Read a Q&A from Sarah Barrie, Author of Unforgiven

Briefly tell us about your book.

Unforgiven is the story of Lexi Winter, a victim of childhood abuse who learned to take care of herself from a very young age after escaping to the streets and doing whatever she needed to do to survive. As one of her jobs involved online scamming, Lexi’s developed a good working knowledge of the dark web and computer hacking, so after reuniting with her sister Bailee, now a child protection officer, she uses these skills to assist Bailee to catch an online predator. When it works, she continues to help bring down others.

It’s through Bailee’s contacts with the police that Lexi learns the man who abused her in childhood is claiming to have taken another child. Though she believes the perpetrator to be a copycat she agrees to help, even though this means working with the police officer who failed to help her as a child, Rachael Langley. Though Lexi doesn’t have a high opinion of police and refuses to do things by the book, the combination of Lexi’s dark web skills and Rachael’s police work meld in order to bring down a monster.

What inspired the idea behind this book?

I really enjoy writing strong female protagonists. In Unforgiven I set out to create a character I could craft to explore the fundamental meaning of justice beyond simply what the law defines as right and wrong. I wanted a character who was both ‘real’ and heavily flawed. I needed to give her a strong enough and believable enough reason to be the person she’s become, to ensure that despite her unorthodox behaviour, she would garner enough empathy and support from the reader to have them take the journey with her.

What was the research process like for the book?

Eye-opening and at times a little harrowing. But that research strengthened my resolve to tell the story. We all know children suffer at the hands of abusers in this country but I don’t think most of us realise how common and widespread a problem it is. A quick look online reveals hundreds of stories of survivors and how the abuse they suffer at a young age stays with them and affects their entire lives. The resolve of many of them to turn their lives around after suffering a range of serious emotional problems as a result of their trauma is as inspiring as their stories are heartbreaking.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

Finding the right balance between telling the story of how Lexi was able to overcome an horrific childhood and not overworking the details. I wanted to write a story readers could enjoy, focussing on Lexi finding justice and becoming the best version of herself while not underwriting the gravity of what she went through as a child.

What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?

Lexi is the most demanding character I’ve ever written. Though my writing schedule has never exactly revolved around working routine hours, it’s become even more unpredictable since creating her character. When I began working on the second book in the series I had a lot of follow up to do and ideas as to what to explore next, so the story was in my head all of time. It took a lot longer than it should have to write, because I was home-schooling on top of having the regular farm work to get done, but Lexi was never far from my mind. And it’s the same with the third book I’m working on now. I find myself scribbling notes at all times of the day and night and my phone voice recorder is getting a workout. I know a lot of authors say they routinely talk to their characters and now I get it. Lexi has developed her own strong voice and I’m often left scrambling to catch up.

Buy a copy of Unforgiven here.

Reviews

Fast-Paced and Gripping: Read an Extract from Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie

Review | Extract

3 December 2021

Fast-Paced and Gripping: Read an Extract from Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie

    A Dark, Propulsive Thriller: Read Our Review of Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie

    Review | Our Review

    29 November 2021

    A Dark, Propulsive Thriller: Read Our Review of Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie

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                    Publisher details

                    Unforgiven
                    Author
                    Sarah Barrie
                    Publisher
                    HQ Fiction
                    Genre
                    Fiction
                    Released
                    01 December, 2021
                    ISBN
                    9781867226451

                    Synopsis

                    Once a victim, she's now a vigilante. An addictive and suspenseful thriller for readers of Candice Fox and Sarah Bailey.

                    Lexi Winter is tough, street-smart and has stood on her own two feet since childhood, when she was a victim of notorious paedophile the Spider. All she cares about now is a roof over her head and her long-term relationship with Johnny Walker. She isn't particular about who she sleeps with ... as long as they pay before leaving.

                    Lexi is also an ace hacker, tracking and entrapping local paedophiles and reporting them to the cops. When she finds a particularly dangerous paedophile who the police can't touch, she decides to gather enough evidence to put him away. Instead, she's a witness to his death ...

                    Detective Inspector Rachael Langley is the cop who cracked the Spider case, 18 years earlier - but failed to protect Lexi. Now a man claiming to be the real Spider is emulating his murderous acts, and Rachael is under pressure from government, media and her police colleagues. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is this killer is a copycat?

                    Lexi and Rachael cross paths at last, the Spider in their sights ... but they may be too late ...

                    Sarah Barrie
                    About the author

                    Sarah Barrie

                    Sarah Barrie is a bestselling Australian author writing suspense in rural settings. Her debut bestselling print novel, Secrets of Whitewater Creek, earned her a spot as one of the Top 10 breakthrough authors of that year, and her next three books, the Hunters Ridge series, also reached bestseller status. Sarah has also worked as a teacher, a vet nurse, a horse trainer and a magazine editor. Her favourite place in the world is the family property, where she writes her stories overlooking mountains crisscrossed with farmland, bordered by the beauty of the Australian bush, and where, at the end of the day, she can spend time with family, friends, a good Irish whiskey and a copy of her next favourite book.

                    Books by Sarah Barrie

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                    1. Gail Ferris says:

                      Just finished reading unforgiven, hoping there is going to be a second book in this series finished too quickly but absolutely enjoyed it.