Deadly Ever After

Blackbirds: How It Created A Wendig Trash Picker

TODAY’S BREW: A spiked watermelon. It’s cookout weather.

By Julie


Many of you may know of my love for Chuck Wendig. Others of you may know that I have been spotted kicking raccoons and squirrels aside when he brings the trash out at 8:40 every other night so that I may delight in the splendors of his used packagings and such.


Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1)

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

Please, you know you want to read that.

Blackbirds has had its share of not so positive commentary, specifically from female readers, due in no small part to Miriam’s voice. This is what I want to talk about. Nay, this is what I want to YELL ABOUT.

If you are looking for a book where the heroine is given a horrific gift that has all but destroyed her life and is still a cupcake eating, kitten loving, sunshine smiling breath of fresh air, then you want a book that doesn’t make any fucking sense. Miriam Black has been cornered into being anti-social and street smart. To get close to anyone in this wanderer life she leads would be a nail in her emotional coffin. Throw in that she will absolutely know how long the clock is ticking for anyone she touches, and you’ve got a character who is closed off, defensive, silently afraid and is covered in mental scars.

Women who don’t understand this are not looking for a female heroine they can be sympathetic to. They are looking for one that they don’t have to see the dark underbelly of. You can’t tell me that I am supposed to want to have a cup of tea with the heroine of a novel like this. I don’t have to like her, I have to understand her. And in Miriam’s defense, I do like her. She’s a tough broad, not because she can kick the ass of anyone who looks at her cross-eyed, or because she has a no bullshit attitude. I see enough of that, and frankly, it is not enough to make me give a shit. On the contrary, I am sick of wisecracking bombshells with a chip on their shoulder. NO MORE OF THOSE. Miriam may have some of these qualities, but she’s tough for this reason—she goes on. She continues. She drives forward in a world that offers her zero compassion or comfort. That’s strength.

As for people who find her voice to be too “masculine,” I am almost as offended by this as I am by the need for pink dumptrucks for little girls. So a man can swear, be bitter and offensive as a hero, but a woman has to be girly for you to like her? That’s the most fucking sexist thing I can think of, and insanely unrealistic. So what if Miriam were a lesbian, would it be okay then? Let’s pull out some more stereotypes to mold our brains into as we read TO RELEASE OUR INHIBITIONS. If you want to read a book about someone that sounds like a pretty, pretty princess, maybe you should not be reading a novel with the edge that this one requires. Because, once again, IF SHE SOUNDED LIKE A TEACUP TOTING DEBUTANTE I WOULD NOT BELIEVE THAT SHE HAD SEEN THE DARK SIDE OF THE WORLD THAT SHE HAS SEEN.

To wrap up this motherfucker of a rant, I need to say that this is not a novel that focuses on making the heroine something out of the ordinary and never seen before. Miriam is exactly who she needs to be. This is a novel about choices, fate, and control. It has a multifaceted plot line that delivers depth and  complexity. While Miriam appears to have no control, she is still forced to make choices that will reap scathing results no matter what. She is partially responsible for the disasters she creates, and yet has little other option. Grueling twists drive this story forward, and bring it to a crescendo that has you burning to know Miriam’s next move.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a trash hat to make. It’s cold and windy outside Chuck’s window in the night.

Don’t be stupid, follow Chuck’s blog here.

Obviously, follow Chuck on Twitter @ChuckWendig


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6 thoughts on “Blackbirds: How It Created A Wendig Trash Picker

  1. I have yet to read Blackbirds, but I can totally get behind this rant about heroines in popular literature. I am sick beyond belief of the too smart, wise cracking, save the day heroines that can best the alpha males. I racked my brain to see if I knew any of these women in real life, and I can’t think of any. Because I don’t think they exist!

    I want my heroines to be imperfect. I want them to be real. I don’t care if it’s fantasy. The story can be fantasy, sure, but I want to be able to connect with the characters. And if they fit into perfect slots of perceived femininity I won’t believe it. No one does, not anyone with any dimension. I don’t want them to always make the right decisions. If they deal with horrific scenarios day after day, I want them to have a little grit to them.

    It’s 2013. Let’s leave the female stereotypes behind because not only do they know that they are bullshit, they don’t advance us as a gender. Real women and girls need female heroes and villains that are just as real as they are.


  2. I probably shouldn’t be shocked that people critique Miriam for being “too masculine” but… Here I am, a little bit shocked all the same. By “masculine” do these people mean the fact that she swears? Or drinks? Or doesn’t take shit from anyone? Because, yeah, I know women who do all these things.

    I LOVED both these books, and think Miriam is one of the best female characters I’ve read in a while. She’s…well, as you say, real. Believable. I’m tired of female characters having to fit into specific little niches. Miriam was a great step away from that.

    • THANK YOU LAURA! I have no issue, really, with girly characters, if that’s the way the story works and the way the character should naturally be and react. But to just lable a woman as too masculine makes me think she should have her right to vote taken away. Maybe we should get her a nice petticoat and ill-fitting corset. Bind her feet or something.

      • “I have no issue, really, with girly characters, if that’s the way the story works and the way the character should naturally be and react.”

        That’s a good point, too. Sansa Stark comes to mind. I know some people don’t like her because she seems “frivolous” – ie:, she prefers lemon cakes and silk dresses over swords. But…that’s her. That’s Sansa. It doesn’t make her weak, in my mind, it makes her seem more real.

  3. YES. All of this. I haven’t read the book but now I really want to.

    Some of my favourite books have characters I don’t like. I read to expand my brain. I can quite happily loathe a character but love that they’re such a well-written character, if that makes sense. I can also love characters and dislike the books they’re in. Both are possible! Hooray for actually having a brain!

    I need to go read some more blog posts now!

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