We're thrilled to welcome Sandy Vaile (Combatting Fear) to Heroes and Heartbreakers. The heroine of Combatting Fear is ready for any circumstances after her father trained her to survive even the most extreme of conditions. Survival skills aren't just necessary but they can kind of be sexy too! Thanks, Sandy!
A survivalist is the ultimate feminist.
Think about it: she can take care of herself as well as her loved ones, can alternate between resourcefulness and tenderness, and isn’t afraid to take decisive action. Survival skills are sexy, because they embody the acumen and resilience of modern women.
Neve, the heroine in my latest romantic suspense, Combatting Fear, is a combat-trained survivalist who lives off-the-grid. Not your everyday gal, it’s true, but I don’t believe she’s unrealistic either, because I meet strong, independent women that I admire, all the time. In fact, I am a strong, independent woman with a sense of adventure. I’ve been known to leap out of a perfectly good plane, ride a motorbike, and swim with a shark (no cage). So naturally the heroines I write need to be at least as liberated and tenacious as me.
When you think about it, survival is the most basic human instinct: It’s about eating, drinking, staying warm, and protecting yourself. Tony’s approach might be a little different to the average soccer dad — guerrilla warfare techniques, weapons use, and hand-to-hand combat aren’t the normal after-school sporting activities.
What do survival skills entail?
Well, for Neve it means weekly contests with Tony on their 200-acre property. She sneaks through the Australian bushland with a bow and quiver slung across her back, dodging booby-traps, and aiming to reach the target first. This familiarity with her environment means she’s mindful of its hazards, like snakes and prickles, as well as how to use it to her advantage, like with camouflage.
Survivalist training isn’t all about war games, she can build a fire in under three minutes using two sticks, make a shelter from bark, collect water from native plants, navigate without a compass, and hunt for food. All great skills to have, but they aren’t what will keep her alive in a life or death situation.
Survivalist Bob Cooper has been conducting wilderness survival courses since 1980, and he believes nobody in Australia has ever died from hunger in a survival situation. So it’s not all about being a kick-arse survivalist who can catch his/her own dinner. It’s also about:
· Being well prepared –Your go-bag can never be too far from reach, and should always contain some basic survival equipment, a first aid kit, water, map and a knife—if the latter isn’t strapped to your leg for even easier access.
· Problem solving –A sharp mind is the most powerful tool in any survivor’s arsenal. Logic is the best way to deal with difficult situations, and when things get tough, it’s a clear head that will get you out of the stickiest situations.
· Remaining calm –Panic can overwhelm even the coolest head during a crisis, but controlling the natural emotional responses and embracing the adrenaline can help harness the high-level functioning it brings to make intelligent decisions.
But being a bad-ass survivalist isn’t all about proficiency; survival skills encompass the desire to nurture and provide for those you love. Both of my books have courageous heroines who are sensual yet formidable, and isolated by the secrets of their past. This means that neither of them are interested in Prince Charming riding in and saving the day. What they really need are men who are strong enough to stand beside them and fight for what they believe in, and brave enough to love these women, flaws and all. And there’s nothing sexier than that.
I’d love to hear your take on courageous heroines in literature.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Combatting Fear by Sandy Vaile, available February 13, 2017:
Sandy Vaile is a motorbike-riding daredevil who isn’t content with a story unless there’s a courageous heroine and a dead body. She’s a voracious reader who loves speed and adventure.
Home is amongst the vineyards in South Australia with her family and a rambunctious Hungarian Vizsla dog. She's a part-time quality coordinator (read list making word nerd) and in her spare time she enjoys motorbike riding, cooking (read eating) decadent desserts, and devising horrible things to do to her fictional characters.
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