Caitlin Kittredge On Her Iron Codex Series Heroine — With Giveaway!

The second book in author Caitlin Kittredge’s dystopian Young Adult Iron Codex series has just hit shelves. And in order to help readers get ready for The Nightmare Garden, the author is sharing a look at her heroine Aoife — and giving three lucky readers a chance to win the first two books in the series!

Many readers ask me how I was inspired to write the character of Aoife Grayson, who is the heroine of my Iron Codex trilogy. Before I published The Iron Thorn, I was known mostly for tough chick heroines, the type who'd rush into battle without a second thought and knew how to handle themselves in a fight.

Aoife wasn't any of those things. When I started writing the first book, she was quiet, studious, shy, terrified of bucking the system, and didn't consider herself brave. At first, our relationship was strained—I wasn't quite sure what to do with a heroine who didn't speak up, didn't like confrontation, and didn't stick up for herself.

But as the books went on, Aoife started to grow on me. She was quiet, yes, but she saw everything and sometimes when I was writing a scene she even surprised me with how observant she was, and how she used what she saw to help herself and her friends out of sticky situations. She was studious—and terribly smart, a quality I love in a strong heroine. She wasn't afraid to show that she had brains to spare, either, to anyone who happened to cross her. Just because she couldn't throw a punch didn't mean Aoife couldn't defend herself. Her brain got her out of every last bad situation I, as a terribly mean author, put her in.

I think Aoife taught me something important, even as I wondered how I'd ended up writing a reserved, shy girl who mostly kept to herself. She taught me that being “kick-ass” isn't about being strong or in your face or loud. She was courageous in a way that characters who don't face the kind of adversity her tough life offered aren't. She was courageous in spite of knowing it could cost her everything—her family, her home, even her life. Knowing what she had to lose, Aoife still became a heroine anyone could admire, and I think that's when I started to really like her.

She taught me to rethink what I consider heroic in my characters, particularly my female characters, and I think it comes back to her inspiration—a confident, skilled, in-your-face heroine would never have lasted in the gritty, monster-infested world of the Iron Codex. It would take someone quiet and smart, sly and observant, and brave even though she knew the cost. Aoife wasn't the heroine I would have chosen, but she was the exact one the story needed, and I'm glad we've gotten to be together for three books so far.

- Caitlin Kittredge

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Three lucky readers will each win their own prize pack of the first two books in The Iron Codex Series. To enter leave a comment about why you’d love to spend time with Aoife. Or email your comment here with the subject line “The Iron Codex Giveaway.” Winners will be announced on March 9.

BLOG UPDATE 3/9/12: Winners: Nicki, Renee H., Caroline