Storm Sisters is a new YA series, written by Mintie Das, following the adventures of five female pirates in the 1780s. Charlie, Sadie, Raquel, Liu and Ingela are smart and handy with a weapon or two as they sail the seas trying to discover what happened on the day their families were attacked. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am delighted to welcome Mintie Das to the blog with a post on feminism in the book.
I’ve been a feminist since I was thirteen. Yet, when I set out to write Storm Sisters, my YA series about five girl pirates sailing the high seas in the 1780s, I didn’t try to write a ‘feminist’ story. What I hoped to do was to write a story about five teen protagonists that were like the females that I know and want to know—smart, courageous, funny, flawed and vulnerable.
I am annoyed by stories featuring girls that segment them as the pretty one, the smart one, the feisty one, etc. As though we can’t be all of those things and more. Part of the fun in writing is to explore the gorgeously complex layers in all of us and then create multi-dimensional characters that reflect those strengths and vulnerabilities. That’s why the Storm Sisters; Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel and Ingela, kick ass and they make mistakes. By creating heroines who represent the different aspects of who we are—the realer they become. That reality, that females are complex with distinct voices and can be more than the romantic interest is feminism to me.
What’s been interesting is that as Storm Sisters goes into publication in nearly twenty countries, it’s been recognized for its multiple female protagonists, each with her own distinct voice. I think of it as a band with rotating lead singers. In fact, in the five book series, each girl takes a turn narrating a different book. While I’m proud that Storm Sisters stands out because of its five female leads, I look forward to a time when stories featuring multiple heroines is the norm.
That’s because sisterhood is at the heart of my adventure series. We all probably know a few mean girls. But there’s already been a lot of stories about them which have helped to perpetuate this idea that catfights and jealousy are the norm between girls when in my experience, this simply isn’t the case.
I don’t actually have any sisters just like my Storm Sisters aren’t related. Their bond—the unconditional love and support they give each other is modeled on the incredible friendships that fuel me. Of course my characters fight too. But they know that no matter how hard they push each other, they always have each other’s backs. I believe as storytellers, the amazing power of our female bonds is one of the best tools we have.
Storm Sisters: The Sinking World begins one year after the Day of Destruction, a day when all 106 Storm ships were annihilated and the parents of Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel and Ingela were murdered. On one level, my series is a dark mystery with lots of twists and turns as the girls are forced to search for the people who destroyed their families. On another level, it’s a story about independence, as the girls, ages eleven to seventeen, struggle with being on their own for the first time while also fighting for their freedom in the harsh world of the 1780s. Their bond is as much about love as it is necessity because without each other, they wouldn’t be able to survive.
Part of the reason I chose the 1780s setting is because the oppression females faced then allowed me to highlight the importance of sisterhood. My girls aren’t pirates just because they love the sea. Especially considering they risk their lives on a daily basis navigating the deadly conditions of maritime life. However, despite the dangers, they choose the sea because on the sea they are free from the violence, abuse and other injustices that females of the eighteenth century faced.
Our world has changed in many ways since the 1780s but unfortunately, not enough. In many parts of the globe today, females are still subjected to the brutality that my characters fight against. Therefore, in the spirit of the sisterhood that is so essential in our continued struggle for equality, I’d like to end this piece by sharing the Storm Sisters creed that begins every book:
On the sea, we are free. Free to be ourselves, free to go where we choose, free to speak our minds. We are not judged lesser either by our sex or our skin. Here we are equal.
And so it is on the sea that we choose to live. Live like our ancestors did.
The history books will erase us. Convince you that girls are not smart, are not brave, and are not powerful. We share our story to show you we are. Most importantly, we share our story to show you that you are, too.
Storm Sisters by Mintie Das is published on 30th June by Bastei Entertainment, price £4.99 in eBook.
You can find out more about the five girls and the book on these other blogs: