She’s more than just another police officer, some readers have told me.
I’ve heard more positive responses about Stephanie Hart than about all the other protagonists in my novels. That doesn’t bother me: the point is people are talking about my novels at all. Though when I think about Hart, I wonder how I even came to create her.
Hart and I have a few things in common: we’re both from Philadelphia, and we both attended academic high schools. In fact, for many years, her high school was the sister school to mine. That’s where the similarity ends. Besides being a woman, Hart didn’t go right to college as I did, enlisting in the military instead. And she’s had a tougher time in life than I’ve had. But I’ve always appreciated and liked very tough female characters in fiction, television and the movies, beginning with Anne Francis’ portrayal of Honey West in the 1960s.
More recent characters include Ziva David from NCIS, Olivia Benson from Law and Order: SVU, Ripley from the Alien franchise, and Wonder Woman from the 2017 film. These are all kickass women who don’t waste their time competing with men; they just demonstrate time and time again that they’re not to be messed with. That’s who Stephanie Hart is patterned after.
Like the Ripley character, Hart is tall, somewhat muscular for a woman, and carries herself with quiet authority. People who encounter Hart sense her strength and confidence immediately. But it hasn’t always been easy for Hart. While serving as a military police officer, a fellow soldier tried to assault her sexually, and Hart pulled out all the stops. If you’ve ever read the Honor Harrington series by David Weber, Hart experienced much the same assault as did Harrington. And even though Hart’s attacker was disciplined and she was offered a promotion, she decided that her army days were over.
Now in a city many miles away from home and starting a brand new career, Hart is more nervous than she wants to be, and really wants to make good in Port Angel. When I first conceived of her, she was a lot like Raina Wolfe from the Flight of the Raven Series, but they are clearly different. For one thing, Wolfe is in her early forties and at the pinnacle of her career. Hart is thirty, and starting a new career. Hart is also much more of a loner than Wolfe, and is more open to adapting rules to her liking, whereas Wolfe is normally a by-the-book Central Federation officer. So even though they are both tall, muscular, and martial artists, it’s easy for me to distinguish between Hart and Wolfe.
Hart is destined to make her mark in Port Angel: because the city needed a new champion.
Of course, the only way you can be sure of who’s who is to check out both Twin Worlds and Take Hart!