Formidable Females

There was a lot of the letter ‘f’ in the event with Lari Don and Eilidh Muldoon on Tuesday morning. Formidable females, which might have referred to Lari and Eilidh. Or it could have been their new book, Fierce, Fearless and Free. Which also featured formidable females. The Fs have it.

Lari started off by talking about how she writes, how she likes old stories the best, and how she’s been looking to find traditional tales with strong girls in them. Girls who don’t need rescuing by a boy, or needing to find nice clothes to be seen in. Lari did find some old stories about girls, and one of her favourites came to her from Ecuador via Aberdeen. She also reads her stories to audiences to find out what works best. Her stories are for everyone, about girls.

Eilidh did the illustrations for the book, and this was a particular favourite of hers. Because she only needed to do one illustration for each story, she had to work out what would describe every story best. So in the end that’s why there are no lions or bears. She showed us her sketchbook where she tries out ideas as she reads.

The story we heard was A Siberian Legend, about a man who was very unfortunate because he had no sons, at all, and only one daughter, who could do nothing that pleased him. While Lari read about the girl’s bravery, Eilidh drew. She usually does this very slowly, on a smaller scale, and never when watched. But this worked too.

I am beginning to see a pattern here, because Eilidh challenged viewers to draw their own fierce female characters, and Lari asked for new stories, maybe featuring the ‘most unlikely baddie’, or talking animals granting favours, which is something she likes. And it is much more exciting when things go wrong.

Because they couldn’t hear all our questions, they sat down and interviewed each other instead. There was a lace dragon, and someone who liked temples. And Eilidh does not care for hippos, or at least, not to draw. Lari draws a bit too, but only where her characters are, never the characters themselves. They are in her head.

And here they ran out of time.

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