Bold Girls


Celine Kiernan

Me, before anyone told me I couldn’t drive in shopping centres

(This piece originally appeared as part of this Irish Times Article)

For some people the word bold means naughty, a character trait to be punished and curbed. For some the word means brave, a character trait to be encouraged and praised.

When we are young, if we’re lucky, girls get to be bold in all the same ways boys do: we splash and mess and shout and run and hang upside-down from the monkey bars. We get the best of both worlds with our tutus and our tea parties and our karate and our science. But then something happens and suddenly the same behaviour that is rewarded in our brothers – outspokenness, assertiveness, self-confidence and physicality – is disapproved of in us. We find ourselves dismissed as bossy, opinionated, pushy, selfish.

One after another, doors start closing on us. Some are closed so quietly that they’re shut before we even know they exist – we may never fully understand what those doors have excluded us from. Some are slammed violently at the very last moment, shocking us, as until then we’d believed we’d as much right to walk through them as our brothers. Throughout our lives these doors will be many and varied, but they will all have one thing in common: they will be closed on us because we are not boys.

Let me tell you a true story. I wrote a book once, featuring a brash, outspoken, assertive, no-nonsense little character who takes no guff from anyone. I wrote two versions. In one version the character was a boy. In the other, the character was a girl. The two stories were exactly the same in every single way. The only thing I changed were the pronouns involved (‘he’ became ‘she’, ‘his’ became ‘hers’ and so on).

Readers loved the character as a boy.

Readers thoroughly disliked the same character as a girl.

The same actions, the same dialogue, the same thought processes that made readers love the boy made them uncomfortable and disapproving of the girl. The discomfort was not prompted by anything that was said or done, but by whether or not it was said and done by a girl.

It was a shock to me to discover this prejudice not only in my normally open-minded readers, but also in myself. I realised that I’d had to force myself to think of a character as a boy before I could get them to behave the way I wanted.

I learned something from that. I learned that brave is brave, strong is strong, determined is determined. But sometimes the world refuses to see these things in a girl. Sometimes it refuses to allow these things. If that’s going to be the case, we bold girls must see these things in each other. We must witness each other’s boldness. We must support it. If doors are closed to us, we must open them for ourselves and for all the bold girls to come. We must acknowledge our own greatness and be unafraid and unashamed to say,

‘I am bold. I am a bold girl! Make of that what you will, world, because I’m not changing just to please you.’

Celine Kiernan was born and raised in Dublin. Her books combine fantasy with political, humanitarian and philosophical themes. They’ve won the RAI Best Book Award twice, the CBI Book of the Year Award and Children’s Choice Award, and have been included in The Irish Times best children’s books of the past 25 years. 


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Begone, the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan

via Begone, the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan

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An #Author #Interview with @Celine_Kiernan, Part 2: #writing #characters to hook #readers of any age

Jean Lee's World

199_Celine_webCeline Kiernan’s critically acclaimed work combines fantasy elements with the exploration of political, humanitarian and philosophical themes. She is best known for The Moorehawke Trilogy, a dark, complex trilogy of fantasy YA books set in an alternative renaissance Europe. In this second part of our interview, I ask Kiernan about writing characters and storytelling for a Middle Grade audience in her latest book, Begone the Raggedy Witches.

You created some amazing characters when you wrote The Moorehawke Trilogy. The trio of friends in the first book, The Poison Throne, are delightfully unique, genuine, and engaging. So much can happen in five years, especially when one changes from a child to a teen. What do you feel was the most challenging aspect of writing teenaged characters for The Poison Throne as opposed to writing them younger, or as fully-grown adults?

I didn’t find it a challenge. To be honest, I just write my characters…

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An #Author #Interview with @Celine_Kiernan, Part 1: #writing & #worldbuilding in #fantasy #fiction with a little help from #history

Jean Lee's World

199_Celine_webBorn in Dublin, Ireland, 1967, Celine has spent the majority of her working life in the film business, and her career as a classical feature character animator spanned over seventeen years, before she became a full-time writer. I am honored to spend this week and next sharing her thoughts on world-building, research, character, audience, and hooks.

First, let’s talk about the imagination behind the worlds. I see on your biography you spent years in film and animation. What drew you to visual storytelling as a profession before written storytelling? How does your work as an animator influence the way you write today?

farewell__inksketch_by_tinycoward_d1xwof1-pre Illustration of Chris and Wynter from Poison Throne

From the moment I could hold a pencil I was always either drawing or writing. In terms of satisfaction, I don’t think there’s a dividing line between the two disciplines for me. But at different stages in my life…

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Raggedy Witches Review

Fantastic Audio file Magazine review of Kate Rudd’s narration of Begone the Raggedy Witches ❤

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KidLit Book Review: Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan


Spooky KidLit


On the night that Aunty dies, the raggedy witches come for Mup’s family. Pale, cold, and relentless, the witches will do anything for the tyrannical queen who has outlawed most magic and enforces her laws with terror and cruelty — and who happens to be Mup’s grandmother. When witches carry off her dad, Mup and her mam leave the mundane world to rescue him. But everything is odd in the strange, glittering Witches Borough, even Mam. Even Mup herself. In a world of rhyming crows, talking cats, and golden forests, it’s all Mup can do to keep her wits about her. And even if she can save her dad, Mup’s not sure if anything will ever be the same again.

  • Title: Begone the Raggedy Witches
  • Series: The Wild Magic Trilogy, Book 1
  • Author: Celine Kiernan
  • Illustrator: Victoria Semykina
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • ISBN: 0763699969
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2018

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I <3 reader's letters

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