I see BBC Radio 4's Front Row is doing a Buffy the Vampire Slayer special on Boxing Day, in which (according to Naomi Alderman's article on the BBC website), many critics and commentators are bemoaning the fact that there have been far too few strong central female characters similar to Buffy Anne Summers since the show itself wrapped a decade ago.
Two thoughts present themselves to me, one in exasperation:
What is so darned difficult about writing a strong female character like Buffy and, incidentally, having her relate to other strong female characters in the show - Willow, Cordelia, Anya, Jenny Calendar, Lilah, Darla etc. There have been characters of such resilience in film and TV before. Ripley from Aliens comes immediately to mind, and some years back (if memory serves) Sarah Bowman in George A. Romero's Day of the Dead was a tough and ruthless scientist. It's not like there isn't any precedent, and even if there wasn't I don't see why any competent screenwriter can't just write females as fully-rounded characters.
After all, I did! In addition to Dear Miss Landau, I wrote four unpublished novellas about Drusilla the vampire, another strong character in Buffy, and almost absent-mindedly empowered her so much it wasn't even funny. In the latest instalment, I have her beating up Spike and mowing down Taliban with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher while (I sincerely hope) still showing the fragile sides of her vulnerable psyche.
If an unemotional Asperger with no particular commitment to feminism can do it, why can't you?
James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.