In Praise of Women Who Dare

This week I had the honor of being a guest on a fascinating podcast: Siren Soapbox. The sirens who produce this podcast are a group of women who challenge themselves to try something scary or difficult every week. They then report back to their listeners about how they fared—what worked, what didn’t and what scared them.

They sirens are all divers, which is how I came to their attention, and I’m glad they reached out to me. Meeting them was an incredibly joyful experience. They have lots of energy, curiosity, and courage, and they are very funny. It’s obvious as you listen to them that they like and support each other.

Daring Women In Mystery Novels

Which got me thinking about other women who dare, both in real life and in mystery novels. My own Fin Fleming constantly rises to the challenges around her, whether that’s a shark, a drug kingpin, or a crazed killer. But Fin’s just one in a long line of women who dare.

As a kid, I had a book called something like True Adventure Stories for Girls. (Sorry, I was nine last time I saw it, and that was waaay back in the last century). It featured women like Nellie Bly, Clara Barton, and Amelia Earhart, among many others. It taught me that women could accomplish anything they wanted to, if they didn’t let society’s expectations hold them back.

In literature, we have such strong heroines as Kinsey Milhone (Sue Grafton), Maisie Dobbs Jacqueline Winspear), Sunny Randall (Robert B. Parker), Max Maxwell (Jodi Taylor), Chiara Corelli (our own Catherine Maiorisi), and so many others.

It’s Actually A Looong List

I don’t have enough space to list all the daring women in mystery novels, never mind in all genres. This is just a short list of the hundreds or thousands of role models for strong brave women in literature. Every one of them understands the role society wants them to play, but they all go ahead and do what they want or need to do anyway. Cheers to women who dare.

Sharon Ward is the author of the traditional mysteries In Deep, Sunken Death, Dark Tide, and Killer Storm, all part of the Fin Fleming Scuba Diving series. Hidden Depths, the next book in the series, will be out in May 2023


  1. Sharon I love that book! And I’ve always thought Amelia Earhart (whom I once wrote a poem about for a contest that’s now sitting in her home town Museum) and Nellie Bly to be such great inspirations for women! Marie Curie is another favorite of mine.

    Cheers indeed!

    1. I love Marie Curie too, Such an inspiration.
      And I didn’t know you wrote poetry! Congratulations on the honor. As usual, I’m jealous.

  2. Clara Barton! I loved reading about her. I hope you’ll share the link to the podcast so we can listen to you and the Sirens. What’s really nice about your post is the fact that it shows how far we’ve come. Remarkable, daring women are the norm now. Good thing, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

    1. You’re right, Michelle, Women today routinely do things that were strictly forbidden–or frowned on– just a few years ago. Hooray for women.
      Here’s the link to podcast. You can choose your favorite podcast platform from there.

  3. Thanks for mentioning NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli, Sharon. I started with Nancy Drew but we have many, many more to choose from these days. I prefer to read books about woman who dare so of course I choose to write one.

    1. Thanks, Emilya. They are an interesting and dynamic group of women. I was honored to be invited to join them for a day.

  4. I have a picture of Amelia Earhart with her plane and Cord hanging in my law office. She used to let my mom play in her car when she came to Pursue to work on the plane. So I got the picture for my mom.

  5. Thank you for the inspiration, Sharon. I’ve always admired Eleanor Roosevelt, and I keep her memoirs by my side. However I WISH that anyone in my family had ever known Amelia Earhart!

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