Magazine article Psychology Today

Q & A With. Samantha Ellis

Magazine article Psychology Today

Q & A With. Samantha Ellis

Article excerpt

IRAQI-BRITISH authorand playwright Samantha Ellis revisits the influence of her favorite literary women in her new book, How to Be a Heroine. Books, she explains, helped her to grapple with the trauma of her diasporic family, and even more urgently, her youthful desires and dreams.

-S. Lynn Edmonds

You seem to approach literature as more of a how-to than an escape. I was looking for women who were doing different things, because the women in my community were all doing the same thing. They were alt wives and mothers, and they did it brilliantly, but I wanted to do something different when I grew up.

Who are your favorite contemporary heroines?

I love Girls. I'm very interested in what Lena Dunham is doing in terms of representing women who are uncertain. So often you see characters who are sure about everything, and that's not anyone's experience. We all make mistakes. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is forever realizing that she's made a terrible mistake and looking into herself and trying to be better.

Is there a tension between wanting to see dreams come true and acknowledging the real obstacles women face?

To an extent, books can and should reflect the constraints we live under. …

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