Series Book covers for Dre Thomas and Patternists by Octavia Butler

Crafting My Superhero Vigilante Heroine: Being Inspired By Two Book Series Featuring Strong Black Heroines


As an author working on my superhero vigilante serial, "The Sentinel", I draw inspiration from numerous sources, particularly the compelling portrayal of Black women in fiction. Two book series that have profoundly influenced my writing are Pamela Samuels Young's "Dre Thomas" thrillers and Octavia E. Butler's "Patternist" series.

Pamela Samuel Young’s Dre Thomas Series

In Pamela Samuels Young's "Dre Thomas" series, Angela Evans, a main character, has been a particular inspiration for "The Sentinel.” As a confident, smart lawyer battling corruption, Angela's relentless pursuit of justice mirrors the spirit I envision for my protagonist. Her character taught me the importance of creating a nuanced, yet honorable Black female heroine. Angela may not have superpowers, but her intellect and willpower make her formidable. Her strength against power abuses and emotional depth in dealing with trauma have been guiding lights in developing “The Sentinel.”

Octavia Butler’s Patternist Series

Meanwhile, Octavia Butler's "Patternist" series, including novels like "Wild Seed" and "Mind of My Mind", explores power and identity through psychically gifted protagonists. Butler's Afrofuturistic storytelling, blending mythology and spirituality, opened new possibilities for me in crafting a Black female superheroine like "The Sentinel.” The integration of magical realism within complex narratives in Butler's work inspires me to create a character linked to divine empowerment.

 The progression of abilities in Butler's heroines, like Anyanwu, Mary, Dana, and others, motivated me to develop a character who gradually unlocks her powers. These women's resilience and moral strength are benchmarks for “The Sentinel.” Butler’s exploration of identity and society in her stories guides my vision for "The Sentinel" and her mythic lineage.

Honoring Their Legacies

Both these series exemplify excellence in fiction with their unforgettable characters and the integration of social issues into enthralling narratives. As I create "The Sentinel", I am driven to honor the legacies of these authors. Their work inspires me to craft a multifaceted Black heroine whose journey addresses themes of justice, empowerment, and liberation. In developing "The Sentinel", I aim to weave a narrative that not only entertains but also reflects the struggles and triumphs of the Black experience. The powerful women in Young's and Butler's stories provide a blueprint for a heroine who is not only physically strong but also morally steadfast and complex in her humanity.

 "The Sentinel" is more than a superhero story; it is a tribute to the strength and resilience of Black women. By drawing from the rich tapestries of Young's and Butler's narratives, I hope to create a character who resonates with readers and stands as a symbol of empowerment and justice. Through my writing, I seek to continue the conversation these authors have started, exploring themes that are not only relevant but necessary in today's world. "The Sentinel" is my homage to the strong, complex Black heroines who have inspired me, and my contribution to the legacy of Black women in literature.

Series book covers for Pamela Samuels Young Dr Dre Series and Octavia Butler's Patternist Series


"The Sentinel" is born from a mix of admiration, inspiration, and a deep understanding of the importance of representation in fiction. As I craft her storyline, I keep in mind the lessons learned from Young's and Butler's characters - resilience in the face of adversity, the pursuit of justice, and the complexity of the human spirit. Their influence is a guiding force in my journey as an author, helping me bring to life a new heroine for a new era.

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Alicia McCalla photo credit Dr. Howard McCalla

I’m author Alicia McCalla. Sign-up for my newsletter to get updates, learn about my latest projects and purchase my badass, spunky, and smart Black heroines on Merchandise!