Seleste deLaney is a writer of speculative romance. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Her latest release, BADLANDS, is a steampunk reimagining of a very different America, which remains divided … but with a queen. I asked her about the inspiration, and she wrote this article.

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Why Women Rule

In the real world, patriarchy is king (pun totally intended because I’m feeling goofy like that), but when I sat down to write what would eventually become Badlands, that didn’t fit my vision. My very first thoughts about Ever (the heroine of the story) were regarding her place in society. She was a warrior woman, but more than that, she was a leader. While those things are somewhat accepted now, they are still the exception rather than the rule, and I imagined Ever commanding a group of other women very much like her.

That simple thought made me consider something I’d heard once upon a time: that the world would be a more peaceful place if women ruled instead of men. Combining that with the idea of a prison nation (much like Australia was initially), it made complete sense that women would have to be in charge there. When you’re dealing with a country comprised in large part by the worst criminals from somewhere else, you need a far greater measure of sense and stability.

When I first brought up the idea with my husband, he played the male card: “What about PMS and hormones. Women get crazy then.” I did take it into consideration, but ultimately dismissed the concern for the simple reasons that 1) women as a whole are well-aware of when they are less-balanced than usual and 2) in a place that would be as inherently violent as the country I envisioned, an over-abundance of testosterone seemed a lot more dangerous.

It didn’t take long to realize that a lot of things would be different in a society run by women. In a patriarchal monarchy for instance, the throne goes to the first-born son. If you stop and think about it, that is the worst idea ever. Not only does it breed hostility between siblings, but it can also lead to a better monarch being overlooked simply because of their birth-order. No sane woman would do that. Thus, in the Badlands, the queen is chosen by suitability for the job. And if the present queen doesn’t have any daughters that fit the bill? She’d pass the crown to another family.

The entire concept behind the monarchy in the Badlands is to do what is best for the country as a whole. That means encouraging prisoner rehabilitation whenever possible, but also being very careful when deciding who’s worthy of release. When you’re dealing with violent criminals, you can’t leave things to chance.

The same is true of the Border Guards at Ever’s command. The women there are those too prone to violence for court life, and too valuable for their fighting skills to position anywhere else. However, if their commitment to their duty falters, they are moved elsewhere. Putting the borders at risk is simply not an option.

To a certain degree, women in the Badlands are emotional leaders, but because of the importance of what they are protecting, many will put aside the needs of their hearts and focus only on what their heads tell them. Of course, like any time people try to ignore an intrinsic part of themselves, that’s a plan that doesn’t always work.

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On her blog, Seleste is giving away a copy of Badlands to a random commenter (from here or a few other blogs) who can give an example of a strong woman from their real life. She’ll draw a winner tonight at 11:59 pm est.

Badlands is available now. Here’s the official blurb.

After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation’s border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen’s assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever’s reluctant ally.

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn’t find them first…