A big welcome to A.J. Larrieu who is here to telling us about Urban Fantasy and the Heroine’s Journey and celebrating the release of Dangerous Calling, The Shadowminds #2 (published on August 18, 2014 by Carina Press). Want to win a copy? Enter via the widget below.
Urban Fantasy and the Heroine’s Journey
Thanks so much to Kate and the whole team at All Things Urban Fantasy for letting me stop by today! It’s always a pleasure to have the chance to discuss one of my favorite topics—urban fantasy and its heroines.
I don’t think there’s any other genre that places as much weight on the heroine’s journey as urban fantasy. So many UF novels, my own included, are written in first person from the perspective of a female protagonist, and that protagonist often ends up carrying anywhere from three to thirteen books. That’s a lot of story for one woman (and, perhaps, her many love interests) to live out.
My favorite series are the ones in which it’s truly the heroine that’s driving the extended story. To use an example from television, as much fun as it is to watch Buffy fight a new kind of demon every season and save the world every school year, it’s the way she changes that makes the show so enjoyable. We watch her harden, become more brutal in some ways, and soften in others. We watch her grow up.
With the second book in my urban fantasy series just out, I’ve been thinking about the process of writing a multi-book series. There are over-arching plot arcs to be sustained, and secrets to be revealed, but more than anything, there’s the heroine’s character to develop. She’s not the same person I got to know when I set out to write Book One. The things she wants have changed, and wanting them has changed her.
At the beginning of Twisted Miracles, my heroine Cass just wanted to have a normal life. That desire changed her. It made her self-sufficient and secretive, stronger in some ways and weaker in others. At the end of the story, Cass’s choices have changed her yet again. She’s accepted the powerful depth of her unique telekinetic powers, and now that she actually wants to use them, not only does she have to become used to working mental muscles long left to atrophy, she has to get used to that wanting. She has to learn to control a desire she never thought she’d face, and that sets her up for a brand new kind of hell to break loose in Dangerous Calling.
It’s something I’m fascinated by, the way we can conquer one problem only to discover that all we’ve done is peel back a layer of our personal onion to reveal another. I see many people say they like flawed heroines, and I’m in that camp, too, but I think what we really mean by flaws is complexity. For a character to keep growing, she has to keep revealing more of herself, keep challenging herself and pushing her character to its ever-changing limits. Her essentials shouldn’t change—if she’s going to be an appealing character, that core of compassion or loyalty or selflessness still has to be there—but if she’s going to carry us through three (or thirteen) books, she’s going to have confront some of the deepest demons she’s got before she gets her happily-ever-after.
Some of my favorite “flawed-and-evolving” heroines in urban fantasy are Marta Acosta’s Milagro de Los Santos, Stacia Kane’s Chess Putnam, Nicole Peeler’s Jane True, and Carolyn Crane’s Justine Jones. They’re all quite different, and these books run the gamut from funny and light to gritty and dark, but they all have heroines who feel inescapably real.
Who are your favorite flawed urban fantasy heroines?
A.J. Larrieu grew up in small-town Louisiana, where she spent her summers working in her family’s bakery, exploring the swamps around her home and reading science fiction and fantasy novels under the covers. She attended Louisiana State University, where she majored in biochemistry and wrote bad poetry on the side. Despite pursuing a Ph.D. in biology, she couldn’t kick the writing habit, and she wrote her first novel in graduate school. It wasn’t very good, but she kept at it, and by the time she graduated, she had an addiction to writing sexy urban fantasy and paranormal romance. A.J. is currently a working biophysicist in San Francisco, where she lives with her family and too many books.
Winner’s choice: One e-copy of TWISTED MIRACLES or DANGEROUS CALLING
Dangerous Calling by A.J. Larrieu
Available on August 18, 2014 by Carina Press
Darkness has a purpose…
After years of denial, Cass Weatherfield has finally accepted her telekinetic gifts. Living with her boyfriend, Shane, has given her the confidence to be herself, but the fear of losing control and harming those around her is always present.
Knowing firsthand the hell of growing up without a mentor, she agrees to meet and help Diana, a young Shadowmind. But when Cass shows up, the terrified woman changes her mind and flees. Cass and Shane track her across New Orleans, and soon discover that Diana is being held against her will by an illicit organization that’s selling her rare clairvoyant skills to the highest bidder. In charge is an ancient creature more powerful than any they’ve ever encountered. And apparently she wants Shane dead.
Cass and Shane work to free Diana. But as Cass uses more and more power, drawing it from her friends in the fight against evil, she feels an addictive pull that challenges her control. And, in the end, Cass may be the greatest threat to those she loves the most.
Read an excerpt
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