Guest Blog & Giveaway: A.J. Larrieu on Urban Fantasy and the Heroine’s Journey & win Dangerous Calling

August 26, 2014 Giveaways, Guests 23

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


A.J. Larrieu

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.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter


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

Enter the giveaway via the widget below – Open internationally

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interested in being a guest on All Things Urban Fantasy? Fill out our Guest Request Form

23 Responses to “Guest Blog & Giveaway: A.J. Larrieu on Urban Fantasy and the Heroine’s Journey & win Dangerous Calling”

  1. Mary Preston

    I have to say Chess Putnam from Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts.

    • A.J. Larrieu

      I love the Downside Ghosts series. It’s so gritty, and I love that Kane isn’t afraid to show the consequences of Chess’s addiction. Plus it’s so fantastically unique. One of my favorites!

  2. Brenda Rumsey

    Congrats on your second book of the series. I’m so glad to discover your books and hope to be reading this series soon. As for your question, my favorite is usually the one I’m reading at the moment…smile. I do like the ones by Ilona Andrews.

    • A.J. Larrieu

      Thanks, Brenda! I love Ilona Andrews’ books, too. The Kate Daniels series is fantastic (of course!), but I love her Edge series even more. The world-building in it is so twisted and fascinating.

  3. Nurmawati Djuhawan

    i love mercy thompson from patricia briggs’ book
    thx u 🙂

  4. Michelle Pike

    I love the Fever series by Karen Moning and the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison. And Chess is great too. 🙂

  5. Rhianna

    Complexity! This is true. I loved Stacey Jay’s Annabelle Lee for her flaws (ie. she was a drunk and a cheater) because to me they gave her something to be redeemed from in an overall series arc but other readers HATED her and the series only made it to a second book. I’m still really damned sore over it to be honest. A lot of readers didn’t see it as giving her complexity or a story and it bums me out.

    I find that other heroines I’ve read are awesome (Arcadia Bell is one of my favorites) and yet others continue to be ‘complex’ but never really grow (Rachel Morgan being a great example, I got bored after about 6 books) and keep making the same mistakes or not ever learning to be cool with their powers or whatnot.

    • BookAttict

      I agree and am still majorly disappointed that the Annabelle Lee series never got completed….

  6. erinf1

    I’d have to go w/ Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine. That girl had some proooblems 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  7. marly z.

    This book looks great. Hmmm, I like the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

  8. A.J. Larrieu

    So many well-deserved votes for Kate Daniels! (That series is brilliant, I agree.) Likewise Mercy Thompson. Patricia Briggs writes amazing werewolves.

    @Rhianna I love the Arcadia bell series, too! SO unique, and Bennett is an amazing writer. You’ve got me intrigued with your description of Annabelle. I’m going to check that series out.

    @Michelle @Viki & Erin: Great recs! This is why I love UF. So many strong women to choose from.

  9. Mina

    There is none like Kate Daniels…. but after having established that she is my all-time-favorite-heroine, I think that there are a lot of awesome heroines that have deep and complex characters [thank heavens, what would I otherwise read week after week!?]: Gin Blanco for sure, MacKayla Lane, Mercy Thompson, Jessica McClaine, October Daye, Cady Bell, Lindsay Buroker’s Amaranthe Lockdon, Merit, Charley Davidson, Rylee Adamson, … Boy, I’ll randomly stop here or this would go on forever!

    • A.J. Larrieu

      Mina, what a great list. I especially like October Daye and Arcadia Bell (San Francisco series, too, which I love.) And there are some on your list I haven;t read yet. I’ll definitely be checking them out.

  10. BookAttict

    I absolutely love Chess Putnam from Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series.

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!