Life is full of compromise. Like we’d love to tell that braying fascist in the next cube at work exactly what we think of him. And we’d love to watch our mother-in-law’s face when we blithely announce we are going to the Himalayas to study at the feet of the Dalai Lama, leaving her beloved son to look after the children for six months or so.
But we don’t. Because real life is real life, right?
But in fantasy fiction, the safe rules no longer apply. In fact, they’re downright dangerous. How can we beat off a zombie apocalypse if we’re busy being nicey nicey? How can we deal with demonic fae if we’re worried about breaking a nail?
I was never a fantasy reader or writer. I’d made eyes at the dirty-talking seducer of the urban fantasy genre from time to time, but never gone all the way.
Then she came to me.
Unlike every other character I’d ever played with, Rania was the anti-me. She was tough, cool, and out to please no-one. She had nothing to lose because her world was scheduled to end in three weeks time, on her thirtieth birthday.
So here’s my theory. It’s the heroines that drive urban fantasy. They give us permission to be our best, strongest, sexiest, most-kickass selves.
I decided to test my theory with Rebekah Turner, creator of Lora Blackgoat, smuggler and mercenary. Hunter of killers and seeker of conspiracies. No shrinking violet.
Here’s what Rebekah had to say.
I adore the urban fantasy genre and found writing a capable female heroine enabled me to connect with the strongest parts of me. In my fantasy worlds, I can unleash parts of my personality that get lost in the real world. My heroine of Chaos Born, Lora Blackgoat, bought me back in touch with my true wild side and carving out her character afforded me a true sense of freedom. After all, many of us want to rattle the cage, but who can afford the insurance? Not to mention the hassle of organising the babysitter.
The one thing I tried to steer clear of when creating Lora, was the ‘victim past’ I sometimes read in the genre. You know, where the heroine has traumatic childhood or event that justifies her being the prickly so-and-so she is now (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, I wanted to write a woman who owned her inner bitch. I wanted to portray a woman brimming with confidence, even when it wasn’t justified. Despite a physical handicap, Lora Blackgoat is nobody’s victim. I need three chances and two cups of coffee to save the world from an oncoming apocalypse. Lora only ever gets the one. That’s all I give her and it’s all she ever needs.
Yeah. What she said. Thanks, Bek.
Urban fantasy, and its women, are the edgiest, snarkiest, strongest, bravest bits of our urban-dwelling selves.
But there’s a catch (damnit, isn’t there always a catch?).
Because we’re women, we also need to connect. We need to love, bond, negotiate, and (in some ways) surrender.
The trick is to do it without losing the most intrepid parts of our heroine – the ones who hold our story together.
Every heroine treads this tightrope differently.
And Bek and I hope everyone gets to be the heroine of their own fantasy from time to time.