Building an Urban Fantasy Heroine

by | Oct 26, 2018

Urban Fantasy might be my favorite genre, and Fantasy (Urban, Epic, etc.) heroines are a diverse group. Watching them grow and develop over the course of a series is part of what draws me to the genre.

A not-very-scientific survey of my favorite authors and their heroines shows the following range of ages as the series begin: Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels and Nevada Baylor are each 25. Dina Demille is 24, and her sister, Maud is, I think, in her late-20s. Meghan Ciana Doidge’s Jade is 23, Rochelle is 19, and Wisteria is 28. Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock is in her mid-20s and Nell Ingram is 23. Hailey Edwards’ Grier Woolworth is 21 and Luce Boudreau is 25. And Jennifer Estep’s Everleigh Blair is around 20.

I love all these heroines. And at the same time, I want to find heroines closer to my age, characters who have confronted and settled the question of whether or not to have kids; characters who have fallen in and out of love as adults, who have had multiple careers; characters who have a grasp of their sexuality and their hormonal trajectory.

When the time came to write in the genre I love, I knew my heroine would have to be at an age and a time of her life where she was on the cusp. Looking back at my adult life, ‘cusp’ times were 21, 28, 35 and 42. I wanted my heroine–Calliope Jones–to have kids who were nearing or at their own cusp. At the start of Magic Remembered, Calli is 41, and her sons Harper and Thatcher are 18 and 16 1/2.

I had already written a widowed heroine. Now, I wanted a divorced heroine, in a story where the ex-husband was still very much alive, where co-parenting–and being co-parented–could add tension and humor to Calli’s story.

To celebrate the release of Magic Remembered (the first book in what will be a trilogy at the least), I’ve been sketching out book two. The weather here on my island in the Pacific Northwest is awash in low hanging clouds. A gentle rain is falling off and on, and there’s a pot of savory vegetable soup on the stove.

Today really is a perfect day for soaking in the sense of accomplishment of launching another book, and for musing on the one coming next. I can’t wait to see who’s on the other side of Calliope’s front door, and the only way to do that…is to write.

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