As a pantser, not a plotter, a writer who writes without plotting the story, I very rarely chose the book's theme before I begin. I actually don't think I really planned on a theme for any of the stories. To be perfectly honest, my goal has always been to write an entertaining story, one that leaves the reader happy they spent an afternoon with my characters.
I wanted relatable, real characters, a female lead who would be strong, and vulnerable as she navigated her life. I suppose for all intents and purposes, that was theme I was writing about.
After writing and publishing Black Market, I realized I was writing about so much more.
Yes, I wanted Annie Pearce to be a symbol of empowerment, a woman in a man's world, navigating difficult men who called her “girl”, vampires who treated her like a dolt. Set in the world of the police procedural you'd even see the theme of social justice and what does good vs. evil look like.
I hadn't realized when I wrote Wizard War, that I so heavily discussed the meaning of justice. What it is and how do you determine if justice was served. For example, it's much like the debate, the death penalty vs life in prison. Though I'm not here to discuss that, I do examine how the magical world makes deals with the demon to further the course of the investigation.
In this story, was justice served if the investigation techniques fall in the ethically gray area?
My characters aren't perfect and are oftentimes faced with decisions that affect the outcome of the case or challenge their existing beliefs.
I don't think I could have planned for the story's themes to blend so beautifully if I tried. But the reader or in the case the reviewer of the attached quote, saw what had been floating around in my head. A book so much more than an afternoon adventure, one that might even have a message, something important to say.
I'm always amazed by what I see in my stories as it compares to what others take away from the book and I'm glad that I can offer something more complex than just a stake through the heart.
It brings me back to a familiar topic here on my blog – the strong female character at the heart of an interesting, complex story. As a fan, I look to books and movies that feature kick-ass women as their lead. These ladies are the ones who don’t wait until their boyfriends show up to save the day – they kick down the door and take no prisoners.
As an author and as a woman, it was important to me to create such a protagonist. I wanted to imbue Annie Pearce with a sense of fierceness, intelligence and bravery usually associated with heroes like James Bond or Indiana Jones. In MY story, other characters look to Annie for guidance, intuition and answers.
Annie Pearce is who I would be, if I could snap my fingers and be anyone. In Annie’s world, magic is a comfortable tool to help her solve crimes. She dares to go in dark, dangerous places to hunt down clues and witnesses – never afraid to step into places like the Black Market filled with vampires, dark magic practitioners, and beasts not seen in our everyday world. When faced by treacherous villains who may have been responsible for her father’s death, she digs deep inside herself and finds the inner strength needed to confront these individuals. When her own life is threatened, she doesn’t wait for someone to come and save her – she finds her own way out of the situation and manages to save others at the same time.
Annie is also compassionate and thoughtful. She has endeared herself to her fellow members of the Wizard Guard and different magical creatures that she meets along the way. She has even garnered the loyalty of some questionable characters that are willing to put their lives on the line for her.
You see, strong women have the unique ability to blend the tough and the tender. I wrote the character of Annie to show the importance of both of those traits. Annie is in the front of the battle, but she follows behind to check on those affected by the fray. I hope that she is an inspirational role for young women as they are developing their sense of self. I hope they find the strength to be “Kick-Ass” while being nurturing and loving individuals.Continue reading
I watch quirky, I also watch relatable characters, most recently, strong, real women. I've started a new show. You may have heard of it, Victoria on Masterpiece. While I'm a sucker for the dresses, the jewelry, the crowns, I'm wildly fascinated by the role of women in each century. While I realize that writers take liberties, I'm guessing there's some truth to the portrayal of the Queen, and I'm finding it fascinating to see that a woman's many struggles haven't changed all that much.
Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 at the tender age of 18. Almost immediately, she found herself struggling to be heard, to be thought of as the monarch, of a strong leader. It hadn't helped that she was a petite, delicate flower, considered mildly incapable of doing much more than having children and spending time in the nursery. The life she would most likely have had, had it not been the accident of her birth, to be born as the heir to the throne.
You can hear the frustration in her voice as the young girl fights to be heard, to find her way in a male dominated world, where simply by her sex and stature, she brushed aside as nothing more than a girl.
Victoria stumbles along the way, but remains steadfast in her duty, in her desire to make a difference, to rule her subjects with honesty and do what's right. But she does all this by her own rules, choosing to marry for love, not duty, standing up to those who wish to sway her and push her aside.
Though she's the ruler of England, a vast kingdom in 1837, she's still a woman. She suffers postpartum depression, she struggles being heard, she's jealous, when her husband flirts with a female mathematician. But when Victoria meets the woman face to face, she sees a woman struggling just like her, who is constantly trying to find her footing and prove herself.
Who knew I'd find a role model in a woman who lived 181 years ago, in a time and place so different from my own. And who knew just how much just being a woman, has not changed. How we still want the same things, and our difficulties are universal. And more than anything, the answer is same. We are the solution to our own situation and only we can make it right or better. We are our own strength and we owe it to each of to be supportive of our choices whether we chose to stay at home and raise our kids or we chose to work outside of our homes.
And just like Victoria, I stand firm in my desire to write, to create, to say something and leave behind a legacy. To help others like myself by sharing my story in hopes I can help someone else find their way.
No matter what, we're all strong, or delicate flowers, smart and capable and sometimes we stumble.
And Victoria isn't just the strong female character, it's not just watching and getting angry by thoughts and ideas I'm not used to, it's also the dresses, jewels, and crowns. Because hey, there's still that.
I love chai tea, I love the spice, the sweet, I just can't drink the latte anymore. So in my quest to find a non latte drink, I finally found a blend that I truly adore and decided to buy the loose tea at a tea store. Yeah, they really have those. As I entered the store, I noticed a song over the speakers and I had to ask the sales clerk if it was indeed “Walk Through the Fire,” from the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The girl became excited and mildly surprised that I even knew that and my daughter responded by saying “Mom, you're such a dork.” Which is really the pot calling the kettle black.
While waiting for my order to be bagged, I found myself discussing the merits of Buffy and the show and the episode in question. What it comes down to is those that loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer understood just what the show was about. It wasn't just a female lead, but she was the strong female character, not a bitch, but a real woman who could be strong, could be insecure. The point is she's a real woman who deals with real issues and can still kick ass when she needs to.
We discussed our love of Buffy and how impressive the musical episode really was (Joss Whedon, creator not only wrote the episode he wrote all of the lyrics and music) I was reminded of the influence the show had on me as a writer and of my character Annie Pearce. As I write her, I think about how she should respond to the people and situations in her life. As I work through Annie, I'm always reminded of the honesty of Buffy. Annie can't always be strong, she can't always be right and she can't always need someone to get her out of her situations.
After I left I knew I needed to download the soundtrack. I needed the catchy songs and the reminder of how to write a character that struggles and endures. I just downloaded the music and as I finish my final draft of The Day of First Sun, I'm conscious of making sure Annie isn't too much of anything. That she's just right and that she's human.
Once More with Feeling is the constant struggle of finding ourselves and our place in the world and how we find our way to fitting in. The music brings me back to the struggle and influences how I write and edit and create a story that's believable and one that the reader can fall in love with the characters and in that love, they will want to stay and be there as they grow and change.
And yes, I'm a dork, proud of my love for the fantasy television show. But most importantly the show is mere fun.