Faith Hunter – Thorn St. Croix

One of the reasons I love reading is that characters often embody the ideal human. When I was younger, I thought the ideal human – fair and noble and always did the right thing – was what all people strived for. Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I believed that but that makes reading about these characters all the more enjoyable.

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Thorn St. Croix of Faith Hunter’s  Rogue Mage series is noble, putting herself in danger to help the townspeople, even when they reject her, as noted in page 43 of Seraphs:

“Out front of the old building a throng of people milled, split into two factions…We would have to walk between the two crowds to gain entry. Well, in one way that was symbolic of what I had done to the town: Divided it utterly.”

 Looking at the world we’re currently in, where racism and exclusion reign supreme, this series and Thorn St. Croix’s struggle has never seemed more relevant when it should be much less relevant.

Could I do what she does? Help the very people who want to kill her just for who she is? I’m not sure anymore. But when I read these books, Thorn makes me want to believe that I could. She believes in doing what’s right, in protecting the people around her, because it’s what we should all do, even if we don’t. Maybe we need to see the ideal to keep striving for it.

Anne Rice – The Vampire Lestat

VampireLestatTo someone like me who spent too much of her early life following the rules, the very idea that someone can walk through the world boldly and as if it was theirs, hooks me from the beginning. That’s who Lestat is for me – a brat prince with a personality that encompasses everyone who comes in contact with him. He pursues what he wants and everyone else follows, even if they don’t want to. Wow, to be able to capture people in such a manner – I want to be him and yet, I don’t quite.

Lestat’s passions enable him to survive in this new vampire world he is thrown into by Magnus, his creator, who creates him and then kills himself, leaving Lestat all alone. Lestat’s emotions, wandering between despair and joy at this sudden change, hold his actions captive. He navigates the vampire world with confidence or depressed fatalism, pushing and prodding it to find out more information. He finds who he wants, Marius, when he shouldn’t have been able to, through sheer persistence. And because his passions drive him, he wakes the first vampire Akasha.

Lestat’s journey introduces us to this gothic world where predators can’t be with each other yet know they must come together as only other vampires can match their wild passions. Lestat’s audacious attitudes contrast the gothic world he’s been thrust into, a shadowy world driven by the strong emotions of long lived creatures. Lestat’s recklessness places this murky world in danger with his actions all the while seeking a truth he may never find – is there a God and if so, where is he in God’s plan?

And that’s why I love reading Anne Rice.

Faith Hunter and Jane Yellowrock

Faith Hunter – Jane Yellowrock

My sister first introduced me to Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series on a wine tasting trip. I finished it in a weekend. Finally! A heroine who kicked butt, was no nonsense, still feminine when she wanted to be and could deal with any bad ass out there. Oh, how I had longed for a book like this growing up.

This series holds me tightly. Every time a book comes out, I’m gripped by a need to buy it right away and if I don’t, it’s one of the few things I will actually remember, a mantra that repeats in my head, “I must buy that book next pay day.”  My favourite books are Skinwalker, Black Arts and Dark Heir. However, more are on the way and who knows, my favourites may change.

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Having someone to cheer for will always bring me back and Jane Yellowrock is someone I can  cheer for. She tries to do the right thing by taking out the bad guys and protect the most vulnerable, whether they be humans or other “supernaturals.”

In Skinwalker, Jane is hired by a vampire to find and kill a rogue vampire, one who’s killing other vampires. In the process, she meets several women who work as prostitutes for vampires and when one of them is attacked and killed by the rogue vampire, her desire and drive to find the killer increases. She must protect the vulnerable and innocent. It is who she is.

In Black Arts, it’s much later in the series and Jane is now working full time for Leo Pellissier, Master of the City of New Orleans, setting up his security for a gathering of supernatural creatures. By now, she’s acknowledged and accepted that who she is is the protector. She’s on the trail of someone killing Katie’s women, some of them friends of Jane’s, and she’s also looking for her missing best friend, Molly.

In the end, she has to place herself on the line to protect Leo’s business interests, find the killer and protect her best friend from herself.

In Dark Heir, she tasks herself with protecting a variety of supernaturals and humans. Humans she protects from a homicidal, old vampire intent on just killing, European vampires from sexual abuse and arcenciels from being trapped and used for their magic. In our world where good and evil keeps getting re-defined for monetary and power interests, escaping into this world with a character who can and does protect those who need protecting makes me believe it’s possible we will come back to this.

These protective instincts flare up throughout the series and as the oldest sibling, I can understand them. It’s a wish for everyone to be able to live safe and happy without being preyed upon by others, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. For me, it’s a desire to see balance in the world, that those who deserve it stay protected and those that deserve, pay for causing harm to others.

How many of you have a protective instinct and why do you think you have it?

Contemporary or Urban?

Contemporary or urban fantasy – I never realized there are two different types until I tried to explain why I like urban fantasy and I realized that my book, Burnt, didn’t contain all the traditional elements of an urban fantasy.

Contemporary fantasy (check out Wikipedia, Shadows in Mind and Hacker Space) is the umbrella term for fantasy fiction that takes place anywhere in our modern world. Urban fantasy is a sub-category of contemporary fantasy, from what I have read. Fantastical creatures such as gods, vampires and werewolves exist alongside humans but are hidden from or unknown to humans. The story is structured around a variety of scenarios.

Urban fantasy fiction always takes place strictly in an urban environment. It’s usually structured as a police type procedural – think detective or police – and there’s often a romantic sub-plot. It is not paranormal romance. If you take out the romantic sub-plot, the story will still stand as a complete novel (Jeannie Holmes). It is often written in the first person.

Burnt:

  • has a romantic element that is not integral to the story,
  • takes place in an urban environment, Sydney Australia and in Rapa Nui, Chile, south Pacific Ocean,
  • is structured around a thousand year old warrior in an ancient war, and;
  • is written in the third person.

All of which left me wondering what kind of story I have.

Genre titles don’t matter until marketing is involved. An urban fantasy tends to have a hero or heroine standing in a fighting stance on the front cover, holding a deadly looking weapon, ready to take on all comers.

Contemporary fantasy books, such as Neil Gaiman’s Amercian Gods, tend to have variable covers, usually with symbolism mixed with a less prominent picture of the main character, if the main character is there at all.

Since genres aren’t important for writing and my book hasn’t even sold, let alone actually have a marketing team behind, I’m going to call it contemporary fantasy.

But my blog will talk about the books I enjoy in contemporary and urban fantasy, because you don’t become a writer without picking up a love of reading and that’s what I want to share with you.

 

Caveat: all of the above descriptions are generalizations and there are always exceptions