People have commented that my heroine, Hedi Peacock, isn’t your typical urban fantasy protagonist. First, there’s her heritage: she’s half-Fae and half-Were. And then there’s her physical description—she’s short and somewhat plain. In no way or shape is she an Angelina Jolie clone. Martial arts? Gad, no. My girl from Creemore couldn’t disarm a bad guy with a high kick to his jaw, even if she stood on an apple crate to achieve the right angle.
And yet? People keep describing her as kick-ass.
Interesting. Perhaps it’s because she’s a bit of a smartass? Or maybe it’s the fact that, with the right motivation, she can magick a washing machine into pursuit of a Were-bitch who very much needs to be flattened? Or is it the people she lives with—an amulet with an attitude called Merry, and a 9/10ths batty fairy aunt called Lou? Any of those things could colour your perception of our girl Hedi.
But still, wouldn’t it have been easier to cut to the chase? Made her obvious hero material? Why didn’t I begin her story with Hedi fleshed out as a gorgeous righter-of-wrong, complete with the leather pants, and a dagger or two tucked into her thigh-high boots?
Well, the answer to that puzzler starts with a song and ends with a story.
There’s a really old tune out there, written by a woman called Janis Ian, titled “At Seventeen.” Haunting and sad. The second line is a killer, “That love was meant for beauty queens.”
Go ahead. Check it out.
I know some of you might not get it. Twelve seconds into the song, there’s a risk that you’d yawn and click onto the next link that interested you, meaning Gareth would quietly curse me for leading the Falcata Times’ readers to another spot on the web. But there would be others—and hello, I see you—who would listen all the way through, and as they reach the final chorus I’d imagine them quietly inhaling through their nose; mouths flat and tight.
They’d understand every line of those lyrics. In a very personal way.
As I did at the age of seventeen.
Back then, I was the kid in high school who never quite got the joke, whose laugh was a little too loud or a little too late. Wrong hem length, frightened of boys, thirty to forty pounds overweight. Definitely not the cheerleader. Plus? A helpless romantic. Yes, if someone had coaxed me into a cheerful mood with a plate of brownies, and then had asked me to unload my most sacred inner thoughts, I would have said—
“I believe in the possibility of One True Love. I believe there might be is a man out there in the world with a strong heart, and an independent mind, who smells good and has a shoulder custom made for my head. I believe there is a place for me in this universe, where all the things I am, and will be, shall be valued. And yes, I firmly believe that for every aching heart, there is a home. “
Yeah. I was that girl. And boy, oh, boy, did those rosy hopes lead to a few sad heart crushes. I don’t even want to try to add up how many dreary Saturday evenings were spent listening to Janis’ ode to the miserable.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Ms. Ian was wrong, wrong, wrong. Love is NOT only for beauty queens. And the rest of her rules of observation? Well, hell, a few of those were meant to be smashed and broken.
That’s why, at the beginning of the series, my heroine is not kick-ass or beautiful. She’s a 22-year-old virgin, who’s all round curves, with the exception of her sharp tongue. And she’s far from perfect. In fact, our heroine’s definitely a little bit dented and a whole bunch doubting.
Because seriously, what fun is it to watch the perfect girl get the perfect life?