Message From The Author
When I wrote Tempest Rising, the first book in the Jane True Series, I knew I wanted to write an atypical UF heroine. Instead of a warrior woman who reacted to surprises by smiting them with a flaming axe, I wanted a heroine who would react to supernatural situations in a very human way. After all, I know so many strong, amazing women -- nurses, teachers, and the like -- but I don’t know any who automatically pull out a sword.
So Jane starts her series very, very vulnerable. She’s grown up entirely ignorant of her supernatural heritage, meaning she knows nothing about the world of magic and power into which she’s thrown. She is brave, and she does have backbone, but she’s not naturally a physical fighter. That said, I also knew that Jane couldn’t stay that way, and part of my planning behind her six-story arc was to make her more powerful as the series continued.
The question quickly became: how best to illustrate Jane’s development, in prose? In movies, directors often circumvent this issue with the “training montage”: Lots of dramatic music, and scenes that cut from one aspect of training to the other, usually interspersed with one recurring scene in which the character progresses from unable to kick anywhere near the wood block, to able to kick the wood block, to finally kicking through the wood block. In other words, it’s a fast-forwarded version of what actually takes a huge amount of time.
Authors can’t really do the training-montage. The closest we can get is a few pages of exposition outlining the training -- a sort of “Time Passes” interlude that’s necessary when one is writing a heroine that has to go from zero to hero in the course of a single book. Such novels usually want to cut directly to the kick-ass storyline. Although I love such tales, and read them often, I wanted to write my own books a little differently. My goal was to spend a lot of time developing a character with whom readers can grow and with whom readers can think through what it would mean to have to change so drastically, as a person.
For I’ve always known that I wanted Jane’s story to arc over six books, and I’ve also known that I wanted to get into the nitty gritty of her development. I think that one of the opportunities we “vulnerable-heroines” writers have is that we can explore the implication so of some of the fantasies we, as women, entertain. Therefore, Jane does change: hugely. But she also doesn’t change, in what I hope are interesting ways. Tempest Rising had Jane confronted with a lot of money, power, fashion, and glamour (in both magical and more conventional forms), and in Tempest Rising she’s clinging to her existence by her fingernails, trying to stay afloat as she’s carried through a maelstrom of new experiences. But in her sequel, Tracking the Tempest, she’s not so completely overwhelmed. Instead, she’s at a stage where we see her picking and choosing the things that really matter to her.
Some things, for Jane, will never change. She’s a total hedonist, with a penchant for food, sex, and lounging. In her defense, she is one-quarter seal, and they’re not known for their asceticism. But she’s also a simple hedonist, in many ways. So one of the major questions of Tracking the Tempest is what is she going to do with all the shiny that Ryu offers her in Tempest Rising? Will she choose to lounge on the diamante encrusted chaise longue of her Alfar cousins? Or remain content basking on a sun-warmed rock perched precariously over her ocean?
For Jane’s smart enough to know that the shiny-version of things come with shiny price tags: usually paid out in power, ambition, and a rigid set of social expectations. It’s a price she may or may not be willing to pay ... as she’ll start to figure out in the pages of Tracking the Tempest.
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