My first book came out in 2007 with The Scent of Shadows and introduced a strong, complex female character who fit solidly into the emerging urban fantasy genre. Yet after six long years of following Joanna Archer — a casino heiress and reluctant superhero who battled dark forces in a Las Vegas more evil than anyone could have imagined — I knew it was time to say goodbye.
I’d driven Joanna hard throughout the series, and really began to question just how much more one individual could take. More than that, I didn’t want to dilute her journey by throwing monsters or situations at her just for the sake of extending the story. That would cheapen all the hard work she’d done before, and I had too much respect for her, and for my readers, to do that.
But what about me? Where, exactly, does an author go from there?
Back to the beginning, of course. Back to my imagination.
I think readers who picked up Scent could tell how much fun I was having on the page, and I really wanted to recapture that sense of wonder in developing a whole new world – to open a box full of new toys, if you will – and invite the reader to once again come along and play. Yet my new Celestial Blues trilogy is entirely different from my first series … and it had to be.
I’m different. I’m a mother now, and have a new blended family, too. I divide my time between two cities as well, and none of that was going on before, yet it has all marked me deeply. Besides, what fun would it be to write the same ol’ thing? So in mining my imagination for fun new toys, I drew on current loves instead of past.
And so what popped up?
The biggest thing was a new blending of genres. The Celestial Blues trilogy is not exactly an urban fantasy. It’s paranormal noir – a blend of the fantastical fiction I love to write and the crime fiction I love to read. My male lead is a brooding lone wolf detective fashioned after those in the fifties. Yet he’s also an angel who helps the viciously murdered into their afterlife.
That’s how he meets Kit Craig.
Kit doesn’t carry a weapon. She’s not wearing leather. She doesn’t get in fights. In fact, when she needs thinking time, she gets victory rolls pinned into her hair just to give herself time to think. She needs a brooding, All-American angel to protect her physically, yet he needs her too. She’s a reporter and can provide answers as to who killed him fifty years earlier. She can also help him move on as only a good woman, the right woman, can.
And what I discovered in fashioning a whole new series is this – it’s not really the differences – as wild as they might be – that’s important. It’s the similarities. Though Joanna and Kit couldn’t be more unalike, they each exemplify a singular strength that speaks to what it means to move about this world as a woman. And I’ve found that no matter who or what or when I’m writing, it’s this issue more than any other that reoccurs in my fiction:
What does it mean to be a woman in a man’s world? Even, or especially, if that world is amplified by the supernatural?
I thought I answered that question before. But fiction – and life – have surprised me. Turns out, I only answered it for Joanna. Kit is her own woman, she is finding her own answers in her own way, just as we all do. I’d never have learned that if I didn’t say goodbye to one particularly strong woman and hello to another, and as different as they are I enjoyed hanging out with them both.
I hope you will, too.
VBC has one copy of Vicki Pettersson’s latest novel The Taken (Celestial Blues #1) for VBC readers. This contest is open only to U.S. addresses (no P.O. boxes please), and closes June 30. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.
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