How to be Badass
When I’m forced to explain what urban fantasy is to non-genre readers, the typical response starts with confusion and ends with some variation of “Oh, the Girls (or Boys) with Weapons books.” And yeah, that’s what the covers depict: Girls with guns. Boys with swords. Girls and boys with knives. And, in the case of my books, Girl with Caduceus.
But that’s not really what I write about, monster slaying. The hero of my books, Arcadia “Cady” Bell, hates guns. And apart from an unsharpened ritual dagger, I don’t think she’s ever wielded a knife-like weapon. Cady is an occult magician, so she fights with magic.
I could’ve easily written Cady as some puffed-up tough girl with a chip on her shoulder and a litany of clichéd one-liners in her back pocket—someone who mows down demons with an AK-47. And I certainly understand why the UF genre as we now know it started that way. I mean, why should the boys have all the fun? Girls can be badass, too.
AND WE ARE.
But what, exactly, is badass? Fighting? Killing things? Being stronger and more alpha than your enemy? Maybe, sometimes. But there are other qualities that define badassery. Here are three of those qualities, which Cady brings in spades:
1) LOYALTY. Cady isn’t in a love triangle, teetering between two men in a constant state of angst. She loves Lon. Period. She’d do anything to protect him and his teenage son, Jupe, including putting her own life in danger. You want to see Cady’s dark side? Fuck with her family.
(And Lon gives it right back. How often is he RIGHT THERE when Cady needs him? Every single time.)
2) ACCEPTANCE. Cady’s world isn’t filled with young Hollywood-perfect characters sporting Gold’s Gym muscles or salon-perfect hair. Bob’s a middle-aged drunk. Hajo’s a sometimes-douchebag junkie. Kar Yee is the snobby daughter of a rich lawyer. Father Carrow is an Earthbound demon…and a retired kindly priest. And Lon is a divorced father of a teenager. His housekeepers are an elderly lesbian couple. Jupe is a biracial, geeky 14 year old struggling with an absent maternal figure.
Cady cares about all these people, and she loves them FOR their differences, not in spite of them.
3) HONOR. Cady would have every right to wallow in her own problems. She’s been on her own since she was seventeen, suffered massive betrayal, and has a lot of scary-ass crap going on with her, supernaturally speaking. So why is she taking time to help her neighbor get rid of a imp infestation? Why is she tracking down missing kids she doesn’t even know, or driving Bob to AA meetings, or chasing down the punks who hurt Kar Yee?
Though she occasionally fails, Cady WANTS to do the right thing. She acknowledges and understands that most people (most, not all) have a right to respect, and she does something about it, even when it would be easier for her to be selfish and walk away.
Does Cady do some ass-kicking? Hell yes, she does. But when it comes down to it, the reasons WHY she fights are what really matters—not to save the world from a zombie apocalypse, but to save the people she cares about. To save her friends and family and coworkers—the people who need her most. And nothing’s more badass than that.
Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell #3)
by Jenn Bennett
In the third book in this beloved and “riveting” (Romantic Times) urban fantasy series, demon-friendly tiki bar owner Arcadia Bell discovers more about her own evolving, and possibly destructive, magical abilities when her bar is the target of a demonic crime wave.Renegade mage and bartender Arcadia Bell has had a rough year, but now the door to her already unstable world is unhinging. When a citywide crime wave erupts, Cady’s demon-friendly tiki bar is robbed by Earthbounds wielding surreal demonic abilities that just flat-out shouldn’t exist. With the help of her devilishly delicious boyfriend, Lon Butler, Cady sets out to find the people who wronged her—but her targets aren’t the only ones experiencing unnatural metamorphoses. Can Cady track down the monsters responsible before the monster inside her destroys everything—and everyone—she loves? If she survives this adventure, one thing is certain: it’s last call for life as she knows it.
Signed set of the first 3 Arcadia Bells books to one winner in US/Canada.
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