In what I write, which is fantasy set in current times. I like that the elderly neighbor who is nosey and wise, that just might be a witch. I like to imagine that pixies live in the garden complaining about car exhaust. I love when the fantasy dove tails with some aspects of what is going on in the “Real World”. Yet, there seems to be something a smidge off in most books.
There is a mold of a tough chick protagonist. Anita Blake of the Laurel K. Hamilton books is tiny, covered in scars and runs miles to stay in shape. Mercy Hauptman is the coyote shape shifter tattooed and lean from Patricia Briggs. Then there is the southern woman, in the southern vampire novels, who is well mannered and addicted to sunbathing. Sookie Stackhouse is the part fairy mind reader, that Charlene Harris wrote and then the character became the lead in a loosely based TV show. Sookie is thin and captivating, with roguish preternatural men lining up to date her. Granted they are written with awkward traits or a physical imperfection, Anita Blakes Scars, or Sookie’s impulsive nature, that gets her in trouble, when she challenges the supernatural beings around her. In the end, however, they still represent a cookie cutter “tough girl”. The imperfection being a get of jail free card of seeming to buck the trend. Don’t get me wrong, I have gone on the thrill ride of an adventure with Rachel Morgan from the Hallows Books and loved every minute of it. That is why it is a fantasy, something we read to walkaway from the real world of awfully bad things we can’t control, We the reader know that at the end of the day our heroine will win somehow.
Why is it they are for the most part thin and fit as an Olympic gymnast? I will allow that if the character is a werewolf or a vampire the inherent magic might deal with weight issues. I wonder about the normal person who in America is a dress size 16-18 and far outnumbers the size 0- 12 among us the USA. So, why are adventures, love, magic and fighting evil reserved for the young, thin, and beautiful?
I know there will be one person reading this who will say, “You can’t run from evil if… you’re too fat to run.” Well here is a better question, if in the worlds we create the reader can believe men turn into wolves, the Fey (Fairies) walk among us and witchcraft works in an immediate visual way, why can’t a character be…a size 16? Why is the only message we have for readers is that a narrow physical type is a hero? I have had female friends who do cosplay and have had random strangers’ comment on their weight, breast size, race and be told they shouldn’t do XYZ character. Yet. We have examples of not fit men cosplaying very buff heroes and no one *reads them for it. Some are even celebrated like “Man Fae” whose look is from the Cowboy Bebop Anime Franchise. It’s always a man who is hairy, big bellied and dressed as a female Fae Valentine in her iconic skimpy outfit.
Now I should say where I am going with all of this. I have been writing, and for the most part unpublished and my main character I wrote as thin pretty and well pretty boring. It hit me that in this trope of the “tough chick” I defaulted to writing someone who for the most part does not really exist. What if I write someone who is radically normal and becomes a hero? A woman who meets the love of her life with lip stick on her teeth and in Hello Kitty Pajamas? I do not know how well my concept will fly but I hope I can write Piety Jones with enough style and interest to hook into I think a market of urban fantasy that needs filling. The normal people who find themselves in unreal situations. Wish me luck.
*Read. Definition: A no-holds-barred approach to insulting and judging someone. When you've had it with someone, you read her or him. Mar 16, 2015 RuPaul Drag Race Sayings and Term Definitions - stolen from Marie Claire