My New Hero

Yeeps! It just came to my attention that it’s been nearly a month since I put a blog up for you nice folks. Why, Melissa, you cry in one voice. Why have you forsaken us? Well, in my defense, I’ve had a lot going on the last month: proofing Hunter’s Trail, researching independent publishing (so I can put out a mystery novel I wrote awhile back), teaching college English, writing and preparing the Molly-oriented short story, “Sell-By Date,” and of course, taking care of a couple of small insistent children who just keep on wanting things no matter how much I explain about needing to work. (For example, during the writing of this first paragraph, I was interrupted a total of four times: once to help my older daughter practice writing her letters, once to pull the baby off the kitchen table, where she had climbed, and twice to separate my laptop from her teeny baby fingers.)

Apart from all that, though, I’ve also been working hard on my new urban fantasy project, which takes place in the world of Scarlett Bernard but features all-new characters and a different setting. The new book has been challenging for me, mostly because I want it to be different from Scarlett’s first trilogy, but still interesting to the readers who came with me on that journey. I also really want Lex, the new protagonist, to be really different from Scarlett (otherwise, what’s the point of writing a new series at all?), but still the kind of person you’d want to go on an adventure with.

How am I doing that? Well, I started with a few guiding principles. First, while the backbone of Scarlett’s trilogy is a coming-of-age story, Lex’s book is, at its core, an origin story –not learning how to grow up, but discovering that you’re more than you thought. To put it another way, Scarlett begins Dead Spots knowing what she can do, but not really who she is. Lex is in the exact opposite position.

I’ve also looked long and hard at how I want Lex to be different from Scarlett, because creating a character who’s the exact opposite of my last character is about as original as just repeating that person in a new body. Lex and Scarlett do have some things in common: they’re both stubborn, they both work with male partners, they both love animals, and they both want to use their powers for good, but fear that they may be used for evil. They both make a deal with the devil to protect someone else, and they will both face the consequences of that choice through the entire series.

But there are a lot of differences, too. Lex is in her early 30’s, so she’s already a little more mature and grownup. She’s an Iraq War veteran with a big extended family and a third-shift job at the local convenience store. Where Scarlett’s underlying emotion is guilt, Lex’s is anger. In other words, while Scarlett’s first response to a tough situation is to say something snarky, but Lex’s is to punch it in the face.  Lex spends most of her time outdoors, and doesn’t care about modern pop culture or movie references (so long, Ghostbusters quotes. I will miss you.) If Scarlett started Dead Spots sort of sleepwalking through her own life, then Lex begins her first book more or less already dead. She’s got to figure out how to bring herself back if she’s going to get anywhere.

And, of course, Lex is not a null –although at least one null will appear in her story.

I think I’m going to save any further explanation of Lex’s gifts for another post (I have to give you guys some reason to keep reading, right?) But while you’re waiting for more news, there are a couple of really fun opportunities and appearances coming up – not to mention “Sell-By Date” on April 22nd. Check out my homepage, for all the rad details, and thanks again for reading.



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