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Girls Who Kick Ass
Since this is the genre (feminist paranormal ass-kickers) I write it I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss Billi SanGreal’s ancestors.
Let’s deal with the obvious question first, why is a middle-aged English bloke writing about a teenage girl? Well, why not? But apart from that it’s because I have two daughters, both already ass kickers in their own right.
Billi SanGreal is the first female to be recruited into the Knights Templar. Her job is to fight the Unholy, the supernatural evil that preys on humanity. In Devil’s Kiss she faced the Angel of Death, in Dark Goddess she fights a twenty thousand year old witch and her followers, a pack of all female werewolves. There is swordfighting. There is horror. There is tragic romance. The best things in life, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I’ve picked three female ass-kickers, one modern, one historical and one mythical. They’re the three biggest influences in creating Billi SanGreal.
1. Buffy Summers. I came to Buffy later than most.
I’d seen the movie back in the day but hadn’t watched the series until I was into my third or fourth draft of Devil’s Kiss. But Buffy casts a long shadow so I had to mention her.
I love Buffy. I love her world and Giles and Spike and the rest of the Scoobie Gang. ‘Once More with Feeling’ remains one of the best bits of tv ever. Buffy’s got the moves, the humanity, the humour. The series moved seamlessly from light comedy, to belly-laughing (spank-monkey indeed) to raw pathos. Seven series of sublime brilliance. I couldn’t compete on the humour so I thing (subconsciously at least) the tone of my books went darker to distance myself from the Buffy-verse. Buffy has plenty of dark moments, but they’re highlights against a fairly bright and hopeful world. I went bleak where the humour is the faint flicker in an otherwise grim world. That said the Holy Grail joke still makes me laugh.
2. Athene. The Greek goddess of war and wisdom.
The ultimate Daddy’s girl. Sprung from the head of Zeus armed and armoured, ready to rumble. Now that’s an entrance.
War is when we need wisdom most. A warrior has the power of life and death over the defenceless and that’s when things go wrong. Life’s a fragile thing. But such wisdom comes only with questioning, with doubt. Who’s the good guy? No-one really knows. When I wrote Dark Goddess I wanted my ‘villain’ to have an agenda that was just as pure, just as noble as Billi’s. Maybe even more so. The witch, the dark goddess, wants to save the world. Can’t get more noble than that. But to save it she needs to get rid of the thing that’s infecting it. Mankind.
To stop her Billi must kill an innocent child. Someone who’s done nothing wrong but be born at the wrong time at the wrong place. But the fate of the world turns on the smallest of lives.
3.. Boudicca. Queen of the Iceni tribes she fought the Romans and destroyed London. She’s just one of the coolest characters in British history.
Billi’s got that raw rage and passion of Boudicca. That capacity for total war. You cross her and she will unleash hell. Dark Goddess introduces us to a harsher Billi, one who’s suffered and will not be open to pain again. It’s made her tougher, but at what cost? I think the book’s as much about her making impossible choices as it is about her opening her heart again to love. Boudicca made war until she was destroyed. Her rage burned her out and all those who served alongside. I like the idea of Billi having that temptation, that capacity for self-destruction. It makes her the hero she is. I think we all have that capacity, to allow ourselves to fall into the downward spiral. It’s exciting, its powerful, but ultimately destructive and leaves nothing but ash and legends.