I wanted to avoid some of the clichés that seem to abound within the Urban Fantasy genre (though not all books have these issues). It might have been okay to read these things a time or two, but I wanted my character to stand on her own. The following were some of my goals when creating her (and hopefully achieved):
1) She is not rich, nor does she suddenly become so after being dirt poor. Melena has to work just like everyone else. She did save some money from a life insurance policy that paid her when her parents died years before, but it isn’t much more than what could get her through college. She was raised in a nice, loving, middle-class family up to age fifteen. It was only after that things got more difficult for her.
2) Melena is not invincible. She does know how to fight, shoot, and use knives because of her military training, but she is still vulnerable in most of the ways any human would be. Going up against much stronger supernaturals is dangerous for her and that doesn’t change as the story progresses.
3) She is practical and cautious. This is one heroine who knows how to calculate the odds and plan accordingly. A lot of this is because she served in the military for years and soldiers are taught to plan and weigh risks before acting. I wanted her previous job to influence how she dealt with danger (even if now it is of a supernatural variety). One of the most annoying traits seen in Urban Fantasy (UF) is heroines who run right into obvious danger, repeatedly, with no plan or back-up. Melena is a smarter gal. If there is a way to put the odds in her favor or protect herself better, she is going to find it. There is no blind bumbling around. Of course, not everything goes like she hopes, but it wouldn’t be much of an exciting story if it did!
4) Melena is not going to be jumping into the bed of every guy she sees, but she isn’t going to be shy or inexperienced either. Romance is going to be slow in coming because she has some commitment issues, but it will happen. When she does finally fall for someone, it will be an explosive relationship. Just don’t expect it to happen in the first book.
5) The narrative will have some snarkiness that is a common trait in UF. Yet the main character will not be shooting her mouth off all the time at the great risk of getting herself killed. I honestly don’t believe most UF heroines would have been allowed to live through some of the comments they’ve made to much more dangerous and powerful beings. Anyone who follows the genre knows what I’m talking about. It boggles the mind. Melena might think some snarky things, but she rarely voices them unless she feels confident or comfortable with the person is saying them to.
6) There will be no prophecy in this series. It has worked for some others in the past, but I wanted to move away from that theme. I’ve seen it used too many times and hate that some writers use it as a crutch for their plot. There will be groups of people (or races) that have a somewhat sacred “duty” but they aren’t forced to do it. There is free choice in this fictional world and people must make their own decisions. Melena will never be obligated to do anything because of what she is born as, but she will have to face the fact she has the ability to protect innocent people. That will result in her having to make some tough choices.
7) There will be no “end of the world” moments if the main character doesn’t do something to save it. I actually like some of those story-lines, but wanted to avoid it in my own series. A group of people or town might be in danger if she doesn’t help, but never anything on an epic scale.
8)Melena will never become the most powerful person on the planet (or even remotely close). She will always have vulnerabilities and have to watch her step. Her main strengths will be in using her head to think things out, surrounding herself with powerful people (which comes over time), and using the abilities she was born with. She might pick up a few extra tricks/strengths along the way, but not enough to easily defeat someone (or something) much more powerful than her. That will always require cunning on her part by using the advantages she has in the best way possible.
9) I will also say Melena is not a character who suddenly comes into powers she’s never had before. She began learning to use her abilities when she was fourteen and has them fairly well mastered at age 26 (when Darkness Haunts begins). This means she isn’t going to be one of those heroines that amazingly learns new powers fast, or bumbles around trying to figure them out. She also knows a good deal about the supernatural world (though there is always more to learn). Mel may have chosen to avoid the creatures it consists of, but she is familiar with them. Her main hang-up will be having to interact with those other races since she was taught to be afraid of them by her mentor.
10) Melena’s appearance- she is a pretty woman (though not gorgeous). She won’t have men falling at her feet, but there will be a few attracted to her. Her body is on the smaller side (no over-sized breasts for this heroine), but she is well-toned due to frequent exercise. She knows she has to stay in good shape because she is already so much weaker than her enemies. Being fit could mean the difference between life and death.
These are all factors I took into consideration when writing Darkness Haunts and will continue to follow in the successive novels of the Sensor Series. It will hopefully help readers identify with the main character and perhaps even learn from her. Though there are a lot of paranormal elements involved, I wanted it to be as believable as possible with such a fictional world being used.