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And now please give the warmest welcome to the amazing mastermind behind this whirlwind story:
The mystery of the UF heroine’s missing and/or awful parents
by Carolyn Crane
The other day in a post on my own blog, I was speculating on how some of my favorite authors (not UF) create super realistic characters, and in thinking about it, I came to realize how important a family is to “place” a character within the spectrum of a larger society. Just like in real life, knowing a person’s family can give you insights into that person. When a heroine has a dead, missing or weird or evil monster mother or father (some heroines have parents who are missing, dead, weird, AND evil monsters!) it adds a sense of mystery and “otherness” to that character. As if they’ve been partly or fully cut loose.
The mothers, alive or dead, seem especially formative to heroines on a supernatural level. Justine’s totally was. I’m thinking also of the moms in Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Ann Aguirre’s Corinne Solomon, Vicki Pettersson’s Joanna Archer. I sometimes wonder if a lot of the women working in this genre make things matriarchal instead of patriarchal just to reverse the norm. Also, a lot of what’s supernatural does get associated with females (like witches).
A lot of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction have two societies - there’s the normal human society, and then there’s the supernatural society. Often, the early books in a series can be about the transition of the heroine from the human society to the supernatural one. So, really strong ties to a human family firmly grounds a heroine in human society, which can make things more difficult for the writer. I’m not saying all UF heroines are missing family and parents - some authors keep the strong family around - but, it made things easier for me to give my heroine less family ties. It made her more rootless.
She’s into that as a reader and a writer, too. Plotty puzzles. Psychological intrigue. Concealed realms.
The trilogy that begins with takes place in a shadowy and fantastical Milwaukee/Chicago, a place of many secrets. (She grew up in suburbs of both cities, leaving a trail of dismantled princess phones behind her.)
Today she lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daring cats. She spent years as a waitress and shop clerk before moving to ad agencies and the freelance writing life. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, and when she’s not writing novels or working her day job, she can be found reading in bed, running, helping animals, or eating Mexican food.
Carolyn Crane is the author of the Justine Jones: Disillusionist trilogy (, and book #3 to come this December)
The realistic characters post mentioned above can be found on her blog
Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.
Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.
Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on Friday 4 March 2011.