by Sarah Hendrix
The heroes of Urban Fantasy aren’t your usual characters. They sling magic, change forms, drink blood and in some situations do much more. For the most part, they aren’t sword slinging heroes. They are just trying to fit into the normal world, working as detectives, mechanics, or even more mundane jobs. But they are different, and they know it.
Often the main characters live in more than one social sphere. The outside one—usually involving their jobs and their “normal” peers—and the inner sphere—where they tend to get into a lot of trouble. Often, they are touchstones of both worlds; relaying messages and doing deeds neither side can do alone. And most of the time they are drug reluctantly into a tangled mess that would result in the destruction of both sides.
Most of the heroes in UF don’t want to be a hero. They have enough on their hands trying to balance out paying bills, a love life, trying to be normal and their extracurricular activities. Throwing in a murder or theft or mystery into their lives is like stacking bricks on a bouncy ball. You, nor they, know what will happen next.
The most likely scenario is the character will refuse to get involved—at least at first. There might be a moral struggle, or something personal involved before they decided to step in. The characters try very hard only to do just enough to help, but as the stakes rise, they find themselves digging deeper into not only themselves but others around them to resolve the conflict.
Some excellent examples are Jim Butcher’s Dresden files. Harry Dresden doesn’t want to be drug into the business of werewolves, demons, the dealings of the White Counsel or the Vampire Courts. He’d rather do some side work for the Chicago PD, get paid and keep his head on his shoulders. However, the world Harry lives in is a very complicated place, and there is only one man who can do the job.
Sookie Stackhouse would much rather be a waitress than deal with all of the unusual circumstances that just happen to go on around her. Yet, when the stakes are high, she finds herself involved to save her friends and herself.
CE Murphy’s Walker Paper series deals with a cop/mechanic, Jo Walker, who is a lot more than she seems. Because she is a cop, she gets involved with something she doesn’t quite understand. As the stories go on, she finds out more about herself and the powers she has. By the time Jo has time to take a breath, there is no going back.
All of these, and many more UF heroes, don’t start out being likely heroes. Because of what they are and what they can do, they find themselves in situations that the normals can’t even imagine. But when it is over, they try to go back to being what they were… or at least try.
Even though the day job keeps her busy, Sarah Hendrix finds time to sneak in words at every chance. Writing, reading and editing are her specialties even though she is wetting her toes as a publicist for Apex Book Company. Her work can be found in the In Situ and FISH anthologies from Dagan Books and the upcoming Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 from Flying Pen Press. Look for her on twitter , her blog, facebook and google+