February 8, 2012

New Grit with Frances Pauli

Fairies in February.

I find perfection unbelievably boring. Okay, once upon a time when I was young and stupid, the idea of flawless beauty, blissful contentedness and perfect grace might have seemed attractive. I do prefer a happily ever after, after all. But after a little growing and living, I have to say the thought of perfection tends to make me yawn.
I like a little spice in my life, a little chaos, a little clutter. Maybe I’m just weird.
Even as a reader I’ve always allied with the quirky characters in the sidelines far more than the dashing protagonist. I like a good villain, or maybe that should be a bad villain. I prefer complex, troubled and yes, deeply flawed characters. I can get on board with a heroine or hero in a romance, because that’s what you do, but in the past they tended to be polished a little too much for my tastes. They shone with a bit of that ideal gloss, and I just can’t help but want to see a little tarnish from time to time.
I’m not a hardcore realist, but I want them to be human, and I’ve spent enough years around humans to know that most of us are pretty messy. Even the pretty people are a mess. They’re human, after all, and messing up is kind of what we do.
Happily, there seems to be a trend toward the more realistic characters nowadays. Protagonists with issues, gritty, troubled, haunted heroines and heroes, seem to be popping up like mushroom rings on Midsummer’s eve. They still tend to be fairly idealized in the appearance category, but now and again we even get a popular heroine who is a bit on the chunky side, a bit disheveled, not perfect. I think we’re a little less eager to let our dashing hero go to pot, but at least he’s branching out into new things like alpha geekdom.
And so I wonder if, like me, other readers have gotten a tad bit jaded on the perfection front. Do we like a little more flaw in our fantasy because we’ve lost our ability to believe in the illusion of perfection? Or is it because we’re in the age of reality TV? I like to think neither is true. Maybe, we like a dash of humanity, with all its glorious faults, because that allows us to relate to the fantasy a little more. Maybe seeing that familiar mess helps us to get back in touch with the happily-ever-after world.
I’d like to believe that. I hope that by making our characters more like us, we can deepen out link, our belief in their heroism. Maybe we can bring that fantasy, a touch of that magic into our own worlds a little more easily if we can relate to it. Maybe even, as a species, we’ve matured a tiny bit.
A Moth in Darkness
And maybe I’m an idealist after all.
So what do you all think? Do you miss the glossy, issue-free couple, or do you like the new grit? What’s your theory on why we like a little mess with our magic?

Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction with romantic touches. Her books are published through Mundania Press LLC, Awe-Struck, and Devine Destinies, and her short stories are featured in various anthologies. More information on her worlds and writing can be found on her website and blog, and she offers free online stories, web serials, podcasts there as well.

Book Blurbs:
A Moth in Darkness
The boundaries between the worlds have fallen. Forced to integrate the creatures of fantasy into real life, humanity struggles against its disillusionment, prejudice and an inevitable feeling of inadequacy.
Once an agent for the embassy that mediates between the worlds, Elizabeth Larson has abandoned her past and slipped into a world of nostalgic addiction to fairy revels, dancing, and the dark lure of her own memories. But when Lockland Sheen, her former partner and lover, goes missing, she is pulled reluctantly back into service. She must venture once more across the borders, into the land that haunts her, facing a string of gruesome murders, the imposing Sidhe rulers and her own addiction in the process.
While the Embassy’s agents attempt to soothe tensions between the races, Liz and her new partner search the fairy realm for Lockland. Fighting the constant temptation of the revels, they piece together the trail of an unknown enemy. But the longer they follow it, the more it appears that the man they came to rescue is more villain than victim. And the more they rely on Elizabeth’s ties to the fairies, the closer she inches toward the madness that lurks behind her fantasies.
The Fly in Paradise
The Fly in Paradise
Something’s rotten in the Fey lands. While Marcus Bramble tracks the lunatic who started it all, Elizabeth and the crew at the Embassy sort through the evidence he left behind. With Lockland back, and the revels behind her, Liz’s world is slowly returning to normal. But on both sides of the borders, shadow creatures spring out of nowhere, and the dark legends surrounding the fey take on a whole new meaning.
Now time is against them.  On the mortal side of things, protesters rally to close the borders, politicians descend on the Embassy, and something that shouldn’t exist stalks Elizabeth through the city.
 In his world, Marcus faces a madman with answers he doesn’t want to hear. The Fey rulers turn a blind eye on forests teeming with imaginary monsters, and the Sidhe tower stands silent amidst the chaos. Will the race to uncover its secrets solve the mystery of the elves’ past or unleash even more horrors on them all?
Spiders From Memory
Spiders from Memory
The Seelie court is gone, and the Tower has fallen into darker hands. Now nightmare creatures terrorize the Fey races, and the whole Fey world turns to frost and shadow.
Liz Larson holds the last remnant of the Seelie Sidhe's power. The elves look to her for guidance, but all she has to offer them is the disturbing story of their origin, the final truth that will turn many of them against her. With her dwindling number of allies, Liz needs to reopen the borders, to find the missing Marcus Bramble, and to avoid the sudden, terrifiying attention of the new Fey ruler, the Unseelie Speaker and new master of the Sidhe Tower.
While her friends in Mundanity race to pry open the gates, and Marcus searches for the answer to a puzzle that could save or damn them all, the Unseelie Speaker marches north, bringing his army and his wrath to focus on Elizabeth. What can one, fairy-touched human do in the face of the Unseelie court's full fury? How can she fight when the enemy's anger is only partly blind, when she can see all too clearly the traces of justice behind it?


  1. Some of the creepiest (and I mean that in a good way) covers I've ever seen. You rock, my friend!

  2. Kayelle, thanks so much for hosting a stop on the tour. I know the covers are dark, and others have said as much, but they are so lovely to me that I have trouble seeing it. ;)

    On a side note, I'm so tickled to be here. I found your website a year ago during a holiday promo event, and I was fascinated with your world building, galaxy map, clan profiles... but I lost the link.
    I spent so much time trying to find you again, and then when I was booking the tour, and figured out who you were, I was so happy!

    You are safely bookmarked and at the top of my TBR now, and I am very grateful for the chance to have you on the tour.

  3. The covers fit the concept well. A bright cheery cover wouldn't work at all! I think they're perfect for your books.

    I'm so glad you found me again. ^_^ Thank you, Frances. btw, I love your name. It was also the name of my mother.

  4. I love the new grit. I can't handle the perfect couple any more because thats not what real love, or real life is. I have a hard time suspending disbelief for that one. Great post take care

  5. Michael, hear, hear! I had a review last year that said my characters were more convincing because they were deeply flawed. I took that as a real compliment. Frances has that grit down to a science, from cover all the way to "the end."

  6. I think I like the realisim. As long as I still get a happily ever after :-) That's something I love about her books. They have a great put you there right now feel. As if you could step into it.
    So how did the cover art concept come about? I've been incredibly courious about that.

  7. Thank you. I'm glad you came by too!

    The covers are done by Ana Winson. She is absolutely amazing.
    The designs came from a combination of the answers I put on my cover questionnaire, and her interpretation of my descriptions.

    I wanted to have a cut out on each cover of the title bug...and then a window into the world inside it. Ana took that and made the idea sing! Once I saw what she did for A Moth in Darkness, I knew I was in the right hands. She totally blew me away... And that Kelpie on book three. Sigh* He's amazing. The Kelpies really enchanted me when I was writing Spiders, and there he is, front and center. I love it.


  8. Okay, Siana wins tonight's e-book. Everyone here earns an entry into the final drawing for the trilogy.

    Thanks so much for those of you following the tour! The full schedule is up at: htt://francespauli.blogspot.com

    I'll see you tomorrow!

    And a HUGE thank you to Kayelle for hosting us too. :)

  9. Congratulations Siana. Thanks to the many who lurked but didn't comment -- there were many of you. Hope to see Frances back when her next book comes along!


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