Guest Post with Ilona Andrews

We would like to give a huge welcome to Ilona Andrews, author of the Kate Daniels series, and upcoming Bayou Moon, which will be out on the 27th of September.

I used to be a nerd.  Still am, if you manage to get me going, but I was especially nerdy in adolescence.  You know how Hermione always knows the answer to every question?  That was me.

Being a nerd when you’re a girl is hard, mostly because you get grief from both sides.  Knowing the molecular composition of butane off the top of your head (C4H10) somehow tells girls that you clearly wouldn’t be interested in something fun, like watching a movie or having girl hang out time. Boys tend to overlook you, because they’re not quite sure how to deal with you and some of them suspect that you might be smarter and they don’t like that – they’re insecure enough as is.

Nerd girls read a lot.  I’ve read everything I could get my hands on.  At that point, we didn’t get much SF/F, but I had classics.  I loved Wells and Jules Verne.  It was Adventure spiced with just enough science to be entertaining and smart.  One small problem: Jules Verne wrote about men.  These were books about men written for boys.  Girls were these delicate creatures, who were much admired for their bravery in the face of danger, but who had to shielded and protected.

I moved on to Sherlock Holmes.  Same there.  The LOST WORLD was one of my favorite books of all time.  There are two women in that story: a professor’s wife whom he puts on a pillar during a spat and the object of hero’s affection who has about as much personality as a wet paper napkin.  The rest of the classics weren’t much better: SEA WOLF kind of had a girl in it, but she didn’t have that much screen time, Thomas Mayne Reid’s the BRAVE HUNTRESS was about a man, and of the two women in it one was a shrinking violet and the other was rather mannish, and CONSUELO, despite all of its lush setting and Gothic tendencies, had an heroine’s whose brain had been amputated at birth.  (Also, my father made fun of me for reading that last one.)

The message was clear: men get to have fun adventures.  Women get to be vapid flowers.

My father brought me collected works of Alexander Dumas, which I inhaled, and out of that collection emerged QUEEN MARGOT.  I liked Margo – she was smart, she was ruthless, she did occult magic, and I so badly wanted her to fall in love with her husband, Henry of Navarra.  I didn’t care that it wasn’t historically accurate, I wanted more like that.

At this point, the iron curtain fell, and we started getting science fiction and fantasy.  I loved sword and sorcery stories.  I loved Howard, and Leigh Brackett, and Edmond Hamilton, but it still didn’t quite hit the spot for me.  The stories were once again about men, and women were beautiful objects to be rescued, or beautiful and evil, or beautiful and completely lacking in femininity (Red Sonja).  I was getting seriously confused, because I 1) had a brain, 2) was bad at pretending to be vapid, 3) couldn’t pull off the Amazon thing physically, and 4) had no desire to become a man so I could have adventures.  There had to be a book out there that was written for women like me, a book written about normal women who weren’t super powerful warriors.

Somehow, no doubt one of my parents brought the book to me, I stumbled onto ANGELIQUE.  I’ve read it in under three hours.  Here was a book about a woman, who still managed to stay feminine and beautiful, and who had to use every drop of her intelligence and cunning to survive.  The only drawback of that novel was the complete lack of magic.

I finally figured it out: I wanted to read about Angelique blended with Leigh Brackett’s lyrical language, spiced with Well’s gift for horror/Verne’s talent for science, and Howard’s flair for magic and monsters.  I wanted feminine women and manly men, who didn’t ignore each other’s existence, trying to fight the evil demons, be they physical monsters or inner terrors.

Sadly, I couldn’t find those books at the time.  But now, almost twenty years later I finally have them and not just one or two titles, but an entire genre of books that offer me all those things. Not all of them are great, but when I find those that are, I feel as if they were written especially for me.  I’m thirty four years old and I when I open a paranormal romance that’s just right, I sink into it and giggle like a fifteen year old, because it makes me happy.  Long may it live and prosper.

My favorite Paranormal Romance authors are:

Nalini Singh

Meljean Brook

Jeaniene Frost

Jill Myles

I hope you check them out!

12 thoughts on “Guest Post with Ilona Andrews”

  1. It’s so nice to know you weren’t the only one feeling that way growing up. You really hit the nail on the head about how it feels being a nerd girl. I always felt out of pace with my peers. I’ve read Jeaniene’s stuff and one Singh book. I loved Meljean’s short story in HELLHOUNDS. Need to read one of her books!

  2. Thank you so much for saying this! The kinds of books you were looking for once upon a time, the ones with strong feminine heroines? They’re the kinds I’m still looking for, myself. Thank you for writing them.

  3. Um… I’m one of those voracious readers with embarrassing and unconscionable lacks in my book knowledge… so who wrote ANGELIQUE? I’m curious about it now.

  4. Funny how your most of your favorites are also your Odd Shot partners 😉 thanks for the post, really enjoyed it.

  5. Loved, loved, loved Angelique. I read it when I was an impressionable teenager, 30+ years ago. Let me tell you, those books were hard to find even then. I finally gave away my copies about 10 years ago, and then just recently came across 6 of the 8 in a thrift store for $0.50 each. Needless to say, I scooped them up and started all over again.

  6. You know, not that many people here can say; “Then the iron curtain fell….” and have that be really a relevant thing in their lives.

    I, like you am really happy to see kick ass woman in the sci/fi and urban fantasy today 🙂 And really great snark and sarcasm!

    Also, I can’t get on your forum tonight 😡 it keep timing me out. Driving me nuts!

  7. I don’t want to horrify people, but this is why I didn’t get into books like Wuthering Heights. I cringed every time a woman in a book had the vapors. Yes, I know women were like that in those times, but surely they all weren’t. I loved biographies to start with like Helen Keller, and moved on to horror. LOL Cool interview– thanks:)

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