As children, we all fear the invisible, mysterious, unpredictable monsters that might be lurking under our beds or in dark corners of our small worlds. We need parents to come in and vanquish them with warm milk or reassurances.
As adults, we can put names to some of those midnight terrors—fear of fire, disease, terrorists, or any other uncontrollable, unspeakable horror that we realize can strike without warning. We have no one to come in and chase those terrors away.
In urban fantasy, our protagonists learn to deal with the monsters under the bed. We give the monsters names and—eventually— our heroes vanquish them with the same magic as warm milk, maybe a little bloodier. I’ve never had any particular fear of werewolves or vampires, so those monsters don’t hold my attention. But in my Saturn’s Daughters series, my heroine lives in a chemical environment that produces human monsters—some good, some downright hellish. She not only faces the unpredictable monsters of her reality—but the possibility that she is also a monster.
In my mind, horrifying problems are ones we all must face every day, even when we look in the mirror. Like our protagonists, each day, we get to make choices to help the world around us and make it a better place—or face the demon of selfishness. In urban fantasy, those horrors take interesting turns.
The best part of urban fantasy is following an ordinary person who must learn to cope with increasingly dangerous and complex situations. In Damn Him to Hell, the second of my series, my lawyer Justine continues learning to use her genetic abilities to save her small world and protect her friends from the monsters who threaten them. That some of those monsters drive fancy cars, live in huge houses, or believe they’re aiding science makes their actions even more unpredictable and fearsome for our heroine who knows nothing about the dangers of green gas, pink flakes, or hell in a gas line.
What about you? What fears would you have your favorite protagonist vanquish?