Friday, December 13, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway with RA McCandless

 Guest post
RA McCandless

Joss Whedon, a personal hero of mine and writer/producer/director of so many wonderful titles and characters has repeatedly been asked in interviews, “Why do you write strong female characters?” 

I love this question.  It says so much that is right (and wrong) with our society.  Whedon’s answer is now bordering on the culturally axiomatic.  It is so well known (at least in my circles) that it can be thrown out as casually as “sword of Damocles” or “Pyrrhic victory” and actually be used correctly. 

Whedon's final resolution is: “Because you’re still asking me the question.” 

I’ve been writing (hopefully) strong female characters for a couple of decades now.  I didn’t set out to do so.  There was no conscious effort to make my work specifically male or female.  My very first, very immature story was about my group of friends.  Because I was, have been and always will be interested in heroic fantasy, it was in a heroic fantasy setting.  Everyone carried swords, everyone was heroic with their swords, and that was essentially that.  It was a story meant for my friends, and I thought highly of all of them, regardless of their gender. 

That was really all there was to it. 

One of my favorite characters in that story (and perhaps this was because she was one of my favorite people in high school) was an average height/average weight girl who carried an extremely above-average sword great sword.  There was nothing Freudian in this.  I just liked the joke: Initially, in my un-realistic, fantasy way, she was just that strong.  The sword/girl had no specific magic power making such an unwieldy weapon wieldy. 

She was just that strong. 

That character stuck with me, and as I met other, strong women in my life, and honored them (if you can call it that) with characters in my writing, I found more and more that I was telling their story (the female characters, not the real-life women).  So much so that I wrote whole universes specifically for these characters, not to the exclusion of male characters, but simply with the traditional genre roles leveled out. 

So, while I prefer Whedon’s response very much, agree with it, and wish I could have said it myself, my answer to the question is somewhat different. 

Why do I write strong women characters?  Because women are that strong.  They are just that strong. 

Tears of Heaven

Thrilling danger, fast-paced adventure, high-seas action, and heart-warming romance fill this novel, with a page-turning story that won't let you put it down.
Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel. She helps to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons. At the same time, she keeps herself in the Throne's good graces. Whenever a rogue demon breaks free from Hell, she and her partner, Marrin, another Nephilim, work together to banish it.


The fight was not going well.  Del should have brought Marrin.  Ahadiel had told her to bring Marrin, but that only made certain that she wouldn’t.

Del gasped as the rogue landed a solid punch into her stomach and ribs.  The air whooshed from her lungs.  He followed with a stab of his fingers into her right arm.  Cold-filled pain suffused her shoulder and caused it to spasm painfully.  She spun away, awkwardly.  Her right arm felt like it had been shattered, pulverized into pudding, useless as gelatin.  The cold-forged iron spike she’d been holding dropped from useless fingers and clattered to the floor.  The rogue looked at her with brutal menace in his eyes and flame licking around the lids.

 It would have been a good trick.

 If only it was a trick.

 The flames were all too real.

 Fortunately, Del didn’t suffer from the same fears that mortals contended with.  A rogue divinity hissing heresy and spouting fire, literal fire, around his eyes would have left a mortal quivering in terror until the Last Judgment.

 She’d seen it happen.

 “Leave now, little half-breed,” the rogue said. His voice had a sibilance that surrounded her, whispering in both of her ears intimately. “Leave, and I will not kill you.  Stay, and I will make your pain a torture.  I will see you last for days upon days, and I promise you abuses you could not dream.”

 Del said nothing.

 “Go, little girl,” the rogue gestured with his right arm, the one where she’d managed to drive a spike through his wrist.

 It would have been stupid to engage the rogue, or really any opponent, in conversation.  Witty banter was for the movies.  Errol Flynn and John Wayne could while away the hours as they faced a bad guy and spouted catchy one-liners.

 In the really real world, Del knew better than to take time out of her busy schedule.

 She still held a second cold-forged iron spike in her left hand.  She wanted to drop it and reach for her last SIG Sauer .45 behind her back.  Most melee weapons against a rogue were nearly useless. Unless it was the right weapon.  She shifted her grip, stepped into the rogue with speed no mortal could, and stabbed with enough power to lift the rogue off its feet.  Rogues might be strong, but the laws of physics were stronger.  The foot-long spike punched into the rogue’s left shoulder and only her fist on the weapon stopped it.

 The Host takes care of their own.

 Even if they have to hire it done.

Available at: Amazon   B&N   Wildchild   

R.A. McCandless has been a writer both professionally and creatively for nearly two decades.  He was born under a wandering star that led him to a degree in Communication and English with a focus on creative writing.  He is the author of Tears of Heaven and The Second Cut (due 2014), and continues to research and write historical and genre fiction.

Connect with R.A. at: Blog   FB   Goodreads   


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