Greetings, Loyal Reader. So one occasional complaint from some of my female friends who also happen to be Loyal Readers themselves is that there aren’t any strong female characters for them to identify with in Jason Cosmo.
To which I say, “Well, yes and no.” I will grant that the most prominent female characters in the book, Sapphrina and Rubis, come across as the stereotypical underdressed damsels in distress. They also disappear from the action midway through the story. And in Royal Chaos. And Dirty Work. Okay, point taken. But they knew the score when they auditioned the job.
Look, the story is called Jason Cosmo for a reason. It isn’t called Sapphrina and Rubis. Although I might write that sometime in the future.
I’ll confess something to you. Despite their absence for long stretches of the story, Sapphrina and Rubis actually got a lot more page time in Jason Cosmo than I originally intended. Without creating too much of a spoiler for anyone who has wandered in by mistake and has not yet read the book, Jason rescues the imprisoned sisters shortly after learning that he is supposed to play the part of a hero.
If you have read the books, it is not going to shock you to know that I pretty much made up the story as I went along. The creative process went something like this. “Okay, Jason is supposed to be a hero now. What do heroes in these stories do? Aha! He should rescue a damsel in distress! But this being a comedy, if one damsel is good, two is better!” Thus the twins were born.
It was a one-off gag, really. Sapphrina and Rubis were hired to play walk-on roles. They were there to be rescued, say their lines, collect their Minor Secondary Character day rate and that’s that.
Except, it didn’t work out that way. Now that the noble hero had rescued our lovely damsels, he couldn’t just set them loose in the dangerous wilderness. He had to escort them at least as far as some safe and civilized place. Nothing else made sense. Which meant Sapphrina and Rubis were tagging along chapter after chapter, and I had to find more and more things for them to say and do.
Then my editor suggested I add some romance. That honestly hadn’t occurred to me. But it did improve the story. I guess that’s why we have editors.
Look, I’ve never claimed to be Andre Norton. Could I have given Sapphrina and Rubis more to do? Absolutely. In fact, in the upcoming all-new book Noble Cause, they have a lot more to do, because the tale is set on their turf, the great city of Caratha, where the twins know all the ins and outs and just-off-the-turnip-farm Jason is the fish out of water. And without a bicycle.
That is the yes part of the answer. Here is the no. What about Natalia Slash, the dangerous mercenary who makes even Mercury Boltblaster nervous and is more than a match for Jason in a fight? What about General Vixen Hotfur, the best commander in the Raelnan army? Or Queen Raella, for that matter, who made a great personal sacrifice for the sake of her people. Strong women all. And then there is my personal favorite, the Goddess Rae. Yes, she comes across as a total ditz, but if that is all you think of the Sun Goddess, you’re blinded by the light.
You can’t go to a Batman movie and complain that Wonder Woman didn’t get enough screen time. (Although you can go to an X-Men movie and complain that there was not enough Storm. Also, Catwoman is a fine film with the volume off. But I digress.) I make no apologies that the Jason Cosmo books focus on Jason Cosmo. And I stand by my lineup of female characters, any of whom could carry a future book all on her own.
But if you think otherwise, let me know.