Breaking the Rules

You can deconstruct any genre, and make it seem trivial. Urban Fantasy (UF) is no exception.

Kick ass heroine is excluded from her family/pack/societal group, because of flaw/rules/genetic purity, and this makes her angry and defensive, which manifests as extreme sass and confidence. She feels no- one loves her, but a gorgeous man/were/vampire/demon is smitten with her and they make beautiful love and alarming mayhem in defeating the threat to the societal group/world, aided by the very flaw that excluded her (and some nice weapons).


Well, they tell me there are really only five stories anyway* (*needs reference), so any book in any genre is going to sound trivial when deconstructed.

I love UF because it starts from a position of breaking rules. UF didn’t exist and publishers didn’t want it or invent it; it caused problems for them because there wasn’t (and still isn’t in many actual bookstores) a shelf for UF. Writers and readers created it by taking other genres and smashing them together under great pressure. Sorta like making diamonds from coal.

But can writers continue to break the rules and not lose their UF audience?

I’m about to find out.

I’m always intent on there being as much reality as possible in what I write. It’s too easy for writers (all of us) to ‘magic’ it. Yes, we’re trapped and the situation is hopeless, but here’s a spell you (the reader) didn’t know existed that is tailor-made to smart-bomb the enemy. Kazam! Game over.

At the other end of the world-building, is the ‘because’. Why is she angry? How can she do that? Because. A ‘because’ just makes you accept whatever is there without explaining how it came about. I try to avoid this and make real-life reasons for the situations my protagonists find themselves in.

So, Amber in the Bite Back series is self-confident and can kick serious ass because she spent ten years in the army learning to be like that. She is super-fit and strong because she is OCD on exercise. She has angers that she has buried for a reason. And I make this plain within the stories as they unfold. And that’s sorta neat, but it doesn’t break any rules.

What of my other protagonists, and the reasons they are like they are? There’s no room in the main novels, so their tales need to be separate entities. And their tales may not fit comfortably within the UF fold.

Bian is the first of these. Many readers have enjoyed her and some have actually said she’s at least equal favorite with Amber, which is an enormous vote of support. And there are reasons for the way she behaves; the outrageous, provocative, flippant, teasing attitude masks a horrific odyssey. Bian’s Tale crosses the divide from Urban Fantasy to Horror.

Hacha del Diablo is second. This is a prequel to Sleight of Hand, a story from when Amber was still in special operations, deep in the jungle, losing members of her squad one by one. I guess if it’s a genre then it’s Military Horror. It certainly isn’t Urban Fantasy, and mixing it into my UF world breaks the rules.

Hope you like breaking rules with me.


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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at

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