This was a Christmas present from my husband (aka, The Best Husband In The Universe). I’ve wanted this piece since I first started writing, when it was just Stenne and I. However, our girl gang has grown by three a (until I think up another series and we grow by one more). I’d love to introduce you to by leading ladies, from left to right!
Book: Cooper & Parrish
Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a questionable fashion sense for a late 19th-century single woman are the first three things every townsperson in Billetsby, England sees when they spy Anna Cooper running like a mad woman through town, brandishing weapons and screaming in a foreign language no one can quite place. Usually trailing behind her in a reserved (albeit embarrassed) manner is Dr. James Parrish with his phials of swirling blue liquid and disapproving frown. Unfortunately for both Anna and James, they are the only two in Billetsby capable of saving the town from the mysterious evil forces that are slowing converging, and therefore must defy danger on perilous adventures together.
Anna is never seen without her precious blue-flamed katana and ornate revolvers—all of which were a gift from a Qing dynasty prince, mind you. Like any decent English woman, her favorite beverage is tea. Her wardrobe is an eclectic blend of 19th century English fashion, tribal wear from her adventures abroad, and pieces from her late grandmother’s jewelry collection she can’t bear to live without.
An Excerpt from Cooper & Parrish:
“Would you like me to escort you home?”
“Do I look incapable of getting there by myself?” Anna snaps.
“Is that a trick question?” The man asks without missing a beat. “Yes, you do. That’s why I offered to walk you home. I just saved you from an attack you weren’t able to fend off yourself.”
“Excuse me, sir,” scoffs Anna. “I had it under control.”
“Under control? Are you daft, woman? That thing—”
“Nearly killed me. I heard you the first time,” Anna cuts him off. “I would say thank you, but I’m not grateful to a pompous ass who refuses to acknowledge that I can handle myself against a simple forest daemon.”
“Tiyanak,” he corrects.
“You’re entitled to your wrong opinion, but I’m telling you, it’s not a tiyanak,” Anna shoots back. “Now if you don’t mind I’ll be on my way, by myself, thank you very much.”
Book: The Last McNary
It’s not Bridie’s fault that she has to kill to survive on the streets of Zenith; it’s her parents’ fault for abandoning their 10-year-old in the Bloat nearly fifteen years ago. Now 25, Bridie struggles to survive in a city where her blood is the only asset she has and harrowing ghosts stalk her trail.
Zenith runs on blood, literally. Bridie has spent her life dodging cops and undercover hospital agents intent on capturing her to make her a bloodslave—someone kept by the hospitals and forcibly drained of blood until they’re no longer useful. Bridie’s one of the oldest homeless kids in Tent City to remain uncaught until a chance meeting with a young girl lands both in the Bloat’s run-down hospital.
Bridie thought her life was over when she got captured. She didn’t realize it was only the beginning of a new and terrifying chapter of a book that’s been closed for 15 years.
As a 15-year resident of Zenith’s grimiest streets, Bridie is nearly always covered in some sort of mud, dirt, or muck. She suffers from anemia, as most homeless, starving kids in Zenith do, and trades her blood for daily iron tablets (pretty counter-intuitive, right?). Though fierce and vicious to strangers, she’s kind and forgiving to those she cares about. It’s tough to get on her good side and when you do, only a truly devastating betrayal will cut you off from her forever.
Bridie doesn’t remember much about her parents, nor does she care to.
An Excerpt from The Last McNary:
“That reminds me,” I pull up my sleeve. “My bracelet. Can you keep an eye out for it? Maybe the cop who took it will bring it in to trade, with a little of his own blood for your… wares.” Flourishing my hand toward the synthetic blood Marv pushes on Zenith, I roll my eyes. “It’s not the first gold you’ll receive,” I suggest, nodding to a worn oval box on an endcap near Marv’s shoulder. Though the green gems and gold filigree are tarnished, it looks like it was once valuable to someone.
“I’ll keep a watch,” Marv nods. “How’d a cop get it off of you in the first place?”
I respond through mouthfuls of the hearty stew. “Breakfast trap next to the police station. I was feeling risky this morning.”
Marv’s expression dours. “Hey kid… you’re, uh… you’re pretty shit at stealing, you know that?”
“It’s a good thing I’m better at violence,” I exhale, launching myself onto the checkout counter beside him and brandishing my knife. “Stealing is easier when you don’t have any witnesses.”
Me! (Katarina Betterton)
Hey there! I’m the author of all these ladies. I grew up on the East Coast, have been writing on and off since around fourth grade, and married the love of my life in June 2018. We have an adorably mischievous puppy and my favorite part of our relationship is that we somehow figured out a way to be real adults while also being kids at heart.
Instead of boring you with my entire autobiography, jump over to my About page if you’d like to learn more about me!
Stenne believes she’s a “nobody;” just another insignificant person in the world working as hard as she can to earn points for her Haven. In her eyes, she’s the same as everyone else—after all, they all wear the same thing, eat the same meal, and do the same jobs. However, when tripping over a stranger brings on a persistent headache and an ability to question what she thought she’s always known, Stenne realizes she isn’t like her neighbors at all. She’s different, and that difference can get her killed.
Stenne soon discovers she’s not alone in distinction; a boy swearing they’ve known each other since childhood begins to confirm what Stenne’s wondered about her world. Her confusion comes to a head when the leader of the Commune—Stenne’s home and the last civilization on Earth—threatens Stenne with a choice to either lose her Haven or forget the boy who seems to know more about herself than she does.
Stenne decides to risk everything—her comfortable world, her Haven, and her life—to dig deeper into the Commune’s apparent lies and seek out the truth of her past before the Commune destroys her future.
As per Commune instruction, Stenne is never not in her uniform: a black v-neck t-shirt and dark grey industrial cargo pants. She’s scared of pretty much everything, but her worst fear is failing. Stenne doesn’t have ambition besides earning as many points as possible for her Haven. She has a hard time admitting her faults (as she sees every fault as a failure), but knows she can be a rash decision maker, quick to fly off the handle, and completely lacking in common sense at times. Much greater than her faults, though, are her strengths: her kindness, her bravery, her optimism, and her smile.
An Excerpt from 33:
There are eight statements about myself I know to be utterly true—eight tenets by which I’ve thrived for the last 23 years and 362 days.
I am the Commune.
I am safe.
I am liked.
I am capable.
I have a purpose.
I want my Haven.
I am not special.
To her crew, Eta is the fiercest pirate sailing the six seas of Ondur. Under her flag as the Daughters of the Sea, they’ve been able to collect bounties from nearly every coastal town the water touches and eliminate other pirate threats. As the only female captain with an all-female crew, Eta is the fiercest pirate in Ondor. She’s also a mermaid; a part of herself she’s hid from her land-walking counterparts for six years. Citizens of Ondur have hated the merpeople dwelling below in the kingdom of Undor for generations.
Eta and her crew sail to a popular port after their most recent victory only to find every ship in their fleet there—the warning to Eta that something is wrong. Eta and the skeleton crew with her watch in horror as a warlock explodes every ship in their fleet. Before they can execute a revenge attack, the warlock’s minions attack. Unwilling to resign her remaining crew members to a bitter death when she can swim them to safety, Eta reveals her true form as a mermaid and escapes with her crew to the briney depths of Undor. She loses her way before arriving in the main avenue with her human friends, accidentally crashing the engagement parade of Eta’s ex-fiance and his new bride-to-be. Eta soon faces a choice as she and her crew remain in Undor: stay safe in the confines of the water-based traditional rule, or risk their lives to reclaim their freedom on the waves?
Eta is a regal being without the need to prove her royalty. She’s automatically respected when she walks into a room because of the air of grace and power she carries with her at all times. She’s sure of herself, strong-willed, and a fighter for justice. She hates traditions and the practice of doing something the same way because ‘that’s how it’s always been done.’ As Eta’s two worlds converge, she finds herself questioning her true purpose in life.
An Excerpt from mErTAle:
“I don’t understand, though. If you’re so kind, why be a pirate at all?” He asks, honest curiosity in his voice.
“There aren’t many roles in the world in which women have freedom,” I state plainly. “My crew is made up of women—only women—whose old life offered nothing but pain and confines. Wives beaten within an inch of their lives by the husbands. Widows who can’t support themselves. Spinsters cast aside. Prostitutes sold into slavery. Any woman who doesn’t have anywhere else to go has a place on my ship.”
And There You Have It!
You’ve now met all my leading ladies. Who’s story interests you the most?
PLEASE, please, please go follow the amazing artist who created this incredible work of art, Ellie (@EllieDoodles02 on Instagram). She was such a pleasure to work with (I actually had her do four commissions for me!) and is an amazing human. I literally can’t recommend working with her enough, so please do yourself a favor and go follow her to see more of her incredible work!
Feel free to follow me on Instagram and Twitter as I make my way through writing these awesome women. Have a wonderful rest of your day!