There’s no turning away from a good fight in fiction and film: the thrill of the coliseum in Gladiator, the clash of north and south in Cold Mountain, the battle of wills in The Great Gatsby, the clash of class in Atonement. Even when we think we know who’s going to win the day, a well-staged battle will pull us to the edge of our seats, fingers crossed that the outcome isn’t too painful to watch or accept.
Frankie Rose, my Indie-Visible sister and author of the new novel Raksha, writes fights in her fiction that bring readers in so close we feel we’re holding the weapons ourselves, and looking into our opponent’s eyes.
And look at our protagonist’s weapons! Very impressive. Here’s a woman who’s not afraid to wield a dagger, strap on a belt of knives, wear hide and feather garb in which to kick the tar out of the enemy.
Here’s an excerpt that shows our heroine in action:
I focus on him and clench my dagger in my hand. The sea of voices swells, and I’m certain I can pick out Miranda’s deranged shrieking, yelling over and over again, “End him! End him!”
Falin Asha’s brown eyes fix on me and it looks for a second like he’s crying. That can’t be right, though. I hover just out of his reach, staring at him. “What’s going on?”
He smiles crookedly and brushes his hair back out of his face. “It’s going to be okay, all right? Remember that.”
I’m so thrown by his comment that I am utterly unprepared for what he does next. The knife in his hand snakes out toward me, and I skitter away from him to the left. He knows how I react, however, and he moves with me, my mirror image. He darts for me and does the unthinkable, something that spells the end to the fight and me along with it: he grabs hold of my striking arm at the wrist. A low gasp runs around the Colosseum, growing in pitch until it’s a rushing echo in my ears. I try and fumble for the Balisong on my belt, hoping I can flick it open and use it, but Falin Asha is there before me. He doesn’t knock my hand away, just holds his over it. He pulls me closer to him and sucks in a deep breath.
“Don’t let them see,” he hisses. With that, I feel a twisting movement between our two bodies, and then his eyes go wide. He looks stunned, the way Elin children do when they fall and they’re unsure whether they’re supposed to cry or not. I look down and see his own knife submerged up to the handle in his stomach. A cracking, bubbling noise comes out of his throat, and he smiles slowly at me. The whole Colosseum has gone deadly silent. I can think nothing other than this: What have you done? What on earth have you gone and done?
And yet, for all the danger and daring in her writing, Frankie’s a British expat currently enjoying the good life in Australia: an awesome husband, plenty of sunshine, and tons of vitamin D. She spends her time creating fictional universes in which the guy sometimes gets the girl, the heroes occasionally die, and the endings aren’t always happy. But, Frankie tells me, they usually are. Keep on writing those endings, Frankie! We like a good fight that ends well.