As I was planning my upcoming series, Kingdom of Curses and Shadows, I thought that I wanted the main female character to be a badass. It was mostly for variety, since in my previous novels the heroines start out rather insecure, and then slowly grow stronger and more confident. I wanted to make it different this time.
So then I thought: what would make a heroine a true badass? Then my thoughts came to real life, and to people that are true badasses in it: teachers. Not only teachers, but also daycare educators, day camp and summer camp monitors, and all these jobs in which they take care of many kids, in which they have to do their best with the little lives that are entrusted to them.
I remember when my son was a toddler and putting him in his snowsuit was a huge challenge. Then the daycare educator, with six toddlers and babies, put them all in their snow gear and got them to the park every single day! I was convinced she had superpowers. Teachers with kids always impress me. And it’s such an important job!
I’ll confess I’m a teacher, too. I teach ESL and Literature. Sometimes. I’m not teaching right now. I mostly teach adults, though. Teaching younger students is difficult for me. Children simply refuse to do what I ask them, teens roll their eyes, I can’t get them to behave… Frankly, I can hardly get my son to do what I ask him. I guess that’s one reason I admire teachers so much. And I think that in these crazy times, with parents spending months with their kids at home, more people are realizing how teachers are fantastic.
And teachers are important. The young years are formative years, which will have an impact in a person’s future. Good teachers can inspire, encourage, and help the world be a better place.
That’s why I made Zora, the protagonist in Kingdom of Curses and Shadows, a teacher. If I wanted her to be a super badass I should have made her a daycare educator, but she teaches preteens instead, since it went better with the story.
The short story The Shadows and the Children focuses on how teachers are badasses. I wrote it after the first novel, and the idea was just to get to know how the protagonist becomes the person she is at the start of the series.
This story is my declaration of admiration for teachers, at least the good ones. Zora is truly heroic in it, but it’s a kind of heroism that’s not unrealistic. I can see regular teachers, daycare educators, and camp monitors doing exactly what she does in this story if they were in her place. And that’s why I think teachers are badasses. Usually, in stories, a hero is a hero because they have unnatural courage, strength, or resilience, which makes them a notch above regular people. In this story, Zora is a hero just because she’s doing what many teachers would do.
So The Shadows and the Children is for all the Zoras out there; true-life heroes who can inspire new generations. I hope they do!