Thursday, 13 September 2018

Heroine Fix: The Loyal, Lovely and Lethal Dutch from Killjoys

Heroine Fix is a monthly feature looking at characters whom I admire and who influence my own writing. (Warning: this article will contain spoilers.)

I love a good action story and I love a strong female character who steps up and takes charge.  I only recently started to watch the Space series Killjoys about a team of wise-cracking interplanetary bounty hunters but it only took half of the first episode to hook me.  The lead character, Dutch, played by Hannah John-Kamen is a fascinating mix of determination, fierce loyalty to her friends, extraordinary skills, and stunning warrior.  She has the kind of casual excellence that I've always found appealing, particularly since I'm the type of person who is more likely to trip over my own feet and tongue.

The Jaqobis brothers are also impressive... but that's a topic for another time.
However, what makes Dutch worthy of a closer look is that she isn't just a two-dimensional warrior.  There's a beautiful layer of vulnerability underneath her armor of perfection.  She is someone who has faced her world and dreams being destroyed on multiple occasions and who has decided to cope with it by never again being in a situation that she can't control.  As a child, she was royalty but her family lost everything, abandoning her in an orphanage.  She was rescued from the orphanage and trained as assassin.  She took the bold and dangerous step of leaving that life.  She's become one of the top Killjoys (bounty hunters) in the Quad (the local solar system), known for never failing to get her target.

It would have been very easy for the character to tip over into being a villain, uncaring and aloof.  She's had so much tragedy in her life that no one would be surprised if she'd developed an emotional callus over her soul.  But instead, she is still a deeply caring individual.  She cares about the people who are at the mercy of the mega Corporations and capricious aristocracy who own the quad.  She's fiercely protective of her partner, Johnny, and his brother, D'avin.  On more than one occasion, she faces death and torture to make certain they are safe.   And as an added measure of her retained humanity, those who have gotten to know her are loyal and protective of her as well.

Dutch might know a thousand different ways to drop a target, but it's her relationship with her partner, Johnny, that really impresses me.  He was a starship thief who made the mistake of trying to take off with her ship.  She could have killed him but instead chose to mentor him and make him her partner.  A techspert and self-proclaimed nerd, Johnny's skills gets Dutch into all kinds of places, from palaces to sewers.  She has the heart to go into any Hell because she trusts that Johnny will be able to get her out again.  Emotionally, they are tied tighter than any couple, but there's no attraction between them except that of chosen family.  They are siblings bound by love and shared history rather than DNA.

One of the other facets I find fascinating about Dutch is her constant questioning of herself and her motives.  She knows that she was raised abnormally and worries constantly about slipping into becoming a sociopath.  Her constant reality checks give her character a surprising maturity and insight.  It would have been very easy to make her into an anti-social loner, but instead she takes the harder road of staying as a part of society while still knowing she can never be entirely comfortable within it.

Hannah John-Kamen's portrayal of the character is beautifully nuanced, with tiny moments of hesitation and tensed lips saying just as much as the big gestures and grand speeches.    The character is a consummate actress, able to play any role from a regal aristocrat to a lost thief.  Even "Dutch" herself is something of a role: the confident, competent hunter and killer.  But it's the moments between roles, when we see the glimpses of loneliness and uncertainty that make her real and admirable.  She's not a superwoman, she's a woman who is facing overwhelming and frightening odds and is choosing to get the job done and help where she can, while trying hard not the let the scars of failure grow too thick.

The damaged heroine seeking redemption is a character that has long resonated with me but with Dutch, it's a slightly different twist.  She's not looking for redemption.  She doesn't seem to believe that redemption is possible for her.  Instead she's looking for something a little more tangible and in the moment: a chance at a few stolen moments of happiness in between the challenges of trying to make the world a little more right.  She isn't pushing the world away in an attempt to stand strong on her own.  She knows she's strong and knows that isolation would only make her unhappier and more dangerous.   She's open to love, even knowing that it opens her to hurt as well.   And that takes much more courage than any amount of kicking ass.

(Keep on reading for more information on next month's Heroine Fix and a special offer on my own books.)

I hope you've enjoyed my take on Dutch and that you'll consider hanging around to check out some of the other fun things I've got going on in my website.

My first damaged and seeking redemption heroine, Dani, is a burlesque dancer who can bend steel with her bare hands and who needs to hold back the ancient monster hiding deep in her soul.  You can try the first novel in my paranormal romantic suspense series, Revelations, for only 99 cents US across all platforms.

Or you can take a look at last month's Heroine Fix when I looked at the ladies of Ready Player One and how the world of the Oasis gives the freedom to be whoever you want to be.

Or take a peek at last week's post about the one skill that every writer needs right now: patience.

Or check out my Hidden Diamond feature, where I share some of my fellow authors who write amazing strong female characters, fast-paced romantic suspense and reality-twisting paranormal romance and speculative fiction.

Or you can just visit my blog for weekly updates on my writing and my thoughts on all kinds of subjects.

Next month, I'll be looking at Evey from V for Vendetta.  Some heroines are determined to be great right from the first minute or page.  Others, like Evey, find themselves caught up in overwhelming situations and become stronger than they ever imagined they could be.  Join me on October 11th for your next Heroine Fix.

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