One of the things I wanted to look at in The Dangerous Type and its sequels was the idea of female friendship. I wanted to capture how women change and grow together over the years.
The model for the friendship between Raena Zacari and Ariel Shaad is the friendship I have with Martha Allard. I met Mart in 8th grade history, but we didn’t get to be friends until 9th grade, when we were both reading the novelization of Star Wars. We’d both seen the movie over the summer with our parents. We’d both fallen in love with it. Before long, we were writing stories about it. When we were in college, Mart published a zine of those stories called Tales of the New Republic.
Before that happened, Mart and I joined the Flint Area Writers Club together. We wrote a novel together. We’ve read practically every draft of every story either of us has written individually. I published her essays in Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect and Death’s Garden. She published one of my stories in Out of the Green.
Mart sang at my wedding and propped me up through my brother’s funeral. She’s taught me how to speak up, how to live unapologetically, how to care for people fiercely. She probably doesn’t know what a role model she is to me.
The largest chasm between us is that Mart moved back home to Michigan more than 20 years ago. She tried living in Southern California a couple of times, but family called her home. While I still think of the farm where I grew up as the Home Place, my home has been in San Francisco for the last 27 years. Mart hasn’t even seen the house I’ve lived in since 2000.
That schism is mirrored in Raena and Ariel. After the Human/Templar War is over, Ariel returns home. She still lives in the villa where she grew up. She takes care of her elderly mother. She’s raised her adopted kids. Whenever Raena comes by, though, Ariel welcomes her as if she’s come home — even though both of them know she can never stay.
Ariel and Raena’s friendship, like mine and Mart’s, goes back to childhood. The year that Ariel turned 12 — the age of legal majority on Callixtos — her father bought her a bodyguard: Raena. Raena had grown up in a Humans First! cult, being trained to fight for the Empire. The transporters who had been supposed to deliver her to a chapter house for more training sold her into slavery instead. Ariel thought Raena was an android at first, but when she discovered her bodyguard was human, she did her best to befriend her.
Raena says at one point in The Dangerous Type, “Did I ever have anything I didn’t share with you?” And Ariel can’t think of anything or anyone.
As the relationship gets explored further in Kill By Numbers and No More Heroes, it becomes clear that these two are each other’s primary relationship in the galaxy. Each of them builds themselves a new family. Each dates men — or lizard men, at least. Still, their real soulmates — the person with whom they could share any secret, the person for whom they would drop everything to help — are each other. Their friendship has been tested by time and torture and death, but the one solid constant in their lives is each other.
Which is why I dedicated The Dangerous Type to Mart.