Friday, August 13, 2010

Sometimes the best childhood is a miserable one

I had a lovely childhood, aside from the fighting with my siblings, both of them. There were some blips, like the time I threw a really heavy typewriter at my very annoying little brohter. He was 12, I was 14 and he really wouldn't go away! I honestly can't remember what he did, but I remember how heavy that thing was, and how he dodged it pretty easily and how I had been a spoiled brat to even think about throwing something that heavy at someone.

But my characters, well their childhoods are another matter entirely. All my heroines are either orphans, or only children, and none grew up with a strong maternal figure.

I remember another writer(sorry, I'd give credit, but I can't remember)saying that if her heroine had a mother, she'd ask her what to do in whatever difficult situation the author had put her in, and her mother would give her sound advice and the situation would be dissolved. I guess I agree, because mothers do not have a presence in my books.

And I've never come up with a suspense plot where family dynamics play into it, but now that I'm thinking about it, it's a delicious idea...
Because as I anxiously wait for Mockingbird, the last in the Humger Games trilogy, I wonder, would I have loved Katniss as much, had she not sacrficed herself for her little sister?

Now that I think about it, a lot of the suspense books I've read don't have much on family dynamics. Aside from Chevy Stevens, where those dynamics drive so much of the story.

Are there any suspense stories that have emphasis on the hero, or heroine's family?
(for you Stephanie, I'm ending with a question)

10 comments:

Eileen said...

Sinead, I think it's really interesting how many heroines in romance novels are without mothers. I do think it's in part that we often need to create a situation (especially in a suspense novel) where our heroine has no place else to turn except the hero.

As far as that goes, it's not like the mother in Chevy's book was really very mother-like.

I'm wracking my brains for a suspense novel where the heroine has a strong mother figure and am coming up dry.

Stephanie Doyle said...

You have to kill the mother!

If you didn't kill the mother then absolutely she would swoop in and save/fix/clean up the day. At least my mother would.

I also tend to have Daddy issues in my stories. Which is odd because I had the most loving wonderful delightful father on the planet. (My mother issues... slightly different.)

Maybe that's why I let my characters explore that.

Awesome stuff to think about.

Maureen McGowan said...

It's an interesting question. So many romances, never mind suspense novels or thrillers, take the parents, especially the mother, out of the equation.

I think Eileen's right that authors want to remove that source of support for their heroines...

I also think that unless the family dynamics are causing conflict... they can, well, do the opposite and wipe it all away. And then that flattens or kills the story.

That's why I admire the way Molly does family stuff in her stories. It's almost always there to add conflict, not take it away. And yet, the family love still comes through... That's why those scenes make me cry.

And Annie's relatives in STILL MISSING... Definitely all added conflict. No spoilers. Phew.

Eileen said...

Steph, that first line made me giggle. It's a good thing that everyone knows we're talkin' fiction here. That said, it might have to go on the list with "Throw her in the Dumpster!" as sage bits of wisdom I've gleaned from this blog.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Yeah I agree - kill the mom, or give them a terrible one. I finally gave my characters a pretty good mother figure in this series - the grandma while eccentric is loving - but then I realized how boring that was and had to make her do something bad to the heroine.

My folks are great folks - but they're boring as all get out. Most good parents are.

Maureen McGowan said...

Happy Birthday, Molly!!!

Eileen said...

A new release and a birthday all in one week! Go, Molly! Have a fabulous day!

Sinead M said...

Happy Birthday...

and Steph, most of my heroines have daddy issues as well, and I also had a wonderful father...

It's strange where our minds go... I'd never realized till this week that all my heroine's were only children...

Stephanie Doyle said...

Jayne Ann Krentz - who is an author that always brings family stuff into her stories... killed the heroine's parents in nearly every book by plane crash.

"They died in a small plane crash..." Every book!

When I was young and reading these stories set in the Pacific Northwest - I was like oh my gosh how horrible it is for these people who must have so many deaths by plane crash!

That said it will definitely make me think about this the next I have a story idea.

It probably is the same rational for the Disney characters.

Nobody loves to kill the mother like Disney does.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Oh - and Happy Birthday, Molly.

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