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The Dark Mother in Books and Movies

Just as a warning, this post contains dark imagery and unsettling pictures. Viewer discretion is advised. 

 

I love tropes. I know other people have mixed feelings about this, but I find them fascinating. While diving too far into tropes can become cliche, every writer uses them. Just one look at tvtropes.org, and it’s almost impossible not to.

So to celebrate tropes, I’m picking a few of my favorite to highlight in my Writing Wednesday posts. I’ll do one a month until I get tired of it, maybe more if people have suggestions for tropes they enjoy.

Today’s trope is….

The Dark Mother

With every trope or archetype, there is a dark side, and if there’s one archetype I love the most it’s that of the Dark Mother. She’s a force to be reckoned with and can be any caretaker or mother figure with dark intentions.

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Patron Saint of Last Nights Tears 5×5 oval oil by Jasmine Worth

 

Examples in Literature –

The Other Mother – Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Evil Stepmother/Queen – Every fairy tale ever
Cathy Ames/Kate Trask – East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Norma Bates – Psycho by Robert Bloch
Margaret White – Carrie by Stephen King

Examples in Movies –

Alien Den Mother – Aliens
Stephanie Smith – 8 Mile
Mary Jones – Precious
Queen Bavmorda – Willow

Why do I love this trope so much?

www.liransz.com
Mother Catrina by liransz on Deviant Art

Mothers are supposed to be loving and caring. They’re our caretakers, who we learn love from, and when we have nothing, we’re supposed to be able to count on them to be there for us. As someone who’s a fan of flipping tropes on their head, the idea of a Dark Mother, one who gives life, but also takes it, has always been fascinating. She’s strong, but in a wicked way, and is morally compromised at every turn.

I hope to do her justice in some of my future novels, both as an antagonist, and as the powerful female figure she is.

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Aura by Lourdes Saraiva Art https://www.facebook.com/l.saraiva.illustrator

 

Which mother do you prefer in your movies and novels? The Light or Dark? Who’s your favorite example of a Dark Mother?

What’s your favorite “How To” writing book?

I’ve been picky about what “how to” writing books I buy lately. Most of them are less about story structure, and more about the nitty gritty parts of writing.

Here are some of my favorite books on writing, but I’m in the market for more. Have any suggestions that improved your writing in any particular area?

16681583_1300483536656800_6852415959332937314_n1. The Emotion Thesaurus
Good for – writing character feelings through their body language.
Lacking in – For a thesaurus, it doesn’t list off as many emotions as I’d hope.

2. Writer’s Guide to Character Traits 
Good for – Nailing down Character behavior regarding their mental status.
Lacking in – It’s one sided and stereotypical at times.

3. Writing from the Senses
Good for – Writing more expressive and meaningful scenes.
Lacking in – It’s a little “How To” and repeats what I’ve read in other books.

4. Plot Vs. Character
Good for – Helps see things from a plot/character writer’s perspective.
Lacking in – Not sure. I really enjoyed this one.

5. Bullies Bastards and Bitches
Good for – Creating fun, deep, well rounded villains.
Lacking in – Can read a little Creative Writing 101.

6. Word Painting
Good for – Explains writing descriptively better than Writing from the Senses.
Lacking in – Not a whole lot. I really don’t have any complaints about this book.

 

Favorite Movies by Year

I saw a friend of mine on Facebook doing a fun project like this. You list the years since your birth with your favorite movie that came out that year. Since I love movies, I figured hey! Why not?

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1989 – This was a tossup between The Little Mermaid and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
The nostalgic side of me says The Little Mermaid, but the goofball side of me who loves Keanu has to go with Bill and Ted.

1990 – Edward Scissorhands, hands down.

1991 – Terminator 2
As a side note, I did watch Drop Dead Fred all the time when I was a kid. Now that I watch it as an adult, I have to go, wow. I didn’t understand this movie at all.

buffy_movie1992 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

1993 – Robin Hoods Men in Tights or Dazed and Confused
What a great year for movies!

1994 – Leon: The Professional

1995 – Seven or Clueless.
Yeah. I know, two very different movies.

1996 – The Birdcage

1997 – The Fifth Element

1998 – Shakespeare in Love or The Truman Show
Like a lot of the movies on this list, these were two movies I didn’t see until I married my husband and we combined our movie collection. You caught me. I only married him for his choice in movies.

1999 – The Talented Mr. Ripley

2000 – Chocolat
I missed out on a lot of movies that came out this year. I am way behind on these greats.

2001 – Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
I love Lord of the Rings. Just assume that if a LotR movie came out, it’s at the top of that year, but I’m choosing to pick another to be fair.

2002 – Treasure Planet
This one was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up and had a special place in my heart. I really think it’s underrated.

2003 – Pirates of the Caribbean

2004 – Shaun of the Dead
I have an irrational fear of zombies,but I loved this movie. Pegg and Frost are my favorite comedy duo.

2005 – Serenity or Sin City
I’m one of those people who didn’t know anything about Firefly until Serenity came out. I saw Serenity at a friend’s sleepover, and it wouldn’t be till 2011 that I saw the first episode of Firefly.

2006 – Pan’s Labyrinth
First movie to kick off my love of del Toro

2007 – Hot Fuzz
I actually really enjoyed The Mist, and a few other less popular movies from this year, but Hot Fuzz is still my favorite 2007 flick.

2008 – The Dark Knight
This was a pretty disappointing year of movie for me. Thankfully I was saved by Heath Ledger’s Joker and Iron Man. Too bad that Indiana Jones movie we were promised never came out. . . yep. Too bad.

2009 – District 9
Now, I know Avatar came out this year, and I enjoyed it the first time I watched it, District 9 aged better with me, and I rewatch it more than any other film this year.

2010 – Robin Hood
What a confusing year for movies! They were either great, or a total bust. I have to admit, Legion is on my guilty pleasure movie list. But again, too bad that Avatar the Last Airbender movie we were promised never came out. . . yep. Too bad.

2011 – Midnight in Paris

2012 – Life of Pi
I’m not going to be stereotypical and say “The book was better”, but the movie had some great parts. I also enjoyed Les Mis and Rise of the Guardians, but I think Life of Pi had the biggest impact on my life.

2013 – Pacific Rim
I wasn’t thrilled with this year movie wise. I know some will say BUT FROZEN! But it didn’t connect with me very well.

2014 – John Wickjohn_wick_teaserposter
I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel and Guardians of the Galaxy, but come on. Keanu revenging the death of a puppy? With action sequences that put every other action movie to shame? John Wick all the way.

2015 – Ex Machina
This movie is fantastic. If you haven’t seen it, go look for it.

2016 – Deadpool

2017 – I haven’t seen any of the new movies this year. I would love to see Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, King Arthur, and Life. There are more than those, but those are off the top of my head!

Disagree with any of my picks? Have a different movie that came out during one of these years that was your favorite? Comment below!

Book Review #2 – Hades

Occasionally, I find myself wandering down the paperback book aisle in the grocery store, just to see what’s there. Often times, I’m met with shirtless cowboys promising to sweep a gal off her feet, burly warriors in kilts with a woman tossed back in his arms, or old novels that sold well in their time that I either already have or didn’t want to read in the first place. I was pleasantly surprised to find something different when I saw Hades. Something that wasn’t a romance. Something darker.

Hades tells the story of Frank Bennett, a detective with more than one skeleton in his closet and his new partner, Eden Archer. Dark haired, big eyed, and mysterious, Frank makes it his goal to figure Eden, and her brother Ethan, out.

When bodies stuffed in boxes turn up on the bottom of the ocean, Frank has to catch a killer while trying to uncover secrets from his partner’s past.

I’m going to tell you right off the bat, if you like Dexter, both as a television show and as a book, and/or anything Hannibal Lecter, this book is for you. For her debut novel, Candice Fox builds crime scenes with the best of them, and for an author’s debut novel, she blew me away.

The novel builds tension beautifully, and you can’t miss Fox’s sense of humor shining through Bennett. She knows when to throw in a dark joke, and captured the way cops act at a crime scene with an authenticity that many miss. Not only that, but Bennett’s a man’s man. Fox wasn’t afraid to make him an alpha male with more than one “meathead” layer. He knew what he was doing, but could rely on his smart, yet occasionally odd partner.

While I enjoyed Bennett, with his cocky attitude and a nose for trouble, I still found myself eager to get to the parts with Hades. An anti-hero with a soft spot for kids, Hades outshone every other character. He and Ethan, Eden’s somewhat unhinged brother, were by far my favorite to read about. And while I know I probably shouldn’t like Ethan, I enjoyed every action he took (even if I don’t condone them).

Eden spent most of the novel silently watching, or ignoring Bennett’s jabs, and I was left feeling like I never got past the surface of her character until the very end. That being said, this was due to the fact that everyone was an unreliable narrator when it came to her. Hades and Bennett both are outsiders to her world, and it wasn’t until the ending did Fox let a side of Eden come out that I was dying to learn more about. And really, I loved the way she slowly showed her hand. It kept me curious, and intrigued me enough to go out and buy the sequel, entitled Eden.

As for the writing itself, Fox knows how to craft a scene by focusing on the small details. When things are crumbling, sometimes quite literally, around the protagonists, Fox doesn’t focus on the blood or the violence. She writes about the flow of the hair as it halos around a young girl’s face or the light catching on something so small, it should’ve been missed. It creates a haunting image on the page that actually had me at one point go, “NO!”.

Overall, I’d buy Hades in a signed hardback edition, if I could track one down. That’s just how much I enjoyed it. While my husband is glad I’m done with this book (I have to admit, I had more than one outburst reading this book, and even forced him to listen to me read passages aloud), I’m not. I can’t wait to start the sequel, and say if you’re looking for a new author who’s been up and coming over the past three years, check out Hades.