In my workshops on writing mystery and suspense I often mention that there’d be far fewer fictional serial killers if it weren’t for fictional mothers screwing up their sons. Not at all fair to real life mom’s but we’re talking about make believe mom’s.
My favorite example is the super crazy and super delusional villain of Thomas Harris’s The Red Dragon. I don’t believe a writer must provide readers with a reason to like or even sympathize with an evil character. I do believe the writer must give us a way to understand the character.
A brief flashback scene does exactly that in The Red Dragon. A scene in a pantry between then young Francis Dolarhyde and his mother. The details are too gruesome to recount here. I will say that after reading this scene we recognize the genesis of the monster adult Francis to come.
The mothers in my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series are nothing like the Red Dragon mom. But they generate story complications anyway. That’s the role of secondary characters. To complicate plot and add more obstacles the main characters must climb over to succeed.
In the first book of my series A Wrong Way Home the heroine Kara’s mother is no longer around. Still she remains a stumbling block from the past that intensifies Kara’s struggle to come to grips with the present.
The hero Matt’s mother Angela is a continuing character. She’s the matriarch of the Kalli family at the center of the series. I want readers to be drawn to her and empathize with her. But if she’s totally likable she won’t work for the story in terms of causing conflict for other characters.
Angela is a strong woman – mostly in ways we admire and her son loves her dearly. On the other hand – in a past incident he knows nothing about – Angela overstepped a boundary she should have respected. Matt and Kara are now paying the price of his mother’s intrusiveness.
BUT – the story is stronger because of it. More conflicted. More complicated. Creating more trouble for the characters we care most about. Thank heaven for conflict/complication/struggle producing mama’s. (Find A Wrong Way Home at www.amazon.com/author/aliceorr.)
And wait until you see the plot twists two of these mothers come up with in Book 2.
A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Launches with summer on June 22nd at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 13th novel and there are moms thickening the plot for sure. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com