Monthly Archives: November 2012
It took me a while to figure out what Dark Heroine to write about. Let’s be honest, sometimes you look at an assigned topic and think, “great, a term paper.” But blogs are way more fun than term papers, and I should remember that more often.
For my Dark Heroine, I’m going to chat about Cat. HA! I totes rhymed.
In case you’ve been hiding from everything for the last few years, you’ve heard of Cat and Bones. So you know that Cat is a half-vampire who was conditioned from an early age by her mother to hate the bloodsuckers. In order to “atone” for who she is and what vamp-kind had done to her mom, Cat becomes a vigilante slayer.
Pretty cool, huh?
Jeaniene Frost does an awesome job of making Cat relatable, even though she’s super fucked-in-the-head, especially through the first book, HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE. Through Cat’s mother, she’s come to hate herself, hate where she comes from, hate everything. Even though she’s successful at killing vampires, it doesn’t lessen the burden.
And then she meets Bones. A cocky, badass vampire who puts her in her place, while teaching her to accept herself for who, and what, she is.
And I really kind of dig that. A little self-acceptance is awesome. A lot, even more so.
I mean, who doesn’t have complexes handed down by well-meaning and loving parents? Or other adults? Granted, our fights usually aren’t as deep as hating half of our genetics, but isn’t overcoming early ideas part of the coolest stuff about growing up? I think that’s why I love Cat so much. She overcomes. It’s hopeful, in a stabby sort of way. 🙂
Do you like Cat and Bones? What’s your favorite moment from the series? And please, no spoilers. I don’t think I’ve read the last one yet!
I am mortified to say that not a single dark heroine pops to mind. Maybe it’s my definition of ‘dark’ that’s at fault here. I admit I’d thought of the Firefly heroines mentioned earlier this week. I’d dismissed them. Why?
Because within the context of their situation, each of them is 100% true to her moral code. Aaaaand I realize that maybe that puts my sympathy a little bit far along on the psychopathic scale. But really. In Firefly, most of the lying, cheating, conning, stealing and killing happens when the crew are put in a position of chosing the lesser of two evils. Yeah. In other words, there ain’t no killing of those who don’t sorely need it.
That said, I tried to think of a heroine who embraced her bad without crossing over to becoming the villainess. Clearly, I’m reading the wrong books, seeing the wrong movies and the wrong TV shows. I know of so many more dark heroines who have to be forced into being bad. Think La Femme Nikita or another Joss Whedon show – Doll House. The heroines are compelled/brainwashed/whatever into being what they are.
My heroines usally aren’t dark. Okay. One of them IS an assassin. The fact that the good guys bought her services to protect the hero from another assassin is the only reason she’s doing the moral thing. When push comes to shove, she doesn’t have any compunction whatsoever about strangling her nemesis. She’s the closest I’ve come in my own work to writing someone who defined morality as flexibly as Cashel does (this was in an erotic futuristic called Enemy Mine).
The thing that bothers me is that I can think of so many more dark heroes. Damaged men who’ve built lives and careers out of their deep mental/emotional wounds. Few dark heroes want to change. Some simply can’t – they’re broken on too fundamental a level to ever fix. I have yet to find a dark heroine who matches that. Every single heroine I’ve thought of has wanted redemption and has been capable of attaining it. If she ISN’T capable of change, she dies. Notably, the guys don’t. Is that a double standard?
Now I wonder if I could write a heroine who had a deep fundamental injury that prevents her healing – without having to kill her off…but still make her accessible, sympathetic and fun to hang out with book after book. Hmm.
As is my norm, I’m beginning this post with a little MAN candy for all you MANhandlers out there. Someday I’m going to write a post that simply takes all my delicious photos, posts them in one entry and takes a poll to find out who you all like most. Until then, feast your lovely eyes to the left.
This blog post was remarkably hard to write. The dark heroine I wanted to write is one I can’t discuss because her story line was truly just revealed in a recent release. If you read what I wanted to talk about, it would have ruined it. So who to write about? I tossed characters around in my head until BAM! This particular woman knocked me to my knees for my stupidity. Who is she? Xhex from JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB). Now, yes, I did actually write about another BDB character earlier, but this is different, I assure you. And yes, I am slightly obsessed with the BDB. Moving along…
Xhex is a kick-ass heroine who features in the books from almost the beginning of the series. An empath, she experiences others’ emotions and essentially feeds off of/gets her thrills from them. Suppressing her nature is something she struggles with, not unlike a drug addict might struggle with managing the craving for his next hit. To complicate things, Xhex works in a bar where emotions (particularly violence and lust) run rampant. Her job essentially provides her a nightly smorgasbord of emotions to feast on. It would be like putting a diabetic with a sweet tooth in front of a dessert buffet with all his favorites night after night. Eventually, something’s going to give.
Xhex is a complex character who has a variety of layers. This is the most appealing thing about dark heroes and heroines for me. They aren’t born to lead or save the damsel (or knight) in distress, and they are chock full of prickly characteristics–some hard to take and some flat out impossible to accept. But in there, inside that hard character, is a person waiting for redemption.
I often find it easier to relate to darker heroes and heroines because of their flaws. The perfect character is, to me, difficult to buy in to. She feels false, poorly fabricated even, and it makes it very difficult for me to slip into her shoes and walk that proverbial mile. But give me a heroine who can’t change the fact she has commitment issues due to a dark past or is unable to accept affection because she doesn’t feel worthy and you’ve usually grabbed my brain and dragged it into your story.
How do writers create characters like these? It’s not easy. These characters can, and often do, require a more complex, layered back story that gives the author both breadth and depth of flaws and emotions to draw from. It takes a plausible back story for the reader to accept the character as presented. The character has to have flaws and emotions delivered in a way that leaves the reader not only rooting for redemption, but also believing it’s possible. I know my anti-heroes and heroines have been the most challenging, and most fun, to write. Time will tell if I’ve done them justice.
So what about you? Who’s your ultimate anti-heroine? I could use some suggestions that can be used for character studies. She can be from literature, movies, television–your choice. I can’t wait to get your recommendations!
The women offer a rich cornucopia of different types of anti-heroes, each one forces us to look at the strength and darkness of women through subtle (sometimes not so subtle) plays on traditional female stereotypes. Joss Whedon, producer of Firefly, is a master of this while making each a complete, complex and nuanced individual.
Zoe Washburne is the warrior, the soldier, the rational thinker and the only married woman woman on the ship. In love with her husband yet has a deep and unwavering loyalty to the captain which provides both her dark and her moral edge (think about this and we can see how morality stretched and twisted becomes the heart of–not the shield from– darkness). Zoe follows his orders–no matter what–and she would kill for him. She also never–I mean never–loses her cool.
River Tam–child genius, experimented on and manipulated, she is turned by the powers that be into the ultimate weapon-unpredictable, psychic, antisocial and potentially very violent. Her brother Simon rescues her from the Alliance and they hide out on Serenity. Much of the crew walks on eggs around her, never sure when she’s going to blow and yet most of her surprises are the insights of a woman who lost her childhood in the most brutal ways imaginable.
Inara Serra is our friendly, neighborhood courtesan, a respected profession in the Firefly verse. The irony is that she bestows legitimacy and social standing on this crew of smugglers. If we dig deep into the weeds and whispers of the series, we can find hints of her skill at swordplay, archery and martial arts. Courtesans apparently are also trained fighters. Interesting edges she navigates. She and Mal, the lovely Captain of the Serenity, fight clear feelings for each other, a tension that brings out the nasty in each and Inara is so very capable here.
Kaylee Frye–the instinctual mechanic, innately sweet, she is the moral center of the crew. But as mechanic on a smuggler’s ship, she does learn how to live on those edges, and for Simon, she just might cross them.
For Firefly lovers, how have these woman surprised you? What makes you love them? For those who haven’t seen the show or the movie, take a peek. Its unique. Movie is fun if a little gory, but you get to see River turn weapon which is a sight to behold.
We’ve already discussed dark heroes and I have to say my fellow Darker Temptations bloggers know their dark heroes. This time around we’re discussing dark heroines.
To be honest, I’m not as into heroines as I am heroes. I wonder why? But there are a few that come to mind when I really sit back to think about it. One would be Samantha Caine/Charly Baltimore from The Long Kiss Goodnight. Yeah, you remember this movie, right? It was back in the 90s when Geena Davis was kick ass. She still is kick ass by the way.
It was kind of like a paranormal. Okay, not really, but you have to admit, you spent the entire movie thinking, “What the fuck is going on?”
But she’s not really a dark heroine because we know she’s going to prevail over her darker, deadlier side. Or maybe that was just the optimist in me.
The other dark heroine that came to mind was one I’d written. It still kind of shocks me when I think about Noelani because she’s completely unlike my other heroines. I tend to write light and funny with some darker moments thrown in for shits and giggles. Yet the minute Noelani appeared in my mind, I knew she was going to be trouble.
Yes, I wrote a darker paranormal called Lifestyles of the Fey and Dangerous. Let me rephrase that. It’s a darker paranormal than most people are used to reading from me. Noelani is a shadow fairy assassin. Oh, you know it’s going to be bad when the heroine’s an assassin. Kind of like The Long Kiss Goodnight. Except in this case, Noelani or Shade, knows exactly what kind of monster she is.
Tortured for centuries by a former lover, beaten into submission and betrayed by the people who were supposed to care for her, Noelani is dark and tragic. I wanted so badly to redeem her, to give her a happy ending. She didn’t make it easy though. Sure, she had a hero worth defying orders for. Sure, she was infatuated and in love with him, but her mission only had one outcome. Death for her regardless of which way she went.
Kind of sucks, you know? But in the end, it was worth it to bring her into the light. There was a sense of accomplishment on my part, as though I’d managed something awesome. I wrote Lifestyles two years ago, using it as a therapeutic story I never really intended to see published. Looking back on the growth of Noelani from assassin to heroine…I have to admit that it’s one of my favorite stories and she’s one of my favorite heroines.
If you’re a writer, have you used your books as cheap therapy? If you’re a reader, what are some books you’ve read to remind yourself there’s hope and happiness up for grabs?
I love Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series.
The first book in the series is “Slave to Sensations” and it’s also the first time we meet Hawke Snow, the wolf alpha. He is a secondary character, but you can practically feel the darkness surrounding him. He’s been through hell and he will do anything to keep his pack safe. In one of the key scenes in the first book he makes it very clear he wants no help with his emotional trauma, that he has to carry the burden of what he’s been through. Throughout the series you catch glimpses of him, get an idea of the choices he had to make.
And you meet Sierra, the young Psy who challenges him at every turn, who throws his plans into disarray and disturbs his peace of mind.
From the first time he set foot on the scene I wanted to know his story, needed to find out why this cloud of darkness encircled him. It took another eight books before “Kiss of Snow” came out (and let me tell you the wait was hell, even if Nalini produced more amazing books;), but it made sense as Sierra is only 16 when we first meet her. She needed to grow up a little.
“Kiss of Snow” beat my expectations! I was so worried because I anticipated Hawke’s and Sierra’s story so much, but Nalini did a fantastic job with the story.
It gives us insight into Hawke and more, it explained his back story, why the darkness and why his hesitation to open himself up to Sierra. The adversarial relationship between the pack and the Psy is coming to a head and Hawke and Sierra face huge obstacles and difficult decisions. Both of them have been shaped through their back story and the development you can see in all the other books comes together, making Hawke and Sierra real and relatable.
The book is fantastic and my favourite in the series…so far;). It just shows you Hawke’s growth from when we first meet him to three years later when he is in a position to take something for himself.
If you haven’t read any of Nalini Singh’s books you have to try them. They are AWESOME!
And all her heroes have a touch of the dark side…
I LOVE dark heroes, especially Billy Burke of new tv series Revolution and movies Twilight Saga. Isn’t he absolutely sexy???
Recently I’ve come to love this fellow on the tv series “Revolution”. The series is a post-catastrophe drama scenario about what happens to our civilization when the electricity is suddenly shut off all over the world. Very scary!!
“A group of revolutionaries must battle a governing dictatorial militia 15 years after an instantaneous global shutdown of all electronic devices known as the Blackout.” – IMBD
After the lights went out, our dark hero, Miles (Billy Burke of Twilight Saga) became a militia soldier, working for the bad guys, following orders, kidnapping and training new soldiers as well as killing people. When his teenage niece, Charlie comes looking for him to help her rescue her brother who has been kidnapped by some really bad guys, her uncle Miles, at first plays the dark hero to the hilt by refusing to help her. But then his hero side shines through and he’s off on excellent adventures along with his niece, his ex-flame and other bedraggled companions while they search for his 19 year old nephew.
As the series Revolution progresses we get a deeper look at Miles; at his guilt of killing people and his need to make amends. On several occasions he puts himself in danger, almost sacrificing his life to save others. He really is a cool dark hero. If you get a chance to watch the series, Revolution, you’ll get some good action. Give it a try, especially so you can watch my sexy Miles…yep he’s all mine, so hands off ladies!
If post-catastrophes are your thing – give my post-catastrophe erotic romance menage (m/f/mm) series “the Desperadoes” a try. It follows along similar lines of Revolution of what happens when the lights go out…The Pleasure Girl (Book1), In Her Bed (Book2), Be My Dream Tonight (Book3) at Siren Bookstrand.
Hope you enjoyed my post and thanks for stopping by!!
I had a difficult time coming up with a dark hero I could root for…then it hit me. I love DC comics and have hundreds of issues stacked in my closet. My favorite hero is Batman and he’s dark, very, very dark. I’m not talking about the campy TV version of the ’60’s -“Holy Cow, Batman!”- but the Dark Knight version – the conflicted, angst-filled Batman created by Frank Miller in the 80’s.
Batman is human; a superhero in a bat suit and cape, who doesn’t have Superman powers. He wasn’t transformed into a superhero by some gamma ray or bitten by a poisonous spider. He can’t fly or bend steel, but he has brains, relies on his wits, killer pecs and can fight like hell. He has all sorts of cool boy toys because the dude is rich – who wouldn’t like to do it in the back seat of the bat mobile?
The man is driven. An adrenalin rush junkie for one. And revenge burns in his heart, witnessing his parents gunned down when he was a boy. He is relentless in guarding Gotham City from deadbeats and super villains. Relationships, forget it, he isn’t emotionally available. He’s conceited, demands his way or the highway, cold as a frozen tundra and a loner who hides out in his mansion with his butler Alfred and his sidekick, Robin. (I see a m/m romance brewing in a mansion with only men – LOL)
When meeting up with Batman, any sane woman would turn and run fast as her spiked heels would take her. But only after she’d spent one night in the back seat of his bat mobile!
Happy Reading! Viki
As a child of the Seventy’s, I grew up watching Doctor Who. I loved it; this story of a man with two hearts, who stole a time ship and ran away, who could regenerate into a new body, who chose human companions and showed them the universe. It was a television show that defied the boundaries of time and space and possibility. It was also a show that could be (and still is) very dark at times.
My earliest memory, aside from hiding from Cyberman, is the episode Genesis of the Daleks. Daleks were once humans but adapted for war by Davros, becoming a xenophobic race that wanted to exterminate every other species in existence in a purge of “impurity” that would put Hitler to shame.
When the Doctor finds himself back at the point of their creation, he’s faced with a moral dilemma – allow the most destructive race in the history of the universe to come into being, or become the very thing he wants to stop.
Eventually he decides to walk away, but it was interesting as a child to be presented with that decision and think, for a moment, that the Doctor would kill hundreds to save thousands more. That was the episode that I realised that for all the wonder of the universe, there were still evil things and hard decisions.
When Russell T Davies brought Doctor Who back in 2005, he recreated the Doctor as the survivor of a long and bitter battle – the Time War – which had seen the rest of the Time Lords die. Now the last of his kind, the new Doctor was a harder, angrier hero and his scars ran deep. In episode The End of the World, he brings back the murderous Cassandra and issues his own form of justice – allowing her to dry out and die. This is the regeneration who would, quite possibly, have put those two wires together and wiped out the Daleks.
Things got no better with his next regeneration.
In The Christmas Invasion, the Tenth Doctor’s very first appearance, he battles the Sycorax and, when the leader tries to stab him in the back, he dispatches him with “No second chances. I’m that sort of a man.” Gone is the Doctor with infinite patience, though companion Rose manages to mellow him a little. But when Rose is trapped in an alternative universe, the Doctor – aware that his time is growing short – becomes something else entirely. Breaking the rules for which he’s always stood, he interferes in a “fixed point in time” and saves the first manned mission to Mars (The Waters of Mars), recreating himself as The Time Lord Victorious. After saving three and returning them to Earth, he faces leader Adelaide Brooke and boasts at how good he is, which leads to this exchange
Adelaide: Is there nothing you can’t do?
the Doctor: Not any more.
This defiance only lasts as long as it takes for Adelaide to take control, killing herself and restoring the time line, after which the Doctor realises that he’s gone too far. But Mars is his darkest hour, when he becomes more than a hero. He is the Lonely God, capable of tweaking time itself as he sees fit. When Adelaide shoots herself, he lets go of that terrifying persona, but that darker side is already revealed.
The Tenth Doctor has regenerated again, but the Eleventh, while initially seeming a lighter Doctor, has already suffered a loss. In the recently aired Children In Need special he claims to have “retired” and point blank refuses to help. And in the promotional photos of upcoming Christmas episode, The Snowmen, he appears very much as a Scrooge-like character, lonely and bitter. It’ll be interesting to see if he can be redeemed once more.
Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.
Everyone loves a dark hero and we are no exception. Keira and I invite you to explore the man-pain, angst, and darkly sexy goodness of the following four dark heroes! If you’re a fan of Zuko, Dexter, Guy, or Lex we’d love to hear about what you love the most about them. If you’re not a fan yet, consider becoming a fan! You can catch up on all of these shows either via Netflix, DVD, or other legal streaming options, like Hulu Plus.
Spoiler warning for all seasons of all shows in the vids below.
1. Zuko from Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender.
2. Dexter from Showtime’s Dexter.
3. Guy of Gisborne from Robin Hood BBC.
4. Lex Luthor from Smallville. (Psst, Leta made this fanvideo. It’s probably her favorite fanvid she ever made. JSYK.)
Leta Blake and Keira Andrews write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Earthly Desires, the first book in the series, available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.