The Real Life Villain, a Femme Fatale to take to the Bank

Therapy is so expensive and a good therapist hard to find. When I had a good (meaning: good paying) job in a big cold city. I spent quite a bit of time in therapy. Being a Young Widow is a sideline for which no one is prepared and Grief is a job skill that is kind of fuzzy in its requirements. But, if you had health insurance, a $5 copay meant you didn’t cry in your beer at pubs with your girlfriends, which defeated the purpose of finding men to date, marry and have kids. Looking back, it was the pubs that were our first mistake resulting in the men who were the second, third and etc mistakes!

I gave up on therapy when my last therapist told me: “Ah, I have found your problem! Your inner child is an idiot.” Okay, first, he was a Jungian dream analyst, who thought I was great fun and very entertaining…

Life is good but it can be littered with a lot of antagonists:

  • A mean neighbor who was head cheerleader 30 yrs ago and still has her mean-girl posse
  • The narcissist mother-in-law who knows her son could have married better and keep firing cris-seeking torpedos at me from NY
  • The women who are super friendly but are really just curious –they summarily reject you, leaving you feeling like Quasimodo.

mata hari as the archetype femme fataleI have worked too hard to get free of a bad career choice, marry a great guy (sorry N-MIL) and a make beautiful home to let these women get me down, so what to do with these Femme Fatales?

French for ‘deadly woman’, the femme fatale is a fun ingredient to any story. I love to analyze them, create lists of their evil powers, which are used to torment the heroine, I do a character sketch. And voila, they are like canned peaches in the basement, ready for when needed. Imagine jars of Lady MacBeth, the Snow Queen, and my favorite Cruella de Ville –who I saw with my Mother at my first afternoon matinee. Unlike Disney, my heroines are not gorgeous brunettes but blondes… that’s just the hand I was dealt!

Since, I have two dashing men vying for hero in my current book, I get to use the evil mother in law twice. Since, she is so complex and yet so tragically predictable -she has more than enough to split between two men. Also, I found dividing a nemesis in half is oddly satisfying.

    Characteristics of the Anti-Heroine:

  • She is super friendly, but it is deceptive.
  • She is tall and stands close enough to look down on you.
  • She has a pert perky nose that doesn’t fit her aging face.
  • She is one of the 35 shades of blonde on a hair-color box.
  • She wears expensive jewelry, always a gift from her perfect husband.
  • She lets you see her take down an innocent, so you will fear her.
  • She has her minions ‘warn’ you of vague reasons you are in her bad book.
  • She always narrows her eyes at you when you are together.
  • She hurts you in private, so people only see your shallow response.
  • She can make an athlete feel fat.
  • She will joke about your flaws to friends pretending to be amused.
  • She is hurt and garners sympathy when you try to defend yourself.
  • She thinks she can nibble away at the ground under your marriage.

I actually like these characters, they are so much fun to write. Sometimes, it was only a bad first-impression and they later become great friends. Other times, ‘they give women a bad name’ –they are perpetuate stereotypes and create bad role models for young girls. Everyone wants to be the popular mean-girl cheerleader and not the quiet geek, right? Well, that’s wrong and we can change it, at least in a book.

So, the next time someone cuts in line, gossips to you neighbors or tells the family that you’ve ruined their son’s life. Open your character sketch file and smile, they’ve added more coins to your literary collection box!

For more fun, check out this list in the Halifax Reader, Evil Women in Literature.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanette Grey
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 13:42:56

    Oh yes! Evil women are so much fun to write! I love channeling the queen from Snow White when I get to do a villainess’s dialog 🙂


  2. CristineGzr
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 15:34:12

    LOL, that must be fun to watch, but at 5’1″ I’d be afraid to get too close 😛


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