Wednesday, May 8, 2013

If you wanna find hell with me...

"Describe your protagonist’s mother. How did her influence help shape your protagonist into the hero he or she became?"

Yikes. This week's question is a doozy. I mean, I get the Mother's Day angle and all, but some of us Criminal Minders write dark fare indeed, so whatever our attitudes toward our own mothers (hi, Mom!), our characters aren't likely to've sprung happy and well-adjusted from stable, supportive homes.

Sam Thornton, the hero (antihero?) of my Collector series, is a bit of an outlier as far as mystery protagonists go. See, Sam died back in '44, felled by an emissary of hell as a result of the devil's bargain he made to save his dying wife. And ever since, he - much like the man who killed him - has spent his days collecting the souls of the damned at hell's behest.

Sam doesn't think about his birth-mother much; she's part of a life he's long since left behind. But that's not to say he doesn't have a mother-figure. His handler, Lilith, is at once his boss, his mentor, his jailor, his confessor, his occasional antagonist, and quite possibly his closest friend. She also happens to be the physical embodiment of lust and carnal sin, so it's a minor miracle poor undead Sam doesn't have more issues than Oedipus and Norman Bates combined.

Those who've read DEAD HARVEST and THE WRONG GOODBYE are well aware Sam and Lilith's relationship is a complex one to say the least. But believe me when I tell you, you ain't seen nothing yet. The third book in the series, THE BIG REAP, focuses in part on the genesis of their relationship. It brings us back to Sam's first shaky days in hell's employ. To his first encounter with Lilith. To his first, and maybe most epic, collection ever. And when you see how it goes down, you'll understand why he never calls, never writes...
A note about my post's title: it's taken from Glenn Danzig's cheesy, awesome shock-rock single "Mother." It seemed appropriate for Sam and Lilith's particular brand of dysfunction. Personally, I prefer Sleater-Kinney's barn-burning riot grrl cover of the song to Danzig's corny macho posturing, but alas, YouTube failed me when I tried to find an S-K version of any quality. So, that said, enjoy the original:


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Yikes, indeed! Talk about the mother from hell, literally.

Chris said...

I know! I feel like I failed at a heartwarming Mother's Day post, but Sam's story ain't the heartwarming kind.

That said, Lilith is not without her charms, and she does care for Sam in her own peculiar way. She's just had a rougher go of it than most, what with being thrown out of Eden and all:

Sarah said...

Chris you worry too much this is perfect for Mother's day!

Enough with the corny hallmark cards and cheesy flowers as a mother of a four year old with one in the oven due any day, I would much rather contemplate the troubled relationship between Sam and Lilith.

Let's face it compare to that I am a saint and what could be a better realization to have on mother's day then the knowledge that I could be doing so so so much worse!

Chris said...

Well said, Sarah! Take heart, mothers of the world: at least you're not an evil minion of hell!