NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Monday, February 21, 2011

Characters Without Blood



We all have them from time to time.  How often have you seen an inanimate object play a prime role in a novel? Some notable lifeless characters that come to mind are Wilson, the volleyball and even Linus's blanket.  


As a child, the believability of inanimate characters is nurtured by fantasy. Herbie the Lovebug seemed completely feasible to me at the time, and my brother will testify that the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard far out-acted the leading characters. 

In romantic suspense, heroes or heroines sometime host inanimate characters.  Perhaps a doll that holds enough significance to warrant its own spotlight-or even a gun that is used with enough frequency to be referenced by name. Some people have pet dogs...who is to say our characters don't have pet weapons? 

In ENDLESS NIGHT, my upcoming Carina release, a house shares equal billing with the two main characters.  Wakefield House sits on a rocky Maine cliff like a gargoyle with its claws sunk into the bedrock. It is riddled with wraith-like sounds and offers the charm and enthusiasm of a funeral home.  

As a fan of gothic romances, the house was critical to me. Do you know what they list as the fundamental element of a Gothic romance?  "The setting is in a castle, preferably connected to or near caves." I'm glad they got specific on that!!! Well, I don't have a castle, nor do I have any caves, but Wakefield House offers enough atmosphere to qualify. It definitely would not be the first time a building took top-billing. Perhaps the best example would be the hotel in the "Shining", although one could make the argument that "The Overlook" was indeed alive. 

Can you think of any other famous inanimate characters?  

15 comments:

Brendan said...

"The setting is in a castle, preferably connected to or near caves." OMG! Another category for my fanciful musings! Gothic. Didn't think of it. Weird, Miss Maureen. My fantasy has a castle on a cliff, overlooking the sea with caves underneath it. Am I a winner? Ha! Ha!

Toni Anderson said...

I think setting can definitely be an in(?)animate character, but famous inanimate objects in stories...
Tara in Gone with the Wind?
Dirty Harry's gun was one I think :)
What about the Declaration of Independence in National Treasure?
And, oh, the Stone of Destiny :)

Fun topic. I can't think of dolls. Not a doll person. They give me the creeps in general.

MaureenAMiller said...

@Brendan - Indeed you are!

@Toni - I second your opinion on dolls, Toni. It was why I mentioned them. I'm not a fan of that clown doll in Poltergeist. Not a fan at all! So many years ago and it still bothers me.

Wynter Daniels said...

Your description of Wakefield House reminds me of Collinwood from Dark Shadows!
In Speed, the bus they were in was a character. New York City is definitely a character in Sex and the City.

MaureenAMiller said...

Yes Wynter, that's what I envision--minus any vampires.

There was a bus in "Speed"? I guess I never took my eyes off Keanu. :)

Julie Moffett said...

If we're talking dolls (pun intended)...Chuckie the evil doll leaps to mind. Disturbing to say the least. :)

I like Toni's suggestion of Dirty Harry's gun.

Of course, there is the ring in Lord of the Rings. That thing had a mind of its own...

C.C.Cole said...

The house described in Anne Rice's "The Witching Hour" to me is as much of the story as the Mayfair witches. I actually got to see that house, which was Anne's house at the time in New Orleans. Seeing the house, the grounds and pool in the Garden District almost placed me back in the book!!

Rita said...

Congrat on the upcoming release
The movie, War Games 1983, with Matthew Broderick, Eagle Eye 2008, Shia LaBeouf the computer played the bad guy in both. The movie Ghost Ship. The ship was a character. The Shotime series Dexter, the blood smears he keeps are character.

MaureenAMiller said...

@C.C. - Walking around New Orleans definitely places you inside an Anne Rice novel. How neat that you got to visit her house.

And Rita, "the blood smears". That is fantastic!!

MaureenAMiller said...

@Julie - One could argue that Chuckie is alive :)

You're absolutely right about the ring.

Shirley Wells said...

Can't wait to read ENDLESS NIGHT now!

Way back when, I wrote a romance/saga that started off with twins being abandoned outside an orphanage in a trunk. That trunk won itself a starring role in the story.

General Lee definitely out-acted the characters. :)

MaureenAMiller said...

Thanks Shirley. And now I need to read the 'trunk' book! :)

Elise Warner said...

How about Jimmy Stewart's Rear Window? Schroader's piano in Peanuts? A widow's walk where vessels are observed. And Cathedrals--wow! This is fun, Maureen.

Kathy Ivan said...

Okay, showing my geekiness. The first thing that popped into my head was Dr. Who and his TARDIS. That blue police box is as much a part of the show as any of the characters. (My sister gave me all 4 seasons plus the specials for Christmas--so I've been having my own mini-marathon of Dr. Who. I guess that's why it sprang to mind first.) :-)

Then there is Star Trek. The U.S.S. Enterprise is an integral character, as well.

MaureenAMiller said...

Elise, that's a good one with "Rear Window"!

And Kathy, we're all geeks at heart. I had forgotten about Dr. Who's box.

The house in Psycho...or heck, even Bates Motel itself. Tara in Gone With the Wind.

Or oh oh...how about Excalibur, or Dorothy's ruby slippers!

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