Are you a femme fatale?
Would you date one?
Could you outwit one?
Will you die from one?
When I think of a femme fatale, I think of an alluring yet dangerous female. Like a black widow spider, only sexier.
I read an anthology of the century’s best mystery stories, and I was struck by the portrayal of women. Most of the stories had been written by men, and an awful lot of the protagonists were males drawn to that mysterious woman who might be the death of them, but they kept walking toward her anyway.
When O’Neil de Noux, a Shamus award-winning writer, invited me to participate in a Storybundle of femme fatales, I felt like the antithesis of a femme fatale. First of all, as a doctor, my job is to heal, not kill. And because I spend so much energy on studying and working, I end up wearing scrubs (“Yay! I get to wear pyjamas to work!” said my friend and fellow ER doctor, Mai-Anh). I usually wear zero makeup. This is not universal—one of my French female colleagues reapplies her lipstick at 3 a.m. on a night shift—but let’s face it, most of the French are much more femme than I am.
Of course, I could react to the sexlessness of medicine by dolling myself up in my off hours and in my fiction, but I don’t. My brain just doesn’t work that way.
O’Neil helpfully sent me two definitions of a femme fatale.
An attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her. -Oxford Dictionary
A beautiful, seductive, and usually evil female character in drama and literature. She is usually shown as a cruel, man-eating seductress. Men fall victim to her beauty and are eventually brought to ruin by her. -Urban Dictionary
O’Neil added, “If she’s a ‘kick ass’ woman going around shooting people, it doesn’t fit.”
Luckily, my characters and I don’t go around shooting people. See “healer,” above.
In the end, O’Neil put together a wonderful group of books, including mine, Terminally Ill.
Here’s the deal with Storybundle. It’s time-limited: you can only buy it for the next 19 days.
If you pay at least five dollars, you get 4 books.
If you give at least $15, you’ll get all 10 books! You can choose to give a donation to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now. It’s an awesome way to grab a bunch of award-winning writers.
I was amused to see that of the four books in the main Storybundle, two of them refer to doctors and medicine in their opening. Check this out:
It wasn’t supposed to be this easy, watching life seep out of a body. Knowing you were the cause of it. Standing in the motel room, fingers against the carotid, feeling the pulse dwindle to a weak, irregular tremor. Smiling, as his skin became translucent, a bluish tinge to his lips. Not so hard, now, to understand that doctor who helped people die. And sometimes stuck around to watch. Hadn’t someone said at the moment of death, he’d shout at his patients, imploring them to tell him what it was like?
Bubba Goes for Broke
Today he’d prove them all wrong. He wasn’t, as The Boss had said on more than one occasion, “the second or third dumbest fuck in the universe.” Bubba Winslow didn’t think he was even in the top twenty.
Redneck Riviera Box Set
by Julie Smith
They popped him in Alabama that last time, and the first thing Forest did when he got out— after he got drunk and laid— was call his buddy Roy. Roy was out in East Jesus, Florida this time— Forest didn’t quite know where, but it didn’t make much of a damn. It was somewhere to go.
Roy was so tickled to hear from him, he hollered at the phone like it was Forest himself. “Hey, ol’ buddy. Get your ass on over here. Where the hell are you, anyhow?”
“It’s where I ain’t that I’m callin’ about. I ain’t in jail in Alabama.”
“Hey, congratulations, ol’. buddy. Where in Alabama ain’t you.in jail?”
Bad Boy Boogie
by Thomas Pluck
She said to meet him in a train station lot. Jay drove there and waited, listening to an AC/DC mix tape Tony had left in the Challenger until a blue Aston Martin DB9 pulled nose to nose with him.
Ramona grinned above the wheel from behind black shades.
On the highway, she winced at the red marks on his nose and cheek. “If I wanted to help you, I should’ve gone to med school.” She weaved through traffic and drafted behind a box truck, the spy-car’s nose to the bumper.
“Way you drive, it’s good you’re a lawyer,” Jay said. “Maybe you can teach me sometime.”
Ramona wore navy slacks and lipstick that gave her the prim air of a strict schoolteacher. “I trained on the Nürburgring,” she said. “Driving here’s easy. Just expect everyone to behave like a complete jerk or a total idiot.”
And the bonus books
by Lawrence Block <–Grand Master. Winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony Awards.
The Perfect Man
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch <–New York Times bestseller. Edgar nominated. Shamus nominated.
by Steve Liskow <–two-time winner of the Black Orchid novella award. Stories in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. Has published thirteen novels.
by Melissa Yi <–I hope you know who I am. Derringer Award finalist. Writer of the Future. Recommended by CBC Books and The Next Chapter. Recognized nationally on CBC’s The Current.
by Dean Wesley Smith <–USA Today bestseller. Has published over 100 novels. (Stand aside, Steve.)
by O’Neil De Noux <–winner of the Best Police Book of the Year. The Derringer Award. The Shamus Award. The United Kingdom Short Story Prize.
So I hope some of you pick up the femme fatale Storybundle.
As for the questions above, my answers are
Are you a femme fatale? No. Although I could play one on TV, or for Hallowe’en.
Would you date one? If I were single, I’d be open-minded. This is not my usual type, though. I’m not into games, and I hadn’t dated any females before I got married.
Could you outwit one? I think so. Depends how devious she is.
Will you die from one? Hope not. I bet it would be painful.
I’d love to hear your answers, too!