Our Mothers, Ourselves, Our Fiction

After reading The Worried Man, a friend who’s also read my other books pointed out that my main characters’ mothers aren’t exactly warm and fuzzy.

It’s true.

Like a lot of women, my mom and I clashed over many things. What comes through in my fiction are larger than life echoes of those conflicts.

Unfair as it is, the things I admire most about my mom — and there are a lot of them — usually find their way into other characters.

Conflict Conflict Conflict

Storytelling requires conflict. Because of that my protagonists typically have challenging relationships with family members, face situations that make it hard for those around them to support them, or both.

When Tara in The Awakening Series tells her mother she’s pregnant and yet remains a virgin and doesn’t know how this could’ve happened, her mother assumes her daughter is having trouble taking responsibility for her choices.

Also, Tara’s mom is generally hard on her daughter.

Lynette had a difficult childhood. She simultaneously strives to create a better life for her daughter yet envies what she sees as Tara’s easier life and greater opportunities.

Quille, the heroine of my Q.C. Davis mystery/suspense series, has a mom who is essentially not there for her. She has suffered from depression all of Quille‘s life and as a result really never connects with her daughter. Quille‘s grandmother, though, steps in to help raise Quille and remains a tremendous support for her.

In Gram, I instilled many of the things I admire about my mom. Her practicality, reliability, and her determination to raise Quille to be an independent, healthy person all remind me of my mom.


I’m still recovering from a broken foot (and still in a cast) so I continue to catch up on reading novels and listening to audiobooks, including non-fiction. Right now I’m finishing The Confidence Code: The Science And Art Of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know.

While I’m not sure I agree with everything in the book, it has made me see the positive ways my mom influenced choices I made and successes I had.

Try And Try Again

One of the best messages my mom conveyed was about trying and failing. Whenever I didn’t achieve what I wanted, my mom’s answer was that what mattered was not winning but doing your best.

If I tried out for a play and didn’t get the part I wanted, or a part at all, but I had prepared well, showed up on time, and put my whole heart into it, she told me I ought to feel proud of myself. And if I really wanted to be in a play in the future I should keep trying. If I hadn’t done my best, then the next time I better do that and I’d have a better chance of getting the results I wanted.

She also pointed out to me people who hadn’t been good at things to start out — who hadn’t been a “natural“ — and who later excelled.

As a result, when I started learning to play guitar, I didn’t expect to be amazing right away. I knew it would take many hours of practice. I also knew that anyone who was really good had put in those hours.

No Easy Way Out

My mom also set high standards, and she didn’t hesitate to say so if she thought I hadn’t met them. In some ways, that led to me being a bit of a perfectionist, something I have struggled with. But overall, I still feel it was a good message. What she was telling me was that I could almost always do better.

She also taught me not to coast.

When I was little my mom thought I seemed pretty sharp. She started teaching me to read almost before I could talk.

By the time I started school, I was already reading books a few grades ahead. This made my classes pretty boring, but that only caused my mom to push me to enter experimental programs and to try to find more challenges.

Sitting back and taking it easy was never considered to be a good option. There was always more to be learned.

That more than anything is what I appreciate, whether it makes it into the mothers in my novels or not.