Sunday, April 27, 2014

How does your Mom stack up to fictional moms?

How often do you read books where the mom has any real part in the plot?  With all the Young Adult books out there, the general idea behind most stories seems to be that the main characters don’t have parents or the parents aren’t that involved in the story.   Harry Potter’s parents are dead, Katniss’ mom in the Hunger Games pretty much checked out after her husband passed away, and none of the characters in the Maze Runner even remember their parents, much less know if they are still alive or the walking diseased.

In many of the mystery books I read, the main character may have parents involved in the story, or they may not.  For the most part, parents really aren’t involved.  If it doesn’t move the story along, there’s really no reason to include parents other than to give the main character more depth or to give the readers something to relate to. 

In the mystery series I’m deep in the middle of, where I’m now writing my third novel, my main character has parents and they are warm, loving and always there for her when she needs them.  But Jorja learns in “No Mother of Mine” that there’s a secret behind her birth and who her parents really are and her world is changed in one moment when she learns the truth behind what actually occurred on the day she was born.  In “Best Kept Secrets” the story of Jorja’s past continues to unfold as she finally learns the truth about her father.  During the series, Jorja has to try to come to terms with what happened and what her birth mother was capable of but it’s a process and not something she’s likely to really understand until further in the series, if at all.  Even if Jorja never quite understands, my plan is to work it out for myself and the readers by eventually writing a prequel to the series to involve the story behind her birth parents.  It’s an idea in the works, anyway.

In “No Mother of Mine” we also met Kat, who hires Jorja to find the mother who abandoned her and her father when Kat was just a toddler.  The result of Jorja’s investigation shows us that the past is not always what it seems to be.  In “Best Kept Secrets” we not only get to know more about Jorja’s father, but we follow the stories involving two other families, with mothers who desperately act to save their children and fathers who only put shame to their titles of father and husband.  Not all parents are like the parents Jorja grew up with…many are like my other characters; full of rage, hate, greed, jealously, and fear.

Why did I decide to use parents in the series?  Because parents are the core of our being…it’s why we’re here, whether the parents we live with gave birth to us or not. 

Another reason my stories involve parents is that it’s usually family which propels us towards whatever future we finally etch out for ourselves.  How we are raised, who we live with, the experiences we’re involved with as children, who we look up to or who we fear…all these things eventually play a part in what we do with our lives, whether it can be easily explained or not.  Some grow up with a good family life and continue on in that tradition with their own families; while others are brought up in happy, healthy homes yet somehow turn into what the media will later label as a monster.  Those who knew only fear as children might vent their rage on others in an attempt to shed the anger buried deep inside them while others may face those fears with defiance and a determination not to force the same abuse on their own children or spouse.

Of course, there’s more to family than just our parents.  In my third novel family is still key, with one story involving brothers, another a stepson and stepmother and yet another is about an aunt who finds herself in hot water.  While I enjoy writing about Jorja as she investigates each case, it is the story behind the story involving what makes families tick that I also like to touch on and what I hope readers also enjoy. 

It all seems kind of heavy for just a mystery series but my books have never been just about a mystery series for me.  They are a way for me to express myself and to share with others the stories, characters and emotions I believe many can relate to or may have strong feelings about.  While as a writer I do hope others enjoy what I have to share, it’s also important to remember this quote to avoid the risk of losing the passion behind the reason:

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” 
~Cyril Connolly~

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