Deep Thoughts

One Cool Mother

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK today, and I’ve been thinking about fictional Mums.

I think I under use the mother-daughter (or mother-son for that matter) relationship in a lot of my projects. It is, by its very nature, a breeding ground for conflict of pretty much every sort. Just for starters, there’s the aspirational mother, who expects great things of their child and will never be satisfied with anything less than perfection. There’s the absent mother, who cares more about their own life than their child’s. There’s even the loving mother, who, even if she’s great in pretty much every way, will still have her own values and expectations – and if the child truly loves and adores her, it’s even more heartbreaking to let her down.

In the book I’m editing at the moment, Mum isn’t a huge feature in my heroine’s life. She has a much closer relationship with her Dad. But given that the father-daughter relationship is torn apart as part of the plot, I think I need to weave in a growing relationship with Mum as the one with Dad begins to disintegrate.

In a lot of fiction, it’s easier to have parents as a distant inconvenience, or gone completely. If they’re present in the plot, they’re usually causing trouble for the protagonists. Maybe in my next project, I’ll write a loving, supportive mother, just like mine. One my heroine will be devastated to let down – only to discover that Mum still loves her anyway. Because that’s what mothers do.

What about you? Who are your favourite fictional mothers? And how do you use Mums in your books?

3 thoughts on “One Cool Mother”

  1. You’re like… in my head. I had an idea yesterday while at the local RWA convention. I’ve been trying to figure out how to add yet more conflict to my horrorish thriller I want to write for the May Boot Camp – and then it hit me. Why not make it YA? Granted, my heroine’s family isn’t going to add too much conflict to the story, but the hero’s will be up in arms about everything and the whole situation will force him to make very tough choices.

    It does seem like a lot of books ignore the parental units as part of their YA/middlegrade stories. The last few I read, they weren’t even plot points. Even Beastly, which I loved, and had a very poor relationship with the father, found a way to get him out of the picture. I think incorporating families and the conflict going against what your parents say could make a story better rather than worse. You have to get creative for the characters to do stuff they aren’t really supposed to do, ya know?

  2. It’s an odd omission, really, since at YA age parental conflict is often the most prevalent conflict. Even if it’s just as a side conflict, it’s something most readers can connect with in a way that they can’t with, say, zombie attacks. I’m hoping that weaving in the parental conflict in Sea Fever will give readers something to latch onto in the face of the weird paranormal stuff.

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