Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Importance of Mothers in Crime Fiction

by Vicki Delany
Last week’s question was about mothers.  Because I have a mother, and because I am one it’s is a topic close to my heart so I’ll address it today.

Mothers are important in my books because family is what my books are largely about.  They might be comedic mysteries, police procedurals, gothic thrillers, but someone’s mother, or the memory of her, is in there somewhere.

In my debut novel SCARE THE LIGHT AWAY (just re-released by Harlequin) the protagonist, Rebecca McKenzie, returns home after thirty years absence to attend the funeral of Janet, her mother.  While there, Rebecca discovers her mother’s journals as a WWII English War Bride, and comes to understand Janet and the depths of her courage only after her death.

In my most recent novel, MORE THAN SORROW, the character Hannah is trying to keep the severity of her TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) hidden from her mother, who’s a doctor.  The book is largely about Hannah trying to get her life back after her experiences in Afghanistan, and she tries to pretend to her mother that she’s far healthier than she actually is.

Never try to fool Mom!

In the Klondike Gold Rush series, Fiona MacGillivray is a mother.  Her son, Angus, loves her, but he’s twelve years old and thus almost a man.  She still tries to ‘mother’ him, whereas he thinks he should now be the head of the family.  In the forthcoming GOLD WEB, Angus thinks:

Then again, his mother wasn’t exactly like other women.  Some of the things she knew… Angus didn’t know much about women, but he didn’t think other boy’s mothers carried a knife in the top of their stockings (as he’d seen on the Chilkoot trail) or could unpick a lock with a hatpin as fast as he could blink (the day they’d been accidently locked out of the house).

Still, she was just a woman, and it was Angus’s responsibility as her only male relative to protect her.

Fiona herself lost her both of her parents when she was eleven.  She still thinks of them almost every day.
Which is why a mother can be so powerful. Long after her death, she influences us in so many ways. (Here I am speaking not from experience as my mom is alive and kicking!)  

Molly Smith’s mother, Lucky, is also most definitely alive and kicking.  And closely involved in the politics of their small town, demonstrating against wilderness development, even once, to Molly’s horror, taking part in a riot.

It’s not easy for a cop, knowing that you mom is likely to be involved, on one side or another, in anything that affects your small town.  But Molly’s relationship with her mother is deep, affectionate, sometimes antagonistic, often embarrassing.  But always loving.

Sorta like real life.

My mom, who hasn't embarrassed me since I was Angus's age. Snorkeling in T&C.


Kris said...

What a great post. I hadn't thought about the role of a mother until I read this, and then I went back and reflected upon the reasons why I gave my own protagonist a mother with Alzheimer's. And then I realized how my protagonist's mother has influenced her without her (or me) even realizing it. Exactly as in real life! I will promote this post in my weekly newsletter. Please let me know if you'd like a copy. Cheers,

Vicki Delany said...

I'd love a copy, Kris. Thanks.