Friday, May 10, 2013

Where's a Bat When You Need One?

by Sue Ann Jaffarian

I'm so excited about this week's question because I've just completed a second book featuring Odelia Grey's mother, Grace Littlejohn.

#5 Grace's 1st appearance
When Odelia was just sixteen she came home from high school to find her alcoholic mother MIA - no note, no nothing.

I still remember the day I came home from high school to discover my mother had moved out – lock, stock and vodka bottle. There was no note, no forwarding address, not even a prior clue that this might happen. One morning I left for school. She was getting ready for work, as usual. When my day was over, I returned to find her and all her personal items gone. I lived in our apartment alone for nearly a month, wondering if she’d return, half-hoping she wouldn’t, but not daring to call anyone. I even paid the rent out of my savings account to avoid having to call my dad. On the surface, I was sure she’d be back as soon as her bender was over. In my heart, I knew she wouldn’t be. I wasn’t a favorite handbag she’d simply forgotten. I was old baggage she didn’t want to lug around anymore.
Tough stuff for a 16 year old to handle.  Odelia went to live with her father and crazy step mother until she was 18, then hit the trail of independence. She didn't see her mother again until she was 50 years old, when her father passed away and among his things was a clue to her mother's whereabouts.

Even though readers know the story of Odelia's missing mother from the beginning of the series, Grace first shows up as a full character in Corpse On The Cob, the 5th Odelia Grey novel. She has a new family, is sober but not very likable, and offers no apologies for the abandonment of her daughter.  To complicate matters, the first time Odelia sees her mother in over 30 years, she's hovering over a dead body.

Odelia is tough-minded and independent, she's also used to being on her own, having had to carve her own path most of her life. Nothing was ever given to her. Her parents' volatile marriage and divorce, her mother's alcoholism and disappearance, and her father's marriage into a bullying family, all helped mold her, for better or for worse. When Odelia marries, is it any wonder she finds it difficult at first to see herself as part of a couple - a united we instead of a solitary I.

Grace's next appearance -
Out December 2013
I brought Grace back in Secondhand Stiff, the 8th Odelia Grey novel, which will be out December 2013. Since the 5th book, Odelia and Grace have stayed in touch and Odelia has become quite close to her stepbrother, Clark Littlejohn. Grace is still cantankerous and prickly and still offers no apologies for her past behavior, but she's making an effort to be part of Odelia's life and vice versa. In Secondhand Stiff, Grace is visiting Odelia for Thanksgiving and insists on getting involved in Odelia's snooping when a body is found in a storage locker.  It makes for both a funny and tearful reunion.

“Are you allowed to eat that?” I asked my mother. “Don’t you have a cholesterol problem, like Clark?”

Mom turned on me and said loud enough for the woman and her son to hear, “You don’t see me counting your calories, do you, Chubs?”
I swear, if there had been a bat close by, I would have been tempted to take a swing. I’m not sure at what since I wouldn’t want to rot in jail for matricide, but surely I could find something to hit that would only result in a vandalism charge.

I stepped up to the window. “Make hers a double, extra cheese and butter.”
The woman shook her head and laughed. “Mothers. They always have a hold on us, don’t they?”

Yes, they do...

And now for some shameless BSP:

In addition to the Odelia Grey mysteries and the Ghost of Granny Apples mysteries, I write a digital short story series - Holidays From Hell.  And, yes, I have a Mother's Day story!  It's called Pull My Paw, available for only 99 cents from Amazon.

A dog with a flatulence problem wasn’t high on Judy Bowen’s wish list of Mother’s Days gifts, no matter how cute the canine. So imagine her surprise when the spa gift her eldest daughter, Norma, usually gave her was substituted with a little dog named Crankshaft who suffers from tummy trouble.


Catriona McPherson said...

Great post, Sue Ann. Your gal's mother beats mine, I think! "Chubs"?!

Meredith Cole said...

Wow! That is quite a backstory, Sue Ann. And your mother's day story sounds like a hoot!