Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere.
Today, rural fiction authors are sharing some insider knowledge on the
mothers and mother-figures in their novels.
Feels Like Home by Lisa Ireland
When celebrity novelist Johanna Morgan surprises everyone by arriving back in Linden Gully three weeks early for her best friend’s wedding, she’s shocked to find her ex-boyfriend Ryan Galloway is back too and well-integrated in the community as the local vet.
Thrown together as attendants at their best friends’ wedding, Jo and Ryan have no choice but to grin and bear all the tension. But it’s not only resentment lingering between them. The attraction is still there, and the heat and the memories.
Sometimes the mother/daughter relationship isn’t perfect. In Feels Like Home, my main character, Jo, has a problematic relationship with her mother and this has been the case since childhood. Jo’s mother, Katherine, is cold and distant and constantly critical of her daughter.
Growing up Jo sought counsel in Jenny, the mother of her best friend. Jenny is the one she seeks out when she needs advice or is looking for comfort. In many ways, Jenny’s advice and example help shape Jo’s decisions, especially towards the end of the book.
I was very close to my mum when I was growing up. But I was also lucky enough to have other adult women in my life who were great role models for me. My mum also formed a strong bond with one of my friends, and she helped shape that young woman into the person she is today.
The character of Jenny pays homage in a small way to all those beautiful relationships, and also fits well with the books theme of family being more than blood.
Feels Like Home is available in eBook and paperback.
The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay
From the wild beauty of the Australian bush to England’s rugged south coast, this is a deeply moving story of heartbreak, heroism and homecoming by a beloved, multi-award-winning author.
As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.
The Honourable Georgina Lenton is a distant but important grandmother figure in my multi-generational novel The Secret Years. We first meet Georgina, known to her friends as George, as she drives with her aunt to Buckingham Palace to be presented to the King in 1939, on the eve of World War II.
When war is declared, George joins the Royal Army Service Corps and meets an Aussie digger Harry Kemp. She gives Harry shelter in the midst of the London Blitz and their paths cross again later in Rabaul when they flee from the Japanese through the wilds of New the Guinea jungle.
Against her parents’ wishes, George marries her Australian soldier, and after the war, she moves with him to his cattle property at Kalkadoon in North Queensland.
Decades later, George and Harry’s granddaughter Lucy knows very little about her grandmother, but when she finds a photograph of a glamorous beauty, she’s fascinated. On leave, after serving six months in Afghanistan and having just broken up with the man she’d planned to marry, Lucy is at a loose end. She travels to England to find out more about her family and a certain mystery that has clearly upset her mother. Learning about George’s bravery is important to Lucy and, on returning to Kalkadoon, Lucy finds the courage to make important decisions about her future with her own handsome hero.
The Secret Years – some family secrets are best set free.
The Secret Years is available in eBook and paperback.
The Other Side of the Season by Jenn J McLeod
Thirty-five years earlier, Watercolour Cove is a very different place.
Life is simple on top of the mountain for David, Matthew and Tilly until the winter of 1979 when tragedy strikes, starting a chain reaction that will ruin lives for years to come. Those who can, escape the Greenhill plantation. One stays—trapped on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found,
and …there’s another side to every story.
Mums! You gotta love ‘em. Then again, some mother/daughter relationships are fraught with angst and emotion. I’ve certainly loved every fictional mum I’ve created and the weird thing is, while I start out writing my family relationship novels with younger characters, it’s always their mums who end up stealing the story. There’s been no better example of a character running amok with a plot than Alice from Season of Shadow and Light until Natalie—the demanding, and deeply troubled mother from my latest release, a story that begins with two siblings—brother and sister—on a road trip to unravel a family secret from three decades ago.
Thirty-five year old Sidney and her mother share a tenuous relationship. They have little in common, or so Sid believes until she learns her mother also picked the wrong man and fell pregnant at the worst time. Sid and her brother joke about their mother being ‘the master of manipulation’, but what Sid uncovers about their family both shocks and saddens her, pushing the mother/daughter relationship to the brink. I took a risk with this novel, knowing readers will have very mixed reactions about Natalie, until they discover the other side to her story.
Speaking of mothers . . .
The focus on motherhood in this novel extends beyond Sid and Nat to include a scene that has become one of my favourites. It starts with a pregnant Sid visiting her brother in a Coffs Harbour hospital and looking out the window at a mob of wallabies grazing on a grassy corridor. One animal is close enough for Sid to make out a joey in her pouch, its stick-skinny legs jutting out at odd angles. The mama wallaby is not eating, instead standing tall, ears pricked, alert to predators that might want to harm her baby. Most of the mob seems oblivious and happily grazing, stopping frequently to scratch with their little arms, while others laze on their sides, propped on one elbow. The impending darkness suddenly changes everything, the grazing mama wallaby stands extra tall and Sid begins to wonder what dangers might the night bring to threaten the joey? Are wallabies on high alert 24/7? Would Sid be? At least wallabies have safety in numbers. Then Sid realises: Maybe that’s what Mum’s on about. She’s telling me I shouldn’t do it on my own. That I need a mob to look after me and my little joey bump. Sid takes a final glance out the window at the wallaby family retreating in collective bounds to the safety of the scrub as night falls, knowing she would soon be responsible for small living thing. But how would she know what to be alert for? Her own childhood had been so safe, so secure, that she’d never had to develop her survival instincts. For all her faults, Natalie had been a fierce protector. But that didn’t make her a good mother, in Sid’s book anyway.
For me, personally, Mother’s Day hasn’t been the same since losing my real life mum two weeks before the release of my 2013 debut. Maybe that’s what’s drawn me to create so many fictional mums. It’s been kind of comforting to at least have the likes of Alice and Natalie—warts and all.
Happy Mums Day to you and yours.
The Other Side of the Season is available in eBook and paperback.
Rose’s Vintage by Kayte Nunn
British blow-in, Rose Bennett, is heartbroken, overweight, irritable and a long way from home. She isn’t sure what exactly she’s doing at Kalkari Wines in the Australian Shingle Valley – it’s the middle of winter and far from the lush, romantic vineyard setting she’d been expecting.
But as the weather improves, the valley reveals its beauty, and Rose starts to fall in love: with the valley, the wines, the two children she’s helping to look after, and one of the men there…
In Rose’s Vintage, Rose, who comes to the Shingle Valley far from her family finds a mother figure in the form of elderly neighbour Violet Trevelyn, a fiercely independent grape-grower who lives on the adjoining property – a spinster who, it is revealed, never had the chance to be a mother herself. Over cups of tea, Violet dispenses gossip and advice in equal measure giving Rose a feeling of confidence in herself and her place in the valley.
Later in the book Rose discovers that Violet and her sister Vera are trapped by fire in their home and raises the alarm, helping to save them from burning to a crisp!
At the end of the book, the women sell their property to Rose and her brother and she turns it into her own restaurant, called, fittingly Trevelyn’s Pantry.
Rose’s actual mother is largely absent in the book, and is not particularly close to her daughter, but I wanted to show the importance of a mother figure in a woman’s life and that you can find them if you look hard enough.
Rose’s Vintage by Kayte Nunn is a delicious vineyard tale of a young woman torn between family loyalty and the calling of her heart.
Rose’s Vintage is available in eBook and paperback.
Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein
Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?
Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.
But the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.
Cigar-smoking, Scotch-quaffing, haughty Granny B is a master at manipulating the lives of those she loves.
First introduced in Rocking Horse Hill, Audrey Wallace – known to all as Granny B, and indomitable grandmother to the book’s heroine Emily – is one of my favourite characters. She’s glamorous, deliciously naughty, a shocking schemer, dresses fantastically in designer labels, a terrible snob when the mood takes her, adores taut toyboys, loathes vegetarians and animal liberationists, loves art, and is generous with both time and money to the rural town she loves.
She is also the best person you would ever want fighting your corner. And fight she does – for her family, for her friends, for her town. She does it sneakily and sometimes brazenly, but always with gusto. I wish she was real.
To tell you the truth, she is a little. She has elements of both my grandmothers in her and I think that’s pretty damn cool.
Here’s a taste of Granny B in action:
Respite came in the form of her grandmother, heavily powdered and lacquered, and looking like a fifties haute couture model in a sable swing coat and cream wool knee-length pencil skirt.
‘You need to be careful someone doesn’t throw paint on you,’ said Em, indicating the coat.
‘It’s vintage Chloé,’ said Granny B, as if that made a difference.
‘Still a dead animal.’
‘Quite, as was last evening’s steak.’
You can enjoy more of Granny B in Rocking Horse Hill and Summer and the Groomsman.
Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story by the author of Heartland, Promises and Heart of the Valley.
Rocking Horse Hill is available in eBook and paperback.
The Maxwell Sisters by Loretta Hill
All families have their problems. No more so than the Maxwells of Tawny Brooks Winery. Situated in the heart of the Margaret River wine region, this world-renowned winery was the childhood home to three sisters,
Natasha, Eve and Phoebe.
But old wounds cut deep. Somehow, the Maxwell sisters must find a way back to one another – or risk losing each other forever.
My novel, “The Maxwell Sisters,” is about three sisters, Eve, Tash and Phoebe, who have fallen out. Now years later, they must all come home to face the music. Their mother, Anita Maxwell, is waiting there with open arms. Anita is an intensely protective worrier. Some of the reason Eve and Tash keep the secrets they do, is not to stress her out. I think everybody at some time or another has hid the truth from a parent just to avoid the drama.
The reason they are all coming home is because the youngest sister, Phoebe, is getting married. She soon becomes the rope in the tug of war between her mother, Anita Maxwell and her fiancés mother, Patricia Fitzwilliam. They each have their own idea of what they would like their child’s wedding to be like.
I had a lot of fun writing both these mothers into the story. Their persistent manipulations and machinations was a great source of comedy but it also helped me show the love and influence of family in my heroines lives. Mothers only want whats “best” for their children, even if their children don’t know what that is yet. Anita Maxwell plays a very important role in my heroines development and growth. She loves them, she supports them and drives them all insane.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Natasha rubbed her temple. “You know Mum, she calls at completely the wrong time and tells you some weird trivia that you really just don’t care about. Last time she wanted to know if I knew pineapples were in season.”
“Well, do you?” Phoebe demanded, but she could hear the smile in her sister’s tone.
“Not till she told me.”
“But they’re so good for your immune system and metabolism.” Phoebe responded in mock protest.
“I see you got the phone call too.”
The Maxwell Sisters is a heartwarming romantic comedy about three extraordinary women on a journey to find love and rediscover family.
The Maxwell Sisters is available in eBook and paperback.
The Doctor Calling by Meredith Appleyard
Rebuilding her life again after unexpected tragedy, GP Laura O’Connor flees Adelaide, and her medical career, for a quiet life in rural Potters Junction.
Jake Finlay is a man with a troubled past and a passion for risk-taking. After years away from his small home town, he’s hell-bent on keeping his distance. Will facing death help them both to grab hold of life? And might love be just what the doctor ordered?
What a great idea for Mother’s Day, to meet the fictional mothers in our books. When I gave it serious conscious thought I realised that in my second book, The Doctor Calling, I have three fictional mothers who are very much present and influential to the story. All three did, or are doing their best, in the circumstances life has thrown at them.
Amelia O’Connor, is the much loved and missed mother of Doctor Laura O’Connor, the female protagonist in the story. Amelia’s death leaves Laura reeling, contributing to her whole life being in upheaval. She’s lost track of who she is and wonders if she’ll ever practice medicine again.
Jake Finlay’s mother walked out on him and his sister, Jess when Jake was a teenager and he discovers he wasn’t who he thought he was. The consequences of his mother’s actions reverberate through Jake’s life, influencing the person he becomes and almost destroying his most precious relationships.
Jess Phillips is a young mother in crisis. She’s trying to get her head around her husband and soulmate’s personal inner turmoil, cope with the fact that her dad is dying, and do the best for her two sons Sam and Mikey. Without much help from her wayward brother.
The Doctor Calling is available in eBook and paperback.
Enjoy your day!
Photo credits: Pixabay.com