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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Author Post: Marilee Brothers

The Bad Mother

Relationships. They’re hard. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Husbands and wives. Fathers and sons. Mothers and daughters. One of the themes in my YA Unbidden Magic series is the relationship between my protagonist, Allie Emerson, and her young, single mother, Faye. It’s true; Faye isn’t exactly “Mother of the Year.” Still, I was unprepared for the reaction of some reviewers. After reading Moonstone, one reviewer hated Faye so much she wanted to “smash her in the face.” Another resorted to a string of fake profanities like *#*$**! Yet another felt compelled to address her remarks directly to Faye by shouting, “GET OFF YOUR LAZY ASS AND GET A JOB!”

Okay, people, let’s all take a deep breath and think about it. Why did my portrayal of Faye hit so many hot buttons? The obvious answer: Bad mother, Faye, tapped into their own experiences, dredging up bitter mother-daughter memories. If this is the case, I completely understand and sympathize. However, there may be another explanation. Smother mothers. Women who live their lives through their children at the expense of their own identity. I believe there is a distinct possibility that some of the horrified reactions to Faye’s character may be code for, “Look at me! I devote every moment of my life to my children. I am the poster child for good mothering. Faye should be more like me.” Of course, there’s also a distinct possibility that I’m wrong!

Like most writers of fiction, my books are based on the real world. When I worked as a counselor in an alternative school, I encountered many “Fayes” and “Allies,” mothers and daughters whose relationships were totally upside down. In other words, the kid was the adult, the adult the kid. I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. One might think the teen forced into early adulthood would be hateful toward such an immature parent. Quite the opposite is true. These kids love their mothers.  And Allie, despite having moments of extreme anger and frustration, cares deeply for her mother. As I write each book in the series, I make an effort to deepen the relationship between Faye and Allie even though it remains dysfunctional. It’s called keeping it real. Time (and reviews) will tell me if I succeed.

I’d love read your comments and opinions on good and bad mothers, as well as answer your questions. If you leave a comment, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of any of my books. Many thanks to Pat for allowing me to express my thoughts.

I've been in love with the written word since the age of four when I sat on my mother's lap, scanning the newspaper for the simple words she'd taught me. One of my first memories is of visiting the public library and returning with an armload of books. Even now, you can find me standing over the stove, stirring spaghetti sauce with one hand, an open book in the other.
Early on, I began to create my own stories. Elaborate fantasies with a full cast of characters played out in my mind. I made people fall in love, killed off a few and continued to tweak plots vowing, some day, I would write a book. Some day.
Well... some day is here. I now write full time, and, with the support of my husband and an eighty-five pound black Labrador Retriever sleeping on my feet, I'm working on my fourth book. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I've enjoyed writing them!

 My reviews of Marilee's books here:

Moonspun - Soon (book to be release this July)


suemont said...

I'll try again - I already posted once and Blogger ate it.

How right you are, Marilee, relationships are hard work and can fail miserably. Remember the poem by Philip Larkin "They §£** you up your Mum and Dad"? Although I think that's an excuse sometimes.

Smothering mothers (and fathers) can be as bad as indifferent ones. I'm thinking about famous athletes and movie stars who burn out early after parental pressure.

I also see a change in my own mother/daughter relationship as I ask my mother if she ate well yesterday or is wearing her thick sweater - stuff I used to loathe when I was a kid.

The premise of your book looks fascinating and all the better since you have experience of it.
Good luck with the series.

Meredith said...

Wow...I love that your book brought out the "ugly" (ok, sour emotions!) in some people!

I've had a here and there relationship with my mother all of my life, and spent a lot of time during my growing up with my grandmother. Do I wish thing could have been better? sure...but right now I'm trying just to be a "here" mother for my boys so they don't have the same experience.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Marilee said...

I hear you, Meredith. Mother-daughter relationships are the hardest! My mom and I had our differences until we both got older and had a role reversal, much like Sue M. I'm so happy I was around to see her in her later years. She was one sweet old lady. Hope I do as well!

MrsPhilipswithoneL said...

These books look good, I am all for something new to read.

Mystee said...

I can relate to the good, bad and ugly of mom and i haven't spoken in years {and I'm actually grateful for that}...however, it has taught me how NOT to be with my own kids.

Esther - TTBM said...

now that i am mom, i look back on what a hard time i have given my mom.Too bad, there is no "rewind" button on life..sometimes it is the imperfections in the relationship that make it so special.

iam your new follower.

Dawn said...

Love this post... thanks for the insight!

Lia Sunny said...

I have a lot of anger towards my mother that probably built up during my childhood- I'm constantly battling it. We fought all the time, and she was capable of being vicious. Having to deal with her control freak boyfriend, who always tried to turn us against each other, didn't make things easier.

That being said, now that she's older, and I'm older, I worry myself sick over her. I'm fiercely protective. She gets a papercut and I'll be one step away from a heart attack. Kind of like a mother, I guess. Still, those feelings I had while growing up will always be fresh in my mind. If I ever have children, I will know exactly how *not* to be. But it's not her fault. Her relationship with her parents was even more difficult.

One of the reasons why I love your books is because of the mother-daughter relationship between Faye and Allie. There are problems, like in real life, but it's clear they love each other very much. Being eighteen, I'm usually more on Allie's side, though I can understand Faye and I don't dislike her. Thanks for writing!

Marilee said...

Thanks to all of you for your insightful comments. I agree - mother-daughter relationships are perilous! I will keep working on Allie and Faye's relationship and try to keep it real.

Anonymous said...

hi, im new to this crazy book author fan . i have never read a novel book let alone touch one. your book was the firt and boiii was it good!!!!!!!!
i have never had the interest in books but urs brought it all out-love hate harsh relationships. it like ying and yang all over again which a love. now because of you i have a whole different perspective to the future. i wanted to become something to do with science, but now i want to be a succesful writer-just like you!!!!!!!!!!

keep up with the fantastic work!!!!!

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