The Role of The Mother
In writing, as in reality, the role of the mother plays an important part in a character's journey. Even if the parental role isn't mentioned, the reader can assume that the character is who they are because of the presence or absence of a maternal figure. How the character interacted with his/her mother can meld how the character behaves. In many instances, the arc of the character can all be traced back to the character's childhood.
In my writing, I use the role of the maternal figure in many ways. For example, let's examine the hero of Bound to You, Jacks Baine. Jacks' mother is only mentioned briefly in the story, but her interaction with Jacks when his powers were revealed shaped the way Jacks lived the rest of his life. At one point in the story, Jacks tells Lia that he knew the moment his mother stopped thinking of him as her son. She was afraid of what he was, and what he could do, and ignored him for most of his older childhood until he left home for the Intergalactic University. She and Jacks' father were embarrassed to admit to their peers that their son was 'abnormal'. This maternal disdain created a distrust in Jacks that followed him throughout his life and made his eventual love story even sweeter.
In Forged in Fire, my heroine is the mother to a five year old girl named Luna. Maeve has spent the last few years of her own life working toward one goal-- keeping Luna safe. When we meet Maeve she's made a fateful decision about Luna's welfare. It's time for Luna to meet her father, the most powerful soldier, the Sword Guardian of Dinara. Maeve's choices seem skewed at first, but when we learn of her maternal motivations it becomes fairly obvious that she is the kind of mother who will do anything to ensure her daughter's safety. Even face the man who thinks she betrayed him to the enemy. I love the mother/daughter bond that exists between Luna and Maeve in Forged in Fire. Luna brings so much light and happiness to her mother that it becomes obvious she is the one thing that can bring Maeve and her father together.
Last, but not least, is Sharyn Moran from An Enduring Sun. Despite never having a biological child of her own, Sharyn is one of the most maternal characters I've ever written. She chose to raise the orphaned children in the ERCAn Territories as a young woman, and joined the elite spy group called the Rangers in order to keep them safe. Sharyn has a huge heart, and her greatest desire is to never see another orphaned child of war. I wrote Sharyn with these characteristics in mind because the hero of AES, Ren, needs that kind of love in his life. Taken from his mother at nine and raised as an experiment and later a soldier, Ren is reminded of his own mother when he sees how Sharyn interacts with her boys. Ren has experienced enough harsh reality, and Sharyn brings just the right amount of toughness, grace and adoration into his life. She loves him despite, and because of, his flaws. Sharyn is a fierce protector and a fighter when she has to be, and that makes her the perfect person to stand alongside Ren in the coming war.
So this is my ode to mothers. The strong ones, the sweet ones, the uncaring and the ungrateful. They all make us who we are, and in storytelling they are far more important than we usually give them credit for. From birth to death, the love (or lack thereof) that our characters receive sets them on their path and makes their stories the kind we can't wait to read.