- Writerspace: Every May, we celebrate the presence of some of the most wonderful women
in our lives - our mothers. Mothers often play an integral role in novels,
influencing the actions of those around them. Often, it is a mother's
influence that shapes the character of the hero or heroine. In honor of
Mother's Day, please share a special Mom-related memory.
- Elizabeth Lowell: Long, long ago (shortly after the earth cooled) I remember making applesauce in the kitcheon with my mother. This wasn't the wussy white stuff you
get in stores--this was thick, honey-brown, cinnamon-rich essence of autumn and apples. The kitchen smelled like glory, all steamy and warm while the
land outside was bare and cold.
- Sandra Madden:My first fan letter was from my Mom. My first local PBS television series
had been on the air for a week. As producer and sometime host I was a bit
apprehensive until I received the first fan letter. My boss passed it on to
me. Elated was the word! I knew there was something familiar about the
handwriting as I read...it wasn't until the end that I realized who sent it.
My mother. I guess she wanted me to keep that job! Our different married
names fooled the station manager - for about a day.
- Susan Edwards: I think I'm incredibly lucky in having the mother I do. One of the best gifts, or things she taught us, by example, is to love reading. Without that love
of reading I wouldn't be the writer I am today. I wrote because I loved to read, and chose romance because that is what I loved to read. So I credit my
love of writing and reading to my mother.
Mothers play an important role, both good and bad. Which is one reason the heroine in WHITE DAWN had a lot to overcome when she believes her mother
abandoned her in the wilds. She can't believe her own mother would do such a thing, yet in the end, it saves her life.
- Carol Stephenson: My mother and I shared a mutual passion for reading, romances in particular. When I was eleven, she handed me my first Mary Stewart.
She introduced me to Jane Aiken Hodges, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney and all the other gothic romance greats. However, I was able to
return the favor later as I introduced her to Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and her favorite Julie Garwood.
My mother was my staunchest fan and supporter, and she passionately believed that NORA'S PRIDE would be my first sale.
Unfortunately, she didn't live long enough to celebrate the sale with me; she passed away in May 2000. I tucked away in her coffin a copy
of Julie Garwood's Saving Grace so Mom would always have a good laugh in heaven. With the debut release of NORA'S PRIDE, I'm
sure my mother is smiling down at me from heaven and saying, "I told you so."
- Kathie DeNosky: My mother and I aren't just mother and daughter, we're best friends, so
every Mother's Day holds a special memory for me. But if I had to choose
just one, it would have to be the Mother's Day right after my first son was
born. Having my mother help me celebrate the fact that I had just become a
mother was very special to me. In the years since, she's always been there
to advise, council and encourage me as I raised my family, and it is my
fervent wish that I've been as good a mother to my children as she's been to
- Leanne Banks: When I was in high school and I was hung up on a guy who wasn't treating me
well, I remember my mother saying to me "Leanne, you're a good person. You
deserve to be treated better than this." I remember that moment like it was
yesterday. I've heard the echo of those same words during several unfun
moments in my life and her belief in me has given me the strength to
recognize when I'm being unjustly dissed and it's time to walk away.
- Nicole Byrd: One of my strongest memories of my mother is that she was always reading;
she always had stacks of books lying around the house, so of course, I grew
up loving to read, too. She was delighted when I started to write, and loved
coming up with plot ideas that I might use. (Cheryl Zach)
I can't remember a time when my mother wasn't a writer. It seemed that
every spare moment she had--admittedly not many with two small children--she
was sitting on the sofa with a yellow legal pad and a pencil. And her magic
cure for all things, boredom, anger, illness, was always, "Go read a book."
At times this was said with enthusiasm and other times with exasperation!
She was also terrific about trips to the library, bookstore and never
complained about my pleas for "just one book more." I am grateful to my
mother for many things: an education, a good example of motherhood, eyebrows
that don't need plucking, and most importantly, a love and appreciation for
the written word. Thanks, Mama. (Michelle Place)
- Millie Criswell: My mom passed away in 1991, so it's going to be difficult to answer this
without balling. But here goes: I have so many wonderful memories of my
mother. She was a kind, caring woman, who loved sweets and ate dessert every
night of her life. Unfortunately she passed this habit on to me. When I was
writing The Trouble With Mary, I used my mom as a pattern for Sophia Russo,
the domineering mother figure in that book, and in the subsequent novels,
including my April release, THE TRIALS OF ANGELA. Though my mom was very
different from Sophia, they were also alike in many ways. Many of the things
that came out of Sophia's mouth, came out of my own mother's first. A case in
point: When I was in college I got dumped by the boy I was madly in love
with. Of course I was devastated, bruised beyond belief, and I sought comfort
from my mother. She wisely just patted me on the back and told me her familar
line, "There are many fish in the sea." Of course, I didn't believe her,
hated her at that moment for saying something so trite. But then I landed my
husband several years later, proving her right. And I honor this memory in
the dedication to my husband that appears in ANGELA.
- Leann Harris: With my mom there are a thousand wonderful memories. She's a nurse and
lives in Houston. She's done home nursing and worked the 5th ward in the
city. When two young men came up to her window when she was stopped for a
light and stuck a gun in her face wanting her nurse's watch, she talked them
out of it. Mom's expericence traveling all over Houston helped in my
latest book. When the heroine goes to have a massage, Mom had taken me to
that place. It's located in front of Houston Police evidence building.
- Ruth Langan: My own mother passed away four years ago this month. We had a close and loving bond, and I find it easy to express this same love, respect and easy
laughter in my books.
In my latest series, Lassiter Law, the four siblings are shaped, not only by the death of their police-officer father who took a bullet for his partner, but by
their mother, who returns to school, earns a law degree, and works in the poorest section of Washington, D.C., as a family advocate. In the 4th book, HIS
FATHER'S SON, Cameron Lassiter works in a prestigeous law firm, dealing with corporate movers and shakers, ex-presidents and kings, while also
working pro bono cases unearthed by his mother, which she believes worthy of a second look. The relationship between this mother and son is warm,
loving and filled with respect, and adds another layer of texture to this extraordinary family.
- Laura Abbot: I always knew my mother was a determined soul and a lover of life, and that
became abundantly clear following her cerebral aneurysm, which resulted in
impairment of both speech and movement. But that didn't stop her. She
lived twenty-three years without being able to read, watch TV or movies for
any extended period of time, or converse with her customary fluency and wit.
She and I had always been close, but it was a joy for me in those difficult
years to be her link to the past. She would say something like, "Lady.
Long ago. Flowers. Beautiful flowers," then look at me as if of course I
could immediately supply the rest. "Oh, you mean Mrs. Hudson across the
street who had that beautiful garden." She would beam at me with
satisfaction--and gratitude. Our mother-daughter bond, established from
childhood and nurtured in adulthood, was never so close as when she was
forced to communicate and I to understand, not merely with words, but with
- Tara Taylor Quinn: I don't just have one memory, but a life time of them all relating to the
same thing. My mother was always there. She saw us off to school each
morning - having made breakfast and sat with us as we ate - and then she was
always there waiting when we got home in the afternoon. Not just home, but
waiting to hear about our day. She wasn't preoccupied, but acted as though
she was really in tune to us and cared. My whole life it was that way. As
a result, throughout my day I'd think, "Oh, I can't wait to tell mom about
that," or "Mom will be there to listen as soon as I get home." I think,
consequently, I made a lot of right choices because I knew she was going to
be there for me to face when I got home. But more, I grew up feeling like I
was someone special. I mattered.
- Dorie Graham: As the mother of seven, my mom kept really busy. She rarely had time to
set aside for anything that didn't involve keeping us all fed or in clean
clothes. I have one memory that for whatever reason stands out for me,
though. I was probably three or four-years-old. Our house always seemed to
be a hub of activity, but this one day, Mom stopped whatever she was doing,
and she sat down to paint my nails at the kitchen table. This was such a
treat for me, I can still remember the feel of the cool brush gliding over
my nails and the smell of the polish. Then while we waited for the polish to
dry, she brushed, then braided my hair. I felt like a princess by the time
she was done. I remember feeling really special that she'd taken that little
time aside to spend with just me.
- Cara Summers: Although I've been without her for almost nine years now, my mother still plays a very influential role in my life. Among many other wonderful things, she gave me my first romance novel to read. I was pregnant with my third son, teaching full time and trying to keep up with the other two. She handed me a book - I still remember the title, "First Impressions" by Nora Roberts - and said, "Why don't you try this? I think you'll like it." I did! (And it was certainly cheaper than therapy!) For years after that, we shared a love for reading romance novels. She would bring me her favorite books when she visited, and I would mail her my favorites. Six years after the birth of my third son, and with my Mom's encouragement, I gave up my full time teaching job to write one myself!
- Writerspace: Romance novels often present an idealized vision of the world, a vision
of what we would like to discover for ourselves. Often one of the elements
of that idealized world is the family. Although there are always obstacles
along the way, in the end romance novels represent what we wish could
happen. How does the family factor into your current release, and what role
does it play?
- Elizabeth Lowell: Family is crucial in both RUNNING SCARED and MOVING TARGET. What happened in the past echoes down through today, sometimes for good
and sometimes not. You become an adult when you see your parents and grandparents as other adults, people who make mistakes, who laugh, who
cry, who always wonder if they have done the right thing. In many ways, both books deal with that journey to adulthood in an imperfect, sometimes
- Jayne Ann Krentz: In my newest release, SUMMER IN ECLIPSE BAY, the long-simmering feud between the Hartes and
the Madisons of Eclipse Bay, Oregon erupts into some pretty spectacular fireworks yet again. Nick Harte and
Octavia Brightwell have decided to indulge in a discreet, uncomplicated, no-strings- attached summer affair. But
in typical Eclipse Bay tradition, things get complicated fast. First, there's Nick's young son, Carson, who has his
own agenda involving Octavia; an agenda that he does not want his father messing up. Then there's Mitchell
Madison who concludes that it is his duty to protect Octavia from Nick. When Nick's grandfather, Sullivan,
realizes that Mitchell is interfering in the situation, he decides to get involved.
Before you know it, we're talking scandal, gossip and a barroom brawl. But, then, this is Eclipse Bay and
anyone in town could have told Nick and Octavia that nothing is ever simple between a Harte and a Madison...
- Sandra Madden: A PRINCESS BORN is about a woman searching for her birth mother, seeking her
identity and the extraordinary bond between mother and child. Family is the
most important thing in life to Kate. While she appreciates and loves the
family that raised her...she risks all to find her natural birth parents.
Family is an important element of most of my novels. As a mother with a
wonderful family I feel truly blessed and want everyone to feel the love and
happiness family can bring.
- Brenda Novak:Many of my books deal with family because familial relationships are some of
the most complex. We may love every member of our family, but there's always
at least one, at least at times, that we find hard to like or understand or
support. In SHOOTING THE MOON, the heroine must choose between a man she is
beginning to trust and her father, who is still blinded by prejudice. I loved
"watching" her search through her feelings and grow as she begins to live
according to her own conscience.
- Susan Edwards: Family in WHITE DAWN is what the heroine doesn't have. With a fanatical father who doesn't believe in sparing the rod on his only child and a mother
who appears too weak to fight the abuse, the heroine learns that secrets can destroy not only individuals but entire families. When she learns that the
man she regarded as her father isn't her father, she uinderstands why he's never loved her. Emily is left wondering how different her life would have been
had her mother married the man she loved.
- Carol Stephenson: NORA'S PRIDE is about lost love and sacrifices made for family. It deals with the pain of child abuse and manipulation and the healing power of love.
Nora McCall and Connor Devlin faced abuse at the hands of their mothers, and both must move beyond the pain to build solid and dependable futures for
themselves. Former teenage sweethearts, they must learn to trust each other again for at stake is their adorable daughter, the result of their one night of
passion twelve years ago. Nora and Connor have to face their personal demons over abandonment and deception in order to build a family that belongs
- Kathie DeNosky: In my current release CASSIE'S COWBOY DADDY, the heroine is a widowed mother
of eight-month-old twin girls. Widowed shortly after learning she was
pregnant, Cassie has no choice but to raise her daughters alone. But when
the hero finds himself wanting to be part of her family, she's faced with
the dilemma of trusting him to love her children as his own. She has to
decide whether to allow a man, other than the children's biological father,
to become a part of her family and play a major role in her children's
- Leanne Banks: The family factors in a major way because HIS MAJESTY, M.D. focuses on a
royal family, and although the Dumonts can be wonderful, they can also be a
royal pain! Queen Anna wants her son, the doctor, to marry so much that
she's been trying to match him up for years. When the latest matchmaking
prospect, American plain-jane Tara York, shows up at the palace, she lets
Nicholas know she's not interested in marriage. Nicholas hatches a plan for
a fake engagement to get their mutual families off their back. The plan
works great in theory, but in reality, passion between Nicholas and Tara
heats up, and the two are caught in a compromising position that forces them
- Nicole Byrd: Mothers (and fathers, of course) influence their children in many ways.
The parents of our sisters Psyche and Circe (heroines of DEAR IMPOSTOR and
LADY IN WAITING) were loving, intelligent, unconventional and sometimes
downright eccentric. As often happens, the effect on the two daughters was
quite different. After their parents' accidental death, Psyche's response,
(in DEAR IMPOSTOR) was to try to behave as properly as possible, as if this
might protect her from the whims of a capricious Fate.
On the other hand, Circe (in LADY IN WAITING) is just as unconventional as
her mother, hardly interested in even pretending to be proper, and this trait
threatens to get her in as much trouble as it did her mother!
- Millie Criswell: Family plays a big role in all the Little Italy books, including THE TRIALS
OF ANGELA. I don't show an idealized version of family. I like to show the
warts and all--the frustrations, the anger, the laughter and the tears. Of
course, since the books are romantic comedies, I have exagerrated many
things, but the conflict in ANGELA between the hero's gay brother and his
parents is all too real, as is the issue of fidelity between Angela DeNero's
parents. Italian families can be somewhat overwhelming, and they can also be
supportive and nurturing. And I've tried to portray this in my books. Angela
DeNero has the added problem of having a father who's a cross-dresser, and
how she and her sister reacts to this situation provides moments of laughter
and heartfelt emotion and understanding. As my character Grandma Flora is
fond of saying, "Family is everything."
- Leann Harris: My heroine, Kelly, has a large family, brothers and
sisters. They all adored her ex-husband and were sorry to see the
hero/heroine divorce. When they call Kelly and Ash answers, they are
curious, then thrilled.
- Ruth Langan: HIS FATHER'S SON is the fourth in my Lassiter Law series. All four siblings were shaped by one pivotal moment in their young lives - when their police
officer father was killed in the line of duty. Their grandfather, called Pop by all, stepped in to fill a void in this shattered family, and remains as a
father-figure throughout their lives. The strength of will of their mother, Kate, is a pleasure to see.
Readers tell me that the realistic portrayal of this family is what makes reading these stories so much fun. There is real love and respect for Pop, a retired
cop who assumes the role of cook, nanny and disciplinarian; for their mother, Kate, who must put aside her dreams and face some harsh truths; for each
other, as these four siblings follow in their parents' footsteps to serve others.
- Laura Abbot: The yearning for family and belonging is a theme in all of my books. YOU'RE
MY BABY is no exception and, in fact, centers around the formation of an
unlikely family. Pam Carver, the heroine, has grown up motherless, yet
longs to have her own family. Grant Gilbert, whose marriage has failed, has
a tenuous relationship with his surly teenage son Andy. When Pam becomes
pregnant, she immediately embraces the idea of a baby, but there is one
problem. A big one. She has no husband. When Grant suggests marriage for
a year, she accepts his solution. How can they keep up the outward pretense
that they are a devoted couple? That she, Grant, and Andy are a happy
family unit? Obstacles are a fact of life in families, and that is
certainly as true for characters in a book as it is in real life. Harmony
requires communication and unconditional love. I hope YOU'RE MY BABY sends
the message that family is less about blood lines and expectations and much
more about love and commitment.
- Tara Taylor Quinn: First, I don't believe that my novels present an idealized vision of the
world. I really believe that the values I write about exist. I believe
that the happiness exists. It takes hard work, it comes with problems and
takes courage and strength to maintain, but it takes those things in my
books. That said, The Secret Son has much to do with family. It's set in a
small town whose citizens are, in a sense, one big family. Part of my
Shelter Valley Stories series, THE SECRET SON will reacquaint readers with
townspeople they've met before, people they care about, while introducing a
heroine and hero they've never met. The heroine is a mother who will risk
everything to protect her son. She's a woman on the run, has no idea why,
as she woke up in a hotel room with her two year old son, a bruised skull
and no memory. And the hero, the Sheriff of his home town, is just coming
off from ten years of nursing his father after a hit and run incident left
him brain impaired. Shelter Valley, the family values and caring of her
people, play a huge part in helping both of these people learn to trust.
And then play another part, to keep them safe from the lurking danger that
could kill them both.
- Dorie Graham: Family factors into THE LAST VIRGIN in a number of ways. Sabrina, my
heroine, is a very traditional young woman with a strong desire to one day
start her own family. At one point, Noah, my hero, has the startling
realization that not only does she want a child, she needs one. Part of
Noah's growth is to stand up to the challenge of accepting that if he's
going to be with Sabrina, nothing short of marriage, children and a white
picket fence will do.
Both of their families play a part in the story and in the character
growth of each. Sabrina's very close to her older brother and feels rather
displaced when he becomes engrossed in the woman who becomes his wife over
the course of the book. Sabrina learns to accept the way families grow and
change. She also has her rose-colored glasses knocked askew when she
discovers her parents aren't living the happily-ever-after life she thought
they were. On the other hand, Noah's cynicism is tested when he learns that
the parents he thought detested each other are considering a reconciliation.
In the end, in spite of all the difficulties each has had with their
prospective families, Noah and Sabrina embark on their journey toward that
white picket fence, knowing they'll probably encounter bumps along the way,
but unable to resist the lure of their own happily-ever-after.
- Cara Summers: I believe that family, especially our parents - who they are and who they aren't - play an enormous role in how we choose to live our lives. Perhaps that's why family plays an integral role in all of my books. INTENT TO SEDUCE is no exception. My hero, CEO Lucas Wainwright, has been shaped by his desire to undo the damage his father did to their family owned company. His sister Sophie, worried about Lucas's total devotion to the business, arranges for her best friend MacKenzie Lloyd to use Lucas for her experiment. And Mac's whole reason for researching what it takes to keep a man happy in bed is because she is determined that no child of hers is going to suffer from the effects of a broken home. Then when Sophie is kidnapped, Lucas and Mac are drawn even closer together as they join forces to rescue her. Even my villain has family problems he has to deal with (although they are of a slightly different nature.)