Mothering as Key to Character
I was, like Julie P., the author of this delightful blog, a stay-at-home mom (and, I should add, fortunate to be so). I worked from my home, first as a freelance editor, and then, with time, as a novelist. When the children were babies, I would set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. in order to have a little quiet time to write before they woke up. I discovered, after a year, that what I had hoped would be the makings of a novel, was, in fact, simply hundreds (and hundreds!) of pages — all on the subject of exhaustion.
That changed, of course, as our son and daughter grew up. Along with my husband, they became my cheer-leaders, my biggest fans. They knew I was writing a book, but when my first novel was actually published, they were astonished. (Our son said, over his breakfast cereal, "This is like finding out that not only is your mom a hockey player, but that she's in the NHL.")
In coming to understand a character I'm writing about, one of the most important things I consider is her relationship with her children. With Josephine (of the Josephine B. Trilogy), her two children were clearly the most important part of her existence. Once I understood that, a great deal of what she did made sense. Indeed, I believe she married Napoleon because, as a widow with two young teens to provide for, she was in need of a man who could be a father to them.
With Louise, heroine of Mistress of the Sun, it was more challenging. (Warning: spoilers!) Ultimately she leaves her children in order to join a convent. This was hard for me to understand, but I did, in the end. She had only two choices, after all: to be a mother who was publicly (and miserably) living in sin as mistress to a married man, the King; or to be a model of virtue, a guide for her children to follow. Given how religious Louise was — and how involved she remained with her children while in the convent — it's easier to understand how she could have made the hard choice that she did.
The character I'm writing about now is also a mother — and her child, a daughter, is key in helping her see her way clear. As with Josephine and Louise, it's her relationship with her child that ultimately guides her, informs her most important decision.
Does MISTRESS OF THE SUN sound like a book that you'd like to read? I just happen to have a copy to share with one lucky reader. For one entry, leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me something you found interesting in this guest post. For an additional entry or two, blog and/or tweet about this giveaway with a link back to this post -- you can get up to three entries if you comment, blog and tweet. This contest is open until Thursday, May 14th until 11:59 p.m.; and I will announce the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good Luck!