Other Tea Parties | Content warnings
May 14th was Mother’s Day! Whether you celebrated or did nothing at all, today’s questions are all about the mothers or mother figures we’ve written about here at JAAM. Let’s grab a nice refreshing drink and talk all about these lovely ladies!
Do you enjoy stories with strong mother characters or themes of motherhood?
Yeah! I love heartfelt stories about families. Whether it’s like a mother figure or an actual mother, stories about mothers and daughters always get me. It can be the cheesiest gotcha storyline, too, and I’ll almost always cry. (Mama Mia 2? I was at a friend’s house when we were still kinda getting to know each other and I cried at the end lol) I do prefer stories about, like, a good mother rather than a bad mother, though. It depends on how it’s written, and what the story is about overall, but yeah I do generally enjoy stories with a strong familial theme!
Absolutely! From biological mothers to the designated mom in a found family, mother figures bring so much to stories. I’m here for stories where the moms care about their kids more than anything, but I also love reading about the more villainous moms. Stories where a mother is the main character have been especially fun to read for me these days. A lot of parents are written off in middle grade and young adult fiction (so the younger protagonists can do their thing), so I’ve really grown to appreciate stories that incorporate or even center mother figures as a major part of the narrative.
Do mothers or motherhood generally play a large part in your own stories?
This… is hard to say. I think in my JAAM stories, we haven’t seen a lot of mothers. In Stream of Consciousness, since most of the stories are standalones, a lot of unnecessary details would have gotten cut. Short stories need to be as to-the-point as possible, and every line has to count, so if there was a mom and I felt like she wasn’t important to the overall story, I would have cut her.
I’ve been thinking about this lately in How Journeys End. I feel so bad that I friged the queen. Her death ended up becoming a much more important plot point than I originally planned, and to be honest, I’m not sure if that makes it better or not.
I think in longer works–in non-JAAM stories I’ve written–families (particularly mothers) do play a large part.
I hadn’t realized it before, but the bulk of my writing for JAAM has themes of motherhood. Literally all of my stories at least mention someone’s mother, and even more of my stories have mothers and mother figures in prominent story roles. I think only two of my stories mention mothers without giving them speaking parts!
Share some insights into the JAAM moms you’ve written so far!
Like I said above, Queen Ann became a much bigger part of the story than I originally intended! I feel bad about having killed her before the story even starts. I worry that she’s become a stereotype but… you know she’s did a lot in her life that I’m exploring now and I don’t feel unsatisfied with it, just sorry to her. Anyway, she definitely became a character that haunts the narrative and I love that for her.
I had to go back and look, but I feel like the only real mother character I had from Stream of Consciousness was in Green Lorraine! I don’t… think I have any real insights into the witch as a character. Why did I have her live in a bog? I had to do so much research into wetlands and what the difference between all of them was. Why did I do that to myself? I don’t remember. I guess because it had to be green? Anyway, I don’t know if anyone remembers, but the whole Stream of Consciousness series was based on prompts from my brother. The Green Lorraine ones were based on when he continuously misspoke the name of a nearby bakery lol
In The Faery Bargain, Ari has super supportive parents with very successful careers of their own, so she feels pressured to make them proud. In our Ways To… group series, Holly’s parents put their relationship with her on the back burner for most of her life, and now she’s trying to mend things with them. Gia from “Ocean’s Favor” comes out of her story with (Spoiler!) two moms. Captain Hailstorm also touches on being adopted at an early age by a mother figure of her own. In “The Gummy Bear Case Study,” Cheery’s mom is shown to be a big part of her life; even though we don’t meet her, we get lots of hints into her relationship with Cheery and even her fandoms and hobbies.
Any thoughts on the other mothers from JAAM so far?
The first mother figure I think of when I think of JAAM mom’s is Queen Ann, only because she’s mine. After that, I think of Cat from Cat and the Cryptid Summer and Cat’s mom and Cat’s Gran. We have THREE whole generations of women in this story!! Raspberry really gave us that! It’s so interesting to see how trauma affects them all differently and how they all act with one another. Cat and Gran really have their similarities as the story goes on, but I think that Cat and her own mother share a lot of qualities as well. Cat was originally just as timid at the beginning as her mother seems at the end of the story. AND we get the tender moments of everybody trying to protect Cat’s mother. I’m really interested to see how the dynamics will change in the proposed sequel.
The other huge mother figure I think of is from Ocean’s Favor! Gia’s mom is another one that haunts the narrative. Unlike Ann, though, we actually do get to meet Gia’s mom eventually. A lot of what we hear about her is just whispers and rumors that are covering up this huge amount of love for her! She’s so mysterious and by the time we finally meet her she’s SO built up that her character defies all expectations in the best way. She’s so… so her. She’s a mother, a lover, she seems unapologetically herself after everything that’s happened. We only meet her very briefly, but she’s one of the characters that stuck with me most from Ocean’s Favor.
All of the moms in Cat and the Cryptid Summer are such amazing characters! I am always thinking about them. I also think back on the nanny from “Charlie Shrubbery;” Charlie was so distant with most of the other characters, but there seemed to be a closeness there, even if she’s only mentioned in a few lines. The moms in The Halloween Bash are totally toxic and layered and suck you right into their drama. Meanwhile, “Green Lorraine” left me completely heartbroken. Queen Anne has got my mental conspiracy theories whiteboard covered with ideas; I can’t wait to find out what happened to her in How Journeys End. We’ve definitely got a variety of moms here on the website, and it’s so great getting to read about all of them!
Thank you for joining us this month! And to all the mothers, mom figures, those trying to conceive and those who haven’t been able to, and those who have lost children—we send our love and our thanks to you.