I feel like this is going to get a little ramble-y, so please bear with me.
The other day, I saw a discussion on Twitter about mothers in fantasy novels and how they either a) never exist or b) do exist, but can never go an adventure or do anything because they would be a horrible person for leaving their children behind–let alone ever consider taking their children with them. It went on to discuss books that are a refreshing change of pace, like Queens of the Wyld by Timandra Whitecastle (is anyone else absolutely JAZZED to read this book, because I know I bloody am).
I was a fan of this discussion and realized that this was exactly a void in fantasy that I hadn’t realized I wanted filled, but I did. Give me mothers who take their children on adventures, give me mothers who show strength and prowess in battle that is respected by their husbands, give me mothers who exist in the foreground, not background characters or those who are dead to push the story forward.
It made me look at my own writing–my current duology, BLOOD PRICE and WAR’S PROMISE, specifically.Currently, those stories don’t show mothers the way I want them to be shown in fantasy, in fiction, and I started to feel guilt; like I wasn’t doing enough with this story, not adding to fantasy the way I should, like I wasn’t doing enough. I started brainstorming all the ways I could change it, everything that I needed to do to also be an example of how mothers don’t have to be erased.
And then I stopped.
Because I realized something. Something important.
I am not one story.
And one story doesn’t have to be everything.
While I do plan to look at how I portray motherhood in BLOOD PRICE, when I go back through to look at edits, I know that, with this story, I was already doing so much with it, things that I really wanted to do, that restructuring it to also make it a narrative about how motherhood is portrayed in fantasy would almost…detract from what I’m already trying to say about womanhood and period-culture.
Basically, despite wanting to see a change on how motherhood is presented and an increased presence of living mothers in general, that doesn’t mean I have to do that with this book. I have more books where I can tell that story. And all of my books can still have elements of that, hintings of that belief spread throughout, so it doesn’t feel so rare and new to fantasy as a whole, like it does now.
But it’s okay if every novel you write doesn’t have every element that you want to incorporate into it. Just like it’s okay if every novel has an element within it that is always found in your writing. Maybe that’s completely common knowledge and me having that realization and giving myself permission to not try and cram every single thing I’m interested in writing into one novel is something mundane, but to me, it was a huge sigh of relief.
You are more than one story.
You can always improve, always grow and always write something new you want to see or something else you hadn’t considered before.
Me, I’m just excited. Thinking about this has reminded me how the possibilities are endless and every story is a chance to write something new, to change the narrative of the industry and add what you wished there was. I’m excited and hopeful to see more mothers in fantasy fiction–including my own.