Every Character has a Mother.

I was at a loss at what to write about this week, when I realised it was Mother’s Day (in the UK – somewhere else it is held on a different day.)

I have done my duty, delivering a bunch of daffodils, fresh from the garden, and a card to my own mother. I have received, in my turn, the dutiful visits and phone calls from my own offspring – someone must have reminded them! Honour has been satisfied.

The occasion got me thinking about my characters. They must all have had mothers. What were they like and did they have any influence on their children? Are any of them mothers themselves?

To answer the second question first, no major characters are mothers, although I am sure this will change in later books. There are a couple of motherly woman.There is one who helps one son murder the other, Anglo-Saxon history is full of that sort of thing.

On the other hand, my characters have mothers. In fact I could almost say that my protagonist’s mother is the inciting incident. She doesn’t appear at all, but by dying, when Byrhtnoth is only seven, she sets the plot into action. When I started the first book I thought it was about the search for a sword. Then I realised that the sword belonged to his missing father, it must be a search for that father. So why did the memory of his mother keep intruding into the action? It all became clear when… but I mustn’t give that away. You will have to read the book.

Other character’s mothers disappeared long ago. One in particular, I still have to learn about (sorry – I’m an author – aren’t I supposed to make it up?). There is another who I sometimes wonder about what she did to her son to make him the way he is.

This has set off several chains of thought. It certainly adds more back story to my writing, which can only help in making memorable characters. Everyone had a mother. They must have had an influence on their child, even if only by their absence.


A view of the garden on a sunny Mothering Sunday.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, everywhere.




3 thoughts on “Every Character has a Mother.

  1. Thank you for a really thought provoking post. It reminded me that even if we don’t include the character’s mother in the story, they still must have had one who influenced them, so we really do need to think about their mother’s personality when making the character’s backstory notes, even if she’s never mentioned in the story. As you point out, it could reveal something new about the character to the author. Thanks for that timely reminder.


  2. Pingback: A Collection of Cousins | Byrhtnoth

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