If you had to describe what a romance novel is about using only one word, what would you use?
Easy answer. And in the context of romance, it’s a certain kind of love: intimate, sexual, consensual, chivalrous, grand, consuming.
But who taught you to love so fiercely?
I don’t want to get into anything Freudian, but I’d argue that your mother may have had something to do with it.
Maybe it’s odd that I dedicated my second romance, For Money or Love, to my mom. But when I think of the love I’ve experienced, she stands front and center.
In my early 20s, I fell in love with a woman, which didn’t go over well with Mom. It caused significant strain between us, which I’ve blogged about: http://www.heatherblackmore.com/blog/category/love-conquers-all. And since Mom died unexpectedly, we never got a chance to completely mend together. I believe without question that we would have, especially given the parallels between her and my mother-in-law and the latter’s shift over time to acceptance and inclusion because of her unyielding love for her daughter.
But I’ve never once doubted that my mom loved me. She was the quintessential mama bear, defending my brother and me unreservedly, teaching us right from wrong, being there for us every single day. Her laugh was full and infectious, her temper fiery, her work ethic strong.
[Here’s Mom celebrating a new bedside reading lamp. She was a voracious reader. Mysteries were her favorite.]
An extrovert, Mom always conversed easily with strangers, never embarrassed to ask for a recipe or offer an opinion. She was a loyal friend and had so many that the church liaison had to accommodate the number somehow when scheduling her memorial service, though I don’t remember the details.
The worst day of my life—12 years ago yet I cannot write this without tearing up—was the day we decided to halt Mom’s life support machines.
I’m not a tremendously visual person, but the last image I have of my mom—the one that’s indelibly carved into my memory and I see frequently in my mind’s eye—isn’t a happy one. I see her through a large window to a separate room where, alone, she lies on a gurney on her back under a white sheet, only her head showing. When the crematorium’s representative asked Dad and me who would make this final identification, I volunteered. To this day I’m not sure whether I regret it, but I hadn’t wanted my father to have to see Mom like that again. Part of me also wanted to say a final goodbye.
The thing is, you really can’t say goodbye to your mom. At least not one like mine.
[Me with my Dumb and Dumber bangs looking at Mom as if she were the most amazing person on the planet. She’s doing a crossword puzzle—something she always loved—and while she was probably wishing I’d let her get back to it, she always made time for me.]
In my new romance, For Money or Love, both main characters have lost their mothers. Jessica Spaulding’s mother died when she was young, and her stepmother leaves much to be desired. TJ Blake’s mother lost her husband and subsequently her will to live, leaving behind two daughters.
And while there is so much more going on in the book than these women dealing with life without mom, it’s a subject I know all too well, one that I’d much rather have written purely from imagination.
In For Money or Love, each woman’s loss is not in the foreground of her life. But every single day, their lives are impacted by their mother’s death. Jessica sacrifices part of who she is in order to placate her stepmom; TJ sacrifices what might otherwise be carefree college years in order to rear her much younger sister, Kara. I go through days without thinking of Mom, but then sometimes I miss her so severely that I nearly break down.
Mom is forever with me. I don’t know what it is about a mother-daughter bond, but it’s strong. For me, unbreakable.
If I have any strength, I got it from my mom. If I have any courage, I got it from my mom. If I have anything to give, I am able to give it because of my mom.
So it stands to reason that if I’m going to write about love, I’m going to do it well. And if I’m going to dedicate a novel to her, it’s going to be a damn good one. Because Mom.
For Money or Love is now available at Bold Strokes Books in paperback and eBook formats, as is a free excerpt: https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/for-money-or-love-by-heather-blackmore-1870-b
Heather Blackmore works in finance for SF Bay Area technology startups. In a seemingly counterintuitive move, she got her MSA and CPA with the goal of one day being able to work part-time so she could write. The right and left sides of her brain have been at war ever since.
Heather was a debut author finalist for the Goldie and Rainbow awards and contemporary lesbian fiction finalist for the Rainbow awards for Like Jazz.