Crossposted from my Carina blog: (although I never ACTUALLY called her Mum – she hated it. It was Mummy or Mother.)
Four years ago today, my mother died. Yes, that’s a bit of a downer for this time of year, but I would like to share my mother with you guys, and explain why today isn’t a sad day in total.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. Not just for the obvious reasons of birth! My mother was a highly intelligent woman who probably would have been something amazing in public life had she been born another 20 years later. As it was she was born in poverty, educated herself and ended up as a headmistress.
She was passionate about the written word, and passed that obsession along to me, showering me with books since I was old enough to hold one. The great thing was that she very rarely censored what I read–and let me loose in the adult library as well as the children’s. I could read anything I found, with one exception–she wouldn’t BUY any Enid Blyton to have in the house as she didn’t consider Blyton to be a good enough writer. She told me in latter years that had the Potter books been around back then, she wouldn’t have bought them either. But of course that didnt put me off reading Blyton, and the very ban made me seek them out.
She was a writer too and she wrote a fictionalised account of her family, starting with her great great grandmother who had come from Ireland up to the 1940s. She never got it published, and one day I’d like to get it tidied up and submit it to places – for her sake.
But what I’d really like to share is her enthusiasm about my writing. I kept it from her for a few months because I was writing fanfic and I didn’t think she’d approve, but – being a mother – she knew I was "up to something" and eventually got it out of me. Telling her and Dad was almost like coming out as a bisexual all over again and it seemed more nervewracking but they both surprised me hugely and were amazingly supportive.
She agreed with me though, when I said that fanfic, although fun, was a bit pointless and when I started to write Standish she was there with me for every chapter. The amusing thing was that she wanted to read it as I went, but she wouldn’t read the gay sex–and so when I printed it out for her, I had to leave those sections blank. I made the ink "white" to do this. One day she said "there are six blank pages in this."
I said: "Yes but you said you didn’t want to read the sexy bits."
She said: "What are they doing for six pages?"
I said: "You said you didn’t want to know!"
She always said that one day I’d "stop writing this gay romance and one day write a great novel." My argument was always – "why can’t a gay romance be a great novel?"
Standish took a year or two to get into print, and I was able to put the printed copy into her hands, exactly two weeks before she died. She was SO proud. I read her the story in the hospital and she said that my next book (Transgressions) would do "big."
She was right. She was always right. I just wish she had been around to see it. She would have burst with pride with me being taken on by Carina. I do miss her, every day – and on 23rd December the most, but I’m truly truly grateful for everything she taught me, everything she did for me, and most of all, the way she believed in me and my writing.