Created My Dream Family

Lynne Bryant Author Interview

The Mother Gene follows a doctor near retirement who, while trying to secure her legacy for future generations, uncovers a hidden family secret. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

A few particular things come to mind. The first was that I’d developed a fascination with the DNA testing that has become so popular over the past several years. I’d read stories about people who had thought of themselves one way for their entire lives, ordered a DNA test, and suddenly realized they were not who they thought they were, bringing to mind the age-old nature/nurture question. I even ordered my own DNA profile and, unlike my character Miriam’s, it did not hold any surprises—an amalgam of mostly English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish heritage.

Another inspiration was a deep-dive into the culture of the beautiful state of Virginia. I’ve visited Virginia once or twice a year for the past twenty-plus years, since my wife is from there. We moved to Radford, Virginia, in the western part of the state, for a couple of years and I taught nursing at Radford University. I learned so much about the culture of the region when I was assigned as a clinical instructor for the community health course. I met faculty members in other departments who were experts in Appalachian history. I learned about the 1927 Buck versus Bell Supreme Court decision which allowed compulsory sterilization of the “unfit” in Virginia and I began researching the “science” of eugenics that was so popular in the early 20th century. I was also fascinated by the mountain midwives, who rode on horseback into the hollows to provide healthcare for women and children. Then there were the contemporary issues Appalachians still face: poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and the ever-present threat of opioids.

Out of this rich historical context, I was inspired to imagine women of three different generations navigating their own reproductive years. My own questions about motherhood and what it means to be a mother permeated the story of each of the three main characters as I began to imagine the what ifs inspired by Virginia’s complex culture.

Your characters are wonderfully emotive and relatable. Were you able to use anything from your own life to inform their character development?

Thank you! Where to start? First of all, the answer is a definite yes. My Mississippi grandmother and the passing of my mother provided inspiration for the strong women I write about. My own experience as a nurse, particularly in public health, has given me the privilege of an intimate understanding of people’s lives in the context of their cultures. Having lived two very different lives myself—one as a heterosexual, Southern Baptist, conservative, married mother and the second as a lesbian, liberal, non-Christian mother by donor insemination—provides a lot of life experience to draw from! I have created chosen family when my biological family was no longer an option. And then there’s the life-long process of struggling with self-doubt about myself and my mothering, making hard decisions to take care of myself and my children, a lot of therapy, and a renewed sense in my 60s of self-assurance, peace, forgiveness, and a desire to manifest love. I sort of created my dream family in The Mother Gene—a queer fairy tale, if you will.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Of course, what it means to be a mother. Mothering—as a verb, not a sanctified place in society. Choices, in particular women’s choices around mothering—including the choice not to have children—was a huge theme for me. Chosen family and the ways people make family are really important themes for me.

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

I’m currently considering pulling out an already-written manuscript and re-writing it from a new perspective. It’s historical fiction in its current form, following the lives of 4 very different women and set during the explosion of women’s rights and choices in the very early twentieth century. I’m considering adding a contemporary timeline and pulling through the issues women face across the decades. Seems to be a pattern for me. And then there’s the possibility I’ll start something entirely new. So, I don’t have a date for publication set yet.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Dr. Miriam Stewart works tirelessly to help Appalachian women gain control over their bodies-to make a deliberate decision whether to be a mother. Bone-weary, but with a nagging fear of the obsolescence of retirement, Miriam is sandwiched between two frustratingly independent women; neither will listen to her advice. Her aging mother, Lillian, a locally beloved, retired mountain midwife, refuses to leave her farmhouse nestled deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Olivia, her thirty-year-old daughter, searches for the perfect sperm donor for the baby she’s determined to have.

When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity promises her work legacy will continue, Miriam’s passion is renewed. But her carefully ordered world explodes when the fulfillment of her dream collides with her mother’s long-kept secrets. Secrets that undermine the very foundation of Miriam’s beliefs about who she is, her career, and especially, what it means to mother. Miriam is faced with an impossible choice.

In The Mother Gene, Lynne Bryant casts a contemporary story of mothers and daughters against the backdrop of a not-so-distant dark time in American history, when powerful forces sought to control who should have children. Three generations of women struggle with the intertwined choices of sex, love, pregnancy, and motherhood.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on February 24, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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