The Star of the Show
By Courtney Pierce
May 17, 2022
Mom. What can you do when your mother is eccentric, flawed, funny, and perfect all at once? Well, writing a book is a good start. In my case, my mother’s crazy story took up three books: The Executrix, Indigo Lake, and Indigo Legacy titled The Dushane Sisters Trilogy. This funny and poignant series pairs fiction with a whole bunch of truth.
Since my Mom is still kicking at the age of 88, I really needed to get her permission to call her out on a lot of stuff that I’d be putting into the books.
The premise of the trilogy a showcase of three very different sisters who come together after the death of their mother. In the process of sorting out the safe, they find a manuscript for a murder mystery tucked behind the valuables. Its author is their Mom. The sisters never dreamed their mother had written a book . . . and the middle sister is a published author to boot. The combination of the sisters’ polarized personalities and numerous eccentricities sends them down a rabbit hole to seek the truth. Is the story true or strictly fiction? They find out after getting into loads of trouble when the manuscript is published. Mom’s story is that good.
Back to real Mom. I opened the book discussion with a delicate touch.
“I need to kill you off in the first ten pages,” I said. “By the ending you’re a hero.”
She came back at me with, “I don’t think I like that. How do I die?”
“Heart attack.” I swished my tongue across my front teeth. “But you’ll be the star of all three books, bigger than life.”
“In what way?”
“The sisters analyze their individual relationship with you, but you can’t be in the way. They need to be free to say what they want.”
“What are you going to say about me?”
I wrinkled my nose. “Oh, like how New Englanders hold a lifetime grudge against anyone who doesn’t return Tupperware.”
Mom’s eyes shifted. “You know that’s a pet peeve of mine.”
“I know,” I said, “And how you kept whiting out the date on your birth certificate to be younger, and then again to make yourself older to get senior discounts.”
Mom laughed. “Birth certificates are a bunch of nonsense, anyway. Chattle profit.”
Precisely. Mom was on board. I started to write.
This series celebrates my Mom, but just as important it celebrates my sisters. Sisters have unique relationships with mothers that encompass competition, unconditional love, respect, jealousy, and dedication. It all seems disparate until we hit our fifties. And then it all comes together.
Back to the story. When the sisters compare notes of their upbringing, after being forced together by circumstances, it dawns on all three of them that they were treated very differently by Mom. The youngest was spoiled, the middle child was left on their own to be independent, and the eldest got blamed for everything that went wrong. Then it becomes all about Mom. The three sisters get into so much trouble defending Mom’s reputation that it becomes like a female version of the Keystone Cops. They’re willing to risk their lives, literally, to vindicate their mother’s reputation. They crisscross the country, embarrass themselves on national television, get sued, and find love again in the process.
Mom is in their DNA. They each hold an individual piece of their mother.
I raised a glass of wine to my mother when I finished the final manuscript for the third book of the trilogy, my excitement hard to hide. “You know . . . this series is really about your three daughters unconditionally loving you for who you are, not for who they thought you should be.”
“That’s enough for me,” Mom said. “Get the final book published as soon as possible. My friends already want to buy the whole series, because I told them it was about me. Sign them, and then dedicate them all from me.”
Oh, Lord. I created a publishing nightmare.
But she did love all three books. Mom learned a lot about her daughters through my typing fingers, although she never admitted it.
Even though I killed my mother off several years ago in fiction, she’s alive and well at the age of 88 today (although she denies this age with layers of White Out). She still grows her veggies in containers and caters to her huge Maine Coon cat. And even after diabetes, heart surgery, and vein replacement, I think she’s a maternal Energizer Bunny.
Gotta love Mom. I stand at the ready. I’m the Executrix.
Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Kalispell, Montana with her husband, stepdaughter, and their brainiac cat, Princeton. Courtney writes literary fiction and women’s fiction for the baby boomer audience. She spent 28 years as an executive in the entertainment industry and used her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. She studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing.