We celebrate motherhood in this country with cards and flowers and phone calls. We make a big Hallmark holiday deal out of the day, but somehow, it’s never seemed fair to me that people who’ve lost a mother, or can’t, for one reason or another, have a relationship with theirs, have to endure the day. I remember when I was a little girl, one of my friends, whose mother had tragically died a few months before, spent Mother’s Day weekend with us. I remember feeling guilty, almost embarrassed, that my mother was alive. I remember wondering what my friend was thinking. How lonely and isolated she must have felt.
That was one of the themes that prompted me to write SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE, my seventh novel and first stand-alone thriller. In it I explore what happens when a mother, who died giving birth to her daughter, turns out to be a totally different person than the daughter thought. How might that affect her life, her sense of self, her future?
Lilia Hilliard, my protagonist finds out.
Lila is a thirty-something financial analyst who comes home to her father’s house in Chicago for the Christmas holidays. She goes out to do some errands, and when she returns, her father’s house has gone up in flames, trapping her father and brother inside. But that’s only the first attack. It turns out that someone is trying to kill Lila, and they’re serious. In her increasingly desperate search to find out who is after her and why, she uncovers information on her father’s computer that indicates her parents, activists during the late Sixties, were not the people her father had led her to believe they were.
The middle section of STNOF goes back to those times and traces the lives of six young idealists who came together at the Democratic National Convention of 1968 and lived together for two years. During that time, the reader will discover Lila’s parents’ secrets, secrets that threaten to kill her forty years later. But Lila still has to discover those secrets, and more important, save her life.
During the story, Lila comes to terms with her mother – and her father – and learns who she is. But she’s one of the lucky ones. For those of you whose mothers aren’t around, I would like to celebrate YOU on Mother’s Day. I hope you spend it with people you love, whoever they are.
So, Happy Mother’s Day