Monday 23 March 2020

Laura Besley, "The Almost Mothers"

Laura Besley writes short (and very short) fiction in the precious moments that her children are asleep. Her fiction has appeared online (Fictive Dream, Spelk, EllipsisZine) as well as in print (Flash: The International Short Story Magazine) and in various anthologies (Adverbally Challenged, Another Hong Kong, Story Cities). The Almost Mothers is her first collection and is published by Dahlia Publishing.

About the book
The Almost Mothers by Laura Besley is a flash fiction collection exploring the theme of motherhood.

A first-time mum struggles with her newborn baby. An alien examines the lives of Earth Mothers. A baby sleeps through the night at long last.

Written with raw honesty, Laura Besley's debut flash collection, The Almost Mothers, exposes what it really means to be a mother. 

Below, Laura talks about the experience and process of writing the book. 

Writing The Almost Mothers 
By Laura Besley

I stopped writing for about a year after having my eldest son. Not because I wanted to, but because I was exhausted: physically, mentally, emotionally, and it left no space for anything else. When I started writing again, in fits and starts, one of the first pieces I wrote was ‘The Motherhood Contract.’ Elspeth, the main character, is not me, but like me, she is struggling with becoming a mother, and making sense of her world now that she is a mother. 

As I started writing more, I noticed that I had a growing number of pieces about motherhood, with different characters, covering different facets of motherhood, and in 2018 I did FlashNano (write a piece of flash fiction for every day of November) and most of these pieces were about motherhood too. In December 2018 I put the collection together to enter into a competition. It was long-listed and this gave me the confidence to submit to Dahlia Books when Farhana Shaikh, editor and director, put out a call for submissions in April 2019.  

There’s been a surge in ‘honest’ writing about motherhood, something I felt was lacking only five or six years ago when I first became a mother. There was an expectation of motherhood and the gap between that and reality, I felt at least, was insurmountable. I’d like to think that the overall message of this collection is honesty; we’re not all going to find it easy. 

Here’s an extract from one of the stories:

From ‘The Motherhood Contract.’

You must not tell the mother-to-be that she will lose herself.

Elspeth feels cheated. No-one warned her that she would no longer recognise herself: physically, mentally, and in every other way. She looks in the mirror and wonders who that person is with pale skin and massive purple globs under her eyes; lank and greasy hair; and a body that still looks six months pregnant months after birth.

Meeting her old friends no longer holds appeal as she has nothing to talk about but the baby, and their frustrations seem so trivial. Meeting the women from her antenatal class is unappealing because all they talk about is babies. And going out without the baby isn’t an option.


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