Tag Archives: Joanna Chambers

I’m Done with Evil Mothers by Guest Joanna Chambers

Greetings! Darlings, as patient as you have been with me, Joanna Chambers has been the same. This post was supposed to go live in *mumbles* and … clearly that did not happen until right now. Fortuitously this is still very on point. So without further ado … What Ms. Chambers has to say.

I’m Done with Evil Mothers

BeguiledI have a gripe, and it’s this: I’m sick of reading about evil mothers in romance novels. I’m not saying there’s no room for evil mothers at all but I would like to see a lot fewer of them. I’m not asking for the sugar-sweet opposite extreme. I’m asking for proper characterisation. Nuance. I want to read about mothers who are recognisable as people. People who try their best, and sometimes fail. People who make mistakes but not because they are utterly malevolent. Just because they are as flawed as the rest of us.

I’m not sure what it is that bothers me so much when I read egregiously – sometimes bewilderingly – evil mother characters, but it’s not just that I am a mother myself – it’s something deeper around the casual vilification of women. When a book features an evil mother, there’s something of the Witchfinder General about it. Someone needs to be blamed for the bad things that have happened.

Someone needs to be the scapegoat. And it’s a mature woman. A witch. That just chafes.

It might be argued that the egregiously evil mother is so obviously over the top that she does no real damage. Readers know she is not *really* real. But I don’t want characters who read like cartoons! I want to believe in what I’m reading. I want to be drawn into the story. I want to *feel* it. And how can I feel it when some woman in metaphorical horns and a forked tail is sweeping around, behaving in a manner that makes no real sense?

The worst thing about the egregiously evil mother character is that it’s lazy writing. It’s too easy to give characters a painful childhood at the hands of an unarguably evil person. Too easy to create conflict by having a puzzlingly malicious woman do horrible things then conveniently exit stage left at the end of book, dead or scorned forever. She can tear through the story like a plague and the characters don’t have to do anything but react, puppets to her evil schemes, liberated by her death or exile. They certainly don’t have to do any interesting work for their own redemption. They don’t have to face up to truths about themselves or change. They just need to get rid of a witch.

EnlightenedWhy does this bother me so much, you might ask?

Well, lots of mothers (myself included) are pretty good at criticising themselves, without needing any assistance from anyone else, thank you very much. When I became a mother at thirty, I discovered that I’d gone overnight from being a capable person to being a novice at something again. I made lots of mistakes – and I still do, all the time – you’re always a novice, because just as you’ve got used to one stage, your children move on and you have to learn again. Being a mother is an eternal case of “fail better”. I wish I was a perfect mother, I really do, but I’m a very imperfect one. And it’s only now that I am (an imperfect mother) that I give my own mother a (retrospective) break.

The thing is this: there’s a journey to be had in life, lessons to learn. I feel – I feel strongly actually – that fiction can take you further along that road. That fiction can be a template for life, a parable for understanding others. For tolerance and empathy and all of those things we strive for. It can be a prism, exposing the colours of your thoughts and making you examine them. I’ve had my own beliefs tested and stretched by reading fiction. It’s powerful stuff.

So my plea is this: let’s give mothers a break in romance novels in future.

Bio: Joanna Chambers always wanted to write.  She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word.  In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children.  Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse.  Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture

The Dream AlchemistWhen the sun goes down, their passion awakens…and so do their nightmares.

Somnus, Book 1

Centuries ago, a man with Bryn Llewelyn’s dreamwalking ability would have been a shaman or a priest. In this time, he’s merely exhausted, strung out on too much caffeine and too little sleep.

Sleep means descent into Somnus—an alternate reality constructed of the combined dreaming consciousness of ordinary humans. A place he’d rather avoid. Trouble is, his powers don’t include the ability to go without sleep indefinitely. At some point his eyes close…and his nightmare begins.

As a teen, the treatment that cured Laszlo Grimm’s sleep disorder stole his dreams—and his ability to feel emotion. Petrified of needing more “treatment”, he clings to familiar rituals and habits. But lately his nightly terror has returned, and when he meets Bryn in the real world, the man seems hauntingly familiar. Not only that, Bryn awakens feelings in Laszlo for the first time in years…

Slowly Bryn and Laszlo realize they are both unknowing pawns in a plan of unspeakable evil. And that their powerful attraction could release the destinies locked within them—or be the instrument of their doom.

Warning: Contains the stuff of your lustiest dreams—and most frightening nightmares. You may want to read with a candle at the ready…just in case the lights go out.

So what do you think? Have you noticed this trend? Are there other tropes you’ve been seeing that you’re sick of? Also I’d like to note nobody is saying the books pictured are guilty of blanket evil mothers. Just that Ms. Chambers wrote them – and aren’t they pretty? 😀

Guest: Joanna Chambers!

Hi Everyone! Me again! Aren’t you glad you’ve been safe from me all week?! 😉 You should – it’s been a sulky one. Enough of that though, because we’ve got the wonderful Joanna Chambers visiting with us again, and this time with her author hat on! Yes! Her debut book will be out with Carina Press soon! All of you who love historicals, you’ll like this. And those of who don’t treat it as your go-to genre? Learning is fun! Cuz knowledge is power! 😛

Let’s hear it for Regency Romance!

Thanks for having me over again, Lime!  Today I want to talk about my unashamed love of that sometimes-maligned animal: the Regency romance.

My debut novel The Lady’s Secret is released by Carina Press on 7th November (buy it here!) and yes, it’s a Regency romance! I know some readers get fed up with the dominance of this period in the historical romance genre but I’m out and proud as a lover of the Regency.

So what was it all about?  Well, in 1811 Prince George, took over the reign of his father King George III.  His father was still alive but incapacitated by ‘madness’ (which it was later suggested, but never proven, may have been porphyria.  Accordingly, Prince George did not rule as his father’s heir and king during this period, but as his proxy.  As regent.  Hence ‘Regency’.

This situation continued until George III’s death in 1820 when Prince George became George IV.  Technically therefore, the actual Regency lasted only 9 years.  However the term ‘Regency’ is used with reference to anywhere from the late 18th century until 1837 when Victoria became Queen and the Victorian period began.  My own (very personal) take is that the ‘Regency period proper’ begins with the commencement of the Napoleonic Wars in 1803 until George IV’s death in 1830.

The Regency is a hugely fascinating time in British history, book-ended by two very different worlds.  Prior to the Regency, we have the world of the late 18th century.  A time of immense aristocratic privilege, with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle classes beginning to happen.  After the Regency, we have the Victorian period.  The age of steam and invention.  When the dominance of the aristocracy began to wane and the power of the industrialist middle class rose. And wedged in the middle of these two very different worlds, was the Regency, a time when all the tensions of money and class and industrialisation were brewing, against a backdrop of war and political unrest.

So no.  It wasn’t all just about going to Almacks to dance and Gunther’s for ices!  And that’s not the Regency you’ll see in The Lady’s Secret.  In fact, my hero and heroine come from quite different sides of the tracks.  Nathan is an earl and Georgy is a failed-actress-turned-stagehand who masquerades as a man to gain a position as his valet.  So while you get to see the world of the aristocrats (so familiar to romance readers!) you also get to see other worlds: the world of servant class, and the world of the theatre.

What about you?  Do you love the Regency period?  Hate it?  And what’s your favourite Regency romance?

Joanna Chambers has been blogging about romance as Tumperkin since 2007 at http://tumperkin.blogspot.com.  Her first novel, The Lady’s Secret, is released by Carina Press on 7th November. You can find an excerpt here.


Isn’t that interesting? I didn’t know. (I should though, shouldn’t I.) Ms. Chambers has also very kindly offered up a copy of her debut novel to one lucky commenter. So go on and answer her questions!

Special Guest: Joanna Chambers aka Tumperkin!

Today, we have the lovely and wonderful Joanna/Tumperkin visiting with us! She’s extra special, as you’ll see. The third Saturday of each month is reserved for my reader guests. Well, when I asked her, she hadn’t signed yet! But now she’s an author too! Congratulations! But today, she’s wearing her reader hat, so say hello! She’s been blogging for a few years now, and is going to talk about that. So please give Joanna a very warm welcome. And I’m not just saying that because she gave me an (unsolicited!) shout out. 😉

What has blogging ever done for me?

When I started blogging in 2007, my blogger profile was Tumperkin and I described myself as “Mum, lawyer and aspiring author”. I recently changed that profile. Now I am Joanna Chambers (Tumperkin) and I describe myself as “book lover, writer, reader, blogger”. Only one thing in my life has actually changed since then – I will publish my first novel later this year. I’m still a mum, still a lawyer, both circumstances I refer to at times when blogging but really, for me, blogging is about books.

I first discovered the online romance community in 2006. I was amazed to discover there was this online world where readers shared their enjoyment of romance novels. I knew incredibly little about romance publishing back then (only 5 years ago!) I’d not even heard of paranormal romance! In 2006, I bought probably 90% of my reading matter in UK bookshops (which are largely hostile – or at least indifferent – to romance). I’d read a lot of romance, thanks to the public library, between the ages of 12 and 18 but very little after that. By 2006, my romance reading was limited to picking up the occasional Mills & Boon (Harlequin) romance. Looking back, I realise I was craving romance and didn’t even know it at the time.

And then I stumbled, quite accidentally, into Romancelandia. A world which, despite its occasional flame wars, was surprisingly welcoming. And over the next few years, by virtue of my membership of this community, I learned lots about the romance genre and market and picked up hundreds of recommendations that have led me to read many, many books, some of which have brought me immense enjoyment. And right there –that’s everything I could have wished for and more besides.

But wait – there’s more.

Blogging didn’t just make me into a whole new reader. It helped me become a writer too. Would I have written my own novel if I hadn’t stumbled upon this community? You know what? I really don’t think so. First, I needed the community to show me that there were other readers like me and to teach me that romance novels were a valid reading choice. Secondly, I needed to learn that
I was never going to get anywhere with writing until I threw away my safety net and got sincere in my writing. Third, I needed help and guidance from other writers which I’ve been lucky enough to get in spades from my CPs (who I met online) but also from the many people online who’ve given words of wisdom and encouragement. Fourthly, blogging about books (and reading others’ blogs)
has forced me to articulate (and absorb) thoughts about reading and writing that might otherwise have remained half-formed and not quite realised.

So that’s what blogging did for me. It introduced me to whole pile of interesting, generous people, (like Lime!) who like talking about the same stuff as me, it enabled me to find hundreds of books I’ve loved and many authors I’ve glommed, and it kept me writing when I think I’d otherwise have given up. Not bad, eh?

What about you? What has blogging (or reading blogs) done for you?

Bio: Joanna Chambers has been blogging as Tumperkin since 2007 and is due to publish her first novel, The Lady’s Secret, with Carina Press on 7th November. You can find her at her “reader” blog, or her author site.