MEET Lillian’s Mother, DAHLIA DOVE
Sweet and Sour, A Mother-Daughter Relationship
CRAFT OF CHARACTER:
I interview all of my major characters before writing each book. I like to have a handle on who they are, what they want and why, and if they will someday achieve their desires. Below you will find an interview I have done with Lillian’s mother, Dahlia.
As the protagonist, readers easily know Lillian Dove’s wants, dislikes, struggles, urges, and misadventures in the Lillian Dove Mystery series. But Dahlia—Lillian rarely refers to her as mother—she is only known through Lillian’s eyes. Yet, Dahlia’s actions and reactions are just as complex as her daughter’s. It’s why I thought interviewing Dahlia Dove might be eye-opening.
Q: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, Dahlia. I understand this is the first time you have agreed to speak to someone about your relationship with Lillian.
A: Nothing much else to do today but sit and count the flies on the window. Got me jailed here at Oaks Manor. But, I plan to break out and be on my own, soon.
Q: I understand you had several strokes and had to come here to live. It’s why Lillian moved to Frytown, wasn’t it? To take care of you?
A: I can die just as well here as well as in my condo. (looks away) Didn’t ask her to come.
Q: Yes, well, many who have read Admit to Mayhem and Suppose feel you come across abusive to your daughter. How do you see your relationship?
A: Abuses me? (nods sharply) You can say that again. Like I said, she keeps me imprisoned, but I’m breaking out. I’ve got it all planned.
(sucks on her bottom lip, looking out the window) That girl came into the world wailing, thinking life’s unfair. Well, take it from me, Lillian June Dove, (now she leans slightly out of her wheelchair and stares directly across the room as if Lillian were with us), life isn’t fair. No matter what you want, you’re going to get something different. (stares over at me) If you could have picked your life, would you picked the one you got?
Q: Well, I…um…I understand your husband had problems, and Lillian has struggled with alcohol most of her life. But, I bet you’re very happy about her recovery.
A: Is she saying stuff about her Dad? Let me tell you, missy, Elvin Dove did the best he could with what he’d been given. You can’t ask for more than that from any human being. If he could pick, do you think he’d ask for the same life?
(she puffs air out from between her smacked lips.) I did the best I could, working two jobs, raising three kids. What do you do for a living?
Q: (Apologetically) I’m sure you were a good mother.
A: Does Lillian say that?
Q: (Nervously) Well, I….
A: (puffs air again between her lips, leans bent over in half, close.) I tried to keep bad things from happening to that girl. Don’t think I didn’t. No matter what I did, she was bound and determined to ruin her life. Doesn’t listen any better today.
(leans back, a bit puffed up like an old hen sitting on her nest) I warned her to stay away from Edgar Pike, don’t think I didn’t. The girl’s lucky she didn’t get herself killed. (shrugs) What do you do with a girl who lives in her mother’s condo, won’t get out, and a then you find out a guy winds up dead in the kitchen? My kitchen!
(gives me a few seconds to think about the question, then, she squints one eye and stares at me with the other, nodding.) Didn’t think you’d have a good answer. Let me tell you, it ain’t been easy.
Q: Do you see a time when you and Lillian will be close?
A: Who says we ain’t close?
Q: Well…ah…there are difficulties between the two of you.
A: What’s your name?
Q: D. J. Adamson. I am the author of the series.
A: Author? (smacks her lips as if she doesn’t approve of the profession) Mothers and daughters don’t always see eye-to-eye. Do you get along with your mother?
Q: Actually, she is a lot like you, except…
A: See there. Told you. (begins to wheel away out of the room)
Q: (hurrying to stop her) I have just one or two more questions.
A: (turns) Well, hurry up. I’m wasting heartbeats sitting here.
Q: (waiting two beats, so the question has effect) Do you love your daughter, Dahlia?
A: (appears shocked at the question, head rises on her neck, eyes wide, she begins wheeling her chair back over to me, slowly, purposefully, and I begin worrying what to do if she should attack)
Love her? (she is now inches away from me, so close, our knees almost touch.)
What a hell of a question to ask me. She’s my daughter.
Without another word, Dahlia Dove whirls her wheelchair around and leaves the lobby of Oaks Manor where we held our conversation. I will say this, she is a formidable woman. As Lillian often describes her: She is a woman who when she came home from working two jobs could hold a kid under each arm, fold the laundry and still kick my butt.
Brusque, snappy, but there is also something tender and affecting about Dahlia. Like her daughter, she is a survivor.
Dahlia Dove, Bio: Mid-seventies.
Born and raised in New Liberty, Iowa.
Married Elvin Dove when a young girl.
Unable to have children until her late thirties, early forties.
Lillian was her first, and her only daughter.
Quiet, reserved. Dahlia has trouble describing feelings and tends to be unemotional. Not very affectionate. She can seem to be insensitive to the misfortunes of others. She is not generally complimentary. However, she is loyal to those she loves. She has a definite value system which she feels has helped her survive in her challenging life. She most definitely loved her husband, Elvin. She, too, like Lillian, is unconcerned with respecting laws and rules if they get in the way of getting things done. She seems not comfortable in unfamiliar situations, yet is very capable.
Book one, Admit to Mayhem-- Dahlia almost dies from an overdose.
“My mother was never sick. Nothing ever struck my mother down. And yet, lying in that bed was a mommy, pale and vulnerable. My inner child shook to my infantile core.”
In book two, Suppose, the doctor tells Dahlia she is much better. She takes this to mean she doesn’t need to live at Oaks Manor any longer. She forces Lillian out of the condo and she moves in.
White permed curls change in book 3, Let Her Go. Like Lillian, Dahlia is evolving.
In Let Her Go, the third of the Lillian Dove series: Days before Christmas, cold and snowing, Lillian spots a man injured in front of his home, and finds, too, his wife dead, his son critically injured, and his teenage daughter missing. As she becomes tied up in the case, she finds she must let go of clues she ill-perceives in order to solve the case and to accept her next personal truth.