Mothers of the Roundtable Author Spotlight: Donyae Coles

May 8, 2023

R. Leigh Hennig gathered many of the amazing authors from Mother: Tales of Love and Terror for a council at the roundtable about writing, mothers, and horror. Join us as we pop in for a brief spotlight on how the stories of Mother, and their makers, worked their horrible magic to create this book.


Author Spotlight: Donyae Coles, author of  “Puererium”


Q: What inspired your story?

A: Being a mother who has a mother. I knew that I wanted to explore that through the lens of story. That’s so simple! I feel like there needs to be more but that’s it! 

Q: Do you ever see yourself revisiting the topic or theme or your story?

A: I write about mothering a lot so I do think I will revisit this topic again. Being a mother is a complex thing. There are layers in this single relationship that can be explored further and I think I probably just touched the surface of things. 

Q: Did you know what you wanted to do with this story from the start, or did it surprise you?

A: I had a general idea. Vibes if you will. But the way it took shape and how it ended was very surprising to me. I knew how I wanted it to go, what I wanted the ultimate end to be but the things the story anchored itself in I didn’t expect. Like, I didn’t expect the husband to be any part of it until I wrote about how he was going back to work and then I was like, oh yeah, this is important. 

Q: What was your process for writing this, and did that at all differ from your usual approach?

A: I started this in the normal way but something wasn’t clicking. I happened to be reading Refuse to be Done by Matt Bell at the time and decided to take some of the advice from his book and did something I never do. I changed the POV from third to first. I was scared to do it because it felt REALLY personal then but I think it served the story and allowed me to dive deep into the narrative in a way that third wouldn’t. 

Q: Do you have any thoughts on turning this story into something longer, or do you feel the tale has been told?

A: I do! My story happens in a small time period but I want to explore it from different angles and that can only be done in a longer work. It’s not really about the outer ends of the story, I think the story itself is the story, it remains the same no matter what, but there are parts of it I’d like to dive into more. 

Q: Have you explored these themes before, and if so, to what depth?

A: The surface of the story, a mother who is dealing with her own complicated relationship with her mother, no but I think this speaks to a greater theme of inheritance that I do explore in a lot of my work. How we deal with the things that are imparted to us by others. How do we keep them or heal them or however we’re dealing with them?


Donyae Coles is a horror and weird fiction writer. She has had a number of her short works published, a full list can be found on her website, www.donyaecoles.com. Her debut novel is forthcoming. You can follow her on Twitter via @okokno for updates.
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