Mothers of the Roundtable Author Spotlight: Wailana Kalama

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: Wailana Kalama, author of  “Mother Trucker”


Q: Thematically, what was important for you to include?

A: I find myself going back to the question of what it means to be a villain, in the most mundane sense. Take that basic idea, and unpack it, and you get just what’s basically an average person. The biggest difference seems to be that they’re more motivated by fear than anything else. With “Mother Trucker” I wanted to see how I could build a story around such a person, kind of an anti-heroine. She makes one of the biggest decisions a mother could make. What does that decision do to her? To her world? To her daughter? Do you as the reader condemn or sympathize, and what does that tell you about yourself? Most of all, I wanted to play with the idea of how that trauma might ripple out – with deep-seated consequences – through her child, the radio waves, and the unseen forces that burrow in the soil.


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

A: I almost never know how the story will manifest. I usually see a scene, maybe a motif, and that’s it. I originally had a scene around the trucker and a hitchhiker but kept getting pulled back to the trucker. I wanted to know more about her, who was she, what was she running from? And I wanted to play with stereotypes, of what truckers are like, what mothers are like, and what daughters are like. 


Q: Are there any style/technique choices you made particular to this submission? How did they help you tell the story?

A: I wove in a lot of micro-stories that I’ve heard on the news/radio to build the setting, to give the sense of the story’s world as an ominous, oppressive space – especially when it comes to mothers/children. In society, we give a lot of lip service to mothers’/children’s lives, as if they’re intrinsically more valuable than others, but this doesn’t always reflect reality.


Wailana Kalama is a writer from Hawaii and holds a MFA in creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in places like BBC, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, and Electric Lit, and forthcoming in Dark Matter INK’s Monstrous Futures. She divides her time between Portland, OR and Lithuania. You can find her on Twitter at @Whylana.
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