The Mother-in-Law Gambit
by Catherine Asaro
Recently during a signing tour for my book, Catch the Lightning, my family and
I stayed with my mother-in-law at her home in New Mexico. The
night before the signing, I gave her a copy of the book. I was rather
disconcerted when she sat down next to me--and began reading.
Many writers feel comfortable reading their own work in front of
people. Far more difficult is to have someone else read it in front of
you. The whole time you are thinking, "What if they hate it? What if
they think it's dumb? What if they laugh?" Worst of all: "What if it
Now imagine your mother-in-law is reading your steamy romantic space
adventure. This is the mother of your six-foot-four, muscled,
I tried to read the newspaper and act nonchalant. After a few moments
she said, "Hmmm. This fellow is six-foot-four." A few minutes later:
"Hmmmm. I see. He has a lot of muscles. I wonder who we know like
Now mind you, I don't write my husband into my books, which I assured my
mother-in-law. However, certain similarities do exist.
Pages continued to turn. Then I heard, "So. A space scientist,"
followed a few minutes later by, "This girl and this fellow are getting
rather chummy, aren't they?"
At this point I began to sink into the cushions on the couch. My
mother-in-law is a lovely, charming lady in her eighties who grew up in
Scotland. Her father was Chair of the Chemistry Department at the
University of Edinburgh and her mother was a former opera singer. So
steamy romances are not exactly in her background.
Minutes later I heard, "Oh my. Goodness," followed by, "This young lady
will get into trouble if she doesn't watch out."
Mercifully my daughter and husband came in then, looking for me, and I
was rescued. Late that night, when I came out to get a drink of water,
I saw the light still on in my mother-in-law's bedroom.
By the next morning she had finished the book.
That afternoon some friends of hers came to visit. She introduced me as
My-Son's-Wife-the-Writer and showed them my book, with its innocuous
space ship on the cover. However, she cautioned them that "This book
does have some rather intimate scenes in it."
In fact, even as they were going out the door, she was still warning
them about those intimate scenes. Very much indeed about those intimate
Then she returned from seeing them to their car. Now imagine this; a
grandmotherly woman with apple-red cheeks, huge eyes, and wire rimmed
glasses, her voice with the touch of a Scottish burr, her eyes gleaming
with mischief as she rubs her hands together and says, "Now they'll
REALLY go out and buy your book!"
Please tell us what you think!