Alexa Hailey on Exploring Mother-Daughter Relationships in Fiction

Alexa Hailey is a freelance and fiction writer from Massachusetts. Her fiction work has been published in Spelk, Flash Fiction Magazine, Vamp Cat Magazine, and others.

Her short story “Mom’s Hot Chocolate” is published in Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition. The story begins with the narrator’s homemade hot chocolate failing, tasting watery and grainy. The narrator decides to go to her mom’s house and ask for a cup of good hot chocolate: “That could be the key, the time machine. It could transport me to a point before desperate loneliness, before lovers who took everything, even the cat.” The narrator travels home and bears witness to her mom’s unkempt, messy house, wondering if it was worth it just for a cup of hot chocolate.

Capsule Stories: Where did the idea for this story come from?

Alexa Hailey: This story starts with a description of hot chocolate, and for me that description was the spark of inspiration for the rest of the story. 

Capsule Stories: Almost in contrast to the mother’s hoarding habit, background details about the narrator are sparse. It has the effect of keeping us very much in the present moment and allows us to see ourselves as the narrator. How did you decide how much to reveal about the narrator’s life and background?

Alexa Hailey: The narrator is a way for us to see the perception of motherhood. Details about her are sparse because she’s really not the focus of the story; rather her perception of her mother reveals what’s important here.

Capsule Stories: You write so tenderly about the mother-daughter relationship. Why did you want to tell this type of story about such a complex relationship?

Alexa Hailey: As a mother of daughters, and a daughter myself, I think about the nature of the mother-daughter relationship often. The character in this story has a very different relationship with her mother than I have with mine. My mother and I are very close. With this piece I think I was exploring the idea of the mother as a caregiver only. The mom in this story has lost all identity in her daughter’s eyes. I think this is something that society does to moms. We’re seen as mom first and foremost, and all other aspects of ourselves are secondary. 

Capsule Stories: What ideas or images did you cut from earlier drafts of this story?

Alexa Hailey: Instead of cutting my first draft, I actually added to the piece. I added more references to the narrator’s background. The ending of my original draft was a little abrupt, but Capsule Stories editor Carolina VonKampen did a wonderful job helping me with it! 

Capsule Stories: Which story by someone else do you wish you’d written?

Alexa Hailey: There are so many great stories out there, it’s hard to pick just one! I did really admire two of my fellow Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition contributors. “The Song in the Well” by Rebecca Harrison and “Dandelion-Head” by Abigail Swoboda are two of my favorite short fiction pieces in this collection. 

To stay up to date with Alexa Hailey’s creative writing, follow her on Twitter at @lexabobexa.

You can read Alexa Hailey’s short story “Mom’s Hot Chocolate” in Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition, available in paperback.

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