When the sound of school buses rumble down my street in early September, I’m
no longer waking excited little boys, pulling on new tennis shoes, grabbing Disney-
themed backpacks and heading out with my sons for that memorable milestone
experienced each fall—the first day of school.
Still, I carry memories of little hands tucked inside my own (hands with dirt still
under the fingernails, no matter how hard I scrubbed.) With nervous tension
displayed on my little guys’ faces, we’d walk the long hallways with shiny linoleum
floors, searching for their classrooms, past Welcome Back signs made of white
butcher paper. Teachers with kind eyes and wide smiles greeted us and pointed to
assigned desks. I’d help my boys unpack packages of bright yellow pencils, wide-
lined notebooks and fresh boxes of Crayolas, lingering until confidence replaced
apprehension (theirs and mine.) Finally, I’d kiss the tops of their freshly-shampooed
heads and walk back to my car with a lump in my throat.
Mothering is such a mixed bag, huh? A fusion of joy, sadness, of pride and surprise.
And sometimes fear.
I didn’t even know how many things there were to be afraid of until I had my first
child. From the moment the nurse placed that tiny infant in my arms, a fierce need
to protect bubbled from the deepest part of me. Especially when the time came to
drop my sons off at school.
Would there be bullies on the playground? Who would comfort my little guys if they
fell and scraped a knee? What if they didn’t eat their peas, instead bargaining away
one of those new pencils for a sugar-laden Twinkie?
As a novelist, I felt compelled me to ask: What would a mother do if she learned
the child she thought she’d protected had fallen into the hands of someone unsafe?
Someone in the school system?
And what if she found out too late?
Early, when the inception of my debut novel was still noodling in my brain, I saw
a sadly recurring event on the news, the story of a coach who had inappropriately
been involved with a teenager. During the legal action that followed, the cameras
honed on the major players in the courtroom, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the
girl’s mother was seated somewhere out of view of the cameras? What was she
I’m a former legal investigator and trial paralegal, who worked on many high profile
cases. People are often at their most vulnerable in these tense situations where
much is at stake, which has allowed me a unique perspective on the human psyche.
Early in my legal career, I recognized there could be value in writing stories about
people facing life-changing circumstances.
MOTHER OF PEARL tells the emotional story of a high school counselor who learns
her own daughter had an inappropriate relationship with the football coach, and
how this mother risks everything to bring him to justice.
KELLIE COATES GILBERT writes stories for moms, daughters, sisters and
girlfriends. Her fiction is about messy lives . . . and eternal hope. She’s been married for over thirty years, raised two sons and currently lives in Dallas with a very spoiled Yorkie named Ava.