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Friday, July 16, 2010

Sibling Relationships (in My Books)

So...Siblings! In my house the siblings are beating each other with miniature Louisville Slugger baseball bats. My husband was right when he said those were a BAD idea.

It seems to me, as a person who grew up without brothers or sisters, that maybe siblings are something that shapes your whole outlook on the world. Your personality...or maybe not? Like everything, I believe you have a mix of nature and nurture, so how a person reacts to a sibling with ADHD will be a mix of their own genetic predisposition and how their family/environment is shaped by that sibling.

In Parker Prescott, I wanted a character who appeared to be snobby but was really very vulnerable. I also wanted a middle child, a kid who seemed the easy well adjusted one, but in the end, wasn't. Having a "perfect" older sister like Paige set up the dynamic of appearing snobby, without Paige peers might have thought Parker was just quiet or shy, but following her popular older sister gave people preconceptions about what she might be like. And having Preston, the younger brother with ADHD just meant that her parents would be that much more distracted, that she would feel that much less important, but because she really loves Preston, his presence makes her more likable, I guess. I like snarky characters so I had no problem loving Parker!

Greedy, my book that may never be published, I started out writing a story about a bisexual character, and ended up writing a book about sisters. The difference was that in some ways their roles were reversed from Handcuffs. Molly was the extrovert, and the one who had to realize that her behavior affects her sister... I think that the sibling relationships are the heart of the book, as well as the conflict.

Sibling relationships, albeit screwed up ones, are also at the heart of The Fall. In writing it I started with what Poe had given us, isolated twins suffering from a malady. Poe's narrator was a childhood friend who had never visited the House of Usher, so I assumed that Roderick Usher had been away at school. The twins, Madeline and Roderick, had a relationship based upon intense devotion, made all the more intense by long periods of abandonment. They are also the only people who have (even a small chance) of understanding one another. This is the first thing I've written with twins or a male/female sibling dynamic.

Obviously, sibling relationships have found their way into all of my stories, and in really important, not just peripheral ways. Maybe it's fascination on my part, maybe it's plot necessity, I don't know. I also haven't noticed that I find books featuring an MC with siblings particularly more compelling that books with an only child. I guess it's something I'll be paying attention to in the future, as both a reader and a writer.

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