Sunday, April 21, 2013
Family Relationships and Writing From The Heart
When I wrote HER SISTER, I knew it was a departure from the type of book I usually write. It's women's fiction with romance and mystery. But is it really so different? One element that has always characterized my books is family relationships. Whether I'm writing the ultimate romance or adding a mystery or suspense plot, family trumps all.
There are many reasons for that. Although I was an only child, my extended family was large. My parents and I lived with my grandfather and aunt until I was five and then my parents built a house next door. I ran between the houses as if they were both "home." On summer mornings I can remember my aunt singing while she made breakfast. When I was home sick from school, I stayed with my aunt and my grandfather until my parents returned home.
My paternal grandfather's house was located on a corner lot. My neighborhood friends and I had the run of both properties to skate around, to ride bikes around, to pretend and imagine and create scenarios that we brought to life, whether it was a western script or simply a family one. Sundays were usually spent with relatives at my grandfather's house next door. Decades-old elms cascaded over park benches where my aunts and uncles would sit and talk. My dad had nine brothers and sisters, so someone was always coming and going, bringing food, cooking food, laughing and enjoying a glass of wine. My favorite cousin became a confidante as we grew older into teenage crushes, discussed favorite music and even wrote a script together.
On my mom's side of the family, I had seven aunts and uncles. They were scattered a bit more so I didn't see them as often. But every Friday evening my parents and I would drive to my maternal grandparents' house to pick up fresh food my grandmother had purchased for my mom at the farmers' market. They lived in a row house across the alley from the market. My grandfather's barber shop was on the first floor. The living room was on the second floor but we hardly ever used it because around the huge dining room table was where all the conversation swirled. On those Sundays we weren't visiting with family next door, we drove to my maternal grandparents' house for supper. This was life. Everyone was connected.
I've lost my parents and all of my aunts and uncles. With those losses, memories become even more precious. In HER SISTER, I drew on memories of my uncle's farm where my dad and another uncle worked, too, raising tobacco. I remember going out into the tobacco field with them on a flatbed trailer being pulled by a tractor. I helped push the tobacco leaves onto lathes before they were hung in the barn. I can still remember the sun on my face, the smells of harvesting, the enjoyment of feeling free on that farm. In HER SISTER, this was Amanda's background. One summer she shared it with Max when they fell in love.
So to write this book, I analyzed what happened when a family fell apart because their three-year-old was abducted. Then I imagined what could happen as they found their way back to each other in the midst of another crisis.
After writing for twenty years, last year I sold a mystery series. I found the genre fit perfectly and I love the challenge of devising puzzle pieces that fit together to weave a story. So in HER SISTER, I decided to combine everything I like best about writing--an emotional plot with romance and mystery.
I hope you enjoy it, too.
©2013 Karen Rose Smith
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Karen Rose Smith's romance website
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