I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading about sibling relationships, which is ironic, given my own non-relationship with my brother, and the extreme stress caused by various family members, particularly in-laws. I definitely feel more comfortable with fictional families than real ones.
When it comes to writing about siblings, I find my inspiration to do so from within, from my reading, and from various experiences of relationships in general, including friendships.
Sibling relationships are fascinating and complex. Consider different family positions: eldest, youngest, middle children. One of two, three, four, or ten. Only children, where siblings are almost a presence through their very absence – and somehow, I can relate strongly to that one. Half and step siblings.
And of course, one of my favourites: twins. Also, triplets and beyond – something I would love to explore. I’ve written about identical and fraternal twins, but primarily the former. There are twin girls, Jade and Jessica, in my novel, Distorted Perceptions. Jade and Jess are very much a case of identical on the outside, but not so much in other respects.
And in fact, sibling relationships are important throughout Distorted Perceptions. Lucy, the protagonist, is the second youngest of five, with two older brothers, Matthew and Danny, an elder sister, Catherine, and a younger sister, Sarah. The twins just mentioned, Jade and Jessica – along with their elder sister, Bonnie – are Lucy’s nieces. Well, that may be a simplification, but I can’t say more without getting into spoilers.
I find that sibling relationships are an element that draws me in as a reader, too. Jane Austen does an excellent job of exploring sibling relations in her various works – most notably, for me, the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice, and Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. And don’t forget that the Elinor and Marianne sister friendship is contrasted with the more difficult relationship with Elinor and Marianne’s half-brother, John, and his controlling wife. Going beyond Jane Austen, another sister relationship that I enjoy is the one between Dorothea and Celia in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. I must also admit that I grew up on Sweet Valley High books, and Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield definitely helped to fuel my interest in twin characters in fiction.