It’s Super Bowl Sunday! It’s the fourth quarter, and what I thought would be an easy win for Atlanta is now turning into a shaky game. The Giarratanos are Jets fans, which means we root against the Patriots by default. So…I don’t know. I’m nervous. Also, I have an informal bet with my cousin — a bottle of vodka is on the line — and I want to win.
So February’s theme is relationships. One of my favorite themes to explore in my own writing is familial relationships. Sure, I always have a romantic subplot, but I love to analyze complex issues within the family. And not just immediate family, but extended, and multi-generational too. In Grunge Gods and Graveyards, my main character lives with her widowed father, and sister, but relies heavily on the guidance of her great aunt and uncle. In Dead and Breakfast, my female protagonist lives with her great aunt and mother. She doesn’t get along with her mother, but finds that maternal connection with her aunt. The male protagonist lives with his grandfather, who raised him. Even the nemesis has a close relationship with her grandparents. In my latest book, Solitary Boys, both of my male protagonists have shaky relationships with their older sisters. In fact, it’s the disappearance of one of the sisters that drives the mystery. What happened to her? And why?
(Jesus, it’s a tied game!)
There’s a lot authors can do with familial relationships within mysteries, and it’s more than just providing an interesting subplot. Protecting family can be a primary motivator in solving crimes. A sister goes missing. A brother is wrongly accused. A daughter is killed. Characters, like real people, will go to great lengths to save those they love. And let’s not forget about secrets! Oh man. You want to pen a great story, build a mystery around some deep, dark family secret (VC Andrews was a master of this. Creepy, but effective).
(And now, we’re in overtime.)
What’s your favorite family dynamic to explore? For me, it’s sibling relationships. As a mother, I won’t even consider penning a dark mystery where harm might come to children. Marriage is cool too, but I feel like there’s an abundance of marital thrillers.
What’s your favorite familial relationship to read about?