Novelists often turn the facts of their lives into fiction. For me, there’s always some truth along with the fiction, and depending on what book, it can be more or less. My first novel started with the idea of what kinds of things happen when you find yourself, at a young age, with a new step-parent (or two), and sometimes siblings from the step as well.
That idea alone is rife with conflict, something I’m always searching out to make my stories juicy. No conflict, no story. So here’s how I mined a situation of my own for the emotional truth in my story. When my two sons were very young (the little guy was only three, his big brother five), their father and I divorced. I’ve had endless guilt about that ever since, but that’s not what I chose to drive my story. Instead I wanted to use the adult childrens’ point of view.
My novel is about two sisters with issues, and one of the issues is that Cher, the older sister, never really accepted to her step-dad or half-sister into her heart. Her own father dies when she is young, and through flash back I show how it made Cher feel to lose her dad, and then lose her mom to another man (of course Cher was part of the family, but it felt like a loss to her). When her baby half-sister came along, things just got worse. Ariel tagged along with ten years older Cher, Cher babysat every weekend, Cher practically raised her little half-sister. And Cher, right up to the present day, resents Ariel for this (and a few bigger present day problems). This fuels an important plot point for Cher and for Ariel as I tell it from each of their point of views.
Now I’ll tell you the truth about how my ex and I blended our families. We both remarried, and our sons from day one accepted and eventually loved step-mom and step-dad. The transition that was difficult for them was the divorce, not the new marriages. Then came two half-siblings on their dad’s side and I never once have heard my kids call their new brother and sister anything but that, brother and sister. They had all the usual family stuff, as we did at our house, but the blending families went pretty smoothly, mostly due to my boys’ step-mom, who is a wonderful person and loves my boys like they are her own. My husband Al was good with the boys too and my three guys talked me into many a sporting event and camping trip.
So there you have it, fact turned into fiction. While I don’t use the true story, I use some of the emotion behind it. I kind of put myself in my sons’ place, but with the different sister twist, and that’s my story. And if blending families is something you are interested in, or you just like a good sister cat fight, you can buy Sister Issues for 99 cents on Kindle.