Happy May Day, my friends. Today, the basket I have for you isn't full of treats, it's full of secrets.
Recently my visit on a friend’s blog invited me to explain five secrets about me that few people know. Our novels’ heroes and heroines wouldn’t find the assignment an easy one, because it’s their secrets (often unbeknownst to them) that tend to get them into trouble. My hero in my new novel, CEZANNE’S GHOST was accidentally responsible for a man losing his eyesight. Ever since the incident, he’s isolated himself from conflict, in specific, and people, in general.
We all have secrets, some of them not even clear to us because they are buried deeply and come in flashes of confusing images. Never one to let such sleeping dogs lie (in the same way we authors force our characters to ‘man up’) I plotted with my sister to answer a series of questions about our upbringing.
The questions are bold and probing, so if you’re in the habit of putting your characters through more angst than you are willing to take, this legacy survey might not interest you. Seriously, this is heavy stuff. Here’s a sample of the easy questions-it’s a long, involved study! (I’ve tried to find the origin of this survey, but can’t. Sorry):
1. The best qualities of my mother were:
2. The best qualities of my father were:
3. The worst qualities of my mother were:
4. The worst qualities of my father were:
5. What I loved most about my mother:
6. What I loved most about my father:
7. My mother showed her love for me by:
8. My father showed his love for me by:
9. When I was afraid, my mother/father would:
10. When my family celebrated an event (Christmas, an achievement, etc.), we would:
11. I often felt most secure when my mother/father would:
12. My favorite memories of me and my family were:
My hypothesis going into the project was my sister’s answers would be 180 degrees different from mine. She is my older sister by one year, but I turned out to be the rebel while she remained the stolid home-loving sort. She’s mother of the year; great cook; lover of hearth and home. Three wonderful kids.
Me? No kids, by choice. Edgy teacher, out-of-the-box high school principal. Now heavy into writing, I have a third full-blown career while my sister relishes her grandmother role.
Back to the questions and answers. My sister and I shared afterward. No prior discussion or consultation. The similarities? Striking! Her views and the secrets she held over all these years, matched mine.
We’re convinced the experience brought us closer, but I don’t assume that would be true in every family. Our three brothers have been invited to answer the questions, but none of them have taken on the challenge.
My conclusion: All families have secrets, flaws and foibles. It feels freeing to look at them, regard them as shared experiences and move past them, trying not to pass on the quirky, unproductive behavior to our children. No family is perfect, but sharing the strengths as well as the faults of a family helped my sister and I move on and improve. We wish we’d taken the survey sooner, however, and hope the nieces, nephews and grandkids take our advice to analyze their upbringings so they are better prepared to be parents if they choose that route.
At the very least, the questions might help you get to the crux of the issues your hero/heroine have about their mothers and fathers as well as the problems they have with choosing mates and parenting.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of the whole survey (author unknown) e-mail me at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, I’m hoping FEAR LAND is on a course to get judged by InD’Tale. You can help bring my story to their attention by voting for my book….May 1, today, is the Last Day to Vote! Subscribe and log in to http://www.indtale.com/2016-rone-awards-week-two Scroll to the Suspense category and vote for FEAR LAND!