A writer friend used to say, “No one completely escapes their family.” When she was coming up with a character for a story, she always took into account how the character’s family affected his life–if the person had a happy childhood, a miserable one, if he was close to his parents and siblings or tried to escape them.
In my Karnie Cleaver series, Karnie works in her family’s butcher shop. Her mother’s sister and her two kids work part-time there, too. They all get along. Her brother, Chuck, spends most of his time in the back room, cutting the meat.
Their older brother, Porter, moved to Florida to open his own seafood store. He wasn’t satisfied being part of the family business. He often complained about living in Indiana. He wanted something bigger and more exciting. But when he runs into problems, he decides to move back home. When their dad tells Karnie and Chuck that Porter’s returning and wants to work with them, it opens old wounds.
To their parents, Porter was always the golden boy who could do no wrong. The favorite. And their dad still thinks of him that way. Porter wants to convert one section of their shop into a seafood counter for him to run, and their dad loves the idea. Anything to make Porter happy. And just like the story The Prodigal Son, it rubs Karnie and Chuck the wrong way.
It’s going to be interesting to me to write about Karnie’s family in inner turmoil. They all enjoyed each other and got along so well, they were easy to write. Their scenes will be trickier now. But that’s how families are. A lot of dynamics go into close relationships. Blood is thicker than water, though. Usually. And they love each other enough to find solutions, but some of them might be bumpy ones.