Fellow MuseItUp author Sara Jayne Townsend has not one but two books in her amateur sleuth series coming out this fall. DEATH SCENE releases on September 22 and DEAD COOL comes out on November 25. Lets give a big welcome to her as she discusses a topic I know all about: sibling rivalry!
By Sara Jayne Townsend
I am the eldest of three siblings – all female. Middle Sister is two and a half years younger than me; Youngest Sister is eleven years younger. I confess I wasn’t particularly close to either of them when we were growing up. In high school I was a nerd, with terrible dress sense (and old photos carry evidence of this). Middle Sister found me rather embarrassing and preferred to pretend she didn’t know me. When I was fifteen, Youngest Sister was four. I was sometimes obliged to do babysitting duty, and I found this something of a burden. However, now we are all adults, the age gap seems smaller and the differences in personality less important.
There can’t be too many siblings who don’t squabble at some stage while growing up, even if they end up being the best of friends. It seems to be part of family life. And sibling rivalry became important when I created my amateur sleuth, Shara Summers. However, I decided that the teenage resentment she had of her sister Astrid gets carried over into adulthood. The character needed to have family issues. Sibling rivalry was an issue I could relate to, and it made sense for her to still be dealing with this.
Shara’s back story is that she grew up with her younger sister, a Canadian father and an English mother. They start off in England, they move to Canada, and then when Shara is a teenager her parents divorce. Her mother moves back to England, her father stays in Canada. The daughters are given a choice as to which parent to stay with. Shara elects to stay in Canada, as she’s about to start university there. Astrid moves back to England with her mother.
Geographical distance between family members is also familiar to me, but with Shara I wanted to take that a step further. An important theme in DEATH SCENE is that no matter how far you run, you can’t escape loving your family. Shara is holding on to old resentment of her sister, which she is obliged to deal with during the course of the novel. Flawed characters are, of course, more interesting than characters who never make mistakes, but if you want your readers to like your characters enough to stick with them through a series, they need to learn from their mistakes and change throughout the series.
I did not base Shara’s sister Astrid on either of my own sisters. But I was able to use my relationship with them as a reference point. I am a wiser person now than I was then, and this has improved my relationship with my siblings. But I like to think my dress sense has improved over the years, and that may well be a factor, too.
Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.
The first two books in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2014. DEATH SCENE, the first book (and a re-release) will be available from 22 September, with the sequel, DEAD COOL, released on 25 November. Both are available for pre-order from the MuseitUp online book store: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/70-our-authors/authors-t/420-sara-jayne-townsend