I’m hard at work on the eighth volume in the
family series, a set of Regency romances about the children of the Duke of Moreland. Like many titled fellows of the day, His Grace’s children were not all born to his duchess, though—once he learned of his two pre-marital by-blows—all of his offspring were raised under the ducal roof. Windham
The Moreland Miscellany consists of three sons and five daughters, though Their Graces also lost one son to the Napoleonic Wars, and another to consumption. A family this size and of this composition would be typical of the day (George III had fifteen children, William IV had at least ten (all illegitimate), and
had nine), but that’s a minor reason for why I constructed my cast of characters this way. Victoria
The sibling relationship is seldom without intensity. Siblings generally know us longer and better than anybody else on the planet, including our parents. Siblings are often the first people about whom we feel protective (though as toddlers we can be possessive of our parents), and particularly for boys, sisters are often the first females for whom they feel responsible (Dad having Mom’s protection assigned to him). At the end of life, when our children are grown and gone, and our parents deceased, it’s often our siblings with whom we have the most in common.
Siblings can use their proximity to make our lives hell, or they can be the people with whom we share the best, most cherished memories. In either case, the relationship has depth, intensity, and range. Even in a situation were siblings no longer speak to each other, the relationship has presence, though it’s a silent presence.
When I’m casting around for how to sustain a reader’s interest across eight books, the sibling relationship is one tool at my disposal. In addition to the romances arcing through each novel, I can develop themes among the sibling cast that will resonate from story to story. For example, in each book in the
series, the brothers who have been lost to death are grieved by their siblings differently. One sister, Sophie, has a hard time with Christmas, because her brother died of consumption near the holidays. Her brother, Valentine, misses the departed sibling who was closest to him age, because that brother was also the closest thing he had to a friend in the familiar household. The loss shapes how the siblings relate to each other as adults, and it brings them closer together. Windham
Using a sibling cast also allows me to use each book as opportunity for “epilogue scenes.” In book five, we get to check in with the couples we fell in love with in books one through four—as if they were our siblings. While I still have to do some character development for the secondary siblings from book to book, the burden is lighter because I know them all so very, very well.
And this is probably the primary reason I use siblings in such abundance in my books: I am one of seven children, and I’m on very good terms with my siblings. They know me better than anybody, in some senses, and they love me better, too. When I turned to writing novels, the sibling milieu was a place I felt at home.
And in celebration of the sibling bond, to one commenter, Brookyn Ann and I will giving away one signed set of the first four books in the Windham series: “The Heir,” “The Soldier,” “The Virtuoso,” and “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish.”
What’s your take on the sibling bond? Do you like to see it in your books, get tired of it, wish there were more sisters and fewer bros?
For more about Grace's books, click here: http://graceburrowes.com/
Grace Burrowes is a child welfare attorney living in western Maryland. She does not own a TV, and thus has plenty of time to correspond with readers, and also to write more books. You can reach her through her website, graceburrowes.com, on Facebook (Grace Burrowes Author), or twitter @graceburrowes