Monday, November 26, 2012
Building a family for my Keller Family series
I set out to tell a story about a woman, Regan Keller, who was starting all over with a new life and a secret buried deep in her heart. I never expected to fill the book with characters that would last for seven books...or more. (By the way, all the characters in all the stories (except Clara and Christian's) have been introduced in the very first book!)
I clearly remember the day that I penned Regan's hair demise in a Nashville rain storm. (I've been in one of those!) And instantly she was at the bus stop because her brother had taken her car to fix it. Well there we go, a new character! A little further in there was another brother, a doctor, hmmm he'd be interesting.
By the time the characters in my book had finished introducing themselves to me I had four siblings. And somewhere in my subconscious, I added in the fact that many of my friends growing up had been adopted (yes...I had come to the conclusion that if you weren't adopted you couldn't be my friend...it was an interesting phenomenon.) So the Keller family began to take on the eclectic dynamic which made them appealing.
The Keller parents, Alan and Emily, had their own twists--German backgrounds. In fact, I think in each book, the spotlighted sibling refers to Emily's German/Southern accent and how it intermixes at times and makes her unique.
As for the eclectic part... Regan and Arianna are blood sisters from the same parents. They were, however, adopted by the Kellers when they were very small. In fact, Regan was an infant (adopted at two) so she has no recollection of her birth parents at all. Upon their adoption, the Kellers found out they were having a child of their own, which they'd been told wouldn't happen. Curtis is the only natural child to Alan and Emily. He's the only one to be fair skinned and blue eyed, but he is not favored--this is think is what makes the family work. The siblings are all unique and the only natural child to the couple in the bunch is just as important as the others.
Then there is Carlos. Carlos moved to Nashville with is birth parents when he was six, from Puerto Rico. His parents were killed and the Kellers took him in. He, like Regan and Arianna, never left. His dark exotic looks feed his character, and blend into his children's charms as well (as we see when they grow older.) He is probably the most mild mannered of them all. With the introduction of Carlos came a slew of other characters that would follow for books to come. We met his ex-wife (which would become the main character in book 2, A SECOND CHANCE, when she battles breast cancer.) We are introduced to Eduardo (who we will follow in LOST AND FOUND), Clara (her story comes in book six, LOVE SONGS), and our favorite baseball player Christian (his story comes in book seven, HOME RUN). Each of these siblings brought a new level to the series, just as the original four did.
Curtis was probably the hardest character for me to write. He has a caring nature, but he's young at heart. Perhaps the most laid back of the sibilings, his heart tumbled for our rich, and a bit sassy oil heiress Simone Pierpont (whom we meet as Zach's best friend in book one). She was a lot of fun to write because she had to change her thinking on herself. There were a lot of "Come to God" moments for her and it was refreshing.
Arianna Keller was always my butterfly. She did what she wanted, was comfortable in her own skin, and loved her family with a passion. She is the aunt you love as a child and as a parent you shake your head. She's not looking for romance, but she's not stupid to brush it off either.
You're often asked as an author, do you put yourself into your characters? Of course. I'm uptight like Regan. I have such love and compassion for my children and my husband that Madeline was very near and dear to my heart. I'm a bit of a worry wart like Carlos. I'm a chronic entrepreneur, so I understand Zach very well. I'm not above a good job done well and working hard to get it, which is how John Forrester is prestented. Though I wasn't brought up as Simone was, I think her turning points are most like me. Those ah-ha moments that take you by surprise...I've had my share of those. Arianna, perhaps she's the least like me, but I strive to be comfy in my own skin and not back down from that...work in progress. I guess that leaves Curtis and I have trust issues just like he does. Mess me over and it's going to be hard to get on my good side again. I guess in his life, I made him a little more forgiving.
As I'm a very normal person, and I've created very normal characters, I think this is what brings out their appeal. Everyone can relate to one of them.
But as always, in my family building, I keep my motto in tact. I always promise Happily Ever After and family can give you that just as completely as romance can.
You can find all my books on my website at www.bernadettemarie.com or all the buy links at www.5princebooks.com/buy.htm