At the end of July, I traveled to Alaska, where my brother has been stationed in the Air Force for the past few years. It was the first time I’d been the one traveling to see him since flying out to San Antonio for his basic training graduation.
The sheer beauty and awesomeness of Alaska aside, the trip provided me with insight into his life (and me and our relationship) that I never would have gotten otherwise.
In college during a psychology class, the professor mentioned that your siblings will be the longest relationship you ever have. It’s always stuck with me, because we rarely seem to appreciate the depth of the sibling bond. Your siblings are always just sort of there.
One of the highlights of my Alaska trip was our adventure in Homer*. We kicked it off by a five-hour drive, where my brother and I talked almost the entire way. That’s when I realized that for all the time we’ve spent apart in the last eight years, we are sometimes terrifyingly alike.
Which is oddly comforting, at times. And other times, gut-bursting hilarious, as we both discovered we had nearly identical selfies with our dogs, right down to the color of our shirts. Genes are a powerful thing. When you have the same potential gene pool and the same environment growing up, you end up with a lot of similarities, both good and bad.
All this reflection on siblings has given me a better handle on my writing and the relationships in my books. In Redemption, the heroine, Mel, has an overbearing brother, who ultimately wants the best for her, even if he can’t see that what he wants and what she wants are very different. It’s about zero percent similar to my brother, but about 100 percent fun to write.
The dynamics of sibling relationships never fail to interest me. From family to family, you’ll find commonalities (e.g., birth order influences) and differences. As much as my brother and I have in common, we’re certainly far from the same person. Living in Alaska suits him in a way it would never for me, but it also took going to Alaska for me to see it.
(I also need to write an Alaska series now, but that’s another story for another day.)
Sibling relationships will continue to creep into my writing, and will remain one of my favorite relationships to read, too. Got a favorite literary sibling relationship? Share in the comments!
*Other fun parts of our trip to Homer include seeing a humpback whale, an otter, and coming face-to-face with a bear. We also hiked to a glacier lake and at one point, my brother nearly got his truck stuck (although that was not during the hike).