When I was just starting out on what would become a multi-year literary excavation (otherwise known as The Red Ribbon), I knew that I wanted to write about two sisters. Of course, it would have been easier to tackle an orphan as my protagonist, preferably with no known relations or friends (makes life easier on me). But I knew this book was meant to be about sisters. Trouble was, I wasn’t sure I could tackle that level of complexity on my first attempt so I thought I would bone up on how sisters were portrayed positively in literature.
Well, that was a short-lived exercise. Short of Bronte/Austen-esque novels, there really aren’t that many books that detail the complex relations between sisters. Of the few that I could find, they depicted bitter feuds and depressing rivalries (Scarlett and Suellen O’ Hara comes to mind). While Scarlett’s dislike of her sister was understandable given the circumstances, I really couldn’t identify with that dynamic.
Of course, I do recall the time my oldest sister sharpened her nails into talons, reached into the shower where I stood shampooing my hair and scratched long divets into my upper arm. She’s since cut her nails, mended her ways and now we enjoy a tremendously close and supportive friendship, with no known lasting affect on my psyche.
So lacking literary inspiration, I had to employ the ol’ write what you know. I have two sisters. Two brilliant, smart, successful and compassionate sisters. They are two of my closest friends and come with the built-in benefit that only a life-long friendship can provide: a shared understanding of our collective eccentricities, inside jokes and reciprocal memories. My sisters have seen me at my absolute worst and my best. On many occasions, they were the only two gals left on a seemingly desolate planet propping me up.
Why isn’t this sort of heaven-sent relationship reflected more in literature? Maybe I missed a good sisterly read. Do you know of one? So I forged on with what I knew, hoping to capture the realistic bond between two sisters in The Red Ribbon. I would do anything for my sisters. So would Julia and Clementine. Hope you enjoy it.