So my debut YA novel, titled NemeSIS, was launched less than two weeks ago on April 4, 2017. As I posted on Twitter recently, “it’s funny, I grew up with three sisters but the #sister
#bully theme of #NemeSIS just came out of nowhere…” Yeah, right.
And while there are many things that happen in NemeSIS that were not part of my personal experience, the two oldest girls in my family — I was daughter number three — bullied each other relentlessly. Is mutual bullying, really a thing? I’m not sure but it definitely happened in my household.
Born fourteen months apart, the eldest two girls were fiercely competitive, which descended at times into full-on physical brawls. For very short bursts, they were the best of friends but their default relationship was one of mutual antagonism and of course, that seemed like good times when the claws came out.
I have read studies that siblings born too close together can have very complicated, hyper competitive relationships and I suppose those two were poster children for the jealously and dysfunction that can arise. I’m convinced that every family is dysfunctional in it’s own unique way, and I will attest that some of the ‘tortures’ that happen in the novel NemeSIS, actually happened in my own home when I was growing up.
But don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing childhood. Luckily, I got along (and still get along) well with all my siblings. And while our household was chaotic and messy, and parental time was limited, we were never lonely or bored. Like ever. My parents did what they could, but they were completely outnumbered with five kids in total, and the two oldest in constant conflict.
I think by the teen years, my parents felt old and tired, and assumed more of a fallback position and Lord of the Flies took over to some degree. And this is the time period — where my parents retreated from parenting to a certain extent — that inspired the novel.
Interestingly, my first three children — all boys — arrived in just slightly over two years. What happened next is definitely for another blog post but let’s just say I considered adopting a daily uniform of a white and black vertically striped shirt. Paired with a whistle.