One of the challenges I had to tackle while writing Bloody Notes, and will have to continue to develop as The Leviathan Mysteries continues, is how to write a broken family.
Something I noticed recently, with considering some of my past works that I never finished, is that there are two outcomes for the main character’s family, usually. Either the mother is a prominent figure of the family and you learn more about this loving woman than you do about the father, or the mother is out of the picture for whatever reason and the relationship with the father is extremely strained. It seemed a rare thing for me to write anything that included the father as a caring figure, especially if the main character was female. Even one outcome where it seemed like the father was a wonderful man, tables were turned later on and you find out how horrible of a man he actually was.
Why did I end up writing almost all of my parental figures like this? Perhaps it was because, shocker, I wrote what I knew. As I stated in my previous blog, about LGBTQA+ situations with my family and how I played off that, my own family is a little bit strained. I’m not sure when it happened, but things between my father and I aren’t exactly easy. And it’s not that we fight and bicker a lot. It’s just… not really there. I used to love my father dearly, when I was a very small child. I wanted my father’s attention.
But sometime soon after my two older brothers left, I started falling out of wanting my father’s approval. I don’t know why, or if I just was finally slowly starting to see my father as he really was. He had a tendency of playing up a favorable gentleman when visiting family was around, or complete strangers. But he was the complete opposite in person. If you tried to explain the reason why you were so exhausted after a work day, he would suddenly puff up and explain loudly why his day was worse. It’s one thing to complain quietly, in the average ‘matter-of-fact’ way, but he would do it in such a way that it would be a production. He’d always try to out-do people, no matter what it was they were talking about. If you showed a slight interest in something, he’d suddenly act like he knew everything there was about the thing, and start spewing ‘facts’ about it. Mansplaining. He does it a lot. He has a horrible temper, which made it hard to live with him. The littlest thing would set him off, even if it just was that he dropped a spoon while washing the dishes. Suddenly, life was against him and he’d slam the rest of the dishes, making more things drop or slip out of his hands. There are a lot of chipped plates at my parents’ house, and a few broken glasses have happened along the way.
More and more, I didn’t like being around my father. More and more, I’d try to come up with excuses of why I couldn’t be home when he was if mom was out of town. I would hate going to him for help for something super simple, because he’d find five ways that what I had started was wrong, and I would have to start over, and over a week later, the thing that should have taken five minutes is finally complete. Mom and I have had to sneak around to get things around the house done because it would otherwise take him several months. For example, over a year ago, he took several trees in the backyard down [even though mom only asked for the ones that were dead, he removed them all], and in the process, the small privacy fence came down. He said he’d fix it, and remove all the tree trunks. Finally, a year later, the fence has been replaced, and we are still waiting for the removal of the tree trunks that are surely now full of spiders and other creepy crawlies. There are so many stories, I could go on for ages, about how things don’t work out with my father and why.
I didn’t really know what it was like to have an actual loving father. Sure, every birthday or Valentine’s day, I would get a card that had mushy comments about how much he loved me or was so proud of me, but it was never really shown. So that’s what I write. I write about fathers that you think are one way, and turn out to be nothing that you thought because they put on a show to get approval. About the fathers that just don’t know how to show love and are going about it in all the wrong ways. About the fathers that try to understand their child, but still act high and mighty over them.
Raleigh is complicated. He never approved of his daughter, Vanessa. Continuously puts her down, saying that she could never be his child, they are too different. But after an incident, he tries. He tries to understand her, and what exactly she wants, but is still blinded by the things that, according to society, she should be. He doesn’t actually get to know his daughter, though he desperately wants to try to mend their broken bond. But Vanessa puts everything behind her. Sure, they occasionally fight, but that can’t be helped when he’s trying to marry her to any eligible bachelor. She doesn’t let her pull her down, and continues to fight for who she is, in hopes that someday he would understand.