Today’s guest post about family secrets is by Shelley Noble, author of Breakwater Bay.
I’m from the south. In the south we know about family secrets and we know we might not find out about them until we grow old or have moved far away.
Family secrets are great motivators for story telling. So much of a person’s story is affected by the past. Lives are disrupted when a secret comes to life; when the long hidden skeleton breaks out of the closet.
I love reading about characters whose lives are upended by something that happened in the past, the long ago past, or the recent past.
After my mother died I made one of my rare trips to Georgia to clean out her house. My family has lived in the same place for several generations; there was a lot of stuff. After a while I just started piling things up to take to charity. And then I came to a box of photo clippings. The box was broken, musty like everything else and I almost threw it out without sneezing my way through the yellowed contents. But being a curious soul, I just had to take a peek. It was pictures of people that had been left nameless, a few newspaper articles when one of the family made the local paper.
And then . . . half down there was a newspaper photo and article about my Uncle George.
I remember Uncle George coming to visit at my grandmother’s houses for a day or two one or twice a year. I remember he had slicked back black hair and wore Hawaiian shirts. He didn’t say much and the conversation centered around the weather and who had died since he’d last visited. He always sat in the same easy chair by the front door. And the front door open was always left open when he visited.
Being a kid, I wasn’t much interested. He wasn’t like my other uncles, who lived nearby and were always around. He didn’t even bring presents or do magic tricks. He just came and left a few days later. Life would go on and then one day you’d come inside and he would be there, sitting in his chair.
But in this picture, he was wearing a suit, standing in front of the Great Seal, being congratulated by the president. Yep of the USA. Uncle George had been an intelligence agent in one of the big two agencies. He’d been working undercover for years. And he’d busted a big scandal.
To us he was just a relative in a Hawaiian shirt.
Of course this was a good secret. And might make the subject of a suspense or thriller.
We really love is intrigue. The stuff that makes a book a page turner. We also really love drama. Think of all the people that sat down every afternoon to watch the soaps. These television serials prospered for decades by delving into the secrets of the characters going through the angst of living. The devious, the tragedy, the lies, the heartbreak. And then there was Scandal, Revenge, and others that fill night time TV.
Stories begin, stories end, but it’s the juicy stuff in the middle that keeps us coming back for more. The juicy stuff. The stuff of stories to tell. The stuff of the classics, Oedipus Rex, The Trojan War, Othello, Madame Bovary, Harry Potter. And if you happen to have a vampire in your family tree, that opens a whole other world of possibilities.
I’m constantly intrigued by family dynamics and all my books are about families, nuclear, extended or acquired. Families as families. Community as families. Friends as families. All with their own secrets. Sometimes secrets are kept hidden away because of fear of exposure. They can hurt, they can destroy, but they can also set a person free.
But what if the family secret is driven by love?
And that’s where the story of Meri Hollis in Breakwater Bay began, who on her thirtieth birthday learns a secret that changes everything she believes about her family, about loyalty and the true meaning of love.
It was a journey for both Meri and me. I didn’t know how she was going to handle her story. I knew where I wanted it to go, but sometimes you just don’t know until the story ends.
Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer. She most recently worked on the films, Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America. Contact Shelley: Facebook | Website
Synopsis for Breakwater Bay
The perfect summer story of family secrets, an abandoned baby, and new romance set in Newport, RI.
Meri Hollis is happy to come home as her restoration career takes her back to her roots in Newport, RI. She can spend time with her Gran, contemplate her future with her not-so-committed boyfriend, and help restore a classic Newport mansion to its former glory. But her idyllic summer takes a turn on her 30th birthday. She did not expect to have her family’s deepest, darkest secret exposed and she certainly didn’t expect that secret to have anything to do with her…
30 years ago, Alden Corrigan was just a boy who snuck out of the house to take his father’s dinghy out on the water. But when a storm come up, he suddenly finds himself playing rescuer to a girl. A very pregnant girl. After he saves her life, the girl runs off. But not before she leaves behind a very special gift.
Now that the truth it out, there is much more at stake for the summer in BREAKWATER BAY. And Meri and Alden are thrust into situation that could prove to be the making of their futures… or the end of their friendship.