Today I have a very special guest post for you by Emma Carroll, the author of lovely middle grade books Frost Hollow Hall, The Girl Who Walked on Air and In Darkling Wood.
One of the things that I loved so much about the book are the family relationships. Especially between the main character, Alice, and her little brother who is need of a heart transplant. And so I'm super glad that Emma is here today talking about her own relationship with her brother. I can relate to this post so very much (my brother lives 3000 miles away from me and has done for the past 15 years!)
In Darkling Wood is a beautiful, magical story and I definitely recommend it.
The Trouble With Brothers
by Emma Carroll
Though they don’t get much page time, brothers are a major part of the story in ‘In Darkling Wood’. Sometimes, for me, a person’s absence has more impact than their presence. Certainly, that’s the case with my own brother.
Growing up, I didn’t like my brother much. He was two years older than me and quite fancied himself- a lot of girls did too, which didn’t help. While I was galloping around the garden on my imaginary horse, he was hanging out in the high street wearing drainpipe jeans and a The Clash t-shirt. And if he wasn’t in town ‘posing’, (the family name for it) he’d shut himself in his bedroom and play music so loud, I couldn’t concentrate on my pony books. No wonder then, that the dog was known as ‘my sister’- I spent far more of my childhood with her.
Then we all grew up.
I started uni. The dog died. And, out of the blue, my granddad did too. My parents were on holiday in America at the time. We couldn’t get hold of them, so we- the kids- had to deal with it. I rushed back from uni and the brother who met me at the station was different. Or maybe I was. He was softer. Kinder. Funnier. From that point on, we sort of ‘found’ each other.
For the next few years we became very close. We hung out together, had mutual friends, went backpacking around Turkey in the summer hols. It seemed hard to think we’d not been that close growing up.
After uni, I moved to Brighton. And he went to Australia. He stayed there. Twenty years on, he’s still there, with his English wife and two brilliant daughters. At first, I was completely gutted. I got angry.
Then I got cancer.
It was a massive, life-changing experience, and one he wasn’t there to see me through. I missed him. Yet it also made me realise that his life wasn’t here with us anymore, but on the other side of the world. I learned something else too- and it really helped.
Getting ill was a bit like my granddad’s death: it brought everyone together, only this time it was with my friends- good, gorgeous, funny friends who became like family because of how rock solid they were. Friends like my dearest buddy Karl who bought joke chemo wigs, and who I think of as a brother. I’ve never forgotten what a difference those people made. Never will.
Family is flesh and blood. But it’s also the people who are there- the partners, the best friends, and yes- the dogs. It can be as big, as varied and as vibrant as you want it to be. Just so long as it works.