I love a good series. On television; at the movies; in books. My favorite types of series are those that center on families – big families. I love the whole dynamic of birth order, how it determines your personality, how you learn to interact with people. Plus, I love the LOVE a big family generates; knowing you always have someone covering your back in bad times, and pushing you ahead in good. One of my favorite TV shows growing up was the Waltons. Grandparents, parents, and children all lived together in one big house – a house filled with love, trying times to be sure, but so much wisdom and care tugging at your heart, that it’s no wonder it was such a hit for the network for over a decade.
I tell you all this because the other day I was at a book signing and a reader asked me why I love writing about big families so much since I am an only child.
I kinda think the answer is in the question, but if I’d said that, it would have sounded a little snarky, she would have given me a wonky look thinking I’d insulted her and I didn’t want that because…book sales, you know?
I was/am/always will be an only child. Most people who have siblings have told me my entire life how lucky I am. It’s always quiet, no little kids running around screaming/crying/whining when you’re trying to do homework or read. I’ve never had to share my toys, wear hand-me-down clothes; no one has ever borrowed my makeup and not returned it or worn my favorite blouse and given it back torn or stained. I’ve gotten all my parents’ attention, never once having to take a back seat to a younger sibling, a sick sibling, a star-of-the-family sibling.
I begin and end the food chain of birth order. I am, literally and figuratively, the end all, be all.
And I’m here to tell you it sucks. Majorly. Like, wind tunnel and vacuum cleaner force, sucks.
The thing most people forget about when they say only children are lucky is the loneliness factor.
I was a latchkey kid from the time I was 8 until I went off to college. After school I’d come home to an empty, quiet house. So quiet, it sometimes bordered on spooky and scary. It was no wonder I chose to spend most of my afternoons in the library until it was time to get home and start dinner. And yes, I made dinner for myself and my mother and stepfather from the age of 8, on. I longed for a sister or a brother, or a bunch of them just so I would have company. Just so I would have people who had an actual connection to my DNA. Just so I had someone else in the house to bounce ideas off of, tell secrets to, keep secrets for. Just so I wasn’t the only one living with and listening to the fights and screaming and verbal lashings my folks hurled at one another.
Longing for that kind of family connection prompted me to write stories about girls who had siblings. In my imagination I invented the family I wished I had. Older sisters who would teach me the mysteries of boys and love and makeup. Older brothers who would protect me from bullies, teach me how to fight for myself, and be my defenders if I needed them. I wanted younger siblings so I could be revered as the big sis, the knower of things, the homework helper, the caretaker of skinned knees and bloody elbows.
Having siblings teaches you so many things you need to know as an adult to navigate through the world. To this day I don’t play board games, team sports are a mystery to me, and I always –always- get picked last as a group/team member. If I’d had siblings, I know I would have learned the way to place myself in a group, interact as a member and not the de facto leader.
The people that study these kinds of things say that most only children grow into leaders because it falls naturally for them to be decision makers and constructive thinkers. Okay, maybe that has some semblance of truth. But it’s nice to be a team player, too, and be told what to do, and not the one people look toward for guidance and direction all the time.
So when I decided to write romance books, all those people I’d invented for my wished-for family when I was a kid made their presence known, demanding I tell their stories. And I have.
My current release, CAN’T STAND THE HEAT is book 3 in the Will Cook For Love series, about a family that is so close, the cousins are more siblings than they are, well, cousins! Centered around the oldest family member in the present generation – chef Kandy Laine- CSTH tells the love story of Kandy’s cousin Stacy, and how she finds her own HEA. I’ve loved writing the Laine family and hope to be allowed to continue writing more. Kandy has 6 sisters and only 1 so far has gotten her own book!
If you have siblings, no matter how annoying they might have been as kids (or still are as adults!), no matter how many times you’ve wished they were gone or that you were the only child, please please please remember this: family is everything. When all is said and done, your siblings are your connection to something that is greater than you give credit to – a group of people who share your DNA. Who knew you when; who know you now for your good traits and bad ones, and love you for both.
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Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
Tying into her love of families, her children's book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.
Peggy holds a master's degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer's Disease during her time running an Alzheimer's in-patient care unit during the 1990s.
In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.
In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader's Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and was a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.
A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.
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