When I started the Bella Widleve stories, I wanted the main character, Bella, surrounded by a family. Something different . . . not a loner who can’t cook and can’t keep a friend. Not a loner who know’s judo and self-defense, but can’t seem to groom herself. I wanted a character with security and a purpose. I wanted someone who didn’t come from a broken home or from murdered parents. Frankly, the character trends are getting old and tired, not to mention depressing. These are people I would never hang out with in real life, just like I wouldn’t live on the inner city streets, shoot people, eat out-of-date yogurt, or choose to sleep on a futon. Why would I read – or write – about it? If these things were so enjoyable, then why aren’t we all out there vying for gutter space? I can take only so much ugly before I feel ugly. So, to repeat myself, I wanted to create a place and a character that I would enjoy being around.
However, I still had to stretch my imagination a bit to give Bella the surroundings and family that I wrote about. I do not live in Cornwall, so I had to do research. I do not live in an Inn, so I had to imagine one. I do not have amazing or massive amounts of blonde hair; I do not wear a size 5; I do not speak three languages. I do not, I do not, I do not . . .
But one thing I am is the only girl in a family of boys. I only have 2 brothers, not 5 brothers like Bella, but I do know what it is like to be an only girl. To the ones who have never experienced that situation, it sounds better than it really is. When being the only girl, one doesn’t get the best seat, or the favored position as outsiders fondly believe. When being the only girl, one has to fight with all the weapons one possesses . . . which, unfortunately, doesn’t win over testosterone and bigger feet.
In this picture, there is no way of knowing what was in my brother’s mind at the time it was taken. He could have been smiling at me, or he could have been wondering how many marbles he could fit in my nose . . . I do not know what my brother was thinking, but notice that at the age of 5 months, I had already mastered the look of cautious distrust.
Unfortunately, I had to learn at a young age that, having no protectors, I would have to defend myself. By the age of 3, I was openly investigating my options.
When I invented Bella’s family, I over-populated it with siblings. Male siblings. I didn’t give her a sister to even out her odds, mainly because I don’t have a sister. I could have stretched my imagination around it, but I was busy stretching my imagination around the plot. Besides, brothers can be a nice thing to have . . .
In overpopulating her family with males of assorted ages, I’m not sure if I was trying to give Bella plenty of company, or just giving the readers the experience of a big family.
Personally, I think I was just trying to get her lost in the crowd . . .