Last week I wrote about the fictional women mentors I created for my protagonist in The Awakening Series.
Writing about those women was pretty easy because I had a strong picture of each of them as I began the first book. More challenging for me was the part of Book 1 that was more grounded in real life.
Specifically, how Tara’s friends, boyfriend, and family would react to her news that she was pregnant, but had never had sex and didn’t know how it had happened.
Being true to those characters was important to me.
My favorite occult and horror stories are the ones where in the beginning it’s unclear whether something truly supernatural is happening or whether the characters are misunderstanding the situation or being Gaslighted by someone.
Also, I wanted the ways Tara’s friends and family reacted to be realistic.
After all, if your college-aged daughter, sister, or girlfriend claimed she was pregnant but never had sexual intercourse, your first thought wouldn’t be “Oh, obviously she has a supernatural pregnancy.”
Like Tara’s friends and family, most of us would feel we at least needed to consider that the young woman might be repressing something, lying because she didn’t want to identify the father or for some other reason, or had become delusional. Our first thought would not be that she had a supernatural pregnancy.
Life Is Hard
Writing fiction is all about making life hard for your main character.
One way I did that was to create Tara as a character who is not religious. She doesn’t believe in any sort of god.
Her stepdad (whom she has always thought of as her dad), though, is very religious. His daughter’s virgin pregnancy seriously challenges his faith.
In one way, he knows he ought to be open to the idea because he believes that a virgin pregnancy occurred in the past and that Jesus might return. Yet logic tells him that such a thing is impossible, and if it were possible, the virgin mother would not be an atheist.
Tara and her mom, too, have a lot of tension even before the pregnancy. Like many mothers with oldest daughters, the two clash over Tara’s choices and aspirations as Tara becomes an adult.
Tara's mother also fears that Tara is seeking attention because her littlest sister is very ill, and Tara stepped in to help parent the other kids.
A lot of Tara’s mother’s anger towards Tara is actually fear that she has failed her daughter and caused her to have some sort emotional or mental illness.
The Boyfriend And The Best Friend
At the beginning of Book 1 Tara plans to marry her boyfriend when she finishes college and before she starts medical school. Knowing how hard it is to be a parent, though, she’s very concerned about not getting pregnant, so she refrains from intercourse.
Minor Spoiler Below:
Her boyfriend is not too happy about that decision and his reaction to her pregnancy reflects that. While the way he treats her is less than ideal, I felt it was realistic that he wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that her pregnancy was supernatural. At that point, Tara herself didn’t believe that and was still seeking medical answers.
To make life harder for Tara, her best friend is also the boyfriend’s sister.
Tara and her friend also have a sibling -like relationship. Tara’s friend feels like she has always been the one who has messed up while Tara has been super-responsible. So it’s hard for her to process what Tara is telling her and easy for her to assume that Tara is just having a hard time accepting responsibility for her actions now that she's done something others might see as a mistake.
Tara’s friends’ and family members’ feelings about Tara’s predicament reflect more about themselves than about her.
Her dad, deeply religious, plunges headlong into a crisis of faith.
Her boyfriend assumes she’s behaved in a way that reflects his own life choices.
The one person who totally supports Tara from Day One is her littlest brother. Due to his age and personality he is open to and excited about the world. He sees odd and wondrous things in it all the time, and so easily believes Tara has a supernatural pregnancy.
Overall, I hope I showed realistic conflict between Tara and her friends and family rather than simply giving her friends and family who were unpleasant people (though, OK, maybe her boyfriend falls into that category).
That’s all for today. See you again next Wednesday when I’ll talk about why so many women loved The Da Vinci Code and how that inspired me.