The authors who inspire me simply do not care for normality among kin, probably because such families are dull. When I was writing "The Wedding Gift" I re-read "The Fall of the House of Usher" multiple times and that tale certainly got me in the mood to write about my characters, among them: Sarah, a slave in Antebellum Alabama, Cornelius Allen, a prestigious planter, Theodora, his wife, and Emmeline, his concubine and Sarah's mother. Cornelius controls his plantation and his family with violence and the threat of violence. When he gives his daughter Clarissa's hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah--her slave and her half-sister. Clarissa, in turn, has a rebellious nature that will bring about the ruination of her extended clan.
Authors know that when we read novels we want to get to know extraordinary, even unhinged, characters. The novelists who influence my writing created memorable families that broke societal rules and, in the process, startled, often shocked, readers. These clans are defined by one characteristic: Violence--brutality that is passed down from one generation to the next.