Familial relationships are complicated. And they should be just as complex in fiction as they are in real life. With the oldest child an accused bioterrorist, the Blake family has more than its share of complications.
In the ninth chapter of my book-in-progress, Chicago Tribune reporter Janelle Martin meets and interviews the family of accused bioterrorist Paul Blake. She knows she must carefully negotiate the family dynamics, being both respectful and professional, while uncovering new ground.
From interviews with friends, a teacher, police, the local paper and people in town, Janelle thinks she knows everything relevant about Paul as a child and teen. What she doesn’t know is the trigger or process that turned the good boy into a bioterrorist. No one she has interviewed so far has been able to explain that. Several think he’s innocent. She hopes that the uniquely intimate relationship that the Blakes have with Paul will provide the smoking gun.
To complicate matters, the reader knows something that Janelle doesn’t recognize. The reporter has gotten too close to her subject and to always be objective. That’s an objectivity she needs to recover.
Yesterday, I left Janelle thinking as she walked around a cemetery near her hotel. She is trying to identify what she specifically wants from the Blake family interview and how best to get it. She is framing her questions and anticipating roadblocks, so that she would know how to overcome them. The encounter will not be easy. For anyone.
The reporter will ask the family questions to gain insight and to open new avenues into understanding Paul. What questions, other than the obvious ones about his friends and changes his family noticed, do you think Janelle should ask Paul’s parents and his younger, young adult brother and sister? The reporter’s deadline is looming and she needs answers and direction to find those answers without alienating Paul’s family. She needs a complete picture of him and doesn’t have what she needs to write her story – yet.