Monday, October 9, 2017

Double Trouble - Writing Twins into A Plot with Olivia Wildenstein

We welcome author Olivia Wildenstein to ThrillWriting.


Fiona - 
Olivia - you are not a twin, but your mother is. You've decided to include the twin theme in your newest book. I'd like to pick your brain a bit about the twins dynamic that you've observed. First, can you tell us about your book?


Olivia -
The Masterkey is a romantic suspense for teens (and adults). It deals with mental illness and the secrets families keep. Unlike her twin sister Ivy, 17 year-old Aster Redd is wary of their schizophrenic mother. Aster thinks her mother wants to eliminate her, and begins to suspect she bought a gun for that purpose.

Fiona - 
When you were developing your plot, did you interview your mother and her twin? What kinds of things did you learn about twins from observing the twin dynamic growing up?

Olivia -
My mother and her sister are identical! To the point where I would sometimes grab my aunt's hand when I was younger thinking it was my mother's. Even as they've aged, they've stayed startlingly alike. Sometimes they'll even dress the same--not on purpose.

I did not conduct any interviews (I live in a family where dialogue is always free-flowing so I know everything about everyone). 

I did phone both of them up several times over the course of my first draft to verify certain facts. For example, in their relationship--I don't want to make generalities because not every "twinship" is the same--one is a receiver and the other a sender. My mother once woke up in the middle of the night sensing something had happened to her sister, and sure enough, something had: her twin had been in a car accident. Another time, my mother experienced abdominal pain. When it wouldn't go away, she phoned her sister and found out the latter had just gone into labor.

Fiona - 
What kinds of things about writing twins into your novel did you find gave your plot an interesting twist?

Olivia - 

You'd think twins would be treated the same way, because they look alike, but in The Masterkey, one is bullied whereas one is popular. 

The same thing goes for their home life: one is mistreated by the mother, while the other is held up on a pedestal. I wanted to show how even the most similar people are different.

Fiona
In your book - was this bullied by all or just in the home? And I know you mentioned schizophrenia in the mother, did something in her head tell her one child was different from the other? (Go HERE for an TW article on schizophrenia)

Olivia - 
Aster's a loner in school and picked on because she's strange (also schizophrenic, but to a lesser, more manageable degree than her mother). The untenable relationship between mother and daughter stems from this shared condition. The mother sees herself in Aster and it aggravates her to have a constant reminder of her disintegrating mind.

Fiona - 
When you're writing twins what techniques did you use to show their "twinship" How did you build their relationship? Were you using you mother and aunt as a template?

Olivia -
In a way, I did inspire myself from my mother and aunt, but Aster and Ivy took on their own personalities as the story evolved...as they evolved. There is a lot of love, but also a lot of misunderstandings and ambiguity in the roles they play. One of them feels like she is taking care of the other, but in fact, it's the other who's the caregiver. Since the reader alternately spends time in each twin's mind, the question of which one they can trust will evidently arise. All I can say is, good luck figuring out who's telling the truth! I did not make it easy on you.

Fiona - 
One of the questions that we traditionally ask here on ThrillWriting  is how you got your favorite scar or how you survived a harrowing event. But for this article, I'm interested in how you found yourself living in Switzerland. I lived there for a short while in Esin and found it a wonderful country.


Olivia -
Kicking and screaming. This isn't a joke. I told my husband I would move to Switzerland over his dead body. He was very much alive when he moved our family out here. And now, five years later, I've become Switzerland's greatest spokesperson.

Fiona - 
Olivia's book is part of the Murder and Mayhem Boxed set.



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