Monday, July 13, 2009

Life As A Twin

by Joan Kayse

The Banditas welcome Inspirational author Renee Ryan back to the Lair.

First off, I want to thank Joan for inviting me today. I will be giving away three free copies of my latest release, HANNAH’S BEAU, throughout the day so leave a comment.

When I thought about what I wanted to write today, I knew I wanted to focus on something pertaining to the one question I get asked the most. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?
Great question, always hard to answer because the short answer is usually: I DON’T KNOW. Seriously, this is the one question most writers dread. At least, this writer dreads it. Because, quite frankly, the ideas come from everywhere. And nowhere. Often what starts as the initial story idea changes and morphs into a completely different version.

In the case of HANNAH’S BEAU I knew I wanted to give her a twin, but I didn’t know what aspect of having a twin I wanted to explore. You see, I have a twin sister, a wonderful, gracious, talented woman who inspires me. Like all twins, we have a unique connection that transcends the miles between our homes. Robin will often call me and ask, “Are you having a headache?” Whereby, I’ll respond, “How did you know?”

Our voices are exactly the same. When we were younger we used to fool people on the phone all the time. Odder than that, we’ve shown up at events wearing the same outfit, even though we didn’t call one another to coordinate. Spooky, right? Or, kinda cool…
Yet as I started writing HANNAH’S BEAU, I wondered what it would be like if the twin sisters didn’t get along. What if the fact that they looked identical didn’t transcend to a close relationship? What if one used the other, or one took the blame for the other’s transgression?

Now that would be spooky.

So, that’s where HANNAH’S BEAU begins. With twin sisters who don’t have that fabulous bond you’ve heard so much about. Hannah is the stronger of the two, thereby taking on her weaker sister’s transgressions. This misguided “enabling” becomes toxic, and a vicious cycle begins -- to the point where Hannah is run out of her father’s house for something her twin sister did.
For the record, Hannah is modeled after my sister. So, does that mean the “bad” twin is modeled after me? I certainly hope not. Unfortunately, I found myself empathizing with the woman a bit too much at times.

So, what about you? Any sibling stories come to mind? I’d love to hear your stories.

Renee Ryan writes for the Steeple Hill line Love Inspired Historical. You can read more about her at:


Virginia said...

Is he mine today!

Virginia said...

Hi Renee, welcome to our lair!

My mother was a twin, she had a twin brother! She told a few stories on her brother some of the thing he did. She didn't say much about herself, she must have been the good twin.

I can remember fighting with my brother and sister growing up, we didn't get along to well. I was the youngest and my brother always used me when he was trying something new he had made. I remember one time he made this little go-cart with some wheels and some boards. Well he put me in it and by the way he also had a seat belt in it and strapped me in. He pushed me down this big hill and the thing flip over with me in it. I rolled all the way down that hill. I think he was trying to kill me or something. My brother always had these big idea's.

Lynz Pickles said...

Hi, Renee! I giggled to myself as I was reading this - several of my favourite series back in my manga days featured twins who didn't get along. In those, the bad twin was generally TOTALLY EVIL and the good twin was annoyingly good... but of course, the good twin always grew a backbone and got the girl/guy in the end, so their suffering wasn't in vain.

As for the sibling thing... my only-child blues have now officially started to kick in. I don't even have many cousin stories, since my mom's younger than her other siblings by about 10 years and their kids are all way older than I am. It's just not faaaaair! That being said, I am very glad that I never had to share my room or my toys, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

jo robertson said...

Welcome to the Lair, Renee. HANNAH'S BEAU has a great premise. I love stories about family members who keep secrets, suffer for trying to do the right thing.

Can you tell us about the "beau" part of Hannah's story?

I have an older sister (by two years) who couldn't have been more different from me growing up. My brother was seventeen months younger, so he and I were always doing boy stuff, flag football, games, exploring. My sister was the quiet, stay at home type.

As we've grown older though we've become close. She's a truly good person. I was always the little devil.

jo robertson said...

Yay, Virginia, on getting the rooster!

Your mum was a twin? How cool. I always thought that would be so wonderful. Hmmm, your brother sounds like a little terror LOL.

Renee, are you and your sister identical twins?

jo robertson said...

Lynz, that's interesting. My children all say they loved growing up with seven kids in the family, even though it meant ALWAYS sharing a room and never having the toys or clothes they wanted. I guess they figure always having a buddy was a cool thing. Now they're still very close.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Hi Renee, I love the concept of your book and hope to find out how the twins work it out in the end. I am an only child as well so can't really contribute much as far as the sibling thing goes. I did have a lot of cousins who all had brothers and sisters galore so I am more of an "observer".

Beth said...

Welcome back to the lair, Renee! I see on your website that Hannah's Beau is part of your Charity House series. Could you tell us more about the series?

My mom had a twin brother. Actually, my grandmother had three sets of twins, all boy/girl plus 4 other children :-)

I'm close with my younger sister but I'm definitely the bossy older sis! I'm trying to tone that down though *g*

Terry Odell said...

I've got twin daughters. Took them until they were 30 to get along. Now they're good friends, but separated by a continent.

Nancy said...

Virginia, congrats on grabbing the rooster! My mother was a twin also. I was sort of hoping for twins when my turn came, but we have just the boy. And that's fine with his dad and me, though he used to long for siblings when he was younger.

Nancy said...

Renee, welcome to the lair! As I told Virginia, my mom was a twin, too, but a fraternal twin. She and her brother were very close.

Your book sounds like a wonderful twist on a sisters story.

Nancy said...

Hi, Lynz--

I think your "only" feelings echo the boy's. On the one hand, I think he wishes there were another teenager in the house, especially when we're on vacation and his dad and I get tired and want to rest for a bit. On the other, he realizes he has more control and less compromise in his life because he lacks siblings.

Nancy said...

Jo, your saying you were "always the little devil" reminded me of Beverly Clearly's Ramona. Did you ever read that book? The boy loved Ramona much more than Henry or Beezus, and we had some fears he might emulate her. As it turned out though, he just wanted to enjoy her mischief vicariously.

Nancy said...

Jo, your seven kids reminded me of an author whose books I loved as a teenager, Janet Lambert. She was an Army wife and wrote, initially for her kids, about the adventures of two Army families, the Parrishes and the Jordans. One of those families--the Parrishes, I think--also had a very large family. I doubt those books are still in print, but I used to read them and envy those characters.

My dad's brother had four daughters and a son, so they always had a houseful of teenagers as the kids grew up. I envied that, too. There were just two kids in my family. If you're on the outs with your sibling in a duo, there's no one to turn to!

Nancy said...

Dianna, you and the boy would find common ground. He was close to his geographically nearest cousins when he was little, but they don't see each other so often now. Too much going on! Do you still see your cousins?

Nancy said...

Beth, that is so cool about all the twins in your family! Reminds me of the Bobbseys. I used to read those books and think that could never happen. But it clearly does!

Nancy said...

Terry, that's interesting about your daughters. It's great that they found common ground as adults.

Nancy said...

Renee, what is the rest of your heroine's family like? Do the twins have older/younger siblings? Cousins who come on the scene?

Helen said...

Well done Virginia he is sure to have fun with you today

Welcome back to the lair and thank you Joanie for asking Hanna to talk with us.

I am not a twin but I have 3 sisters and there is only 5 years and 10 days between myself (the oldest) and the youngest and we are very close although we don't live close together we are on the phone talking to each other a lot and I often get a feeling when I know I should ring one of them to make sure all is well. I know a few twins and I love hearing about their stories of tricking people and the fun that they have had.

This new book sounds wonderful Renee and I will do my best to get copy here in Australia.

Have Fun

Renee Ryan said...

Oh, WOW, I see I'm late to the lair. I love all the sibling/twin stories. What is it about family??? I used to always say, "I can pick on my sister, but NO ONE else can." I meant it, too. I was fierce. But, really, how does that make any sense.

Virginia, I can only imagine your mother's stories. Your go-cart story is HARROWING. You poor thing. I have an older son and younger daughter. I can totally picture this scenario. EEK

Oh, Lynz, not even cousins? Well, at least you didn't have to share everything. Or dress up in clothes your sister liked and you hated. See, upside to everything. ;-)

Renee Ryan said...

Hi Jo,

Yes, I've found age and wisdom really help sibling relationships.

As far as your question about Beau. He was raised in a famous American acting family (think something similar to the Barrymores) but chooses to become a rebel preacher instead of pursuing the stage. Because of his interesting background he has a heart for people most preachers don't. His mother was Hannah's mentor...and thus, there in lies their connection. ;-)


Renee said...

Hi, Renee! No twin here. Just one of those single children with siblings.;) My first brother didn't come along until I was 8 and the second when I was 10. I kind of felt like I was clear out in left field all by my lonesome when they came. It's no wonder all my heroines are trying to find a place in for themselves in their world.

You don't need to put me in the drawing. I try my best to buy the Love Inspired Historicals each month. Even though I don't write inspirationals, I believe in supporting this new line and they do have fabulous stories.

Will you be attending D.C.?

Renee Ryan said...

Hi Dianna,

Hey, cousins are cool, too. I had my share. The boy cousin my age terrorized my sister and me. Good times, good times.

Hey Beth, the CHARITY HOUSE series is set in 1880s Denver, Colorado. The orphanage (Charity House) is a home for prostitutes' mistakes. The series is about the people who live and work with these special children. Beau, as a rebel preacher, minsiters to many of their mothers. It's definitely not your typical Inspirational premise. ;-)

Terry, guess 30 is the magic number, huh?

Hi, Nancy, WOW another bandit with twins in her family. COOL. As far as your question. My heroine and her twin are the only siblings. Their mother died when they were very young and their father is a Bible-thumping preacher. It's a shame they couldn't find a bond to get them through their childhood. But then I wouldn't have a story. ;-)

Renee Ryan said...

Jo, oops, forgot to answer your question about my twin. No, we are fraternal twins. However, you couldn't tell us apart when we were little and the older we get the more we look alike. Hmmm...wonder what that means.

Renee Ryan said...

Hi Renee,

Good to see you here. You sound like my oldest son. He's six years older than our daughter. He was always too rough with her when she was little and way too overprotective now that she's 17. Interesting dynamics.

And, YES, I will be in DC. I'm giving two workshops. One on the future of the Inspirational market and one on Layering. Are you going?

Susan Sey said...

Welcome back to the lair, Renee!

I've always been sort of fascinated by twins, too. Not because I had one, but because I had three sisters, & though we love each other, none of us were super close. Just very, very different personalities. But I always wondered what it would be like to have a sister with whom you shared such a tight & primal bond.

We get along great now. Like Terry O'Dell said about her twin girls, though, we get along best when separated by several states.

In honor of the twin thing, though, is this a safe place to confess that I devoured each & every Sweet Valley High book every written when I was in about seventh grade?

Renee said...

Renee, I'll definitely be there. I need to check the schedule again to see if your workshop time conflicts with my pitch appointment (I believe it's with your agent) or the Pro-retreat. I told a really good friend of mine who writes Inspirationals that I'd go for her. And I so need layering. I'm trying to accomplish the layering task, but I think making a twenty tiered wedding cake might be easier.:)

Maureen said...

Hi Renee,
When I was younger I thought being a twin would have been great but all I had was younger siblings and I have to say I did not appreciate being the oldest. That must be nice when you're a twin, no oldest or youngest expectations.

housemouse88 said...

Hello Renee,

I love reading about twins. Being an only child, I dreamed I had siblings to play and argue with. I just wanted someone to share my inner most feelings with. Have a great day.

Renee Ryan said...

Susan, confess away. Sweet Valley High books were the bomb. ;-)

Oh, Renee, GOOD LUCK with your appointment. My agent is a doll. You'll love her. Here's hoping she loves (and your work) right back. And, yes, layering is definitely an art. But it's also a skill that can be honed. I plan to help writers dig deeper. Unfortunately, the workshop is 8:30 AM Saturday morning. I'll probably have two people show up. Me, being one of them.

Maureen, see...I was born three minutes ahead of my sister. I used to always say, "If we were royalty I'd get the crown." Eek! Does that make me the bad twin?

Hi housemouse 88. After reading Hannah's Beau you might discover that being an only child was a little like dodging a bullet. ;-)

Dina said...

Hi Renee,

I see you are at another of my fav blogs. You'll never want to leave from here. :)

jo robertson said...

Renee, your workshop sounds great. Dang, another cool thing I'll miss at National this year.

That's funny about you looking like your twin even though fraternal. My sister and I look (and act, now that's a scary concept) more and more alike as we get older. And that's more like our mom. You really DO become your mother!

jo robertson said...

OMG, Beth, your poor grandmother! Now THAT was a pioneer woman!

Oh, yes, Nancy, loved reading Ramona to my grands. And growing up with all those teens (one year we had five and a 12 yo) is great for the kids -- lots of places to "hide" among the mischievous deeds -- but hell on parents LOL.

I've never heard of the army family books, but they sound great. We were a military family too and traveled all over when I was growing up.

Your boy (not so much a boy now, huh?) sounds like he's very grateful to have such good parents and gets all the emotional support so important in growing up.

jo robertson said...

Wow, Helen, you and your sisters are really close in age. My three girls are separated by five years too and they're the best of friends now.

jo robertson said...

That's so true about not letting anyone pick on your family, Renee. My sister is two years older and stands at what she claims is five feet (uh no), but looks like 4 feet eleven. I was always the scrappier of the two of us, so I'd take on anyone who made a mean comment about her, even though I teased her mercilessly.

jo robertson said...

Thanks for answering my question, Renee. Sounds interesting. What's a "rebel preacher"?

Beth said...

OMG, Beth, your poor grandmother! Now THAT was a pioneer woman!

LOL. Yes, she was something. We always thought somewhere down the line there would be more twins, but so far none of my mom's children or her nieces or nephews have twins :-)

Renee Ryan said...

LOL, Jo. From Beau's standpoint, he's a rebel because he minsiters in brothels, saloons and mining camps. His "flock" are far from pious and need lots of grace, mercy and love. He "gets' them. He sees past their sin, straight to the heart. That was not very common in the 1880s.


Caren Crane said...

Virginia, congratulations on nabbing the rooster!

Renee, welcome to the Lair! I love the idea of twins who don't get along. I went to school with a couple of identical twins who were going through a rough patch during high school. They sniped at each other regularly and generally kept the drama at a high level.

This was the phase where they tried hard not to dress alike. Though they favored the same colors and styles and their mother had dressed them alike for years, they made a point to be different from each other in high school.

I saw a picture from a recent high school reunion and they were both wearing the same dress in different colors. I had to smile that they ended up right back where they were before their adolescent falling out. *g*

Did your mother ever dress you and your sister alike? That would make me crazy!

Caren Crane said...

Renee, I had to laugh about nobody else being able to make fun of your sister. I have three sisters and a brother and we were rather a rowdy pack as kids. We teased and fought and generally made life hell for each other...but we took turns. Each of us got to be the scapegoat from time to time. Well, except my oldest sister. We never seemed to get the better of her. Hm.

If anyone ELSE tried to abuse one of our siblings, though, there was no end to the revenge and retribution! We could concoct elaborate schemes to get back at people and they were mostly successful. A force to be reckoned with, I tell you.

My own kids have the big age gap. My son is 7 years older than the older daughter and 8-1/2 years older than the younger. It made it hard for my son at times, I think, because we were in baby and toddler mode when he was a preteen and young teenager. Definitely different needs there. The good thing was, we usually let him invite a friend on vacation with us to keep him company. Worked like a charm! *g*

I'll be sure to look for you at the RWA conference. Leaving in the morning!

Renee Ryan said...

Hi Caren,

Loved your story about those twins. I totally remember the dressing alike years. YUCK! Thankfully, the trend didn't make it into high school.

I'll look for you in DC, too. ;-)


Renee Ryan said...

Hi all,

Keep the comments coming. Just a reminder, I'll be drawing three winners at the end of the day.



Pat Cochran said...

I have identical twin brothers, who
are still a handful for the family!
I was six when they were born so I
got to help with them and remember
a lot of the things they got into.
Bill, older by minutes, would take
Butch's bottle after he finished
his. As toddlers, they would strip
off their clothes and run naked
around the yard. They always knew
when the other was in trouble. If
the nearest twin took off running,
it was a sure sign that the other
was in distress somewhere. They
were in high school together,went
into the Navy together, and served
as deputy sheriffs together. They
are still as close today!

Pat Cochran

Genella deGrey said...

Hi Renee - My little sib and I are like night and day. Always have been.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Nancy said...
Too much going on! Do you still see your cousins?

No, unfortunately I don't, all of our parents have passed on and their lives are very full to say the least. I haven't even talked to any of them on the phone in months.

Renee Ryan said...

Okay, I have some winners to announce. Three to be exact.

Lynz Pickles

You three ladies have each won a copy of HANNAH'S BEAU. Please email me your snail mail addresses at



Renee Ryan said...

Thanks to the Bandits for having me here today. It's been FUN! I can't wait to meet many of you face to face Wednesday night. Woohoooo!


Caren Crane said...

Renee, thanks so much for being with us. You can be sure you will be buzzed by lots of Banditas at the Literacy signing!

Banditas and BBs, this is post last before I head to conference early tomorrow morning. Be good and I'll see those of you who are conference bound shortly!

Mwah! Love to all!

sherrinda said...

Is it too late to post??? I absolutely love the cover of this book and I love the idea of twins. I think that gives an immediate conflict and is intriguing! I don't have a twin, but I have a younger sister who would go out with my past boyfriends. So not cool! Sisters can certainly make a great foil to the heroine!