The Younger Set
My daughter Mélanie turned four weeks old yesterday. It's hard to believe it's already been four weeks, but at the same time it's already difficult to remember there was ever a time when she wasn't a part of my life. Of course babies and children are much on my mind. When I got back to writing - the week between Christmas and New Year's, well before I thought I'd be able to - I found myself tending to have the heroine remember when her son (who is a two-year-old in the book) was a newborn. I can already see that Mélanie is going to influence my writing. Yet though this will be the first book I've written as a mother, there've been children in every book I've written, going back to the Regency romances I wrote with my own mom. I even wrote one book where the heroine gave birth - I've rarely done research which later proved so relevant to my own life.
I've always liked children in books. Georgette Heyer has some wonderful young characters, from Charles Rivenhall's young siblings in The Grand Sophy to Jessamy and Felix in Frederica to Edmund in Sylvester. All of them are interesting, well-rounded characters in their own right, and they also serve as interesting foils for the heroes and heroines, bringing out different sides of their personalities, creating conflict, and giving them common cause. They can cut right through the elaborate formality of an aristocratic historical setting, as Felix does with his talk about his scientific experiments and cheerful disregard for protocol.
Lauren has a wonderful pair of children in The Orchid Affair. They can be said to bring the heroine and hero together, in that the hero is their father and the heroine becomes their governess, but the children, particularly the girl, who is older, are far from fostering any developing romance. Watching the children, and their relationship to both their father and the heroine, grow and change is one of the delights of the book. The children add moments of humor and also raise the tension as the hero's enemies threaten his children as well.
What are some of your favorite child characters in books? Writers, do you like writing about children? What elements do you think they bring to a story?