A friend of mine, an actress, called me to share her excitement about an upcoming audition. This time it wasn’t for a commercial or some independent film, but for a new reality TV show.
She then proceeded to tell me that when she was 19 years old she learned that man she thought of as her father had actually adopted her when she was an infant. He was not her biological father. At the time, she had no interest in finding her biological father. The man she had always called Dad was, after all, the only father she knew. She did say that over the course of her early adulthood she made some half-hearted attempts to find him if for no other reason than to have a more accurate medical history. But she always came up empty.
The television show was looking for contestants who had either lost contact with or never met a significant family member, especially child or parent. They would then search for the child or parent and attempt a meeting between the parties on the air. This gave my friend a renewed interest in locating her biological father. The show producers would be doing all of the legwork. They would have to find her father; they would have to obtain his consent to meet her.
This set my imagination going. I came up with many scenarios on things might evolve when someone embarking on such a journey. What happens if her biological father, after meeting her, doesn’t want anything to do with her? What happens if she doesn’t want anything to with him, but he begins to stalk her? What if one of his children is so jealous, she wants to do her harm? Or what happens to her parents when they learn that the biological father is back in the picture? Why did her birth-father leave in the first place? What’s her mother’s back story? Are there secrets that her mother would prefer to keep hidden? What about her Dad; how will he feel upon the re-emergence of the birth father? Will he feel threatened?
It was with all of these questions swirling around in my head that I came upon the idea that this story could be another way of showing the dualities of human existence. No one is all good or all bad. They co-exist within each of us, a light side and a dark side. Most of us are able to keep our dark side in check or sublimate it through books, theater, and film. Just think about how often we watch a movie or television show and we identify with the bad guy and hope he get away with it.
Sometimes we may give vent to our dark side in small ways, like getting away with running a stoplight or lying on an employment application or getting away without paying for something. Or we become seduced by an illegal business transaction that has the potential for significant financial gain. Nothing too big, but just enough to give an adrenalin rush.
What if, I thought, my friend were to meet her biological father and learn that he comes from a Mafia family on the east coast living a life so very different from her crunchy granola lifestyle on the west coast. And what if she wants to meet that Mafia family? And what would happen if she finds that she likes that life of danger on the wrong side of the law? And if given the option, would she give up her current life, her marriage, her friends and family, to be part of this other family?
And thus, HER OTHER FAMILY was written: inspired by reality, the reader is taken on Marianna’s journey from her laid back life in sunny California to the streets of Manhattan at night. From a life of law and order to a life dominated by violence and crime.