Brief physical description
Dilly is petite and pretty, with thick eyebrows that everyone notices. Both Dilly and her sister Hannah have light brown hair, almost blonde.
Hannah is also petite, and Mac (her best friend and secret love interest) has told her she’s pretty but Hannah has been too busy working and saving money to think about anything as unimportant as her own looks. She does however, on occasion, wear a no-nonsense, expensive business suit that makes her look slightly taller.
Dilly looks like a very young Brooke Shields. I think of her because she has noticeable eyebrows, like Dilly. Of course, Dilly is short so the resemblance would be limited. J
Hannah (main pov character in My Sister Dilly) – hmmm… Does Brooke have a sister?
Strengths and weaknesses
Being insecure, Dilly would think only of her own weaknesses, or at least that’s what she would think of first. Her faith is slowly changing that. She’s learning to remind herself how precious she is to God, and He’s cast her sin as far as the east is from the west.
Hannah knows she’s weak on personal relationships but strong on work. She does, in fact, have an excellent work ethic. But it’s probably her loyalty that is her biggest strength. Loyal to her sister, and loyal to her friend Mac.
Hannah is, shall we say. . . frugal (when I really mean to say she’s cheap). She’s been so focused on saving money to come home and rescue her sister once she gets out of prison that Hannah is glad her parents taught her how to scrimp.
Your inspiration for the character
Actually, Dilly was inspired by a woman who is in prison today, someone my sister-in-law used to work with at a school for special needs kids. When I heard about her unfortunate circumstances and what led to her imprisonment, I knew I wanted to write something similar. So I contacted her and we corresponded as I gathered my story structure, using some of her experiences but embellishing with my own characters. I received a letter from her after I sent her a copy of the book, and she was excited that God had used her experiences to touch other lives through the characters in my book. She wants the same thing I do: to support moms, especially the ones who get overwhelmed.
Background to the story
I recall the exact moment my sister-in-law and I were talking about her friend, and right away I knew it was so dramatic that the story, or portions of it, needed to be in a book. I also vividly recall being terrified to write such a book! The content is somewhat more serious than what I’m used to, and the books I like to write always include a romance. So it took a little pondering, and that’s where Dilly’s sister Hannah came into play, the narrator for most of the book. I wanted the reader to remain a little off-stage from the harshest part of Dilly’s experience, not only to have what she did in the past, but to allow the reader a chance to become loyal to her — someone who became so distraught as to attempt taking her own life and that of the child she obviously, completely, loves. How could anyone forgive that if they live through it on the pages of a book, even if Dilly did fail in the attempt?
I also knew I needed to withhold from Dilly what she wants most — contact once again with her precious special needs child.
My Sister Dilly was a challenge to write on several levels, not because the story revolves around a mother to a special needs child (something I can identify with, having my own special needs child) but because this character comes to a point I cannot imagine facing. The pieces needed to fit realistically and sympathetically.
The book also takes place in a setting similar to where my husband grew up. Rural Midwest is close by but I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I wanted the setting to be as authentic as possible, so I depended on my husband and my sisters-in-law to help me get the details right. Historicals are so much easier to write, when details are nuanced by the interpretation of the reader.
My hope is that God will use this story to touch the lives of other moms, to encourage people to reach out to those who might need help, to remind people that isola
tion is often the first step in a downward spiral and recognizing that is important to preventing it from going on too long. And, most of all, that God loves us no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done.
Thanks so much, Maureen :) I appreciate your time sharing Dilly and Hannah in this way.
On Monday the spotlight shines on Rick Acker's Sergei Spassky from his thrillers, Dead Man's Rule and Blood Brothers, so do drop by and say привет (hello)!