The title to Chapter 3 came to me before I started writing, which is fairly unique. The chapter is intended as an exposé on the Gates’ family life, hence the explicit reference to ‘home’.
But I didn’t want it to be disconnected in any way from the rest of the story, or to slow the action too much. So you’ll see it’s peppered with hints of things to come: the missing corpse, the gift from Wilfred Waite, the conflict between Kane and Dylan, and, of course, Dylan’s entry to the world of wizardry and cosmic horror.
This is where the reference to the sideboard is important in the title. It inserts Wilfred into the household – and you’ll see during the course of the novel that it’s more than a simple sideboard that gets in the way of the Gates!
After introducing Mike and Lauren in Chapter 2, I wanted to add to them as characters, and also to bounce them off Dylan and Kane. Kane and Mike are ‘peas in a pod’, whereas Dylan is more like his mother. Chapter 3 goes some way to explaining why this is so … biology-wise as well as through circumstance. This was important at this stage, as I needed a way to explain why Kane and Dylan are so different. Doesn’t it irk you when you see siblings on TV or in movies who don’t look or act anything like each other? (Think Arnie and Danny in Twins, and work backwards from that.)
My conundrum was that the tension in Dark Farm rests on one brother being weak and one strong (though it’s probably truer to say Kane is both strong and weak … the reconciliation of these two sides of him forms the backbone to the story). So as well as introducing the five-year separation between the brothers, I made sure Mike’s blunt treatment of Dylan, and Lauren’s intimate discussion with him, highlighted the schism between the Mike/Kane and Lauren/Dylan sides of the family. I’m quite happy with the way, in the course of a chapter, I set this up. Now to blast it apart in Chapter 4!
Of course, after setting up this schism, I had to attempt a reconciliation between the brothers, to prove reconciliation was impossible. Kane’s weakness shows through (including the irony that he despises weakness), He doesn’t feel any intrinsic motivation to apologise or do anything real for his brother – he just thinks apologising is ‘the right thing to do’. Dylan has no reason to accept his apology, and probably sees through the insincerity – not to mention that he’s intent on finding out more about Kragn and frustrated by Kane pushing uninvited into his room.
By attempting to prove myself wrong (ie that there was something salvageable between the brothers), I showed that there really was no resolution possible. Kane confirms this in the next few chapters … and then, of course, the rest of the novel is all about proving that that was wrong. Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive our characters!