I know a lot about sons. Especially youngest sons. I’ve had several of them (the older ones ceased being youngest sons, of course, when they were replaced by a newer model). And since I’ve been writing, I have done several groups of books about brothers – and of course, there’s always a youngest.
While I don’t know that birth order is a total determinant of behavior, I do know that my own youngest son, and many of the ones I write about, share a certain confident, carefree, easy-going sociability. They like people – and they generally expect people are going to like them.
They have charm and a certain cocksure attitude that often allows them to think they have the world by the tail, that they can do anything, and that everyone just naturally ought to love them.
They also sometimes take things for granted – like family. After all, there’s usually a fair bit of it around by the time they’ve come along. They expect family to be there, to be able to depend on it. And God forbid – sometimes – that family do a bit of depending on them.
That’s the situation of my upcoming hero, Yiannis Savas. Yiannis has been kicking around the periphery of my mini-series of books about the Savas and Antonides families for several years now. I first met him when he was a forest ranger, a young man who, by choice of his occupation, was making it clear he wanted NOTHING to do with the family business in New York City.
Sitting on a mountaintop suited Yiannis fine for his sister’s book. He neatly avoided all participation in a couple of others. He brought a date to the wedding of a third and deigned to be one of the groomsmen. But otherwise he kept a low profile.
I didn’t really think he had a book in him.
And frankly, neither would my editor have considered him hero material had I even ventured to suggest him. Presents heroes are not forest rangers, she would have said. And quite rightly.
So imagine my surprise when one day last year, Yiannis turned up on Balboa Island in Southern California as a thirty-ish entrepreneur, jetlagged after returning from a trip to the Far East where he’d gone to talk to dealers of rare and fine woods.
It didn’t surprise me that he wouldn’t give up the wood. It did surprise me that he’d decided he needed a book. It didn’t surprise me that he’d put a whole continent between himself and his vast, meddlesome, albeit loving family. I did surprise me that he’d bought a house from an 88 year old woman who had moved into the apartment above the garage, and that he was the man she depended upon.
In his way Yiannis was as responsible and dependable and honorable – well, most of the time – as his older brothers. He just didn’t like family leaning on him to do it.
88 year old Maggie, he didn’t mind. Maggie’s granddaughter was a different story altogether.
Catriona MacLean had exactly one relative to her name. She wanted a family as badly as Yiannis wanted to ignore his.
She’s a good match for Yiannis. And Yiannis is a good match for her. Not that they know it right away. Well, she knew it once. But then he got to acting very youngest son-ish. He was charming, affable, easy-going, and he took way more for granted than he had any right to.
In Savas’s Wildcat, he figured out how to give and to trust and to love – and when to stop taking advantage and instead allow people he loved to take advantage of him instead.
He also got the girl.
Do you have any tales about birth order in your family? Do you think it makes a difference?