The Ankulen is, up front and foremost, a story of a girl and her long-lost imaginary friends. That's what it had been from the first, and it never changed. Yet, as I wrote it, I discovered that it was also a story about family.
The first half of The Ankulen is primarily about friendship. True, Tisha is posing as Jen's adopted sister, but she's still her imaginary friend. The only real family member you meet in the fist half of the book is Jen's mom, and that's only briefly in chapter eight.
The second half of the book focuses more on family. In the second half, Jen is trying to get to know her two new siblings, as well rethinking her behavior to her own parents growing up.
Relationships are probably one of my favorite parts of writing. The complexity of human nature and how people so different can be best friends just fascinates me. And tossing up otherwise mortal enemies into a family? No wonder my characters think I torture them.
There are really only six important secondary characters in The Ankulen, and Jen's relationship with each is different.
Chris: Chris was Jen's protector, her valiant knight. Her safety, and Tisha's, are his first priority. Her memories of him are mixed. She can't remember anything negative about him, but ... for the longest time after his disappearance, she hated him. Since then, she's managed to tame the hatred into more of a wariness, and, by the time he makes his appearance, she's willing to work with him. His relationship with Lady Jenifer has always been rather on the formal side.
Tisha: Letitia was the first thing Jen brought to life after receiving her Ankulen, and was always the closest to her. Letitia knew all of Jen's secrets, all of her worries, all of her cares ... until she and Chris called Jen's wrath upon their heads. Now ... well, let's just say Jen barely speaks to her, let alone entrusts her with valuable secrets. Tisha finds this painful - possibly the most painful part of their punishment.
Mom: Jen's mom (whose name I still don't know ...) is the one person who never gave up on Jen getting her imagination back. There are times when Jen resents this - as she puts it,
It's easier to squeeze juice out of a rock than it is to squeeze a story out of my brain.
- The Ankulen
but she really does want her imagination back, and, when she goes home for lunch in chapter eight, she thanks her mother for doing it.
Derek: Derek and Jen's relationship has a very rocky start. She's an odd combination of shyness and mischief, and he finds her as confusing as much as she finds him intimidating. It's not until nearly the end of the book that they develop a sort of alliance ... and even a tiny bit of sibling trust.
Megan: Megan and Jen hit it off well right from the start. Megan is in awe of Jen's imaginative powers, while Jen is refreshed by Megan's innocence. She tries to be a bit of a peacemaker between Jen and Derek, and, while Jen listens ... Derek doesn't always.