Why all stories begin and end with family for Emma Richler

In her latest novel, Emma Richler explores the unique connection between a brother and sister.
Emma Richler's third novel Be My Wolff explores the unique relationship between a woman and her adopted brother. (Marzena Pogorzaly/Knopf Canada)

Be My Wolff is Emma Richler's third novel and her first in more than a decade. Rachel is the daughter of a Russian family living in London and Zachariah is the handsome and difficult orphan her family adopts. As their relationship deepens, Rachel's father disapproves and the lovers are left navigating unfamiliar territory.

Finding inspiration in family

I think authors all have certain passions and certain themes that they can't escape. Family is certainly mine, and memory and love. This is a love story. Everything is family. All stories begin there and end there. There was no question that I was starting with a brother and sister. They had to be brother and sister.

The unique bond between siblings

Incest is of absolutely no interest to me and I didn't want that to ever distract the reader. I think if it raises a question about the nature of intense sibling relationships, then that's good and interesting. What is it that makes it so frightening and such a taboo subject? Is it blood that connects us and makes a relationship forbidden? For all intents and purposes, they are brother and sister. They are just not related by blood. It's not necessarily any less shocking but it shouldn't be about that. That is not what is interesting. What is interesting is the intensity of that sibling relationship, of that kind of special language that grows. 

Emma Richler's comments have been edited and condensed.