Much like his older brother, Mark has known little true happiness in his life. However, while he too is subject to his father’s rage and violence, Mark has always had a friend and protector in Ryan, and the duo share an unbreakable sibling bond as they endure the harshness of the world around them.
From the very start, I had envisaged a place for Ryan having a sibling, as aside from exploring a secret friendship between two people of different religious backgrounds, I also wanted to show an affectionate relationship between two brothers – boys flung into a life they didn’t ask for but having to survive it regardless.
Much of the love and care the two boys show for each other is again based off the relationship I share with my own older brother, with whom I have always been very close. It has often struck me as a shame when two brothers don’t get along or hate each other more than anyone else in the world, as when it comes to biology, there is nothing more compatible than that of siblings – about as close as anyone one person will get genetically with anyone else.
For this, Mark gives Ryan essentially a purpose, to protect his younger brother from the wrath of their violent and hate-filled dad. Though it may seem like Ryan gets a bit of a bum deal at times, taking pretty much all the blows for Mark and even nearly being killed on occasion, this is the duty that Ryan has promised himself in order to make sure his younger brother won’t have to take the beatings.
In truth, Mark’s personality is based off a composite of myself and several boisterous friends I knew growing up. While he likes to act ‘big’ by using naughty words and putting on a façade that he perceives as mature, in reality he is more emotionally unstable than most – quickly descending into fits of tears or blind panic when situations get out of hand. It could be argued, therefore, that Mark’s bravado and cocksure attitude is more a coping mechanism for his own terrible fears, a skin-deep desire to act more mature but one that’s easily broken.
It was in this I wanted to make him a sympathetic character. While it may have been easy to use him as the butt of many a joke, having him come across as just the annoying younger sibling that’s nothing but a drag for Ryan, my desire was to show another side of him that is very much afraid, and it’s only through the love he has for his brother – despite their occasional scraps – that he finds a moral anchor that stops him from becoming a useless waif like his dad.