Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secret child isn’t so shocking, at least for author Tayari Jones. Her new novel, “Silver Sparrow,” revolves around an “outside family.” Here’s how Jones gave voice to a man’s double-life, a woman’s complicity and his two daughters caught in the middle.



How did the idea of a novel based on “outside families” come about?



“Outside families” are such a cornerstone of Western literature. Think about it:?All the Greek myths are about Zeus and his “outside” kids. I really wanted to write a story about the complicated negotiations between two families, and I wanted to look at what happens when families are not blended. It happens all the time. This book gives the hidden daughter, the silver sparrow, a chance to speak.



Do you feel like your novels capture slices of the real African-American experience?



My novels capture African-American experiences, American experiences and human experiences — because as African-Americans, we are all these things. I want to write stories about people who are having sort of ordinary lives — either in the ‘hood or in the Hamptons.



What roles do social class and privilege play in the novel?



The matter of “outside families” is a question of privilege. There is the money issue — of course the “legitimate” family has more resources. But there is the privilege that comes with having a relationship that is sanctioned by the law. This feeling of having the right to say in public: “This is my father” — or even, “I exist.”

dorothy robinson