My apologies to one and all that the Guild took a short hiatus for the last few weeks, but there have been a few changes around the old homestead here. Unfortunately, a couple of our regular contributors have decided there are just not enough hours in the day to fit everything in and have had to bow out of the Guild. We wish Brian, Kody and Tami the best, though I personally wouldn’t be surprised if we see them pop in once in a while to lend their two cents worth. But in every cloud, there is a silver lining, and we welcome Benjamin Wretlind and Mike Berry to the group. We’re excited to have a couple of fresh, new voices adding themselves to our posts and expect to announce another addition or two in the new year. Make sure you drop by their pages and find out a little about them and their works.
On to this week’s post. In the spirit of the season (and I mean the holiday season, not autumn), we are all going to be looking at the role of either holidays or family in our writing. Since I have yet to write anything pertaining to holidays (though I have been toying with a story about Santa getting pissed off that there are so many kids on the naughty list), I’ll be talking about family by default.
Problem is that, while family often plays a big role in my novels, they are often quite dysfunctional. No home-made apple pie and carols around the fireplace in my novels (does anyone actually do that?). For example, in my Icarus Fell urban fantasy novels, Icarus is divorced from his wife who, upon them breaking up, told them that their son wasn’t actually his. You can imagine how that affects the relationship between not just the two of them, but also between Icarus and his son, Trevor. No fun Christmas holidays in the Fell household. Before that ever happened, Icarus’ own mother was a nun who died in childbirth–another situation that doesn’t generally garner a lot of holiday well-wishes. Though his mother isn’t around (much), she still plays a big role in his life. And his father is…well, I’ll have to encourage you to read the book to find that out.
The family situation in my Khirro’s Journey epic fantasy trilogy isn’t much better. Khirro’s father holds him responsible for a farming accident that cost the man his arm; his parents force him to join the king’s army against his will; his brother marries the woman he loves after his gone away with the army.
No mistletoe, no rum and eggnog, no stockings hung by the fire with care (and in a moment of insanity, the author admits he never put any thought to what holidays they might celebrate in his fantasy world…don’t tell anyone).
But family ties run deeper than what you see on the surface, and often form at least part of the protagonist’s motivation. In Blood of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 1), Athryn and his brother Maes are so close, their magic depends on one another; Khirro’s brother and ex-love play a major role later in the trilogy. In On Unfaithful Wings, Icarus’ motivation is based on the promise of having his life back, which he wants to use to create a better relationship with the son he thinks isn’t his, biologically speaking.
There are themes and situations that are impossible to avoid in fiction, because they are impossible to avoid in life; love/sex, death, and family will show up in any genre and often carry the story. But, just as in life, just because the character has a family doesn’t mean they have to like each other.
You can have your character pick his nose, but he can’t pick his family.
Bruce Blake is the best-selling author of three fantasy novels…he loves his family very much.