Friday, May 15, 2009

My Dysfunctional Fantasy Family

I had only just started reading The Witches of Dredmore Hollow by Riford McKenzie when I realized it was one of those books about a kid learning he has strange powers and some quite awful family members. Charlie Bone and The Fetch come to mind. Even Harry Potter does a variation, though in his case the wretched relatives are the ones who aren't related to his newly found mysterious powers.

I can understand readers' attraction to stories about seemingly run-of-the-mill folk discovering they have magical powers. We all want to be special, right? But what's with all the books about nasty kin?

I have a theory, of course. And here it is.

I started thinking that all these dysfunctional fantasy family stories sound similar to the stories I hear from so many of my friends about their families. My friends just can't do magic. And then I started thinking about all those family drama novels with mothers who are like witches but different and dads who are up to all kinds of no good. No magic there, either. And then there are the adult memoirs, which are almost always about something grim, and no one has any super powers. And in between the kids' dysfunctional family stories and all this adult angst, you get the YA realistic problem novels where teenagers find out that life stinks and there's nothing they can do about it.

So the dysfunctional fantasy family stories are just the child version of all these other misery stories. Because they're for kids, we include magic powers for the child protagonists so they can deal with their creepy family members, thus giving the child readers an unrealistic sense of hope.

Enjoy it while you can, kiddies.

Training Report: One segment yesterday. Two today. Could have been worse. I am now up to the second half of April in the book, making me less than a month behind where I want to be. So that's good.



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