I wrote a guest post on Lizzie’s Dark Fiction which you should check out! It’s about family, which is an important theme in my recent release, Blood Relations, but it’s also about how we talk about things that are private and important to us , and how much of our own personal lives we put in our writing. It’s a bit of a follow-up on an old post called Private Parts.
EDIT October 29th 2014 – The blog where this was posted seems to no longer exist! Here is the original post. Enjoy!
Family by choice
Fiction and our private lives
The other day, someone asked me if I was an orphan. I was a little taken aback. I lost my father a little over ten years ago, but I’m not an orphan, I replied. The person proceeded to ask me whether I’d run away from home, or if my family was horrible.
Those are odd questions to ask of someone, point-blank, like that, and yet, I have to admit I know where they come from. In my stories, not just Blood Relations, the first volume of the Family by Choice series, my latest release, but in all my stories, the protagonists almost never have a relationship with their parents. Their parents are either gone, or dead, or abusive, or neglectful, and more often than not, when there is a parent in the picture, the characters end up cutting off that relationship for good.
I didn’t run away from home. And my parents were not abusive or neglectful or bad parents in any way. They were loving, tender people who were always there for us, whether it was to give us a ride out of a bad situation, or lend us a non-judgemental ear when we were in trouble. They supported us, drove us to accomplish everything we wanted. We were loved, and we knew it. In short, they were the best parents anyone could ever have.
So why write consistently about absent relationships with parents, if I didn’t go through that? The answer is both simple and complicated. The short version is, when you write fiction, you try to tackle your inner pain, your unresolved conflicts; it’s what gives true emotional depth to your stories. I don’t really have unresolved conflicts and emotional pain when it comes to my parents, so I don’t feel the need to explore the parent/child relationship from the child’s point of view.
Why then do some of my characters have painful memories when it comes to their parents? For the same reason as above, actually. The exploration of pain and all that. My parents really did their best, and I have no issues with them, but I do have pain and unresolved issues from my childhood. I think everyone does. So I give my characters baggage. It’s not the same as mine; it doesn’t have to be. And, like I said in a previous post, sometimes putting another angle on your issues can act like a safe distance, a protective glass beyond which you can safely observe, and give yourself the opportunity to heal without re-living the trauma.
Because the point to giving your characters your pain is to help yourself heal from it. And, in doing so, you’re helping your readers heal from their own pain. Pain is a universal human experience. It doesn’t need to be the exact same experience for us to relate and heal.
About Caroline Frechette
Caroline Fréchette is originally from Montreal, but has been living in the Ottawa/Gatineau region for the past 9 years. She is a sequential artist and author. She has published several short stories, both sequential and traditional, as well as two graphic novels, all on the French Canadian and European markets. She was the editor and director for the French Canadian literary magazine Histoires à boire debout, and works at the Ottawa Public Library. She has been teaching creative writing since 2005, and manages the popular writing page and blog Ice Cream for Zombies.
About Blood Relations
Life has not been easy for Alex Winters since he used his pyrokinetic powers to take control of the Russian district. Violence and betrayal have become a way of life, but he’s somehow managed to keep the gangsters in line. At barely sixteen, he thinks he’s seen it all. He hasn’t. Things spiral out of control when the latest double cross takes a turn for the supernatural. The new group muscling in on his territory turns out to be a brutal gang of vampires. Can Alex defeat an enemy even more powerful than himself? Can he keep his people safe and his boss happy? Can Alex survive in a world that just keeps getting more dangerous?
My website: http://carolinefrechette.com/