Another guest post from the members of LOOW (the League of Extraordinary Woolwrights) – this time we’re visiting with Thomas Robins, the author of the popular SF novel Desperate to Escape – and someone who’s well educated on the subject of family!
Carol Davis, friend and author extraordinaire, asked me to write a few words on the subject of family. I will do my best to contain myself, but I have written tens of thousands of words on the topic. I have two degrees in Family Studies
(bachelors and masters level degrees). I find the topic of family systems endlessly fascinating. When I talk about my area of study, I often hear this comment: “There’s no such thing as a functional family.” I beg to differ. There are a plethora of functional families, only none of them look the same.
If I’m not careful, I’ll start regurgitating one of the lectures I used to give undergraduates in the intro class I taught years ago. Let me, instead, talk about how I conceptualize families in my writing. The thing I always try to keep in mind when I am developing characters is that we act in ways that sustain the system we are in, while desiring change as little as possible. Usually, a main character will undergo a transformation during the course of a novel, but those in his or her environment (including family) will work to regress the protagonist back to the norm so the friends and family can keep living the life they are used to (thereby avoiding change). The compelling story isn’t a main character who bests the bad guys, but the main character who can escape the pull of friends and family.