Way back at the end of March I wrote a blog post on Families. It’s about the kind you (well, your characters) are born into and how they shape you/your characters. And I said that my next post would be about the kind of family that you find or create. That didn’t happen because the next post was for Camp NaNoWriMo and for some reason the topic got pushed aside. But seeing as yesterday was Father’s Day I’ve been thinking about families again so here it is, at long last.
I think that most people have someone (or multiple someones) that they consider to be family, even if not related by blood. For instance, my roommate is my best friend and the sister I never had. (And the person I’m most likely to murder, which I’ve been told is the actual definition of a sister.) My mother even says she has two daughters: one genetic and one generic.
(I also have someone that I think of as a daughter.)
In the Academy of the Accord series, it is noted that families you “find” are often better than those you are born into. It’s also noted that the school feels like a family, mostly because the leaders have formed their own sort of family unit. Marsden, the Commander of the Garrison, is the father Kordelm never had and the one Wellhym wishes he’d had. Vinadi, the school’s Headmaster, is viewed in much the same light by Torlew and (especially) Yhonshel, and as a surrogate father by Caristen. (Kordelm and Wellhym are warriors; Vinadi, Torlew and Caristen are wizards, and Yhonshel is both.)
When the “second generation” starts, they all think of Senzu as a daughter. (Her race doesn’t have families as we think of them so she doesn’t think of them as fathers.)
When Draethlen joins the group, he thinks of Marsden as a father. (He doesn’t remember his own family.) Kordelm and Wellhym think of him as a little brother, and as the other cadets join their family group they (along with Torlew and Caristen) think of all of them as “the boys” – the same way that Vinadi and Marsden think of them.
(Kordelm and Wellhym do, however, refrain from thinking of Marsden as the boy’s grandfather, mostly out of a sense of self-preservation of their pride; both are relatively certain Marsden could probably still “dust the pit” with them in a spar.)
The family that the characters form is unbreakable, unlike the ones some of them were born into. They share a common bond, not of blood, but of Honor.
In other not-yet-published (or even completed) novels, I also have families that were found, not born. In Book Two of the Other Mages trilogy, Katheri is confused when a visitor helps with the dishes, thinking that it isn’t right for a guest to be put to work like that. Trebor and D’Laron explain to her that Luthen isn’t a guest, he’s family.
Doing the dishes becomes sort of an inside joke then, and when they later send Katheri to the kitchen to do the dishes (so they can talk about things she’s not ready to be involved in yet) she sees it not as being dismissed, but as being accepted.
And after all, isn’t that what family is? People who accept you as you?