Friday, April 19, 2013

Kelly Meding: The Family You Make

I grew up as part of a fairly large family.  I have great parents, a sister, and three half-brothers.  I have three sets of aunts/uncles, and six cousins—seven now, since one cousin just had her first baby.  Grandparents.  We have family dinners, holiday gatherings, and most of us live within thirty minutes of each other—and that's just on my mom's side of the family.  So I know a lot about big, biological families.

But families are more than simple biology.  They the people you choose to love and to allow into your life.  They laugh with you, cry with you, and they'll bury a body for you (metaphorically, in most cases, but you never know….).   I appreciate "made families" in real life, but I truly enjoy exploring those dynamics in fiction—movies, television, and books.

I've made no secret that one of my inspirations for my MetaWars series was the early 80's comic series "The New Teen Titans."  Even before I understood it, this was a made family of teenage heroes who lived together and relied on each other for emotional support.  Robin and Wonder Girl were the parent figures in so many ways.  They led the group.  They guided their teammates and friends, and I loved the dynamics of the different characters and how they bonded.  Or didn't bond, because sometimes families fight.

I try to use this dynamic in my MetaWars books.  None of the heroes are blood-related, but they come together in TRANCE to create a family of sorts, bonding over common enemies and a shared history.  Teresa is definitely the parent of the group. She's even described once, in CHANGELING, as their beating heart.  As in real life, she has a different dynamic with each character, and they have different dynamics with each other.  Not everyone gets along.  They squabble.  They keep secrets.  But at the end of the day, they're still a family, and they'll die to protect each other (and sometimes do).

Beyond the Titans (and my own little superhero team), I have a few other favorite "made families" that I thought I'd share.

* "The Walking Dead."  Rick and his merry band of zombie apocalypse survivors.  These people were thrust together due to circumstance.  They didn't always trust or like each other, especially at the start.  Now in season three, you can really see the family that they've made.  They're hesitant to let others in, and every death is incredibly painful in a way it wasn't during those initial episodes.

* "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."  Even though the official fellowship of nine only lasted about forty-five minutes, the family began in the Shire when Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin fell down the side of the cliff and found their shortcut to mushrooms.  While the fellowship fractures a bit over the course of three films, seeing this family reunited at the end of "Return of the King" was a lovely thing indeed.

* "Watership Down," by Richard Adams.  This is hands down my favorite book ever, and I have a deep, abiding love for the film, as well.  It's another beautiful made family, and I don't care that it's rabbits.  A small group escapes a doomed warren, and they travel across unfriendly lands to find a safe place to call home.  They protect each other, they save each other's lives, and they defend the family and home they eventually create from any enemy that attacks them.  If Hazel is the father of the group, then Bigwig is the bad-ass big brother that no one wants to mess with.

What are some of your favorite "made families"?


Pat Cochran said...

Some of my favorite families: my church/
choir family, my band booster family of
parents and students, and my HS reunion
committee family! They make great addi-
tions to my real family!

Pat C.

Mary Kirkland said...

You gave great examples of made families. Very interesting post.