posted by Aunty Cindy
Not long ago, I was working on the back stories for the main characters in my latest proposal. I decided my hero’s father had recently passed away and his mother died a long time ago. That’s when I realized how many fictional characters are orphans or have at least one deceased family member, usually a parent.
The hero of my Golden Heart final was an orphan, and both the hero and heroine of my debut novel The Wild Sight have lost their mothers. In yet another of my unpublished tomes, the heroine lost both parents in a car accident. SHEESH! Did I have a freakish propensity for killing off family?
But then I started looking at some other books I’ve read… I hope it’s not too much for a spoiler to reveal that Donna’s Mrs. Brimley is an orphan, as are Christine’s heroine Gemma in Scandal’s Daughter and Anna C.’s Verity in Claiming the Courtesan. Poor Gemma and Mrs. Brimley don’t even have siblings! At least Verity and my heroes and heroines also have a sibling or two, though usually in my stories the sib turns out to be a bossy older sister. (Can’t imagine where I came up with such a character!)
Nor is this a recent phenomenon. Remember Dickens’ penchant for orphans – Oliver Twist, Pip in Great Expectations? Can't forget Cosette in Hugo's Les Misérables. Or Bronte’s poor, plain Jane Eyre? Clearly authors have been killing off family members for quite some time. Oedipus Rex anyone?
Could it be that characters who have a “normal” family (whatever that is!) are just not good fodder for stories? Must a character be orphaned or suffer the loss of a family member to be interesting?
What do you think? Have you read, or written any books lately where the main character was not an orphan, but had a full family complement intact?