Thanks to Parents Everywhere for Providing Fodder for Fiction

Thanksgiving is a time when families, for better or worse, come together. This holiday prompted me to consider how important families are in the stories we write and read. The relationship of family members to protagonists may be the heart of a narrative, the catalyst for the plot, and/or a key motivator for a character’s behavior, even while those members stay largely in the background. Parents, in particular, function in these critical and not always complimentary roles. Below are some common parental (or parent substitute) archetypes found in novels, along with my imaginings about how each might operate at the family Thanksgiving dinner. The cruel parent, who is abusive and thwarts the pr

Traveling in Asia on the Cheap before the High-Tech Age

As a child, I loved maps and fantasized about that time when I could explore the world. Perhaps because I was born in another country, emigrating to the USA from England with my family when I was a toddler, the desire to visit other lands was in my DNA. My chance finally came right after college when I took off not only on a six-week European sojourn, but also on a cross-country USA car trip between graduation and the date that my charter plane flew to Europe. But my ultimate journey occurred in the mid-1970s when I planned a year-long trip by myself across Asia, hoping to work for a while near the Great Barrier Reef. I was anxious to explore exotic lands I’d seen only in National Geographic

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