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Artificial Extended Families

I don’t apologize for being a Kurt Vonnegut fanatic. I’ve read all of his novels. Timequake was my favorite.  I liked Jailbird and Breakfast of Champions a lot, too.

One of Vonnegut’s novels that gets maligned a bit is Slapstick or Lonesome No More! Even Vonnegut said it wasn’t his best work. He was right. But it had a message of hope, in a post-apocalyptic world, that people could still connect with other people. Even if you didn’t know where your family was, and records were lost due to catastrophe, you could still make new friends by choosing a flower and a number for your middle name. So I could have been Vince Daffodil-37 Dickinson.

You could be Guest Hollyhock-9 Blogger.

So any Hollyhock would be like a fourth cousin. Anyone with a 9 in their name would be like someone who graduated from the same college as you. And imagine how cool it would be to meet another Hollyhock-9!

I like this idea so much that my next novel is going to be about extended families. And, ok, the decision was also inspired by circumstances very close me. My mother was raised by her aunt (whom I have always just thought of as Grandma, may she rest in peace). And she had three brothers who were raised by other families. The sister she was raised with was really her cousin, but to me she is Aunt Nameremovedforprivacy.

Also, three of my six kids have siblings they have never met (via other parents). Some of them are in another country. I think it would be pretty cool for them to meet those siblings.

And the reason I think it would be pretty cool is that this just happened with my best friend. When our state opened adoption records in 2000, he got himself a copy. All it had was her name and an address. He didn’t even have a name then. As he was 31 at the time, there was no reason to believe that address had anything to do with his birth mom. And so the document went into his safe and rested for 13 years.

He had a change of circumstances recently, and the safe came to his attention. He and I looked at the document and I said, “Let’s find her.”

So we did. And he met her for the first time this weekend. And her husband. And we had already met his two half-brothers (one in cyberspace only due to his Canadianality) before that.

So all of that (and Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slapstick or Lonesome No More!) inspired the premise for my next novel, which has a working title of the same name as the main character.

I’ll let you know more as I write it.


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