Tag Archives | parents in fiction

Kate Messner talks parents in fiction.

Welcome Kate Messner, the uber-talented author, here to celebrate the upcoming release of Sugar and Ice as she shares her wisdom in dealing with parents in fiction. Welcome! Let’s throw confetti and blow the party horns. Woo hoo!


The big question for authors of middle grade fiction is, “How are you going to get rid of the parents?” After all, middle grade kids can’t have fabulous adventures and exciting plots with Mom and Dad hanging around…or can they?

Both of my novels with Walker/Bloomsbury feature girls with strong families, parents who aren’t perfect by any means, but who are involved and care about their kids. And interestingly enough, during the revision process for my figure skating novel, Sugar and Ice, one of the things my editor asked me to explore more was the relationship between the main character, Claire, and her parents.

Claire is growing up on a small-town maple farm near the Canadian border, in a place where all the kids are expected to pitch in and help when the sap starts running, where it’s all hands on deck the weekend of the annual pancake breakfast. When Claire is offered a scholarship to skate in Lake Placid, more than an hour away, her parents are incredibly supportive.

As an author, though, I needed to look beyond that initial support to figure out how her family really felt about her new schedule, her new friends. And what was it in her parents’ background, particularly her mother’s, that provided the foundation for her parenting? I thought a lot about that question as I revised, and the answer came in a scene right before a big skating competition, while Claire and her mother sit at the kitchen table, sewing more sequins on her competition dress. Each one learns something about the other in that scene, and even though it wasn’t in my original draft of the book, it ended up being one of my favorites.

Thanks Kate! And here’s a summary of Sugar and Ice!

Sugar and Ice

A Junior Library Guild Selection

For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family’s maple farm. But all that changes when Claire is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity-a scholarship to train with the elite skaters in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where

competition is everything, Claire soon realizes that her sweet dream-come-true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she find the strength to stand up to the people who want her to fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

“One moment Claire Boucher is tapping the sap from her family’s maple trees; the next she is plucked from obscurity by a coach who sees her skate in the Maple Show and offers a scholarship in Lake Placid…. Even those who don’t know their double toe loops from their single salchows will enjoy…reading about what it takes to make it on the ice.”

~from Booklist

I love how Kate brings it back to developing three-dimensional parents and how they affect the main character! Love it.  Thanks, Kate! Best wishes for the release of Sugar and Ice this December! What a great gift for elementary kids and middle graders!

Comments { 17 }

Dead, missing, or what?

You’ve got a mind-blowing plot, a terrific protagonist, and a concept higher than Mt. Everest.

But then those pesky parents enter the picture. Everyone has parents, so you can’t ignore mom or dad or some kind of guardian, yet our stories are for kids.

Here are some choices I’ve seen in both YA and MG:

  • One parent is dead or better yet, both parents are dead.
  • Child grows up in an orphanage for lost souls and other neglected creatures. Parents might never enter the picture.
  • Parents are kind of loopy and rather neglectful. (But, hey, this is fiction.)
  • Parents disappear suddenly and that mystery is included in the plot.
  • Parents are stable and the parent/child relationship provides conflict.
  • Many of the scenes are set outside of the home as to avoid the parents.
  • Child attends a boarding school.

Of course, there are as many options as there are stories. And one choice isn’t really better than the other. It totally depends on what you want to do with your story. Don’t automatically think the parents have to be dead, sometimes they can add depth to your main character and make the story more believable.

Two great examples of this are author, Kate Messner’s, award-winning THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z and her soon-to-be-released SUGAR AND ICE. I loved both these stories and gave them terrific reviews. My reviews are here and here.

And lucky for us, Kate will be visiting tomorrow and talking about how she deals with parents in her stories. It should be a great post! Hope you’ll come back and visit.

What are your pet peeves with parents in fiction? How do you deal with the parents?

Comments { 19 }