Wednesday, September 02, 2009

But My Kids Are Brilliant!

I wouldn't have a career if not for my children. Their experiences growing up and my experiences raising them were the springboards for much of my early fiction. How exactly life gets worked into fiction is difficult for me to explain. It's a mystery.

When I read Is it ever ok to tar your kid in print? at Salon earlier today, I worried about what the author, Amy Benfer, would think about me. "Is it ever OK to write about your family members?" she asks at one point. She also talks about "debating the ethical line of what is and what is not fair game in writing about one's children."

I cringed.

She was talking about a memoir, thank goodness, while to date I've stuck to fiction. And as a fiction writer, have I ever really written about my children? Sure Will and Rob Denis in My Life Among the Aliens and Club Earth were named for my sons (as well as their great-great aunt Anna Denis). And sure we really had a birthday party with an Olympic Games theme, and we really went out to watch the Perseid Showers, and we really ate a lot of bran muffins here back in the day, and we really did a lot of the things that happen in those books.

But we did them without aliens! No aliens! That's why I wasn't writing about the real Will and Rob! Once I brought the aliens in to the story, the books were totally not about anyone I knew!

Hmmm. Perhaps if Julie Myerson, the writer who inspired Is it ever ok to tar your kid in print? had written fiction instead of a memoir and included aliens, she would have missed out on all the controversy.

Assuming that would be a good thing.

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