16 June 2017

What's the deal with Father's Day?

So I'm sitting comfortably at my computer, writing my new work-in-progress (a sequel to my 2014 vampire novel), passing the 10,000 word mark, and it hits me! I should be promoting my Father's Day novel, the one titled AIKO. It's a kind of Father's Day story, after all. Father's Day is here again and everyone is doing a grad and dad marketing blitz. 

Everyone knows that grads are tired of reading. Dads tend to be reading averse, too. So maybe books do not make the best gifts. Job search books for grads, perhaps. A book on dad's current hobby, maybe. But fiction too often falls to the dark, dusty shelf of well-intended gifts. Next to the neckties. (My own father would rather read through a stack of history and politics books before he would ever crack the cover of a novel.)

(Sure, AIKO is a novel about a man discovering he is a father and the many obstacles he must overcome to really make it true, to go get his child, but that would be my pitchman talking. Ignore him.)

So how many books are there about Father's Day, anyway? Or about fathers in general? Mothers are easy. Brothers and sisters are common. The sweet aunt and the generous uncle are often seen in literature. In my vast reading, Fathers are generally the bad guys, villainous, cruel, authoritarian, mean, and uncaring. They are more often than not portrayed as abusers. Sometimes they only appear as the bad memory of a protagonist and we get a couple of incidents to showcase dad's unpleasantness. (I confess doing that in A BEAUTIFUL CHILL and A GIRL CALLED WOLF; fathers in my other novels are less abusive, thankfully.) It's almost a stereotype. Fathers get a bad rap, I think; we only hear about the bad ones. (Think of Darth Vader, a.k.a. "Dark Father", and others of his ilk.)

I think about the fathers in my other books. My protagonists seem to relate to their fathers much as I relate to my own. Funny, that coincidence. Or am I drawing on the only role model I have? (I'm an only child, as well, and my protagonists tend not to have siblings, also--or siblings that are throw-away characters, mentioned but not active in the story.) In AFTER ILIUM, the young hero dislikes his dentist father's strictness and is glad to be on his own touring Greece and Turkey. In EPIC FANTASY *WITH DRAGONS, our dragonslayer hero's father was a military commander killed in battle, so our hero carries only the memory of a violent, frightening man. In A DRY PATCH OF SKIN, our poor hero, transforming into a vampire, is angry at his father for not warning him and for sending him away to live with an aunt. In AIKO, our hero discovers he is a father, then struggles to find his child. There is a brief mention of his father being stationed in Japan after WWII--as my own father was. After the war, my father went to college on the G.I. Bill and became a social studies teacher--later, a librarian. 

When I think of my father, the image that comes most readily is of him sitting in his reading chair, reading: reading in such a focused, determined way that nothing could disturb him. Thus, he was apart from everyday activity, on the sideline, uninvolved in my experiences. And that is what I learned of fatherhood: 1) provide the income, 2) relax at home after the job away from home, 3) fix things around the house and yard when needed. Also, 4) be master of the castle, 5) enforce the rules, and when necessary (6) represent the family like a knight in shining armor when some authority or institution challenges us. He is the (7) champion, the protector, the lord of the manor. And that is, for better or worse, how I portray the fathers in my books: powerful yet distant. Art imitating life!

If you've been following this blog you probably know I'm a dad. It's a weird feeling knowing there is someone living in the world partly as a result of my actions. Sure, we can imagine clones, or cyborgs, but another human? That's crazy. Like us and yet not like us. And eventually they go their own ways and have their own lives and we scratch our heads and think What just happened? Now my offspring is in college, studying to be a nurse. This is after going through Army training to be a combat medic--a course I doubt I could've made it through if I were the same age!

As I think back on the past 20 years, I can pinpoint a few things I did that may have helped raise this baby to adulthood. But there are just as many other things I did that I have no clue about. Maybe they helped, maybe they hurt. Only my grown child can tell. If it is even possible to figure that out conclusively. But I'm pleased, even proud, of how this googly little bundle of joy became this awesome adult who vaguely resembles me in appearance and words and behavior. 

So for now, I must pass the reins over to my protégé. No longer do I need to concern myself so much with me doing great things and achieving this and that and tell my child about, you know, the things I can boast about. Now it is time for me to boast about my grown child, to note what this new adult is doing, and praise the new things, the new deeds, of this adult--to praise and be proud of what my child has done more than being happy at what I have done. Oh, I'll still write books; I must or die trying. But now it's no longer all about me.

(C) Copyright 2010-2017 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

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