On Tycho, Families and ‘Convenient Orphans’

Here’s a new review of Hunt for the Hydra that made me happy, from Fantasy Book Critic. An excerpt:

What is truly amazing about Hunt for the Hydra is the relationships between all the characters. First, there are adults who are actively involved with their children’s lives. The parents know what is going on, are sought for help with problems, and truly care about the well-being of their children. There is even a ‘kooky’ grandpa who is part robot, who seems a little out there, but can be counted on at times to tell it like it is and listen to the main character when he needs to talk about issues.

Parental figures tend to be downplayed in middle grade fiction in an effort to appeal to the target audience. It was nice to see active, involved parents who aren’t hovering over the main characters, but are there to support, guide, and nurture them.

I like that because I wanted The Jupiter Pirates to be a series about families, but one without “convenient orphans.” Convenient orphans are a trope of all heroic fiction, but one that’s particularly common in kids’ books – and that I felt we could use a break from.

The Hashoones have their problems as a family – Tycho discovers that in Curse of the Iris, and things get really bad in The Rise of Earth (that’s Book 3 of the series, coming soon) – but Tycho isn’t an orphan. He’s a member of a family with strong-willed personalities, deep-rooted traditions and very definite expectations. I wanted the pressures and complications Tycho and his siblings face to reflect that, and it’s gratifying to see a reviewer respond to it.

News (well sort of): I’m working on a Jupiter Pirates short story that I hope will appear this summer. Members of The Crew will get the first crack at reading it, so if you’re not a member, sign up today! I also hope to have news about a publication date for The Rise of Earth soon, so keep watching this space!