We loved Christina Henry’s dystopian takes on Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass in Alice and Red Queen, so we were extra specially excited to hear that she was turning her hand to another of our childhood favourites Peter Pan with Lost Boy.
Then our good friends at Titan Books asked us if we’d like a guest post by Christina to help launch Lost Boy in the UK, naturally we jumped at the chance. We used our question wisely and asked ‘Why does fiction love absentee parents so much?’
‘The first major event in so many stories with child/teen heroes is getting rid of those pesky adults – either the main character is orphaned, or the parents are conveniently off on a long research trip, or maybe they are just too caught up in their lives to notice what their kids are doing.
This is because while loving, attentive caregivers are ideal for real life their presence is often an albatross for kids trying to save the world – or just have an awfully big adventure.
The joy of many children’s stories is the idea of a secret world that is kids-only, free from annoying things like the need to wash one’s hands for dinner or even to be home for dinner at a certain time. Kids love the idea of private places where they can do whatever they like and eat all the junk food they want – this is practically the reason why forts and tree houses were invented.
There is also a sense that a parent (or other caregiver) would prevent the child hero/heroine from doing what he needs to do/fulfilling his destiny/destroying the evil among us.
Do any of us think that Harry Potter would have been able to go off questing for Deathly Hallows if he had a mother and father at home? Of course not. Hermione had to make her own parents forget she ever existed so she could join Harry. And Ron’s mother, the too-wonderful Molly Weasley, threw every possible obstacle in their path to prevent them from leaving. If James and Lily were still alive they certainly would have told Harry to leave the fighting to the Order of the Phoenix and to worry about his studies instead.
Peter Pan, of course, eliminates parents by recruiting children from the real world to join the titular hero on his island-of-eternal-fun. Peter makes sure no parent will interfere with his plans by physically removing the children to a geographic location so remote that no adult could possibly find it – except, that is, for the pirates on the island.
I always wondered about those pirates – how they found Neverland, why Captain Hook hated Peter Pan so much. I wanted to know why this adult was so determined to kill this one boy. And so I wrote Lost Boy, a tale of boys and missing parents and the kind of hero-worshipping-love that can only become corrosive hatred. Because Neverland is not all fun and games, and Peter lies.’
Lost Boy is out now from Titan Books in the UK price £7.99