4% With No Parent
When I started writing the Vox Oculis series, I was worried that I was writing a "YAPOB"—Yet Another Poor Orphan Book—just another author trying to leverage the Harry Potter phenomena or the Moonrise Kingdom magic.
I admit, I am fascinated with the lives of kids who grew up without parents—just like Suzy was in Moonrise Kingdom, "I wish I was an orphan . . . I think your lives are more special."
Well, like any author, when I dug into the research I had a rude awakening. Like Sam's reply, "I love you but you don't know what you're talking about," I discovered orphans have challenges most of us can't imagine. In most cases, the circumstances that made them orphans are as heartbreaking as the challenges they face. And consider this: orphans are more numerous than you may think. Even in the small community that I live in, we have had several orphans—some due to violence or drugs, some due to accidents or disease. In fact, the title of this blog is the statistic for the U.S. in 2011 (the same time period as the Vox Oculis trilogy) of children under the age of 18 living with no parent. That's one out of every 25 children. And then consider that 28% lived with only one parent. More than a quarter of children in the U.S. live with only one parent. Let that sink in.
And that's just in the U.S. We're lucky. Worldwide, thanks to famine, disease, and war, there are 143 million orphans. The entire U.S. population is 300 million. The entire Mexican population is 129 million. There are more orphans in the world than Mexican citizens!
You get my point by now. Unfortunately, my research has given me the reassurance that the violent and tragic situations my parentless characters experience in the Vox Oculis series are by no means unrealistic. Outrageous, yes, but rare or unusual? No. On the other hand, neither is the love, companionship, community, and humanity I portray. I just strive to represent it all in a slightly unusual and entertaining way that might stimulate a conversation that might then generate a little higher level of understanding and compassion. I hope I was successful.