Title: The Family
Author: Marissa Kennerson
Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital
Publication Date: October 8, 2014
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Cult
Just like any average seventeen year old, Twig loves her family. She has a caring mother and a controlling father. Her brothers are sisters are committed to her family’s prosperity…
All one hundred and eighty three of them.
Twig lives in the Family, a collective society located in the rainforest of Costa Rica. The Family members coexist with the values of complete openness and honesty, and a shared fear of contagious infection in the outside world.
So when Adam, their Father, prophet, and savior, announces that Twig will be his new bride, she is overjoyed and honored. But when an injury forces her to leave the grounds, Twig finds that the world outside is not necessarily as toxic as she was made to believe. When she meets Leo, an American boy with a killer smile, she begins to question everything about her life within the Family, and the cult to which she belongs.
But when it comes to your Family, you don’t always get a choice.
Interview with Marissa Kennerson
I was lucky enough to interview Marissa about her book, The Family. During this interview, I learned a lot about Marissa and her book. Read through the answers to see just what went into the creation of The Family.
1. The Family is being marketed as realistic fiction, but the plot also centers on a cult-like organization. What inspired you to write about something like this?
I was really interested in how someone like Twig with an artistic nature, a real vein of individualism, would manage in the oppressive, repressive confines of a cult.
I was trained in art therapy (and used to practice), and I wanted to explore how Twig's repressed memories would come to her once she was able to express herself as an artist.
2. Alright… let’s get this one out of the way… Did you have any fears when you first started writing The Family? If so, what did you do to overcome them?
I had just had my son when I started the Family, and I was worried about writing about something so dark. I am a bit soft-hearted and porous to begin with - it was scary to go to these dark places as a new mother. My yoga teacher - the amazingly talented Chris Chavez - really helped. He told me if it comes from me, it's cool. Sounds a bit out there - but I'm a good/light source - so I can go to those places. Not sure if that makes sense, but it released me to explore.
3. Twig has 183 siblings?! That’s insane! Will readers get a chance to learn all of their names in The Family? Does Twig have a core group of “go to” brothers and sisters when she’s in need of a friend?
Ha! There's definitely some faceless/nameless "extras" in the Family, but Twig (and the novel) has a core group for sure that the reader gets to know well. Twig defintely has some besties!
4. Are their any movies with similar themes to The Family that you would recommend to your readers?
The obvious answer would be something like Martha Marcy May Marlene (I had to look that one up to get all of those names right!). But really that movie is much darker than The Family. It hits the sames themes but with no mercy.
While the story takes place in a cult - there are so many themes of finding yourself as your grow up. Figuring out where you begin and your family of origin leaves off. ...and of course there's a really great love story in there.
5. Have you ever had an experience like Twig – going out in a new or different part of the world and realizing how sheltered you may have been? If so, would you care to share a few details?
When I went to Costa Rica - specifically Turrialba - where the Family takes place, I was definitely knocked out of my comfort zone. It was a much more off the beaten path part of Costa Rica than the surf spots, and I was introduced to a whole new world. I was with my parents (who travel the world doing philanthropic work) and running some art projects for children who came from pretty poor families. The whole trip was rewarding and uncomfortable for sure.
6. If you could give any piece of advice to future authors, what would it be?
Don't worry about getting things perfect. That can be paralyzing. Just get out a pen and a pad or your laptop and start throwing ideas or phrases out. Really get into the art of it. (Even paste magazine images onto a poster board!) There is really no formula to what will sell - so best to be as authentic as possible.
Then, once your ready - outline your beginning, middle, and end - if that feels right to your process. I have a blog post on this: