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Blended: Writers On The Stepfamily Experience


Seal Press

Samantha Waltz says the idea for a collection of stories about stepfamily life emerged a few years ago when she and another writer friend were talking about their adult stepchildren. They looked for an anthology about the subject, but didn’t find anything they liked. Waltz says she launched the ”Blended” project, while her friend turned her idea into a novel.

Waltz, who also has a background as therapist, says stepfamilies have to deal with all the usual ups and downs, with new relationships and dynamics, but also with the loss of their original, intact family. 

She writes: “The words stepfather, stepmother, and stepchild exist in Old English forms related to the word astieped, meaning ‘bereaved.’”

Waltz has six adult stepchildren of her own, but the collection reflects the experiences of writers who are both stepparents and stepchildren. Many of the parents are in opposite sex relationships and marriages; others are with partners and spouses of the same sex. Some currently live in a so-called blended family household, some do not.

In her foreword to the book, author Ariel Gore writes about the rocky relationship between her daughter and her partner of 12 years. Months after she and her partner split up, her daughter and her ex decided to get together without her for an afternoon. To Gore’s surprise, her daughter reported that she and her former stepmom had a great time, and  declared that her ex was ” … kind of cool.”

“I shook my head,” writes Gore. “I mean, seriously? They could have just gotten along?” She goes on to say,

I couldn’t help but wonder at how things might have gone differently. What if we’d treated each other more like normal human beings from the start instead of as generic players in our own pre-conceived notions of what “family” ought to look like, of how children ought to act, of where a new partner has a right to tread.

Waltz says she hopes readers will glean inspiration and insight from the deeply personal stories in “Blended.” But most of all, she says, the purpose of a collection like this is to provide proof and reassurance to those with stepfamily relationships that “we are not alone in our own stepfamily journeys.”

GUESTS:

  • Samantha Waltz: Writer and editor of “Blended
  • Jim Bernard Frost: Writer and contributor to “Blended”
  • Gigi Rosenberg: Writer and contributor to “Blended”

Editor’s note: Samantha Waltz, Gigi Rosenberg, and other contributors will be at Powell’s Books at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 11.

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