The I-Word

Two of my main story arcs, the Elladan/Elrohir storyline and the more loosely linked Maeglin stories, deal with breaking the incest taboo. Each set of stories deals with this idea in very different ways. 

The Elladan/Elrohir storyline is about the fantasy of consensual incest. Twincest, even. This squicks some people out, and draws others. Nancy Friday's book, The Secret Garden, discusses the power of this fantasy. She reassures her readers that it's possible to enjoy this fantasy and others, while recognizing that incest in real life is taboo and has negative repercussions. I'd like to say that I recognize this as well.

What is the fantasy? It's the ideal of the self reunited with the self, the lover who is everything. It charges vanilla action with the heat of sexual transgression. In the midst of writing part 3, I was reminded of Wagner's opera "Die Walkure" and its twin lovers, Seigmund and Seiglinde. Even the god Wotan wanted to forgive them because their love for each other was so great. 

To quit being so intellectually pretentious, there seemed to be a lot of good dirty stories waiting with these two. A list poster suggested the pairing back in 2001, and I thought, "Hmmm. It's so wrong, I like it! Many S/M people I know play with similar dynamics. And I could write some brunettes for a change." The first Elladan/Elrohir story, To Drive the Cold Winter Away, received feedback laden with requests for sequels, and I was happy to let my imagination run. Ironically, from its light-hearted beginning, the resulting series wound up grappling with the nature of true love, sexual transgression, and outlaws' ethics.

In contrast, my Maeglin stories Anguirel and The Thrall of Gondolin deal with the damaging reality of incest. I started my first Maeglin story as a way to do a no-holds-barred fantasy piece in the Silmarillion setting, but I wound up puzzling over Maeglin's character. His problems were obviously related to his upbringing, but why couldn't he set them aside and move on? Why was he so power-hungry and profoundly lacking in boundaries? I also wondered why Eöl was so focused on dominating his son, to the point of trying to kill him. The potential answer that came to me was a very dark one, as these tales expound. 

In Anguirel, we see Maeglin as a victim with some slippery survival mechanisms, on the cusp of becoming an abuser in his own right. He lies and steals in this story - but he has been lied to, and stolen from, in the course of being abused.  In The Thrall of Gondolin, he metes out suffering as part of perpetuating that cycle.  

The Maeglin stories touch on fantasies, too, ones of  raging desires, submission beyond will, and wielding pain and power - the dark corners of the libido.  They are NOT for everybody. But, as with all my stories,  I hope that their audience finds them.



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