Slash With Care
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From the Other River Bank: 13. Note to My Readers (Optional)
Note to my readers:
"From the Other River Bank" is my first foray into the slash genre; whether it is my last, I do not know at this point. But in either case, I didn't write it without some fairly specific goals in mind. One of them I mentioned in the Author's Note, but I thought I'd share my motivations with you, as well as clarify a point that's come up (always very politely, for which I thank you all) a number of times in reviews and e-mails.
As I said in the Author's Note, one of the main reasons for writing this story was to infuse (carefully and not without trepidation) a convincing backdrop for a homosexual relationship into LoTR while still respecting the integrity of the canon, both in characterization and chronological detail. That's why I haven't labeled this an AU: I don't want it to be an outright AU or to be judged as such. I aimed for a solid "missing scenes" story that would be a plausible set up for the events of LoTR, but from a standpoint dealing with homosexuality. Whether I have succeeded or not is up to the individual reader to decide; I'd like to think I've taken my best shot, and though I may continue to tweak some of the details (references to Saruman had to be redone, for example, when I realized Saruman's treachery was revealed six days after Boromir had already left Minas Tirith. Oops!), on the whole, I doubt the story will undergo major revisions.
Slash writing interests me primarily because it reminds me that heterosexuality is not the only way to love someone else, and especially with male-male relationships, it opens a whole range of feeling and interaction that is normally suppressed for fear of misinterpretation. Since slash by its nature is an interpretation (and only an interpretation, as may be said of all other fanfic), that inhibition is removed. Slash to me is also a very political form of writing, and not because of any desire (or lack thereof) on the part of its authors to make it political. It simply is thus because what it is dictates where it stands in relationship to the so-called norm, i.e., heterosexual pairings. To me, that makes it a perfect match for LoTR, where the characters are not heroes because they want to be, but because who they are dictates their responsibilities at a given point in time. In this particular story, I might also borrow the phrase "the personal is political" to describe some of what happens in Gondor's capital. Granted, all of this is my own opinion and you are not obligated to share it in any way; but since it is my opinion, I can't see this story having a point if I'm not perfectly frank with you about it. It's an internal standard of consistency between author and work, if you will. I think slash, given its position in fanfic, deserves to be taken very very seriously on a number of levels, and I hope I've done this much maligned genre justice with "From the Other River Bank."
Other reasons for this story's existence are a bit less weighty. Personally, I like a challenge, but not just any off-the-wall challenge. I could easily come up with a tale where Aragorn smokes pot (funny how all the movie-goers seem to twitter at references to "weed" and "leaf") and dreams about having sex with Boromir. I could have Boromir make love to Faramir after the bridge of Osgiliath collapsed out of sheer gratitude for being alive. I could have Legolas make out with Treebeard, and how's that for a weird pairing? The ultimate expression of an Elf's love of the trees! But that's not really a challenge, since it's just me letting my imagination wander off the deep end. Maybe someone else could make that work, but that would then properly be someone else's task and not mine. And then, of course, there's the absolute dearth of Faramir stories out there, which is really a shame because he's so eminently writeable. Put him together with Boromir and it's killing two birds with one stone, since neither of them get the attention they deserve. Stick Denethor in there as well, and you've essentially shot a whole flock of birds, given that Denethor isn't all that popular in any sense of the word.
Finally, I get asked/get comments about the fact that I wrote about incest. For the record, I did not write an "incest story." No, I'm not related to Bill Clinton, either. Honestly, when I began this, the idea was not: "Let's write a story about brothers who fall in love with each other." Boromir and Faramir coincidentally are related to each other in a very integral way, but the deeply affectionate bond that they seem to have enjoyed strikes me as quite singular: it's undeniably related to and grown out of their brotherhood, but somewhere along the way, I think it transcends the ties of blood and fraternity even while remaining based in them. The only other story I can think of where I find this to be the case is "Advantages of Mortality," a very brief exploration of Elladan and Elrohir. I owe Amy Fortuna a huge debt of retrospective gratitude for proving with that story that not only was LOTR slash possible, but that it could be done well, tastefully, and believably. "From the Other River Bank" wasn't even a glimmer in my eye at that point, but once I started writing it, it helped to have in the back of my mind another brother/brother pairing that (in my opinion at least) worked beautifully and gave me a benchmark for my own work.
I also owe ElizChris, Gayle M, Hildegard Holmes and Caerulea many thanks for their critiques and wonderful correspondence. They doubtless will recognize this "Note" as having sprung from our e-mail conversations, and I hope they will forgive me for using the material that came out of those (very fruitful) exchanges.
Thanks for letting me write!
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