August 2017

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I say "modified" because I want to do this, but as many of you know, I'm a one-fandom girl, so there's no point in asking you to ask me about my fandoms. There's only one! I could maybe answer most of these for True Blood, despite never participating in the online fandom, because Bobby and I constitute a fandom-of-two in our house, and I do occasionally talk with some of y'all too about it. But the only fandom I really deeply know is the Tolkien fandom, focusing on The Silmarillion. So here goes!

1. The character I first fell in love with

Maedhros Maedhros Maedhros. In a truly Tolkienish twist, I was fascinated by the look and sound of his name first.1 That made me pay attention to him foremost among the stew of characters that overwhelmed my first reading of The Silmarillion. The Thangorodrim rescue story compelled me, and the trajectory of his life tickled my imagination. I started writing AMC to counter the notion that Maedhros (and his family generally, but mostly Maedhros, which is why his character is central to that story even though people tend to prefer other characters) was an evil character, a villain.

1: How I ended up a Felagund, too, incidentally, as I thought being a lord of caves sounded hella cool--I wanted to be a lord of caves, so I adopted the name.

2. The character I never expected to love as much as I do now

Probably Finarfin, even though he's my namesake's dad, so he should have been on my radar, one would think. He was a non-entity to me through my first readings of the Silm. It was not until I began to write Silmfic--and my focus tended toward Aman rather than Beleriand--that I began to appreciate Finarfin as more than a foil to his brothers in both the positive and negative sense (pacific where they were warmongers; a tool to the Valar where they were fiercely independent). I came to see Finarfin's unique forms of courage and strength, and through exploring these topics in writing, I came to two other characters I now adore in Eärwen and Anairë. Finarfin is one of my favorite characters to write now.

3. The character everyone else loves that I don’t

Hmm. I don't think I dislike anyone who's a fandom favorite. There are some, like Glorfindel, who get a lot of press but whom I don't often write, but that's not because I don't like the character but mainly because the chance hasn't yet arisen to write that character, or I feel that other writers have done so well with that character that I'd prefer to focus elsewhere. Beren and Lúthien come first to mind but, as I just noted to Oshun, I don't think they get a lot of love in the fandom communities I run around with, so they're not a fully suitable answer. As far as Silm characters go, they all offer opportunity to explore in a deeper sense, which is what I love about the book.

4. The character I love that everyone else hates

I'm going to reach back to when I first entered the fandom and Celegorm, Caranthir, and Curufin were the Convenient VillainsTM to many writers, even those who depicted others of the Fëanorians positively. My approach then wasn't "*relief* I have bad guys for my story" but to wonder why they made the disastrous choices that they did later in their lives. Tolkien gave us tantalizing glimpses of potential good in all of them: Celegorm's allegiance with Huan and Oromë, Caranthir's aid to Haleth's people, Curufin's lengthy relationship with his son. Two of them are married, so someone saw enough good in them to pledge to love them forever. They're clearly more--much more--than convenient villains. Exploring this idea has resulted in some of my most rewarding writing about the Fëanorians.

Outside of my insular little Silmfic world, I realize that the Fëanorians are detested by many Tolkien fans. I do feel like these people don't really get it. Sweeping them into the bad guys' camp misses a major point of the story, imo. From a narrative standpoint, the Fëanorians succeed because they feel so human.

5. The character I used to love but don’t any longer

I don't think I've fallen out of love with any characters. Not totally. I'd say that the LotR characters that first intrigued me have been replaced by Silm characters. I love Sam's character in LotR, and I was once fascinated by the Nâzgul. But I loved none of them deeply enough to write about them, which is why they sort of pale in my mind now, as I've spent many years now thinking and writing about certain Silm characters.

6. The character I would totally smooch

Maedhros! No surprise there. ;)

7. The character I’d want to be like

It's kinda funny because I chose to identify as a Felagund before I even finished the book once, half as a joke, based on the sound of the name and the title "lord of caves," but once I made it through the book twice and began to distinguish between the various Fins, I came to realize that I do actually admire Finrod Felagund the most of the characters. He is at once strong, courageous, clearly one of the best of the Noldorin leaders, skilled, and thoughtful. He is open-minded and chooses to find common cause with people unlike him. He is noble and does what he thinks is right rather than what is most expedient. These are all things I aspire to.

8. The character I’d slap

Dior and Elwing. I've never understood how these characters plop their respective people directly in harm's way out of lust for the Silmaril and end up being treated like saints. Elwing especially deserted her children to almost certain harm to keep the Silmaril from the Fëanorians. To me, that sounds like the same pathological obsession that led to their downfall; they are vilified and she is written as a hero. I guess the difference is throwing yourself into a fiery chasm versus being invited to live in a white tower in Aman.

9. A pairing that I love

I love writing all of Finwë's sons with their wives. Fëanor/Nerdanel would probably be my favorite because so many dimensions of that story appeal to me: their deep philosophical differences, their professional and creative commonalities, her obvious strength, his obvious respect for her strength, the strong implication that theirs was a marriage based in love and perhaps at least somewhat in defiance of expectation, the fact that we witness the tragedy of their demise as a couple (versus mere implication of the same). She humanizes Fëanor and remains one of Tolkien's most fully drawn women (largely absent from the published text due to Christopher's edits, not JRRT's, unfortunately).

As far as non-canon couples, my favorite of my personal canon is Caranthir/Taryindë for many of the same reasons as Nerdanel/Fëanor. And both of them are nucking futs, so they're fun to write. Even though I don't write them much, I absolutely adore reading Maedhros/Fingon and wish there was more Maedhros/Finrod.

10. A pairing that I despise

I think "despise" is a bit too strong. Beren/Lúthien is not particularly satisfying to me because the story, as a whole, feels too mythic for me to connect to it. Tolkien's attachment to this particular pairing always comes across too strongly to me, in that it seems to distort that section of the story: The tone is completely different, and after the strife and struggle for every meager success in the book to that point, that chapter feels too ... easy. I realize that is part of the point; it just doesn't work for me, particularly, as a reader because I feel that chapter and pairing loses the human dimension that makes the Silm such a rewarding work to think and write about.
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