A Fluffdate: Playlists, Incest, and Help Me Remember a Fairytale?

What is a fluffdate, you ask? It’s an update with fluff in it. A fluffy update. A fluffdate. You’re smart; you get it.


I’ve been steadily adding songs to the ACORAS playlist, which you can find on the ACORAS page. I’ve bolded ones that were major influences to the story, but the rest are pretty good, too, I guess. If you like awesome.

(The first part of The Funeral is my dream track for the ACORAS movie/book trailer.)

In particular, the lyrics of Little Talks had me nearly in tears yesterday. Nearly. Which is sobbing for normal people.


I talked about this a little on Twitter recently. Basically I realized that in two books I have strange, pseudo-incest romances. I’m pretty sure this has to do with my ideas about family, love, blood, water, etc., but let’s dissect it for fun:

In ACORAS, for Rose there’s the opportunity for romance with one of the descendants of her brother. He’s technically her grand-nephew. Sounds totally incesty, but does it make it better that Rose and her brother weren’t blood relatives? One of them was adopted, so she has no blood relation to this grand-nephew. Their ages are very close, and they never knew each other until Rose woke up, so it’s not like they grew up together.

Is that incest?

Second scenario: In a new book I’m fleshing out, the MC and her love interest are second-half cousins. They have the same great-grandfather, but their grandfathers were born to different women, so they were half-brothers. Legally you can marry your second-cousin but personally I still find that a bit weird. So I made them half-second-cousins.

So is it incest?

Look, I’m not a huge incest advocate over here. I am troubled that readers might find these relationships disturbing. I feel somewhat squicky about it myself. But here’s my feeling on why I think this stuff keeps cropping up:

I like family drama. When you are blood related there’s a strange biological compulsion there to help each other out. Yet at the same time, family is permanent; you can’t divorce or break up with family. Even if you hate each other you’re still part of the same blood. For these reasons I think a lot of people take their family relationships for granted, because no matter how thoughtless or careless or mean you are, you can never lose them. This causes people to be less kind than they could be.

And it also results in great drama sometimes: doing what you feel is best for someone even when they disagree, the obligation to care for and protect them, the dedication to face hell for them, the loyalty to choose them over everyone else. There’s so much potential for awesome moments and choices and conflicts.

But I also really love exploring relationships where deep love turns someone into your family even though there’s no blood relation. When you fall in love and marry someone you become family. But we don’t consider those relationships incesty. Family doesn’t automatically equal incest; blood does.

And I do truly believe that family is made of more than blood. Sometimes your blood turns on you. Sometimes your blood is really shitty. There are people out there disowning and being disowned, and deciding never to speak to their blood relatives again. Loyalty and dedication can be just as powerful when you are related by love and not blood.

There’s a country song that goes “Blood is thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood.” And I guess I believe that.

So going back to Rose – we have these two characters who are family, by love if not by blood. They are friends, and they are close, and they work together. If something sparks from that is it okay?

I think so.

And as for my half-second-cousin scenario… A huge part of the plot has to do with lines of succession. I needed the MCs to be of the same social standing, good friends as children, and for one’s disappearance/appearance to affect the succession of the other. Therefore they had to be somewhat related. Yet I’m feeling this thing between them that is stronger than blood. One sacrifices a heck of a lot to save the other, and I feel like there should be this deep, abiding love there. Love deeper than platonicness would allow. Hence, second-half-cousins.

What do you think? Would you be squicked out by this relationship? What about relationships that might be incesty except adoption takes away the blood relation?

Can you remember this fairytale?

I’m looking for fairytales or stories where someone is pulled into another world/underworld/shadow land, etc., and the other person has to go and save them, perhaps having to pass tests or sacrifice in order to get them back.

I feel as if there are some great stories like this out there, but I can’t remember them and I’ve misplaced my big book of fairytales. All suggestions are welcome, but here’s what I have so far:

  • A Troll in Central Park
  • The 7 Tasks of Hercules
  • Spirited Away
  • East of the Sun, West of the Moon
  • Hercules the movie

Can you come up with anything else? I feel like I’m missing something big here, and I cannot place it.

Personal News

I have always wanted to be a runner. For years I believed I just didn’t have a body that could take it. Whenever we ran in gym class I felt like my lungs couldn’t keep up with my body’s demand for oxygen. I have a big body, and I figured when you got to a certain point the proportions are all wrong and I just wouldn’t be able to keep up.

*cough* I was wrong. And now Chris and I are running! On Saturday I did a 2 mile run, 1.5 of it without stopping, which is a personal lifetime best. We’re about to do another 2 mile run tonight. What changed for me? I have no idea. Sorry. Somehow now I’m able to a) not get bored, and b) go for long periods of time without my lungs feeling overwhelmed. Yeah, I dunno either. I’m like 30 pounds overweight so this shouldn’t be possible.

The ACORAS rewrite continues to go well, and as you might have gathered, I also have a shiny new idea I’m working on. Hopefully I’ll get to tell you a little more about that later, but for now I’m trying to keep it on the back-burner while I finish ACORAS. Then we’ll talk.

<3, Savannah


10 thoughts on “A Fluffdate: Playlists, Incest, and Help Me Remember a Fairytale?

  1. Sydney says:

    For the fairytale you’re looking for, I’m reminded of the David Bowie film Labyrinth. That’s the one that sticks out to me the most, anyway. :)

  2. Raven says:

    Hmm. I don’t really mind incest in stories. To me it all depends on the time period the story takes place in. The other day I was thinking about the royal family and how many incestuous relationships there were in their family tree. Then there’s the relationship between Cersei and her brother on Game of Thrones. I think it’s an interesting concept in stories, and because it happens/has happened in real life, it doesn’t bother me. Not saying I condone it, but…I wouldn’t pay much attention to incest if the story is well-written and it’s not the central theme.

    As for fairytales/myths, I’m drawing a blank. I was thinking Orpheus & Eurydice but I’m not sure if there was more than one task Orpheus had to perform to get Eurydice back.

    • Savannah Foley says:

      That was something else I’d been thinking of but didn’t mention… when you’re royalty the whole incest thing seems less important. Gotta keep all that power in the family ;-)

      Excellent reminder about Game of Thrones, thanks!

  3. Caitlin Vanasse (@CaitlinVanasse) says:

    More on the other items later but I wanted to jump on this while I still can. You’re missing that Russian fairy tale where that white witch type character takes the boy away and the girl has to go rescue him. (I think C.S. Lewis was probably influenced in part by this for Lion/Witch but it’s different! Of course I can’t remember the title either lol.)

  4. Rowenna says:

    The incest question is a good one–I feel like we’re really culturally programmed to go “EWWWWW!” at the mention of any degree of relation with romance…but historically it was totally normal. So I guess to me when I read something set in another time or a created place, I’m pretty open-minded about it (like I didn’t find myself judging in Game of Thrones or when the cousins something removed were encouraged to marry in Downton Abbey).

    As for the fairy tales–have you checked out Celtic myths or Irish fairy tales at all? There are some stories about fairies stealing people and the land of the fairies…and of course my Irish folklore book is buried somewhere and I can’t look them up. The Battle of the Birds doesn’t have an underworld element, but there is a giant holding his daughter captive and lots of tasks (and a somewhat disturbing element of skinning someone): http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cft/cft27.htm

    • Savannah Foley says:

      I agree with you about modern culture and the ick factor when it comes to incest. I also agree it would be less scandelous if set in an earlier time period, but with the fantasy I’m envisioning that’s pretty solid YA, it just seems kind of wrong. GoT can pull it off because it’s gritty and real, you know?

      Thanks for the suggestions! If only I could find my fairytale books… I have my Swedish ones but they’re pretty troll-focused.

  5. Erica Grey says:

    For your fairy tale, I’d suggest Reckless by Cornelia Funke. I usually describe it as Supernatural and the Brothers Grimm meets Alice in Wonderland.

    “Incest” is a strange thing which changes definition across time and cultures. In my family’s culture, any blood relation is considered off limits, and it’s been noted that at some points people wouldn’t even marry people in their own villages. I’d say my squicky-ness about incest comes from that long-standing norm and our concept of family. Then you have monarchies like the Ptolemy clan in Egypt where they married their own siblings. Incest occurs way more in the ruling class, history, and some cultures.

    The situations you describe don’t bother me (then again, I’ve been desensitized by internet story sites – incest, really squicky incest, seems popular for some Freudian reason?). The context for your stories makes sense. Also, The China Garden by Liz Berry isn’t too bad and that’s first cousins.

  6. Gina Rinelli says:

    Re: incest. There was a book recently that handled this very, very well. The brother an sister were adopted (and they made sure with DNA tests) and they were completely devoted to each other. At no point did I think “ick” because the author had handled it so well.

    So, I think it depends on how the characters think of it. If they believe it to be incest, or worry about it, your readers are going to worry about it as well. But if they firmly believe it is not incest, and it’s between two consenting adults, etc, you will be okay. It would be like falling in love with the kid who lived next door your whole life.

    I also agree with you that it’s a great source of family conflict. Because when it comes down to it, it’s NOT incest. They are not blood related. They are also meeting for the first time when they are older (for the sake of argument it’s the first time, since Rose can’t remember), so they won’t *feel* like brother and sister.

    And yes, I know I didn’t mention which book. I don’t want to give it away, because it was such a huge payoff to the story when it finally came out!

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