Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

What to know about writing twins: a guest post by Ashley and Leslie Saunders

Growing up as twins, we always received an overabundance of attention. Being constantly compared, analyzed, pointed at and talked about turned us into extremely shy kids. We didn’t know how to handle classmates or strangers on the streets coming up to us like they knew us, asking personal intimate questions about our relationship and our appearance. We hated how it made us feel like a sideshow or a gimmick. Our sisterhood was extremely close- yes, we were identical and shared our wardrobe. Yes, we had the exact same interests such as sports and reading- but we didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. In our eyes, we were just best friends who happened to look like one another.There were definitely periods in our lives when people sought to separate us or would make us feel like our bond was “odd” or “too close”. When we felt isolated or misunderstood we looked to stories to help us feel normal. Our shining lights were all things Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Tia and Tamera from the television show Sister, Sister. Looking back, the portrayal of both sets of twins was very “kitchy” and played to stereotype, but hey, we took what we could get. Distinct memories fill our minds with being asked on the regular to sing the Doublemint gum song as the Doublemint Twins (we still know all the lyrics to this day, of course). But our most dreaded gibe was being compared to the twins from The Shining. This wildly famous depiction of twins followed us through to our adolescence and beyond, leaving the door open for questions like “which one of you is the evil twin?” “Which is the nice one?” “Stand side-by-side so I can compare you both.” “Are you identical everywhere?” “Oh, she’s the dominant one.”We totally get it. Identical twins are question-provoking, especially for twins as close as we are. Even science still has questions: why does a fertilized egg split in the first place? It’s a biological mystery.

But as we grew older, we began to learn how to cope with people’s curiosities and how to turn the narrative around. We started writing about being twins.

It was a game changer for us. We thought, why not take established twin stereotypes and make them our own? Let’s take ownership of being twins. Weaving our authentic bond into a story, giving readers an insider’s look at our unique bond using our own words, somehow lessened the sting of the constant unsolicited questions and stares.

We’re even used the assumption that most twins are tricksters who like to trade places (hello Parent Trap) and made it the log line of our story.

Our novel The Rule of One is about twin sisters born into a world where they don’t belong. Families are only allowed by law to have one child- the stakes are high. But the foundation of their relationship comes from our own. The story is told from dual perspectives; Ashley wrote all of the eldest twin Ava, and Leslie wrote Mira, the second born. It was very cathartic to write in first person about all the little details of daily twin life, adding some of our own personality traits to Ava and Mira. In our novel we tried to go deeper, beyond the initial head-turning surface that attracts people’s attention to identicals, exploring themes of identity and sisterhood being tested under extraordinary circumstances.

We hope other authors and filmmakers who decide to write about the unique dynamic of twins will approach such characters as real, three-dimensional individuals rather than regurgitations of caricatures seen in so many past media portrayals.

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.38.49 PM–Author Bio:
Hailing from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders are award-winning filmmakers and twin sisters who honed their love of storytelling at The University of Texas at Austin. While researching The Rule of One, they fell in love with America’s national parks, traveling the path of Ava and Mira. The sisters can currently be found with their Boston terriers in sunny Los Angeles, exploring hiking trails and drinking entirely too much yerba mate. Visit them at www.thesaunderssisters.com or follow them on Instagram @saunderssisters.
Steely-vented hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei), perched on verbena plant, Costa Rica, July

Steely-vented hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei), perched on verbena plant, Costa Rica, July

–Synopsis:

In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all. In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life. She has an identical twin sister, Mira. For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives. Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.

Find it here:

Speak Your Mind

*