The bonds between siblings are tough as nails — after all, blood is thicker than water. But there's nothing quite as magical and powerful as the relationship between twins. Author Saskia Sarginson skillfully tackles the trials and triumphs of twins in her heartfelt and beguiling novel, The Twins. Today, Saskia discusses the inspiration behind the novel, her experiences raising twin girls and the power of such a unique and unbreakable bond.
Can the bonds between twins ever be broken? How can two girls who began their existence as inseparable identical twins end up living completely separate lives in their twenties, hardly speaking, awkward in each other’s company?
Those were the questions I set for myself when I sat down to write my novel, The Twins.
Anyone who has a sibling understands the bonds of blood — how tightly they bind us, how complicated they are. Blood bonds are often at the heart of Greek tragedies. What better way to cause family rifts and impossible conflicts than to pit one sibling against another? Imagine then how much more intense it is for twins. Their bonds are tighter and deeper. Twins enter life as a pair, and even when they are physically far apart, they are emotionally and spiritually tied.
I wrote my book, The Twins, because I have identical girls. As I’ve watched them grow up together — they are now 22 — I’ve witnessed first-hand how difficult, almost impossible, their bond can make things for them. For the sake of fiction, I wanted to explore a twin-relationship, to test its limits. That’s where my characters Issy and Viola come from. I’ve noticed that twins tend to gravitate towards other twins. As one of my daughters put it, "It’s a relief to meet another twin. You know they’ll understand what it’s like. Nobody else can." So to add another level of interest to my story, I added a second set of identical twins, this time boys. I knew that this would create a rich territory of jealousy, competitiveness, love and empathy between the four of them: a tangle of bonds.
Being a twin immediately throws up all sorts of contradictions and complications. For example, their close connection ironically means that twins are each other’s worst critics. I’ve heard my girls tell each other very bluntly when they think that their sister has behaved stupidly/badly, or if they are having a bad hair day. You know how girls like to ask each other, ‘Does my bottom look big in these jeans?’ Well, a polite friend will always reassure their friend that, no, they look just fine. But a twin will deliver the ultimate honest answer — ‘Yes, it does. You need a tent not a pair of jeans. Go on a diet!’ When I suggest that maybe they could be kinder to each other, or at least more polite, they look at me as if I’m mad. ‘But mum, she knows what I think anyway.’
But if an outsider dares criticise one of my girls? The other will come flying to her rescue like a mother tiger. They defend each other always. Loyalty is in their bones.
In my book, one twin betrays the other through jealousy. She neglects to tell her something important, convincing herself that she’s doing it for her sister’s good. In the end, this is human behaviour. We are all fallible — vulnerable creatures prone to insecurities, jealousies and ego. Twins are no different. But in their case, a betrayals to the deep loyalty they feel will invariably find a way to live inside them as regret, unease, depression or guilt. When one twin is in denial about her own behaviour, she’s likely to be in denial of the truth about her twin as well.
The bonds between twins stop short of super-natural powers. My twins, like the girls in the book, can’t actually know with any certainty exactly what their twin is doing at any given time. They don’t experience thought transference. But they do feel each other’s pain — whether emotional or physical — and they do have a sense of the other all the time. Like Issy and Viola, they will never be able to walk away from each other. The bonds between them will always tug them back.
- Saskia Sarginson
Curious to read more? Then purchase your copy of The Twins in-stores or online today! And be sure to let us know if you have a twin and can relate to the emotional ups and downs of having one. For more mainstream fiction authors and books, visit our Everything Mainstream Page!