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In the Spotlight - May 21, 2018

just.a.willow.tree

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Hello, HPFTers! Welcome to another edition of In the Spotlight, a monthly post in the Prefect Blog that features interviews with the winners of special awards and a review column for the Story of the Month. ^_^ This month, in addition to the interviews with the Order of Merlin winners, the prefects are happy to present interviews with the two Head Students winners and the author of May's Story of the Month! (Because this month's post is rather long, definitely feel free to minimize each quote box once you're done reading. :P)

We hope you enjoy! :wub: 

 

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Today we're featuring @RoxiMalfoy, the winner of the Order of Merlin last month, and @Ineke, who is this month's winner! Both are extremely well-deserving of their awards, and so hopefully you'll get to know them a little better through these interviews.

RoxiMalfoy

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How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community?

I discovered the anomaly that is Harry Potter fanfiction in March of 2008, via a web search for something that was related to the early planning stages of my first draft of Love, Not War at the time... I was amazed to find that there was an actual name for what I was doing; with writing my own take on Draco Malfoy and his family, and that LOTS of other people were doing this writing thing too!! So, naturally, I was quickly sucked into this amazing little corner of the internet that is HP FanFiction, lol!!:yay: I officially joined the old forums on March 28th, 2008. And after much encouragement and help with some story titles and summaries and such, I posted the 1st chapter of my Novel on December 9th, 2008... And the rest, as they say, is history!! I recently just celebrated my Ten-Year anniversary in this Community, and it has certainly been a wild ride over the last Decade. Just typing that is like... WOW!! I certainly never imagined when I clicked on that search result link that I’d be dedicating a third of my life to all of this, lol! But I am beyond grateful that I found this community of wonderful writers and supportive friends & family members!! And I am certainly looking forwards to seeing what the next ten years will bring as well. :hug:

What is your favorite part about working behind-the-scenes?

Oh gosh. This is such a difficult one to narrow down, because I really do love doing all the things, lol!! Planning/helping to run the House Cup events, posting and interacting with people on Social Media, and then there are also SO MANY cool new projects that we’ve got brewing right now with our new ML Team too!! But I suppose that if I had to choose just one thing to call my favorite part... Like, I know you're all going to laugh at me - but don’t judge, lol!! xD I’d probly have to say that I really do enjoy having a legitimate reason for it to be considered socially acceptable to openly talk to strangers on the internet, lol!! :roflol: 

All jokes aside though, I used to be SOO shy prior to joining the Staff Team. I mean, I was a background lurker for years. And I was quite okay with nobody knowing who I was, and just going about my own business from day to day. :$ So when I became a Staffer, and had to start PM’ing members more often, and welcoming the new people to the site, and interacting with people on Social Media on like a daily basis; that was a HUGE adjustment for me!! It very much took me out of my comfort zone; and I know that I was so very socially awkward in the beginning, haha!! But now, however, I absolutely LOVE starting up conversations with new people!! It really has become one of my favorite things - I really do not know a stranger anymore, lol! (Thank you, HPFT.) :P But I just love telling new members all about the site, and helping out with whatever I can if they ever have questions about anything. And I love being able to just chat with people about random things; be it life, music, art, food, fandoms, your favorite color - I will literally talk to you over just about anything you want to talk about, lol!!! So like, when I say that my inbox is ALWAYS OPEN guys - I seriously do mean that, haha!!  :discuss:

Favorite type of fanfiction to read/write?

One of my favorite things to both read AND write is Alternate Universe, because I enjoy seeing the story in an alternate perspective. So many different story-lines could have taken place had just one minor detail been changed, and it’s always been interesting to me to explore those other paths that could have been taken. We already have the MAIN Cannon Story, and it’s a really great one!! But I like to imagine other alternate possibilities that could've happened within the HP universe as well. ;) (Like what if Sirius had not fallen through the veil, or what if Harry had been sorted into Slytherin, or my personal favorite; what if Draco had accepted Dumbledore’s offer for help/protection at the end of HBP - just to name a few.) And that’s kinda the beauty in fanfiction, really, is that you don’t have to follow the books 100% to a T. You are not limited to the story-lines of what happened in those seven novels only. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a well-written Cannon Compliant fic every now and then, and I’ve seen several really great ones in my day, too. But for me, personally, AU is where it’s at. Most of the stories I’ve read (that were not requested of me) were either AU in some way or another, or they were NextGen fics. I just love the imagination and creativity that goes into an Alternate Universe story. You can write an AU and still have all of the characters be Cannon Compliant, and maintain certain key elements of the main storyline, and just change a few things - or several even - and have it be fantastic! If it is properly executed, then I for one have got no quarrels with people “changing the story” or any other accusation that’s been thrown at AU’s in the past, lol. Bring them to me, and I will give them all the love!! :hearteyes:

What is your OTP?

I am not a romance person. Not in the slightest. Not in real life, and certainly not in my choices of what to read and/or watch at the movies (or on TV) for that matter. That being said, if it’s included in a fic, and is not the overall arching theme, and it is done right; or if I'm in the mood for something fluffy (which is really rare. I’ll take my stories nice and dark, and full angst, please!) Then I like to read the occasional James/Lily story. Because, Marauders. And because we all know it ends with a baby Harry, lol. Oh, and there's hella angst at the end of that love story too, so… yeah. Also, I've been getting really into Scorbus a lot lately too! Like real talk, those two should have been together at the end of CC. I confess my disappointment in the ending of that play (sorry Ineke)!! ^_^ 

What is your favorite non-HP fandom?

Oh, this is by far the easiest question you've asked - hands down, lol!! :twothumbsup: My first love, even before Harry Potter, has and will always be: The Lord of the Rings... Truth be told, HP was actually kind of my LotR rebound, lol!! I mean, sure, I liked Harry Potter prior to 2003. I'd seen the first two movies in theaters at least, and I had a copy of the first book that was given to me by my friend Sarah (in January of 2001 - Yes, I know. I have a weird thing about remembering dates) that I had read a few chapters of. But I didn't fully immerse myself into the Wizarding World until the fall of 2003, after the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy had ended, and I needed something new to fill that empty void in my heart... :poke:

Fun Fact: Once the last Harry Potter movie came out, I did have a rather mild case of Post-Potter depression... But then I got superrr into the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series!! I'm a really huge fan of those books too - Just NOT the movies tho. Please don't ask me about those disgraceful films. Those movies were really unacceptable... <_< But yeah, lol. Percy Jackson is like my 3rd favorite fandom!!! 

Tell us your favorite part of being at HPFT!

The people, for sure!! I absolutely LOVE the feeling of community that we have here at HPFT. Everyone is just so supportive, and accepting, and loving, and caring, and helpful, and kind. No matter what you need; be it help with a plot idea, feedback on a new chapter, title/summary help, input on your characterizations, someone to squee with over the latest Fantastic Beasts trailer, or moral support after seeing the new Avengers Infinity War movie, or even if something is bothering you IRL and you just need to vent to someone outside of the situation (again, my inbox is always open, and I am here for you, loves) - there is always someone here within the HPFT community to chat with; who can talk you through just about anything!! :) 

The staff and the members have always been super open and accepting of ALL people, regardless of age/sex/gender/religion/sexual orientation/fandom preference/etc… and I just love the atmosphere that has been built here SO much. I love being a part of something bigger, and being able to give back to this beautiful community that has given me so much over the years... Yes my schedule is crazy, and yes it is true that this occupies a lot of my free-time IRL. But I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about ANY of it!! I have loved every single second of being on Staff here, because HPFT has become my Internet-Home. I love it here so much, and I am so very thankful for all of the friendships that I have made through this beautiful site. :wub:  So I will happily do anything and everything that I can to serve and protect this place (until it is no longer within my ability to do so). I love being on the Staff Team here at HPFT. It truly has been a blessing, and it has changed my life over the last ten months, in ways that I never even thought possible. You guys all truly do mean the world to me, I hope you know that.  :grouphug: 

Ineke

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How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community?

Oh good god. Eh. I think I started reading - and writing - fanfics since 2005? Like, late 2005, though I always had more interest in role-play than in fic writing for a long time (though that's probably mainly due to insecurity, my muse, and because I felt more at home at the RPG of the site). As for being part of the English community - I don't know. I think it's maybe since... 2008? That's my first published on ff.net anyway. It's a long time regardless!

What is your favorite part about working behind-the-scenes?

Oh that is a hard one! I think I've always been more of a behind-the-scenes person, to be honest, because I always loved doing more administrative stuff like make up lists and everything that can be handy for events or recalling things and that sort of thing. Aside from that, I always love that I have a bigger opportunity to help out members of the site and help the site in general, and it makes me happy if me helping out can make others happy too! Working on events and seeing everyone so enthusiastic also always helps - especially when we've been building up anticipation for a long time and then see the reactions. So it's a bit of everything, I reckon?

Favorite type of fanfiction to read/write?

Oh god. I love fluff, angst, romance - a good slowburn too, both to read and to write, even if I majorly suck at writing longer stories, because I never seem to be able to finish them. Though I do love reading a good mystery too.

What is your OTP?

HP wise: Hinny, but also Romione and Jily. (Also do Scorbus count because it's not canon and do Albus/Nova from dorm 2.6a series also count??? Because if so: those too.)

Other fandom wise: River/Doctor (Doctor Who), Jake/Amy (Brooklyn 99)

What is your favorite non-HP fandom?

Doctor Who & Brooklyn 99. Do not make me pick between the two D:

Since you are an amazing Auror, we want to know your secrets! How do you validate stories so quickly?

Oh my god. I'm not that amazing. Really, I'm not. And I couldn't have done it without my fellow two Aurors last month because we all did over 200 chapters =D But thank you anyway! Okay so as to answer your question: I honestly don't know. I think it helps that I am a very fast reader, which makes me go through the chapters really quick. That and a huge part of me pushing myself even if I should quiet down and take it more slowly.

What are your top two favorite plays you’ve seen in person and why?

...Plays or musicals? Because I need to know.

If we're talking plays: obviously Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It honestly feels like coming home time after time again. I love the portrayals of the actors (especially Jamie Parker's Harry (it's like he jumped out of the books), either Noma Dumezweni's or Rakie Ayola's Hermione (even though they play it vastly different) and David Annen's Snape (who just is like Alan Rickman, not gonna lie)) and the vibe from the theatre, the sheer loveliness from the entire cast towards us and the friends I made through it all.

As a second play: Don Juan In Soho with David Tennant, because that's literally the only other play I have seen in my life and second because, you know, David Tennant. (Though it did have singing? But it really was listed as a play). But David Tennant was brilliant and I don't think I'll ever get over the fact that I saw the man perform live.

And if we can include musicals too - it has to be either Sister Act or Lion King, but please do not make me choose either because I can't. Lion King because it's just... Lion King and it's amazing and I will never not cry during Shadowland (Dutch or English). Sister Act because I will never not leave that show without crying because of laughter.

But which one would take the second place - eh. I don't know.

How do you pronounce your name? :P

Oh god. Eh. Hold on. I posted about it in a status update here. I also pronounced it in this announcement around the 52 second mark and for those who don't want to watch a vid, I also have this site for you where it is pronounced! This because I totally suck at explaining how to pronounce it so I hope this helps :'D It's far clearer than when I try and type how you need to pronounce it.

 

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These interviews with the Head Students are a new feature! :D We gave the two Head Students, @facingthenorthwind and @Nix, different sets of questions (though there are two questions that are the same in both), and without further ado, here they are!

facingthenorthwind

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Why did you pick the House you are in?

The short answer is because I'm a nerd. The longer answer is that I just super love learning things, and several times a year I have a panic attack because I will die before I read every book. It's impossible to read every book!!!!! Iif I had a dragon hoard, it would be knowledge, is another way to put it.

If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?

I panicked about this question for a bit because the fic I've put my heart and soul into most is still languishing in my gdocs instead of on the archive, but in lieu of that: Hermione Before the Beit Din! The first entry is just a prequel with no important info for the main event, which is where Hermione has to go before a religious court because she broke religious law by obliviating her parents. I had a lot of fun thinking about how obliviation would be thought about in Jewish law, and I just...really like the concept? Also when I asked Maggie what story I should talk about here she said שיבה (shiva) which is the sequel. :P

If you weren’t in Ravenclaw, what house would you be in and why?

Hufflepuff!!! I am if nothing else a coward with no ambition. :P Nah, it's because I'm loyal and it's my mission in life to Hug Everyone Who Needs Hugs. (This is my main goal at my synagogue, I hug all the old people who don't get enough hugs.)

What is your favorite aspect of the forums?

Gosh, um,now I'm panicking about what an "aspect" is. Can it be friendship? Welcomingness? Both of those are very good. I also love having other people as sources of expertise! No matter what question I have, be it how the football season works or how much gin it would take to get drunk, I have found people willing to help me out. :wub:

Aside from writing, what other activities do you like to do for fun?

Does researching Hebrew grammar count? I listen to a LOT of podcasts -- if anyone wants recs, I listen to about 50. My favourites are fictional ones where I get overly invested in the characters, naturally.

Coffee or tea?

Tea! I used to drink it really strong but then I....stopped? I don't like adding in sugar or milk, so I usually drink green tea these days so it's not bitter. ^_^

Nix

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Why did you pick the House you are in?

I've always felt a pull toward Slytherin ever since I was a teenager. Draco, Snape, Bellatrix, Voldemort, these were the characters I loved, that I showed up to the movies to see. Slytherins have always held such a complexity for me, there's so much going on under their facades, and I think there's so much more more going on with them than we get to see. While I may identify as a SlytherPuff, I choose to stay in Slytherin because I love my house, and I love my fellow Slytherins, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. 

If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?

Not for Always. I think this was my first ever one-shot that I posted originally on HPFF. And it took a lot for me to write, it's about the break up between Pansy and Draco post Hogwarts, from Pansy's perspective. It was very difficult to write because at the time I had also recently had a break up with someone I had realized I wanted to spend my life with and so, writing this hit way too close to home, but it was also an outlet I could pour all of my emotions into, and I think it turned out really well. But this story has also opened up a well of headcanon for me. I love Pansy (I know JK hates her but I think that just makes me love her more) and I have so many ideas about her childhood and life post Hogwarts after breaking up with Draco. I don't know that they will be in the same storyline as Not for Always, I'm still working out the details, but I'm super excited to write it all and hopefully one day share it with everyone.

Which House do you identify least with and why?

Probably Gryffindor. I've sort of recently come to terms that I'm not as brave as I pretend to be. I'm not the type of person to make the first move or to go into danger unprepared, and I'm terrible at confrontation. Doing things like that seriously scares me. However, facing my fears is something I've been working on. But while I love everyone's favorite Gryffindors (Harry, Ron, Hermione, and I can't forget the twins, of course) I don't think their house would be a great fit for me. 

What section on the forums can you most often be found in?

Probably the Dungeon. I have yet to spend a lot of time outside of my cozy snake basket, but I haven't had a lot of time to explore and interact with the rest of the site. Hopefully, I'll be able to be more active in the future. 

What’s one of your favorite books (aside from HP)?

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I love this book. I first picked it up for a high school book report and I wasn't expecting much from it, but I was proven severely wrong. I've read it a few times now, and I want to reread it again now that I've finished the first season of the show which is very closely based off the book (the show is amazing btw, I highly recommend it, and I'm very excited to see where they take it in the next two seasons). But for those who don't know, it's about a dystopian world set in what was New England of the US. I think what makes it so great though is that it's from the POV of a woman, who's also in a position with zero power. I think it's a book that women can relate to because there's such a scary possibility these days that something like this could actually happen. 

Dogs or cats?

Definitely cats. If you read my first blog then you know I have six of them in my house atm. And I adore every one of them for their individual personalities. I do like dogs, don't get me wrong, I think they're adorable and I like to pet them or hold them, but then I like to give them back to their owners. I just don't think I have the energy to be a full-time dog person. 

 

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Stand Tall
by @Chelts-rhj

R E V I E W   C O L U M N

Finding a story that features a character with a disability is a rare occurrence for me but I most generally find them to be both insightfully and engagingly rewarding. Stand Tall does not dissatisfy this preconception as we follow the quirky, sassy main character, Alba Williamson, through her journey at Hogwarts as she faces her typical life alongside a daily struggle with Cerebral Palsy.

To add to the fantastic work creating the loveable, witty Alba whose sense of humor has consistently knocked me out of my chair [and other on-point characterization as well, because let’s not forget the absolute stunning job Chelts did with characters like James Sirius Potter, Chandra and Ben Honeypucker], the interactions between the characters make them shine so much brighter. Some cleverly crafted dialogue and brassy narrative makes the interplay between the already fascinating characters of this piece especially noteworthy.

That’s not to say that this WIP is all fun and games. Beneath the surface of all the hilarity remains the hardships Alba must face, only agitated further by her struggle with her disability. There are downright disheartening moments where the Cerebral Palsy seems to be getting the better of her and, with bated breath, we wait to see how she’ll fight to pull herself up again. Anxiously, we read on, hoping that Alba will pull through as she always has. 

To top it off, her disability isn’t the only thing she has to look out for. Being a teenage witch comes with some heavy baggage of its own, especially in the wake of the return of the Triwizard Tournament. 

Stand Tall was simple to become swept up in and carried away from one chapter to the next. If you’re looking for a story to instantly fall in love with, this is definitely the story for you.

I N T E R V I E W   W I T H   T H E   A U T H O R

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What inspires you to write?

Little things inspire me to write. Like the view out my window from laying down on the couch where I can’t see my neighborhood but the trees are waving and making colors dance. Sometimes it’s a girls smile when her dad says that she can have ice cream.  I guess the little emotions in real peoples lives. I want my stories to be like painted characters over a canvas made out of snapshots of real people. 

What is a genre/trope that you've never written before, but want to try?

I love horror mysteries!  I binge watch things like criminal minds but I’ve never written anything gruesome. I’ve attempted a few times with things like Adventures of Arther Weasley, which ended up humorous, and The Brothers Three, which ended up more narrative than mystery and not all that horror.

Published authors you look up to?

Ooo, good question! I admire the world building of Tolkien, the descriptions of Gary Paulson, the prose of Audrey Neffineger, and the frivolity of Lemony Snicket! 

If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be?

Pre-write.  All the pre-write. I have a page on a character in Stand Tall that is probably three times longer than she actually appears in the story.  All the prewriting. That includes not deleting. If you write a scene that is good and you get to the end but it doesn’t quite fit or the pacing gets off, save it, copy paste those paragraphs or perfect sentences onto another sheet (I usually save these as ‘title: worksheet’). When you get stuck or have writers block go back through those scenes and read them. Maybe that’s just what your characters need now. 

What inspired you to write a character with cerebral palsy? 

I have two family members with cerebral palsy. Neither of which have read this or know of its existence. My cousin has had several other complications like a large abnormal hemangioma and partial deafness. Throughout her childhood she was ridiculed, underestimated, and often told she wasn’t as smart or going to go as far because of her physical limitations. She was overprotected by her parents a lot and when I started this, she had gone off to college, out of state, lived by herself, picked her own clothes, and proved to herself and everyone else that she was more than capable.  She got a girlfriend, started photography and eventually went into modeling (oh yeah, she’s freaking GORGEOUS) and now is a successful marketing consultant. I used a lot of the things I remember her doing and going through in the beginning of her plethora of treatments for Alba’s therapy course. I substituted particularly “muggle” remedies like cutting the Achilles tendon and using Botox injections and casting to stretch the calves  with magical ones likes strengthening solution and pain drought. 

My uncle was given up by his birth mother and adopted by my grandmother. His CP is not as severe and really only affects the small motor skills of his hands. When I started this, he had finally come to terms that he would never be in the military, and had his first daughter with her wife. He had felt like his condition, even though “mild” had kept him from the dream life, when really if he had gone off and been deployed he would never have met his wife.  They’ve had another daughter since. 

What difficulties did you face while writing a main character with a disability, especially in combination with typical teenage problems (like love, friendship, and school)? 

I didn’t know what areas of conflict to address. I did a lot of research before I ever wrote anything. But not just clinical research. I researched support groups. I researched grants and scholarships for kids with CP. I found the Paralympic success stories and took from their voice the sense of pride and ownership I needed to make Alba the person she is. You almost have to treat the disability as an amtagonist and make it have pros and cons too. For instance, McGonagall let her bully back her bullies and Alba has an excuse to keep herself distant from others. I came to find it was easier to make a  relatable character if you classified and characterized them normally, with usual goals and aspirations,and then use the personified antagonistic disability as the main source of conflict in achieving those goals and aspirations. 

---

This wraps up the new edition of Into the Spotlight! Please comment below and let us know what you think of the new additions, and if there's anything you might like to see from this blog. If you have questions you might like to ask future Order of Merlin, Head Student, or Story of the Month winners, feel free to post them below! :wub: We really hope you enjoyed this issue, and we'll see you in a couple weeks for our special Pride Month post. :yay: 

- The Prefects

interviews compiled by dreamgazer220, forever_dreaming, just.a.willow.tree, Rumpelstiltskin, Slytherinchica08
review column by Rumpelstiltskin
graphics by just.a.willow.tree

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facingthenorthwind

Posted

:grouphug:

what a delightful blog post!! eva, your graphics are GORGEOUS. I loved reading all the interviews! @RoxiMalfoy I was nodding along to myself for a lot of yours, it was A Choice to jump into hpft feet first and just....be Extremely Friendly and outgoing when I keep being like "oh no, am I...TOO friendly....what if I just....made no noise and pretended I don't exist, oh god, i'm annoying!!! oh no!!!!" which I mean, obviously is my brain running away with itself. 9_9 (Though if people have complaints I am happy to receive constructive criticism, haha.) And then we gave much the same answer about our fave bit of HPFT. :P Twinsies.

Also, @Ineke I'm filing away that OTP information for Future Reference. (I know I owe you a fic and I haven't written it yet!!! I"m sorry. <3 )

@Nix I LOVE HANDMAID'S TALE SO MUCH. God, the epilogue that's the conference minutes??????? PERFECT. And I love the show as well!! Although I sure do have Opinions about their decision to give her a name in the show, when she's so deliberately nameless in the book. Anyway, feel free to talk Handmaid in my inbox any time. :P

@Chelts-rhj I looooved your interview, especially the stuff about how much research you put into your fic. It really shows your care and dedication to doing the right thing by the folks whose experiences you're trying to represent and I'm so glad <3 I also have the habit of saving every scrap I cut from stories. Sometimes the scrapheap ends up....longer than the fic itself. ah well.

Thank you so much prefects for putting in so much hard work in compiling this and being legends in general. <3

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toomanycurls

Posted

Amazing post! I have definitely been saying Ineke wrong (In -ee-kee) but now I know. :D 

Deana! I had no idea you like LotR!!!!!!!!!! :couch: It was my co-discovered love when I started reading HP. 

@facingthenorthwind -- I love how you describe your ravenclaw-ness re: dragon horde. ^_^ 

Nix!! *high fives other cat person*

Chelts -- I have always wondered your inspiration for writing a character with CP. I love that you were inspired by your family members and also did a lot of research for your story. ^_^ 

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