Hellooo, everyone! Pride Month is still going on (and we've dressed the header up for the occassion, as you can probably tell, to make up for the lack of rainbows last post ), which was why we decided to feature the iconic Simon Spier from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and/or Love, Simon! Anyway, without further ado, we'd like to get straight into the interviews with your fellow featured HPFTers; hopefully their interviews will make you smile a little today.
This month, the all-amazing toomanycurls was awarded the Order of Merlin. She's just such an amazing admin and does so much for this site. We hope you enjoy reading her interview!
How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community?
I started writing fanfic in 2003 after OotP came out. I was on the HPFF archive and forum. I had no idea how to write and would put some action in little text-speak asterisks (e.g. *Rose sobbed quietly into her chai thinking of how horrible it all was*) and people were super one-dimensional and there were a lot of in unison responses to drama. I did have a good feel for drama and angst. I got in some trouble ( I was part of a crew that spammed a lot and got the Off Topic section shut down for a while) and left the site for a few years until.... I got an idea for my Remus/Tonks novels and came back. I was around for about a year when RL just kind of pulled me away. I was gone for a few more years until I came back after rediscovering spare time after grad school and wanted to get back into the community and writing. That's when I finished my Remus and Tonks novels and have been quite active ever since (so 2003, 2007, and 2012 have been my starter years, lol).
What is your favorite part about working behind-the-scenes?
I like having a hand in or just knowing about the goings on behind the site. Everyone on staff puts so much into the site and sometimes it's in ways that don't always seem obvious if you're not on staff. I like being able to change the site and influence how we operate. I also love people take their ideas and put them into action. There are some things the ML team is working on where no one told them "you need to go do these things" but they thought of them on their own and have the empowerment to try stuff out and see what works.
Favorite type of fanfiction to read/write?
For reading, I can get into anything really, even ships that I'm not that into on paper. I've always said I'm not a big fan of AU but some of my favorite stories have been AU (that could be the well written AU stories are very captivating and interesting). I like to read romances but feel weird reading ones that take place while the characters are still at school (but I can think of stories that I've loved that have been set at Hogwarts and about students, lol). Maybe I just like to read anything that's well written + catches my attention.
In terms of writing, I always try to write something new into my stories so that I'm not writing the same thing all the time. But, with that said, I like to write about romances. I kind of suck at fluffy romance so I cram in a lot of not romance into my stories too. At best I write about characters' lives which happens to include love or sexy time.
What is your OTP?
I have TTP Wolfstar and Remadora are my two favorite ships. I think I'm drawn to the heartbreak of them coexisting in the same universe but not at the same time. This could also be that I love Remus and would ship him with anyone for my own entertainment.
What is your favorite non-HP fandom?
THE X-FILES do do do do do doooooooooo dododo do do do do do do doooooooooooo
It was the first show/fandom I got into and still love to this day.
Do you have any funny stories about Julian you wouldn’t mind sharing?
When he talks he can be pretty hilarious with his pronunciation. He kind of says poop like pewp. Today he went poop on the potty and said "I went pew pew on the potty!!!!!!" So there were lasers involved?!
Julian wiggles his feet in the air and says he has wild feet. We do this whole game where I'll catch his feet and blow raspberries on them. Sometimes he decides to yell "YOU HAVE A WILD PENIS. WHAT IS MOMMY GOING TO DO??" Which sounds more like something Mr Curls would say
After an epic throwing up episode on our flight home from Hawaii, Julian knows what throwing up is called and what it sounds like. When I throw up in the morning he announces it from the living room "MOMMA THROWED UP." I talked to him about it the other day.
Me: Does it make you feel sad when I throw up?
Juli: It makes you feel happy
Julian likes to make up stories but isn't always great at explaining what's a story versus what really happened. A few weeks ago he said his daycare teacher went home because his dog died and he wanted to make the teacher a card. We helped him make a card to give to the teacher and he was super touched but then we asked 1. if he had a dog 2. if it had been sick or died. He did have a dog but it was alive and well. He still loved the card and also thought it was hilarious that Julian had an entire narrative about it. Julian will also tell us about him getting in trouble at daycare or about other kids getting in trouble. We've asked the teachers about the times Julian has said he got in trouble and they're always surprised at the narrative he makes up.
I might also be raising a child. When it snowed Christmas day we went outside and played in the snow. Julian just loved it. When it was time to go inside, I picked him up and Julian whacked a bunch of snow against my hair. I had to laugh because I had just done the same to Mr. Curls.
Speaking of the little copycat, I can't help but repeat back what Julian says in the same voice he says it in. He'll say something like "you want a little treat" and I repeat back just that and then say he can't have a treat or treats are for sometimes. Then a few months back he started repeating back requests I made of him! I'd ask "can you pick up your book?" and he'll go "you can pick up your book" in slightly higher voice than he usually speaks in. He only does it to me and it's funnier than it is problematic at this point.
Your Next Gen Universe seems extremely intricate -- do you have a particular way you keep track of it?
I reread my stories if I can't remember a particular detail (e.g. eye color, the bartender at a pub a character frequents, etc.) and rely on memory for quite a bit too. For characters I've written about a lot in next gen it's pretty easy to keep up with the in-universe continuity. I'm slower with new characters (or characters I'm newly focusing on). The hardest thing is keeping track of my plans. There's a couple that'll loop back together so many years in the future (but within the timeline I have more or less planned out) so I'm always keeping track of where that'll fit into my novels. I wish I had a more concrete way of keeping track of stuff. I'm pretty sure I sacrificed space that was dedicated to childhood memories to keep track of headcanon
You’re notorious for your heartbreaking romance stories. Do you intentionally write the stories to be such heavy-hitters or is that something that comes naturally and unintentionally while plotting?
Some things have been incidental and made for a really good story when the option came up to kill some people. Sometimes it's easy to write a death into a story because it lines up with a canonical death (but it was my own plotting that made Remus and Tonks have a huge falling out before the BoH). I do love tragedies -- they're the stories that move me the most when I read them and stay with me the longest. It also just feels more realistic to have some level of heartache in the best love stories. I know people will murder me over Lightning Love, for instance, but I really wanted to tell a story with the life lesson that happens there. I sometimes forget about the various woes and stings I've written into stories so that makes me think it's something I include unintentionally at times.
And now here are the interviews with this month's two Head Students, ShadowRose and starbuck! Both of them have been amazing the past month, and so the recognition is so well-deserved.
Why did you pick the House you are in?
So, funny story with this one. When I was younger, I was insistent that I was a Ravenclaw. I don't know why, I just was. And then I took the Pottermore Sorting quiz (which was, to me, at the time, the end-all-be-all of Sorting quizzes) and got Gryffindor. Not once, but three separate times. So at that point I kind of just accepted it as fate (and in reality, I've realized that I'm definitely more Gryffindor than Ravenclaw anyways).
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
Ummm, probably Complicated, and that's because it's basically my baby right now. It's 100k+ words of next-gen romance with a plethora of teenage drama. I started it back in 2013, abandoned it in 2014, and somehow picked it back up out of nowhere in January of this year and have cranked out 30+ chapters since then. It's literally the story that dragged itself (and my writing muse in general) back from the dead, so I'm pretty proud of that.
What are some of your favorite hobbies, aside from writing?
I'm actually that weird person who really, really loves working out? I'm in the process of getting certified as a personal trainer, and I run a blog about health/fitness-y stuff.
Favorite Harry Potter book?
Prisoner of Azkaban. I lived for finding out about the Marauders for the first time.
If you could meet any celebrity in the world, who would you meet and why?
This is a somewhat obscure one, but probably Barack Obama's speechwriters? I've been listening to their podcasts religiously for over a year, so I'd just love to sit and talk with them for a few hours. They're all seriously so smart and funny and I just wanna be BFFs with all of them.
What is the coolest (though perhaps not necessarily the most useful) superpower you’ve ever come across in fiction?
I feel like I don't read a lot of books about people with superpowers! My fiction tastes tend to border on family drama and/or mysteries. But I feel like I could really appreciate being able to use an Undetectable Extension Charm on my stuff because I am the worst at overpacking, haha.
Why did you pick the House you are in?
Because literally every Hogwarts House test I ever took sorted me into Slytherin (including the Pottermore sorting). My whole family also sorted me into Slytherin I'm just crazy ambitious
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
I only have one story right now The Art of Being Nonchalant (Or Not) [M]+ , a James Sirius Potter/OC story about a girl who doesn't connect and a boy who enables her, but ultimately makes her connect (or does he? *snicker*). (omg I think this was the lamest one sentence summary I could've written about it, sorry! ) . I love friendships that turn into relationships. I also love writing a character who isn't afraid of her own desires, no matter what others may think about it (because, let's face it, we still live in a world where a guy will probably be congratulated on being a 'player', but a girl? Not so much.) And, also, a girl hitting a Bludger with a Beater's bat is just hot (I can absolutely understand Ginny Weasley's appreciation of Gwenog Jones)
How did you learn to create graphics? What advice would you give to newbies?
I learned on TDA I dabbled in Photoshop for a little while but it was awful up until I joined TDA in 2009 and
abused the tutorials and the critique corner there. I'll forever be grateful to HPFF for helping me find TDA back in the day because what I learned was extremely helpful during my uni days and even now at work. My biggest advice to newbies would be to not be afraid of trying to graphic and showing other people and asking for help. Everyone starts out with their graphics being 'bad', when I remember what my first tries looked like I laugh at myself and just wonder how did I not give up. But I didn't give up and everyone who's possibly thinking of trying to graphic shouldn't give up. It's a skill that can be learned and sites like TDA will help you learn.
Would you ever write for any fandoms other than Harry Potter? If so, which ones?
I would, but most likely just one shots . I'd write for A Song of Ice and Fire and Battlestar Galactica.
Can you list a few of your favorite faceclaims to use? (And possibly which characters you associate them with?)
I like Rose Leslie for Lily Luna Potter - in some pics she's just so similar to Bonnie Wright! Matthew Daddario is my faceclaim for James II (I also contemplated Joe Keery for him because of the hair ), Nate Gill as Fred II, Hanna Verhees as Dominique and Janis Ancens as Scorpius. Gaspard Ulliel is my go-to for Sirius Black.
If you could be any animal in the world, which would you be and why?
I would be a cat living with a crazy cat lady who would love me and feed me and pet me and I wouldn't have to do anything other than lounge around being a cat I'd have no care in the world which is pretty awesome! (I've obviously thought about this before )
an absence of sound
R E V I E W C O L U M N
Reading an absence of sound is, honestly, an honor.
The mechanics of the poem itself make it an honor to read; it showcases Eva's creativity and ingenuinity, especially with the idea to manipulate the words, slowly removing letters to depict the gradual loss of the ability to speak (in Eva's case) Mandarin. But the greater reason why I'm so honored to read an absence of sound is because of how deeply emotional and vulnerable it is. At the surface, it seems to discuss a rather specific sort of feeling: the feeling of loss associated with the gradual loss of ability to speak one's native language. This feeling may not be accessible to everyone in the HPFT community, but if you look deeper, you'll find that the poem, in truth, discusses a sort of loss that everyone can relate to. It is a raw depiction of the loss of one's connection to their ancestry, their homeland, their family, etc.—presented through the lens of the loss of the ability to speak the native language. Considering this deeper layer, now the dropping of the letters isn't simply a reflection of the inability to speak the language, but also a disconnect from one's personal history and the gradual fading away of our memories of our homeland; Eva masterfully depicts the resulting frustration with a connection that is simultaneously "there right-there" and just "translucent wisps".
Part of what amazes me about this poem is that this feeling in itself is so hard to describe; I personally have always struggled to put into words the unique grief I associate with the loss of my connection to India and have thus been silent about it. Eva describes perfectly this feeling that I've been trying to describe for years now. Also, it takes a really special sort of bravery to share such a raw and true piece, and that in itself deserves a commendation.
Also a final note: this poem is a reflection of Eva's versatility. She is able to write poems and short stories (and now multi-chaps) with such effortless grace. Honestly, I'm just amazed. If you haven't read it yet, go read it now!! It is so deserving to be SoTM.
I N T E R V I E W W I T H T H E A U T H OR
What inspires you to write?
Nothing inspires me more than having an idea that genuinely excites me and makes me want to express it on paper somehow. Which I realize is not too helpful an answer haha. But I find I come up with the best ideas when I'm daydreaming, or in a calm state of sorts -- staring out the window during long car rides; laying in bed and thinking at night; dreaming up little scenarios for my characters to be in while bored in school. It also helps me to be in a happier state of mind, so I always think better when eating my favorite fruits (Granny Smiths, Asian pears, etc.) or after having hugged and teased my littlest sister for a while.
What is a genre/trope that you’ve never written before, but want to try?
This doesn't technically count as a genre, but I want to write an epistolary story more than anything. When I was little, I was in love with this series called 43 Old Cemetery Road, which was told entirely through letters, newspaper clippings, transcripts, etc. (It's really an adorable series, I highly recommend it if you're looking for some light, heartwarming fun.) I want to try writing a story like that sometime, told entirely through documents sent from one person to another, and from this character to that, because it would be so much fun, and I would really, really have a lot of fun doing it.
Aside from that, I really want to try writing a murder mystery/horror. Though I should confess that I am terrible with scary situations. I once threw open my bedroom door to turn off the hallway light, and my 17-year-old younger sister was there in a weird crouching position, having been startled by my sudden appearance. In retaliation, she tossed her jacket (which she was inexplicably holding) at me, and I let out the most bloodcurdling scream, because I was already so alarmed by the strangeness of her crouch that the additional stress of a moving projectile was just too much. Anyway, the point of this long-winded story is to say that, much as I would dream of writing a murder mystery/horror fic, that will likely never happen.
Also! (Sorry, I have too many things I want to do.) I want to try to write a piece of original fiction. The details are...not quite clear yet, but I do know I want it to be a little futuristic, a little humorous, and a little alarming. Original fiction doesn't even qualify as a genre, why am I even answering this question with that.
Published authors you look up to?
Oh, so many. I love the whimsical storytelling of Frances Hardinge, how she always manages to create these utterly beautiful, creative, and imaginative worlds. (Seriously. A Face Like Glass story features an underground world where the elven residents physically cannot show expressions unless they practice each individual expression until they get it right. So instead of slipping between expressions like us, they paste on an expression for a certain length of time, until they decide that they need another expression to match the words they are saying. This is also why many people only know how to make a single, dull expression. Until a little human girl, with a full range of emotion on her face, mysteriously pops in.)
I also adore Shannon Hale, whose fairytale-esque style of writing has given me so much inspiration. Her story reads like an oral retelling, which is literally one of my favorite styles of writing in the world. The Goose Girl will forever remain one of my absolute favorites, because it is genuinely beautiful. The cover is beautiful, the story is beautiful, the characters are beautiful.
Lastly (for now), Terry Pratchett. Because the humor he manages to put into his fantasy has cheered me up so many times, and I can't imagine a world without his weird, hilarious, thoughtful books. I miss him every single day.
If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be?
I don't know that I've been writing for long enough to give actual writing advice. But if I were to say something, based on my observations: literally do not ever stop writing. Even when you think you're writing terribly, even when people may not leave you the most enthusiastic reviews, keep writing more and more and more. Because there are so many fanfiction authors who now write jaw-dropping, amazing stories, but who once wrote like your everyday, average person. There is no way you won't improve if you keep writing, so do it. It won't happen overnight, of course, but over the course of six months, a year, or two years, you'll be able to see it. (And your readers will be able to see it, too!)
It's also part of the reason why I'm hesitant to leave reviews with constructive criticism. Personally, I love receiving concrit (if you ever review one of my fics and see something in my writing that you'd think I could improve on, please tell me), but I know that it can be discouraging to many people. And, in my opinion, there's no concrit that will be able to do what good old practice and hard work can. I just want to encourage people to keep writing, so that they naturally improve of their own accord.
Where did you get the idea to manipulate the words in an absence of sound?
Actually, I was inspired by e e cummings! I've always loved the way that he used the English language to its fullest to communicate his ideas in poems, by perhaps not using the words as they normally would be, or by forming a picture with the overall shape of his poem, or by having punctuation used in various ways. And though I've never seen any of his poems remove letters from words (I'm sure one exists out there somewhere, though), I was still inspired by his creative use of language.
In an absence of sound, there appears to be an underlying correlation between the way you administered the words (by choosing to leave gaps in them) and a disconnection regarding sense of self for the narrator. From your perspective, how would you explain the relationship between words and language, and culture and how it can affect people on a personal level?
(For those of you who are planning on reading my poem, I recommend reading it first before coming back here to look through my response to this question. )
Basically, when the letters start fading more and more as the poem continues, I thought of it in two ways. First, a loss of memory, which is pretty self-explanatory. Second, a physical representation of what it feels like to grasp for words you can vaguely remember. Because there have been so many times in my life where I would trail off after starting a sentence in Mandarin, because I know the shape of the word, I know the consonants, but I can't remember the tone, I can't remember the ending sound of the word... So I just wanted to show that.
And while I don't think that language is critical to connecting to your culture (after all, there are strong elements of Chinese culture instilled in me because of the way my parents raised me, and the traditions we follow), I think that it definitely left a gaping hole. If I ever have children, they likely won't feel it as much because they're further removed from the immigrant generation, but my parents were the immigrants. And my parents speak Mandarin to me, and they speak their own dialects to their families, and the fact that I struggle to understand is just so saddening to me.
This also obviously depends on how much first generation children care, but I do think that most of us care deeply about this on some level. Sometimes our parents just give up on telling us to learn (we always, always rebelled against going to Chinese school over the weekends), and it's always a few years down the line when we realize that we made a really terrible mistake. I feel really badly about this, all the time. It got to the point where I went and wrote two poems about this feeling.
Anyway this has been my long, rambling thoughts. Thank you guys so much for Story of the Month, I didn't expect this little thing to win at all. Love you guys!
That wraps up this edition of In the Spotlight, guys! We hope you enjoyed reading these interviews and little extra pieces; they're always so much fun to compile! As always, thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoyed this!
- The Prefects
review column by forever_dreaming
interviews compiled by just.a.willow.tree, Rumpelstiltskin
questions by forever_dreaming, just.a.willow.tree, and Rumpelstiltskin
graphics by just.a.willow.tree