Hey, all! It's that time of the month again where we feature winners from monthly events like sitewide Story of the Month, the Order of Merlin, and Head Students! Stay tuned for a few interviews with these winners as well as a couple review columns! This is an opportunity to get to know the authors, stories, and staff of HPFT a little bit better than before.
The one-and-only @TidalDragon was awarded the Order of Merlin for July, which was very well-deserved. You may know Kevin best as being the site's Gamekeeper, who is extremely helpful and friendly. We hope you enjoy this interview!
How long have you been part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community?
I suppose that depends on what "part of" means. I've been writing fic, in various awful iterations, for about fifteen years. In the early days it was primarily garbage on FF.net (the only stuff I've ever deleted) and trying to get accepted at a niche ship archive called Portkey (spoiler alert: they did not enjoy my story where Harry and Ron hung out with Hermione at her pool in the summer ). More seriously, I joined HPFF just after Thanksgiving 2013 and the forums there the following February and never looked back.
What is your favorite part about working behind-the-scenes?
It has to be the opportunity to bring a smile to the face of our members with different events. While it helps that what goes into that is usually the most fun, I feel like any site can have a forum - not any site can have fun on a forum together rather than just debates, Q&A, and compendiums of information. So seeing everybody get excited and involved is awesome.
Fic Night (any YouTube stuff I get to do really - though I need a better camera) is some way off, but definitely in second.
Favorite type of fanfiction to read and write?
Since I've posted the general stuff recently I'm going to get super-specific. I generally like to read and write the same stuff, which is almost always:
AUs or wartime dramas featuring slow-burns and outside James/Lily, especially slow-burn friends-to-lovers rare pair stories. I'm also a fan of a good fan of action/adventures and dark origin stories.
What is your OTP?
So...it's evolving? It used to unquestionably be Harry/Ginny - then Schrodinger's Cat happened. I still love Harry/Ginny, but it has serious competition in my heart from Harry/Katie (AKA #seekerbell). I've definitely written a lot more of the latter.
What is your favorite Non-HP fandom?
Restricting this to fic, I honestly don't write any other fandoms and generally don't read them either. I have been trying to read some Eureka fic recently, but it's mostly dead awful and the ships I like aren't very popular. I don't know that I'd feel comfortable writing the characters TBH because they have rather so many unique dialogue patterns, behaviors, and senses of humor - maybe one day.
You've worked in many different areas in your time as staff! What has been the best part of each position you've been in?
With Gamekeeping it's been helping plan the finale for sure. I'm getting very excited about its reveal and even though it's been a wild ride amid so many other things, it's such a huge event that has to have such a huge overarching theme that can still incorporate a huge breadth of activities.
Modding was easily reading all the new content that got posted. I still do that a lot of the time (and when I PT mod), but modding really forces you to read everything closely and you learn a lot about people and how the other CRs and things operate. It was a blast.
My PT Auror-ing was extremely short-lived - as in somebody switched over into that spot before I even validated anything. But I did have the opportunity to work on the archive before it went live with Branwen and it was a really cool experience trying to help her shape a writing component of our community that y'all would be proud of and enjoy posting on. I had fun writing some of the tutorials as snippets from other fandoms too - a one-shot for anyone who can figure out which ones I wrote...
As many of us know, you're a lawyer (which is very cool). Does this ever affect how you write your stories?
The story it affected the most was definitely Calculus, because it was a murder mystery and so it included all manner of things from law enforcement to the judiciary to trials, etc. It was one of my first stories back to writing so the trial aspect is rushed (even though I did want it to be a sort of fake trial under the circumstances) and the buildup on the LEO side isn't as nice as I'd like).
Other than that, I think it does affect the way I structure society in my stories. I always want there to be a clear, underlying social structure and I always want the law enforcement aspect of the wizarding world to be way more fleshed out, with different roles, clearer laws, etc.
Next, we have prepared an interview with our two Head Students for July, @danicasyer and @Sleepingbagonthesofa. These two have been positively rocking the site lately, so we're all very excited to have them featured.
Why did you pick the House you're in?
To be honest, I actually would have gone into Ravenclaw on here since I was sorted into Ravenclaw whenever I took quizzes as well as even Pottermore so I actually would of been in that house in the first place since I fit in a lot of Ravenclaw’s traits of being creative, wise, and wit plus I adore Luna Lovegood since she’s one of my favorite characters and a fictional role model for me. I also love the idea of learning new things about the wizarding world and would definitely enjoy living in one of the Ravenclaw towers (and still do in spite of having to deal with that eagle knocker sprouting riddles which I probably couldn't solve to save a life) but I do recall taking another sorting quiz again on HPFF that would let me know which House I would be in and I ended up in Hufflepuff which shocked me because every quiz that I have taken have said that I was a Ravenclaw. So long story short, I had to make a decision as to whether go into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff on here when the site first joined and the latter ended up winning since I recall the earlier days before Pottermore was created that I love and or would enjoy being in Hufflepuff. My love of the House actually comes from the combination of me loving Ernie Macmillan (since he was one of my favorite Hufflepuffs and Harry Potter character), how the House valued kindness, hardworking, fairness being some of the qualities that I also deeply admire, and I have mentioned this before but I love the House colors, the fact the common room is in the basement near the kitchens since I'm a foodie and would love to sneak to kitchen to grab some food, and love that the mascot is a badger and we all know that badgers are wonderful okay?! I honestly don't have just one reason to pinpoint as to why I choose this house other than I love it? I hope that is a satisfactory answer though!
If there's one story of yours you'd like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
I know that I would normally would answer something like an original fiction that’s bound to be a novel that is from the main series since that is often what I tell most people since I feel that I am more confident about it and have so many ideas regarding that but I’m going to try and change it up this around and instead talk about my Harry Potter fanfiction: Come What May. I am sure there a few people whom I either discussed about it and or mentioned on here or Twitter that know which one I’m talking about but for those who don’t, this fanfiction is my first multi chaptered Harry Potter that I have published on Fanfiction. Net even though I am very much hoping to publish on here in the Archives as well. Come What May is a story about a girl named Charlotte Seylor who lives a pretty decent life as she has her best friends: Vanessa, Jayeson, and Hubert, is able to survive at home with her siblings, and manages to get by in school even though she is not the brightest in her class. She is a fan of the Harry Potter series where she immersed herself in the fandom and is constantly is daydreaming about having adventures at Hogwarts with the Golden trio or having another life in the wizarding world specifically Hogwarts seeing as how she is unappreciative of her own reality. On the way home from hanging out with her friends, she comes across a man whose face that she does not see and has muttered a few words that she doesn’t know if she heard it correctly or not but it says something about a castle and a legacy. However, things start to take an odd turn as she starts with having visionary-like dreams, spotting a strange creature crossing her path that she often tries to dismiss as just a figment of her tired and imaginative mind, and having an owl delivering a package containing a few objects including a scroll and a mirror with instructions that leads her into the world that she had thought was completely non-existent. I’m going to leave it at just that since I feel that I would give a lot of the story away if I reveal anymore than that. The only two things I can mention is that it will take place during Hogwarts Era and it is set in an alternative universe. There will be a mystery surrounding as to how Charlotte and her friends get to the wizarding world specifically the era they are in. This version of Come What May is also a rewritten version since the first attempt of it needed multiple changes to it including an omission of a character, ideas being tweaked, and scenes being either scrapped and or replaced.
Apart from the changes I made, I admit that the challenges for me was dealing with writing canon characters since my attempts at them is a fear of mine since I feel that I don’t excel at capturing them as evidenced by very first Harry Potter fanfiction that I once posted on a different site which really taught me not to just to improve and had been one of the first times I realized that I really needed to take this story more seriously than I had previously done so. Despite that happening, I will admit that I’m excited to write it since it’s a very dear project closest to my heart at the moment and it's been a constant goal that I'm still hoping to reach. I hope that if and when I do post it on HPFT Archives that I can not only continue on working hard but also continue improving the story along the way! That, and it would be nice to share my stories with other as well and see how much it's changed! ;w;
What's the Hufflepuffiest thing you've done recently?
Oh gosh, this is a good question to be honest I guess the most Hufflepuffiest thing was to help my brother with his laundry since he forgot about it and I thought I would do something for him, try and cheer my dad up when he was feeling down about something and went to get ice cream afterwards with him, and when I went to the beach trip with my friends, a week ago, I helped them carry and or pack up stuff for the trip. I know that sounds terribly generic but I can’t think up of anything at the moment right now apart from those few things as of recent! Oh, and sorry that’s probably more than one thing but I can only think of those few little moments too so yeah. ;w;
If you could only read one pairing for the rest of your life -- HP and Other Fandom included -- who would it be and why?
If I could read only one pairing for the rest of my life in terms of HP fandom, well this is an easy one then but while I love a lot of Harry Potter ships out there, my one true pairing ship has got to be Hinny! I love Hinny since I have always shipped them ever since I read through the Harry Potter series and honestly I feel they’re so compatible and wonderful together due to their personalities meshing well together, shared interests of many things including Quidditch, how they were able to form a connection and bond through their shared experiences of having to deal being traumatized by Voldemort, how they understand and complement each other, how they appreciate and love another, and just everything else I haven't listed here! I just would love to read them in any kind of story and or fanfiction from them except one that is filled with too much angst and they divorce one another or something really. I'm open to reading any missing moments of them at Hogwarts that wasn't in the books as well as the time after the seventh book and The Cursed Child. But seriously, I would read them as a pairing for the rest of my life seeing how I just have so much love for the ship.
As for other fandoms, I have so many ships so it was really hard to choose one but I will go with Everlark or Katniss and Peeta from the Hunger Games! There's so many reasons as to why I love the ship since the two both balance each other out (especially with their personalities), have shared the same trauma of being in the Hunger Games together so they can fully understand one another, and more importantly, they definitely love each other and can't live without one another. I would read them since I remember just squeeing everytime Katniss mentioned things about her feelings with Peeta or things she notices about him when she started to fall for him. I just love reading about their adventures in the games together and would like to read about their life especially during the time especially in the moments between The Hunger Games and Catching Fire as well as the time after the war had ended before and after the epilogue.
(Sorry if this answer is rambly but I hope all of this makes sense)
What's your favorite genre of fic to read and why? Least favorite?
Ooh good question! I do love man genres but I guess that truthfully I am very much into fluff, mystery, romance, fantasy, action/adventure, hurt/comfort, angst, and humor for the most part! I really like stories that explore the psyche of the character’s mind or how their relationships are especially with friendship and family since I prefer that over romantic since I don’t see enough of that at times so it’s good when it can be focused on that too. I love stories that definitely leave me with reactions like sighing, laughing, or tearing up at it. I often love to read most genre and have more than one favorite so I’m always open to fanfiction recommendations if anybody has one they ever want me to read and or look at!
Apart from what I mentioned up there, I will be honest and say the one genre that I'm not a fan of reading most horror/dark stories but more on the horror part of it if that makes sense? I have had to only read about two stories in archives but otherwise I’m not a huge fan of anything that’s scary and dark. The only exception to reading these kinds of story is usually if it is not the main genre in a story otherwise I normally stray away from those stories since I tend to usually feel apprehensive afterwards often times about them. I’m sorry but I just don’t enjoy horror stories! ;w;
Tell us about one of your favorite non-HP fandoms and why you love it!
I was going to choose a video game fandom like Professor Layton or Kingdom Hearts but since I felt I would ramble on too much about those games, I will go with Stranger Things instead. So for those who know me very well and or is close to me are aware of the fact that I avoid horror as a genre be it in books, video games, and television shows. I still do to this day and really am glad since I have lost tons of sleep due to watching a few of them mainly by accident like coming across it on television and or the web (specifically Youtube ads for a horror movie before a video I want to watch is the worst). I finally took a chance on it after hearing much discussion on it and reading variety of reviews from many sites, and to my surprise, I found myself actually enjoying the show? I admit that I had trouble sleeping when I did start watching it but otherwise I enjoyed the show enough to come back to it for rewatches even though I hadn’t been scared as my first viewing. That, and I usually try to watch the show in the daylight hours for the most part. In spite of the horror elements that was part of the show, the thing that I loved about it was the fact that I loved the mystery, Sci-Fi, the connection with kids, adults, and teenagers, and the fact that it also takes place in the eighties contributes largely in having me wanting to continue with it. I also loved the soundtrack as they blended wonderfully as the background to many of the scenes as that really helped capture what the tone of the scene was going for, the casting was amazing since I felt that each of the actors and or actresses made their characters breathe to life, and lastly because for the most part, the Duffer Brothers seriously wove an intriguing story with this show that was somehow realistic and realistic in spite of it being a fictitious show which is something I also loved. I also do want to mention that I did enjoy Season 2 alot and I cannot wait for Season 3 as well! ;w;
I feel that I personally was not too much directly into the fandom in spite of appreciating and enjoying reading the fanfictions, seeing the discussion about the show, the fanart, graphics, gifs, videos, and that many fans put on the internet ( which is awesome), bought myself a few merchandise including the first season collector’s edition and a Mike Funko, and made a few friends whom I can discuss the shows with from the theories of the upcoming season to our thoughts about the characters specifically. I guess I enjoyed it since I love seeing the fandom’s differing opinions and thoughts about it much like I do with any fandom. I think I like this fandom since I don’t have many bad memories as I would with one of the other fandoms and found that most of the fandom people I met are pretty chill and awesome which was pretty cool.
Why did you pick the House you are in?
When I was younger I thought I was more of a Slytherin. Over time I put myself more into the Slythendor category, mostly because everyone else always told me I was a Gryffindor, along with the Pottermore sorting and any other quiz I ever took. I don't know what changed it but one day I stopped and just decided that I am in-fact a Gryffindor and looking back I probably always have been. I can't imagine being in any other house any more!
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
It's got to be Yaxley. It's a drama filled, dark romantic tragedy romance about a girl called Cassie and Sirius Black as they try to deal with the first wizarding war and the apparently endless problems they have with each other.
This is the first story I ever posted and the only one I've every stuck with for this long. Once I had the idea for Cassie it just wouldn't leave me alone, I had to get it written. It took me from just being a reader to being a far more active member of the FanFic community so I guess I owe it a lot!
In your opinion, which two of your favorite fandoms would be the most fun to crossover in fic?
Probably ASOIAF and HTTYD... Okay, so maybe not all of it but imagine Dany in Berk, Dany surrounded by SO MANY DRAGONS, Drogon meeting Toothless! Then just everyone in Berk being very confused as to who the hell this person is.
What is your favorite trope in fic and why?
Enemies to Lovers. I am literally writing a novel about this I love all the drama and the angst that you know is going to be involved. Also when it's done right you end up with some amazing character arcs and development. Either that or fake dating, which I both cringe at and LOVE at the same time.
If you had to choose one book [even if it’s a part of a series, only one of them] that would be the only book you could read for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
Probably The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I'm a pretty massive history nerd, especially when it comes to the middle ages and the Tudors so I'm always quite wary of historical fiction. But I love Gregory's writing style and the fact that she focuses on female characters from history that are never given any credit. I remember reading this book for the first time and being unable to put it down. While it does take a lot of liberties with historical fact there was something about it that just kept pulling me back in. The politics, the characters and motivations, the fact that every time you read it there's something else there. I've lost count of the number of times I've read it so I'm going to have to say this one!
Who is your favorite character (from any fandom) and why? Who is your least favorite and why?
Aaaaagh! Just one? My least favourite is Pansy Parkinson. For no other reason than she really reminds me of someone I went to school with. Everything about her characterisation and description, right down the actress is the films, just is that girl. It's purely a personal thing but I would take any other character over her.
My favourite? (I'm not going to say Yzma here but... She is.) This changes depending on what I'm reading at that point in time. At the moment it's either the Twins or Sirius. I'm re-reading OotF for the millionth time... Does that count as why?
R E V I E W C O L U M N
I read Dolor Lake a little while ago for a review swap, and even though it's been almost a month since I reviewed it, the images have remained vivid and at the forefront of my mind. I kept thinking about this piece and the messages that Rumpels is trying to convey through it. The beauty of this piece is that she uses a metaphor so powerful and strong that it can convey manic depression flawlessly, even to people who may not have experienced it before. This depiction of the endless cycle between the happiness and the depression is so personal and written so beautifully.
The monster in the lake may not mean something to us the way it means to Rumpels (or perhaps it does, which is why these pieces about mental illnesses are so important) but the importance of this piece, to me, is that it's something that's understandable to everyone. The imagery, tone, diction, figurative language, and second person POV in this piece all come together to form a masterpiece of original fiction. And in that way, Rumpels manages to show the nuances of manic depression far more effectively than if someone had just tried to describe it outright. A story that can do that -- teach something new while conveying a deeply personal experience -- is one worthy of the highest appreciation. I can't recommend this enough. Please read it.
I N T E R V I E W W I T H T H E A U T H O R
What inspires you to write?
A lot of things. Sometimes it's a feeling that I want to translate into words. Other times it's a song. On occasion, it's my husband's conspiracy theories. You know -- aliens, ancient mysteries, current world events, old politics, new politics, WWII military-grade secrets, etc. and etc. It's actually quite fun to stir him when I'd like some alternative perspectives on ideas while I'm writing. For instance, if I was thinking about writing something about what happened to the inhabitants of Machu Pichu, all I have to do is ask him what he thinks might have happened, and he'll happily take an hour of his time to give several theories as to what he thinks could have happened and why. My husband likes to question everything...everything ... So, while he has absolutely no interest in writing, I know he's a well of inspiration should I need it.
Most often, it's usually sparked by daydreaming in inappropriate places to take notes (like driving or in the shower or at a kid's birthday party when I'm in charge of handing out cupcakes). I've been doing a lot of swimming this summer and water has always been a source of inspiration. There's something exceptionally peaceful about swimming and being submerged that always seems to get the creative juices flowing. Though, once again, it's not a very good time to try to take notes. Maybe I'll have to invest in one of those waterproof notepads.
What is a genre/trope that you’ve never written before, but want to try?
I've never written a true mystery, though I've written stories with mystery elements (I usually use them to help build suspense in horror pieces). However, I've never written an honest-to-god mystery before. I have something in the early planning stages, which means that it is a rough, basic outline. While I love solving mysteries, working backward in writing a mystery is much different.
Published authors you look up to?
R. A. Salvator, who is so dedicated and imaginative. Tolkien, who was the light of my early writing history and provided me friendships that have lasted longer than any in my real childhood. John Miller who wrote a poem so intricate and so epic that it's a full-blown story depicting a battle between Heaven and Hell. Dante Alighieri for igniting a long-time love affair with the macabre. Stephen King for feeding into that and beginning my journey to an obsession with horror. Ray Bradbury for bringing SciFi into my fantasy. Mary Shelley for birthing Science Fiction. Plato, who made me question everything I knew. Shakespeare, for all the dirty innuendoes. And, of course, Rowling for showing me what magic really was.
If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be?
Write first for yourself, and then throw your whole self into it.
What was one of the challenges you faced in writing this story in second person point of view?
Actually, it felt natural to write the story in second person. I struggle when writing personal stories in first person, and third person felt too impersonal. Second person was used to connect to the reader in lieu of large amounts characterization that would have been unnecessary for the piece. The method is meant to draw the reader in so that they relate to the main character in a way that they translate their struggles onto what the character is going through. It worked perfectly for me because it kept me separated from feelings that I wanted to show and but experience.
Writing about depression can be difficult; how did you come up with the metaphor for depression that this piece represents?
Depression and mental illness is commonly depicted as a demon or a monster, so that wasn't entirely unique to the piece. The analogy as a whole (the lake monster whose siren call lures you into the water's depths, where it infects you, starting a cycle that is impossible to stop) came first from the feeling of drowning. I relate drowning to depression on different levels. First, there's the feeling of hopelessness. Then there's the struggle to get to the surface/to overcome depression. Next, is the false feeling of peace that would come from giving up. There's also that pivotal moment when you breathe in the water out of instinct when things go really, really bad. There's the struggle back to the shoreline, where you think you're getting better. And there's the idea of "drowning is silent," which of course relates to "depression is silent". So, once you do make it back to the shore, everyone is still going about their daily lives without realizing that you were in trouble to begin with.
R E V I E W C O L U M N
Lying Josephine is such a phenomenally plotted story, filled with fully-developed characters with their own very distinct personalities and ways of speaking, time jumps that slowly start piecing the story together bit by bit, and emotions ranging from elation to grief. Tanya conducts the story masterfully, and the fact that there aren't more chapters makes me feel incredibly unfulfilled. Her Fred and George are some of the best I've ever seen, and my favorite thing is how easily she gives them both extroverted, jokester personalities while still keeping them separate from each other. The way she ties her story into the war while keeping the setting centered largely around Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and the Burrow is also so, so good.
But we can't leave without talking about Tanya's OC, Josephine. Now, Josephine is quiet, shy, and reserved, yet she's best friends with Fred Weasley as she works in his shop. We'll find ourselves rooting for her as she tries to help George, her crush, especially in the aftermath of the war. She's fascinating because she's not morally perfect, but we'll love her anyway. Read this story and fall in love with all the characters, because there is no way you'll come out of it any other way.
I N T E R V I E W W I T H T H E A U T H O R
What inspires you to write?
Not much, lately... It used to be many things - mostly music - but I've quite sadly lost a lot of my writing mojo. Lying Josephine often feels like the last story I'll ever try to tell. And I love this fic so much, it is so dear to my heart, it is truly my baby, but I struggle all the time to find motivation even for it. To be perfectly honest, the most motivating thing to me in the past has always been either a strong sense of guilt, pressure, or responsibility. Which is really quite pathetic.
What is a genre/trope that you’ve never written before, but want to try?
I would love to write an epic mystery novel with surprising twists and turns and reveals and unpredictability, but the work it takes to come up with a plot possible of pulling that off? At the rate I write much more straightforward plots, I would literally never, ever, ever finish a mystery novel. I doubt even so much as a one-shot! I also have a soft spot for soulmate fics. Would love to try, but I was actually recently signed up for a great challenge about this trope and didn't end up writing so much as a single word for it, so.
Published authors you look up to?
Stephen King and Agatha Christie have always been favorites of mine, and more recently Rainbow Rowell has made an impression. The first two write such quality stories in my favorite genre, while the third is maybe not as great a writer overall, but I just adore the stories she chooses to tell.
If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be?
I am so unqualified for this question. I guess maybe... don't pander to your audience? Don't dumb your writing down based on the assumption you might not be understood? Trust your readers? I don't know.
What was one of the hardest parts about writing both Fred and George together? How did you distinguish their characteristics from each other?
Writing them together is certainly a unique challenge when they aren't simply the funny background characters, but main instead. And especially with my story, in which someone is in love with one twin while being very close friends with the second. I had to ask myself from the very beginning, "Why does she fall for one and not the other?" The hardest part of all this is the fact that in the books, they really are almost indistinguishable, which meant I needed to find a balance between keeping them both in character, while also making them distinct enough as individuals to understand why someone might prefer one to the other. I guess the best way to describe where I ended up with this is to imagine that in general, George is the second to Fred's first. So where Fred might normally be the leader - speak up first, get angry first, walk through the door first, cross a line first - George is simply just a bit gentler and more aware. I'm not sure if I've explained that well at all, but I hope that anyone who has read the story at least can understand and see it come through in the writing!
Your OC Josephine is such an amazing character; how did you come up with her backstory, her traits, her arc, etc.?
Ah, thank you! Josephine first came to be when I was pretty new to the fanfic world and was really only reading these very popular stories, all of which seemed to star the same female OC (aka Mary Sue's). I decided I wanted to try writing a novel-length fanfic with a female OC of my own, and my inspiration was really just to make her as unlike the ones I'd kept running into as possible. Once I'd fleshed out who she was, I just wanted to pair her with someone you wouldn't think she'd work with on paper. George stood out, and with him came the question of how to include Fred, and I just sort of thought, "gosh, wouldn't they make a charmingly unfit yet somehow perfect pair of close friends?" Everything else just sort of fell into place from there! I've known the complete plot for Lying Josephine since I first thought it up many, many, many years ago, and surprisingly enough, my vision for it has remained almost entirely unchanged. (Which you'd think would mean I'd have posted more chapters by now, but... see question one. LOL)
And that's it for today's edition of In the Spotlight! As always, leave a comment let us know what you think. We sincerely hope you enjoyed reading!
- The Prefects
review column by just.a.willow.tree
interviews compiled by dreamgazer220, facingthenorthwind, Rumpelstiltskin
graphics by just.a.willow.tree