Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Common Room Awards! This post will feature the annual Hufflepuff house awards, also known as the Golden Chalices.
For this series, each winner not only has the opportunity to be featured in this blog, but they also got to participate in a short Q&A about their story.
The 2018 Golden Chalice Awards
Best Light Fic
Question: The epistolary format in “ministry memorandums” is absolutely brilliant! How did you plan and keep track of all the different humorous plot threads running through this one-shot, especially with this unconventional format?
Answer: Er... I didn’t? I wrote ministry memorandums (from the mysteries) during NaNo 2016(?) because I was working on the first in a series of fics featuring Susan Bones as an Unspeakable, and I was struggling with the prose in the first fic because I was still figuring out who my characters were, so I decided to write a “short” piece featuring Blye’s very different perspective on Susan’s first day of work. The beginning — Blye’s issues with Edalbert Goffrey and Susan’s lack of ID or uniform — were planned because they’re mentioned in Only Human (which remains unposted) and I ended up having so much fun writing it that I just included random events as I wrote. I think I managed to write it all in one or two sittings?
I know one thing that helped me with keeping everything on track was making notes at the bottom of my doc for what events needed to happen next (since poor Blye was dealing with several things at once) and kind of focusing on one thing at a time, for example
when Blye writes to Adeline Weatherby re: McLaggen’s “absence”, there’s no immediate reply. She ends up going back and forth with Madam Malkin and Polly Spencer-Moon, and once that is all sorted, she chases up the reply and starts a new series of events
so that makes it easier for the reader imo. I actually had ministry memorandums lurking in my gdocs for maybe a year? ish? because I was nervous about posting it, so the response that I’ve received is phenomenal and I really appreciate all the love I’ve received on this one-shot.
Best Dark Fic
Question: What was the inspiration behind the four lives Astoria was going to save? If you can tell us without spoiling anything, how did you decide on the fifth?
Answer: First I picked which five characters I wanted Astoria to save. And I can’t really explain how I chose the characters besides the fact that I found them to be really interesting (except for Michael Corner in the first life, who was mostly someone we were all aware of but unfamiliar with). Like there’s a special place in my heart for each of the four characters that came after Michael Corner, so I just tried to fit them all in. And then the way that Astoria saved them followed; a lot of the methods are kind of tied to the personalities of the characters that she saved.
The fifth one…I just went for a story I’ve heard countless times over in testimonies from war survivors. And it’s also present in, unfortunately, the everyday lives of some people. So sorry for the vagueness haha, I’m trying my best not to be spoiler-y.
Most Addicting Story
The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Question: There’s so much happening in “The Harder They Fall”, and it definitely makes for an action-packed read. What’s the one thing you would tell writers who want to keep their readers intrigued enough to hit the ‘next chapter’ button?
Answer: The chapter should always end with a question, with a cliffhanger! As long as readers want to know what happens next, they'll keep clicking to the next chapter. I think it's important to keep raising the stakes and introducing conflict in each chapter, too.
Most Inclusive Story
Question: Diversity in fics is always, always a good thing. What’s one thing you would recommend to people who are including representation in their fics, especially for cultures/sexualities/genders/etc. other than their own?
Answer: Well, the one thing I'd most recommend is YES, INCLUDE IT. The world needs those stories. As for how to write someone different from yourself, just get into your character's shoes for a little while and try to see the world through their eyes - diversity of course isn't just a box to check off, people's backgrounds and experiences shape them into who they are. So my main suggestion is simply to listen to/read things by people who've lived the experiences you're trying to write about; do research, as you would for writing anything.
The Prince and the Pirate by @banshee
All the truth about Jimmy Portman (M) by @Felpata_Lupin
lazy days (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
The Maidens and the Tower (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Unapologetic by @victoria_anne
Waltz by @WriteYourHeartOut
Question: You have so many characters in “All the truth about Jimmy Portman”! How do you manage to keep all their characters and voices so distinct from one another, especially regarding dialogue?
Answer: Oh, wow... do I manage it? Sometimes I really feel like all my characters are all basically the same and their voices just mix up and blend together... so it's a relief if they feel distinct and recognizable, thank you!
I don't really think I have a method...? I think my writing in general consists of putting my characters in a certain situation and see how they behave, like it is a biology experiment, if that makes sense. Having that approach, dialogue generally comes quite easy to me, it's the first thing that forms in my head before I try to put it into writing. This is also why I'm not equally good at description and plotting, I guess...
For the Jimmy cast specifically... well... for canon characters I just try to imit what JK did (this applies to Ron, Hermione, the twins, Draco, the teachers...). The Marauders come relatively easy, too, since I've written them so much that they feel like real people to me by now. I think the biggest struggle are Jimmy and Neville (technically, they are canon characters too, but so different from their canon equivalent that they are basically OCs...) They have very similar temperaments and they just snap most of the time so sometimes I'm not sure I'm doing very well with their characterization... but I do love those two troublemakers...
(Dunno if I actually replied to your question or just rambled uselessly... my apologies... )
Question: The writing style in “The Firework-Maker’s Daughter” seems effortlessly beautiful. Is it difficult to switch between styles such as the epistolary “ministry memorandums” and the beautiful prose in this one? How do you manage to write such breathtaking descriptions?
Answer: Aww, thank you!! I wouldn’t say it’s difficult for me personally, because since quite early on as an author I’ve tried to be as versatile as I can possibly be. Also, every time I write, I hear my English high school teacher’s voice in my head shrieking, “Expand! Expand! Expand!”, because high school Isobel wrote in short, succinct sentences and skipped a lot of descriptions, so I guess I have to credit her? She was my favourite teacher in high school, and she encouraged us to include adjectives, consider what an impartial reader would think (because we as authors have a little TV in our heads playing out scenes and our readers don’t) and remember to describe the character’s surroundings.
With TFMD, I wanted Roxanne to be the main role in the story, but because there was a word limit in the challenge I originally wrote it for, I decided to write from the other characters’ perspectives in order to show more of Roxanne and her actions. With ministry memorandums, I was limited in description because of the epistolary style, so I included attachments and “arrived in [condition]” and went overboard with those. (The one with the cursed book is my favourite, ngl. )
One of my top tips, however, is to read more! I know this sounds slightly hypocritical coming from someone who is woefully behind on her “Fanfic To Read List” but it honestly helps. I have novels that were inspired by Aphoride and dirigibleplums, and I remember a couple of years ago, before I “met” nott theodore, I read her fic The Nightingale’s Lament and her descriptions for Vicky’s grief just blew me away, and considering how Sian used Vicky’s physical surroundings to connect to her grief about Colin’s death taught me a lot about describing angsty emotions. (To be completely honest, with the quality of writing in the HPFT community, I could just... list everyone on HPFT and it would be true?) I’ve found that reading inspiring writing can in turn inspire you, which helps with writing something out of your comfort zone, iyswim?
Thank you so much for such interesting questions, they were so much fun to answer (and surprisingly hard? I take my hat off to whoever came up with those questions!) and particular thanks go to the Hufflepuffs who nominated and voted for my fics. I love and appreciate you all.
Best Original Fiction
Question: Based on the summary, this story is based off of ‘Maid Maleen’ from the Brothers’ Grimm. What drew you to choose that fairytale? Are you going to be putting any twists on the original tale?
Answer: I was inspired to write The Maidens and the Tower because of the Fairytale Challenge. I knew I wanted something different, something that hadn’t been famously Disneyfied. When I looked through my Grimms collection, Maid Maleen caught my eye because it’s pretty complex, and also because the main character refuses an arranged marriage. Pretty feminist compared to most fairytales!
There are many twists! The setting is arguably the most dramatic change. The Maidens and the Tower is set on the American prairie during pioneer times, and I’ve altered the scenarios to fit that. Also, the romance is f/f, which causes some significant plot changes
Thank you so much to everyone who supports this story!!!
five lives (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
you again by @just.a.willow.tree
First Lit, Last Burning (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Goodbye, Love, Goodbye (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Ninety-Two Seconds in Catatonia (M) by @MuggleMaybe
All or Nothing by @Stella Blue
Waltz by @WriteYourHeartOut
Question: Your take on Scorose is so unique and refreshing, and it’s no wonder that this one-shot has received so much love since it was written! What was the inspiration behind “Waltz” that made you write it in the first place?
Answer: Thank you so much! ^.^ The inspiration for Waltz came from a Staff prompt around Christmas time a few years ago. There was around 25 days to get submissions in, and I actually spent the first 20 working on a completely different story, but I kept getting stuck and finally had to admit to myself that I wasn't going to finish that one on time, so I had to hop plots right at the end, and this story is just what popped out instead. The biggest inspiration behind it was wanting to take the "stuck under the mistletoe" trope and put a new twist on it. I have to admit, I've seen a lot of stories use mistletoe in a way that keeps you forever trapped until you kiss, no exceptions, and it always just made me feel a little uncomfortable, that forced version of things, so I thought I'd make the option to not kiss a seemingly harmless consequence: a glitter bomb. From there, I just wanted to play with someone who would not see a glitter bomb as harmless at all, and that's how Rose developed. I felt that her struggles reminded me of Hermione, so her daughter made sense as the choice. Scorpius' character came from someone I thought would be very sweetly matched with my version of Rose.
When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167
The Skull Beneath the Skin (M) by @esmeraude
All the truth about Jimmy Portman (M) by @Felpata_Lupin
Beyond Repair by @MuggleMaybe
The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Question: “The Harder They Fall” is such a well-planned story! Do you have any advice for planning novels with multiple threads and plotlines?
Answer: Thank you so much! I think if you have a complex plot with multiple threads, it's important to plan ahead, and to be aware that new ideas will appear as you write. Everything must tie into the main story, too!
Best Original Character
Hollie Finnegan in Chicks Before Broomsticks (M) by @banshee
Summer Phillips in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
Finn Blishwick in The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Josephine Adaire in Lying Josephine (M) by @WriteYourHeartOut
Question: Josephine is such beautiful OC. Tell us about her creation, and how her personality and characterization came to be!
Answer: 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. Because of the structure of Lying Josephine, information about her background is very slowly released, but she does have a lot of reasons for how she became who she is. When I decided to make her such a quiet character, I just wanted to find deeper roots behind it. And I really did just want her to be... honestly quite average in about every way. Like, that she did poorly in school, she's not exactly quick-witted or funny, she's easily overlooked and forgotten, she isn't brave, she has very few talents, and she is deeply flawed. She will know the right thing to do and still choose the selfish thing. She's honestly a Hufflepuff in the way that other Houses sometimes snobbishly label all Hufflepuff's to be: a leftover, who didn't fit elsewhere. But somehow - I hope, at least - her kind of overall lack of interesting and intriguing traits made her a character you want to follow and root for. She surprises herself along the way, and in turn, surprises us. She finds herself in a situation where she keeps telling herself she's doing it for the good of other people, but it's really for her, no matter what she tries to convince herself of, and regardless of the fact that it may help them too, the driving force is herself. And the situation she's in causes her to discover and face who she truly is.
Best Depiction of a Major Canon Character
Lily Evans in untrue, untrue (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
George Weasley in Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana
Lily Evans in Beyond Repair by @MuggleMaybe
Hermione Granger in Life As We Know It (M) by @Slytherinchica08
Luna Lovegood in How to Catch a Snorkack by @victoria_anne
Question: As we all know, you adore the Weasley twins. Was it difficult to write George in his state of grieving? Was his characterization a struggle, or was it second nature for you?
Answer: Yes and no? If that makes sense. On a basic level, I didn't find it particularly difficult to write George in a state of grieving - I've always found angst a lot easier to write than happy fluff. And of course I love to make my favorite characters sad. The thing that I struggled with the most was trying to accurately portray the feelings that George would have. I've killed of characters before, but in the past I've always stopped the fic at their death. This was the first time I was actually writing the emotional trauma that would occur.
The whole time I was writing this I was flipping back and forth between, "am I going over the top?" and "am I not intense enough?" I also struggled with deciding how fast George would come to terms with Fred's death. Originally I had thought I would have George come to terms with Fred's death by the end of the fic, but that didn't seem natural to me (and also since the Wiki says that George never truly got over his twin's death ). Considering it was Fred that died, I realized that 5000 words probably wasn't long enough for George to get over it. So I threw together a last minute ending that was a "nope, i'm not fine but I might be in the future."
Best Depiction of a Minor Canon Character
Dean Thomas in Nights Like These (M) by @banshee
Justin Finch-Fletchley in Goodbye, Jus by @Felpata_Lupin
Hannah Abbott in Hope by @Jo Raskoph
Astoria Greengrass in five lives (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
Astoria Greengrass in lazy days (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
Stan Shunpike in I Believe You by @Leo
Anthony Goldstein in First Lit, Last Burning (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Question: Justin Finch-Fletchley was written so beautifully! Could you tell us some of your headcanons about him, and why you wrote him as loving mathematics?
Answer: I will be honest, I've never thought about Justin's character much... the only reason I wrote him is because he came up as a prompt for @dreamgazer220's "The Say Goodbye Challenge". But I do love him now!
I honestly projected a lot in defining his personality and put a lot of myself into him. He is quiet and shy, values friendship a lot and wants what's best for everyone, even if that means stepping aside and sacrificing his own happiness (basically, a true Hufflepuff).
He's also the kind of person who overthinks too much and acts too little (which again is something we have in common and, coincidentally, a friend and ex colleague of mine sustains it's a very Mathematician trait... )
His love for Mathematics mirrors my love for Mathematics (let's be honest, Maths are fascinating!) but I think for Justin Maths is mainly his way to keep contact with reality and make it make sense. Maths have precise rules that are fixed and can't be changed and Justin needs that sort of certainty, because life and emotions are just so unpredictable.
Best Character Arc/Development
Seamus Finnegan in Nights Like These (M) by @banshee
Hannah Abbott in When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167
Regulus Black in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
Finn Blishwick in The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Question: One of the most satisfying things to read is a good character growth, and your OC, Finn Blishwick, certainly has that! How did you plot his development from “Hero” to the end of “The Harder They Fall”? Were there any struggles in the process?
Answer: I really enjoy writing characters who go through a major change throughout the novel, so these kinds of characters come quite naturally to me. I took his most prominent flaw (arrogance) and came up with ways to turn someone like him into a more humble, kind person, and wrote them into the story. The biggest struggle I had was that the change didn't happen quickly or easily, or completely changed him into someone else. Particularly after the midpoint, I was really poking my beta for approval!
Hollie Finnegan and Alec Williams in Chicks Before Broomsticks (M) by @banshee
Emmeline, Edgar, Lily, and Severus in Seven years later by @Felpata_Lupin
George and Ron Weasley in Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana
Regulus Black and Summer Phillips in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
Question: A good sibling relationship is always a fun and fulfilling read. Why did you choose to focus on the friendship/siblinghood between Ron and George for “Then Time Stood Still”?
Answer: As we all know, I'm the resident Weasley Twin Queen but my Over The Top Love extends to the entire Weasley family in general. Before joining HPFT I was getting a little annoyed with (what felt like) constantly seeing Weasley Bashing and specifically Ron Bashing fics on AO3. So, when I was writing this fic I wanted to draw attention to a character that I felt was underappreciated by parts of the fandom. The line, "people didn't usually give him enough credit, but Ron cared deeply for his older brothers." was actually a low-key jab at Ron Bashing fics.
I actually originally entertained the idea of using Percy - someone else who the fandom loves to hate - but after thinking about it I really liked the possible dynamic between the Twins and Ron. The Twins are often characterized as goofy and not always the most caring of older brothers, so I wanted to play with the idea that Ron would skip going to Percy with his problems and go to the Twins. On top of that, I liked the idea of the tables then being turned - with the older brother leaning on the younger brother for support. With that I wanted to show the maturity that Ron has. And of course I just love Ron.
Question: Your reviews are always such a joy to receive - they’re so thoughtful with a lot of encouragement and details from the story/chapter. Can you tell us a little about your review process, and if you have any advice for those wanting to leave more helpful reviews?
Answer: Eep, thank you! I’m so happy that my reviews give joy, but I honestly have little to no process while writing them haha. I usually just read the chapter through and then spend a page in my review doc gushing, rambling, and/or offering many thoughts (most of which are probably neither helpful nor relevant). My general tip is (and sometimes I forget to do this because I’m too busy reacting to all the characters and the storylines *sobs*): always leave at least one compliment. It’s always well-deserved and it’ll definitely make the author happy!
Mostly, while I review, I try to touch on all the major events of the chapter, and then if I ever stumble across a particularly brilliant or beautiful line, I quote it. However, I forget events/lines so easily, and I always find that I’ve neglected to mention certain things, so sometimes for multi-chaps I’ll just continue saying things I forgot previously, in a review for the next chapter haha.
But just show your love for the story, and I’m sure your review will be appreciated.
And that's a wrap on our House Awards segment! Congratulations to all of our nominees, runner ups, and winners across all houses! It's definitely an accomplishment to be proud of
We hope you enjoyed this series on our blog, and keep an eye out right here for future posts!
interviews composed by @dreamgazer220 and @just.a.willow.tree
header done by @just.a.willow.tree