We are happy to present the August edition of In the Spotlight! We will be interviewing the Head Students of the month, the winner of the Order of Merlin for August, and providing a review column for the Story of the Month. This month, we are including a special section to commemorate the passing of the 19th Amendment in the United States in 1920 and Women's Equality Day (August 26th).
adorably cute/Sarah's interview:
Why did you pick the House you are in?
So, I've always at least partially identified as a Gryffindor (which is what Pottermore sorted me into), though I would say I have a lot of Ravenclaw traits as well and when I was younger, it was a lot harder for me to choose! The older I get, I definitely identify more with and have maybe started to value those Gryffindor traits more, so it's not really a difficult decision any more!
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
Definitely Home! It's really, uh, spiraled from its original concept but I'm really happy with the way it's turned out. It's about a girl finding herself, family, friends, and love, after transferring to Hogwarts when she has to move in with her Dad. I just really love what this story has become, I love all the characters and their relationships, I even (now) love these darn Quidditch statistics I made up for this thing!
If you could only read one book (or fanfic) again for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Is it cheating to pick Harry Potter? Do I have to pick one? If so, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. If it is cheating to pick one of them, then maybe The Great Gatsby.
What is your favorite HP Era and why?
To write, it's definitely Next Gen. I love how much freedom there is with it so you can pretty much do whatever you want with it! To read, it's a toss up between Next Gen and Marauders. probably for a similar reason. I love seeing the worlds people build (because even with the Marauders era, there's still so much we don't know) and how everyone characterizes different characters!
Do you have a method of story plotting that you’d like to share?
HA! Ok, so my method for story plotting is so basic and terrible, it's like
- gang goes to bar
- plot point y
- plot point z, etc, etc
and then underneath those bullets I will sometimes have pieces of dialogue that I've thought of that I want to add in. But since this outline is SO BASIC, I frequently end up adding more dialogue/information than I thought was going to be in a chapter and accidentally end up with two chapters instead of one.
You get to ask one HP character (alive or dead) three questions. What are those questions?
Ahh this was a tough one! But I think I'd like to ask James Potter (the first):
1) how they actually created the Marauder's Map and all of the details about its creation
2) what their best prank was
3) how he finally got Lily to agree to go out with him
Why did you pick the House you are in?
I was initially sorted into Ravenclaw on Pottermore, and I could relate to the qualities associated with the house, so that's how I made my first decision to be in it. But moving forward, I realised I have a mix of some Slytherin and Hufflepuff qualities as well, and I did shift to Slytherin for a brief period of time a few years ago. However, I chose to be back in Ravenclaw because I've made some of the best friends, amazing memories, and received a LOT of support from people in this house, and it will always feel a lot more like home than any other.
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
Self-promotion is not my thing - the self-doubt is so real and I get unsure about everything I write. Buuut I do have a fic that I'm working on (which isn't on HPFT yet) that I'm super excited about. It's an Albus Potter- centric fic in which he's a thrill-seeking asexual curse breaker in his mid-twenties. It's an exploration of an impulsive personality, familial tension, and the stigma around being ace packed into an action/adventure plotline. It's a lot bigger than any other stories I've planned out and I'm psyched to complete it and put it up!
What is your favorite memory involving one of your eight cats?
Do you know how HARD it is to answer this? I have eight cats, and they all hold a very dear place in my heart. I can't pick out just one favourite memory but I think my life changed when each of them came into my life. They were all rescues/adoptions and were in dire need of some love and care. Looking at them growing up into healthy, well-adjusted cats has got to be the best part of this lifestyle (and it makes all the medical bills and poop-cleaning worth it :P)
Describe your favorite tattoo (either one that you have, have done, or have seen).
Again, a super difficult question to answer! The one I've done also happens to be the one I have - I have a little cat face just above my right ankle which I tattooed on myself. It was the first one I've ever done and I'm super proud of it even if it's not the best technically. In terms of one I have that's tattooed by someone else, I'd go with the Tardis on my upper arm - it has the cleanest lines I've ever seen, has settled so beautifully, and depicts my love for the fandom as well as a deeper meaning - that we're all bigger on the inside and we have the power to move through time and space, affecting the world around us through our actions.
I'm also taking this opportunity to highlight some of my favourite artists across the world:
Dmitriy Samohin - based in Ukraine, does AMAZING colour-realism.
Victor Portugal - artist in Krakow, Poland, who specialises in dark-themed realistic pieces
John Monteiro - artist in Brazil, delicate linework and illustrative custom tattoos
Megan Jean Morris - Nevada based, does brilliant colour-realism (yay for women artists!!)
Eva krbdk - Turkey, and her style is absolutely rad. She takes realistic landscapes/portraits and packs them into tiny geometric shapes.
I can keep going on and on (and if anyone wants more recommendations, feel free to PM) but these are a few who deserve some shout-outs. They're also pretty expensive since they're so accomplished and have many years of experience, but if you get the chance to get tattooed by them you absolutely must do so!
If you have any one piece of writing advice to give to others, what would it be?
I think everyone reaches a point where it seems like they're "not good enough" or "not getting ideas" or just feeling the pressure of delivering something amazing. But I think we all need to remember why we started writing in the first place and stick to it. Let yourself have fun with what you're doing, without giving too much importance to how it's turning out - the first draft is meant to be messy and filled with holes but once it's complete, your story is DONE and it's such an overwhelming feeling. You can always edit it later on and polish it up, but don't stop yourself before you've finished writing it! (this is something I remind myself of every day as well)
If you could pick one, with all of the benefits and none of the downsides, which would it be and why: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, the Cloak of Invisibility?
The Elder Wand, especially if its without the downsides. I'd love to be able to perform powerful magic that can help people all over the world. (and myself of course haha :P)
The Staffer awarded the August order of Merlin -- the lovely @PaulaTheProkaryote -- has provided some responses to a small interview as well.
How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community?
I've been around for as long as I can remember! I used to hang out on Quizilla reading Drarry and day dreaming about being the perfect Mary Sue to really change Draco.
What's your favorite part about working behind-the-scenes?
I love watching the way that each house tackles events so differently. Hufflepuffs are legendary for their spreadsheets and organization. Ravenclaws are so, so creative in everything they do. Gryffindors roll up on pure enthusiasm and dominate. Slytherins are crazy efficient and not afraid to delegate jobs. It's just amazing how each house has their own problem-solving style.
Favorite type of fanfiction to read/write?
Fluffy happily ever afters. I can read angst all the way to the end, but I really need that happily ever after or else I'm mopey for weeks. Oh, and AUs. I have an obsessions with AUs.
What's your OTP?
My tried and true OTP is Jily. I love so many other pairings, but I really love the portrayal of each of the characters and their growth together.
What is your favorite non-HP fandom?
For actual content I love the Raven Boys the most, but as far as non-HP fandom community I'd have to say Star Wars. There's so much love and support there. I've met some of the most wonderful people through it.
Have video games ever inspired any of your writing? If so, explain. Or do you generally keep those two interests separate (and why)?
I try to keep them separate to the best of my abilities, but I do have an Elder Scrolls inspired Founders fic sitting in a google doc that I might publish one day. Each founder is from a different province in Tamriel (the world the game is set in). An orc Helga Hufflepuff is pretty awesome tbh.
Can you tell us more about your interest in insects and your collection?
I signed up last minute for an entomology course a few years ago because a professor I adore needed a few more students to actually host the class. We spent hours wandering parks collecting specimens and we had class dinners where we'd set up light traps. I loved it so much I kept up the hobby! I have several hundred insects that have been mounted and even more in jars to be mounted. My favorite specimen I have is a "trash bug" or lacewing larvae. It collects debris on it's back to sneak into aphid colonies and feast. They're super cool and it was a neat find.
Ministry Memorandums (From the Mysteries) was one of the first fics I read on HPFT and I fell in love with it instantly. The concept is genius -- Isobel is hardly the first person to write an epistolary fic, of course, but the level of detail she puts into the condition of the letters, the mood of the owls and the provenance of the attached items really elevates the fic to something special. That, and the rapid decline from very professional sounding missives to all-caps swearing is a delight.
The fic is mostly OCs, but even though there's no prior knowledge to rely on, everyone has really excellent characterisation just from things like how they write their memos or what condition they arrive in. It's pitch perfect British bureaucracy-themed absurdity, full of things not being people's department, accidentally forwarded memos and owls vindictively defecating on things. It is also surprisingly heart-warming, considering all that.
If you're looking for a hilarious fic that really effectively utilises the HP universe to tell a story that could only happen in a Harry Potter fic, be sure to check out this one! Also, where can I donate to the communal fund to send Juniper Blye on an extremely peaceful seaside holiday?
Measuring 'feminism' or 'progress' by women's suffrage is inherently a Western-centric and flawed view, as many communities had women in positions of power and leadership and they had full voices in the community until Europeans came and imposed restrictive gender roles on them. We also frequently speak of 'women's suffrage' when we mean 'white women's suffrage', as voting rights were denied to women of colour for far longer.
All that said, the 26th of August was Women's Equality Day in the United States in commemoration of the 1920 ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the constitution that gave white women the right to vote. As such, here are some facts about women's suffrage! (The gaps in some of these facts are due to information not being readily available; please comment if you know something more!)
- The Kingdom of Hawai'i gave men and women equal voting rights in its very first constitution in 1840, although the voting rights of both men and women were curtailed by an 1852 amendment.
- Aotearoa New Zealand was the first still-existing country to give (some) women the right to vote: in 1893, both Pākehā (white) and Māori women gained that right. However, as voting rights were tied to citizenship, Chinese New Zealanders were unable to become citizens or vote until 1951.
- Australia gave white women and Māori women the right to vote in 1902, but Asian, Indian and Pacific Islander women had to wait until 1925, and Indigenous Australian women until 1962.
- In the first Finnish election with female suffrage (1907), they elected 19 women to parliament.
- Every European country except France allowed women to vote in at least some municipal elections by 1943; France finally followed suit in 1944.
- In Switzerland, women did not have the right to vote in federal elections until 1971. The last Swedish canton (state) to give women the vote at a local level was Appenzell Innerrhoden in 1991.
graphics [header and dividers]: emma | interview gathering: madi, emma, deni, and taylor | review column: emma | women's suffrage facts: emma | sotm reviews: nix and rumpel | layout: rumpel