Welcome to the September edition of the Prefect's In the Spotlight Blog! We've got an Order of Merlin advertisement, interviews from Head Students, the Story of the Month recipient, and Common Room monthly award winners. We hope you're all recovering from the House Cup Opener, and we'll be getting those results to you as soon as possible.
We are also working on a Prefect-related survey (based around things like our blog posts, challenges, etc.) and will have that available to you soon, so keep an eye out!
This month's Order of Merlin recipient was @MuggleMaybe! Renee is always the pure essence of kindness, and totally deserves an Order of Merlin for how helpful and sweet she is. We have prepared an interview with Renee and an advertisement for her story, Grow.
I N T E R V I E W
| M U G G L E M A Y B E |
If there was only one forum that you could post in on HPFT, which one would it be?
I'd have to say the Hufflepuff Common Room. I do love my Puffs! However, the bullet journal thread comes a close second
What [forum-appropriate] meme or GIF do you think best describes your role on the site?
What is your favorite non-HP fandom?
That would have to be the Tortall-verse from the Tamora Pierce novels. I love that world so much, it has so much potential within it and there's so much to imagine. And her main characters are mostly badass chicks, so that's also excellent!
What is one of your plunnies that you really want to write but haven’t found the time/inspiration for yet?
Oooh, okay... I have a plunny for a Draco-centric mystery that would include lots of dark intrigue and also some cute Drastoria slowburn. I really want to write that one!
What is your favorite thing to do on HPFT?
I love so many things about HPFT, but if forced to pick a favorite, I think my favorite thing is to participate in or run events. There always such a spirit of camaraderie during big site-wide events that I find really enjoyable and exciting. I also like to beta read but I probably shouldn't do it because I'm super slow.
What is the earliest memory you have of writing a story?
I remember writing a story when I was 7 or 8. It was about a cat who lost their toy fish in a pond, but I can't really remember the plot anymore.
In your opinion, what comes first -- the plot or the characters?
Sometimes I begin with an idea for a character, or (with fanfic) there's a character I'm interested in writing for some reason. But I think it's more common for me to have a situation or a relationship as my initial spark, which seems to fall on the plot side of things. ie, How did Lily and Petunia's relationship turn out so badly? How did George and Angelina first get together? What if Hufflepuffs pulled a heist? These types of why and what if questions tempt my muse the most.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
| G R O W |
Pansy had never expected to enjoy Herbology, and yet here she was.
For the HC opener 2019 (an unlikely apprenticeship)
With only 228 word to work with, it can be a difficult task to send across a message or to tell a story. Renee uses each of those words to work to her advantage in this story, and that takes some serious skill. Each word is used so carefully, so purposefully, that syntax turns into artwork, providing even some beautiful imagery (somehow, because Renee is magical) and is packed with symbolism.
While individual plants can symbolize many different things, the act of planting and growing can symbolize rebirth and can be compared to the growth of a person, which in this case applies to Pansy Parkinson, who is apprenticing under Neville Longbottom post-Second Wizarding War. I think the way Renee executed the story was nothing short of brilliant, filling it with messages of hope, change, and forgiveness.
I can't say too much more without giving everything away, so you'll have to check out Grow for yourselves! (Right now! Do it!)
I N T E R V I E W S
| N O E L L E Z I N G A R E L L A |
What is your favourite place to visit on HPFT?
The Writer's Journals. It's fun to see how everybody puts their stories together, especially since I haven't written creatively in a very long time.
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
You mean besides Moonlight?
This month I've been thinking a lot about a story I started for MalfoysAngel's More than a Stereotype Challenge called NICU Chic. I had originally thought that this would be a one-shot, but now I see that it is going to be a series of one-shots about the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). My daughter, Battle Maiden, was born at 25 weeks gestation (that's really early, if you don't know) and spent about four months in the NICU. She's almost 6 years old now and doing great--but it was a very difficult and emotional experience. I hadn't planned to write about it at all, but one day I sat down to write something else, and NICU Chic came out instead.
What are your reading/writing genre preferences?
I like to read almost everything, although I read historical fiction and Jane Austen novels most frequently.
What do you consider to be the most important thing to keep in mind about writing?
Not letting the voice of doubt stop you from doing it! You can do pretty much anything you want while writing as long as you do it with enough self-confidence. And you can always fix it later.
How do you get through an emotionally draining piece (either when reading or writing)?
By taking breaks. This is why it's taking me more than six months to read Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. I had to take a break after reading Ivan's impassioned defense of why God could not possibly exist (although Dostoevsky disagrees with Ivan, he certainly gives the Devil his due) and now I'm taking a break before I tackle the chapter in which Ivan confronts the Devil directly. Also, reminding myself to breathe helps.
What story are you currently reading?
On the site, I'm currently reading The New Skin by mottsnave, All the Waves Resounded by BookDinasaur, A Place Not Far From Here by Chemical_Pixie, The Face of the Lingate Reef by Rumpelstiltskin, and pretty much anything that crestwood, potionspartner and Oregonian put up. On paper, I'm reading Jane Austen's Emma as a break from The Brothers Karamazov.
| M A D I M A L F O Y |
What is your favorite place to visit on HPFT?
Oooh this is tough! Probably the Story Challenges subforum because I like to enter lots of challenges and also just like to see what else everyone is inspired by, whether they be hosting a challenge or entering a bunch like me!
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
Culture Shock! I had the MOST fun writing this for @Ineke and @crowsb4bros's "Millennials Ruin Everything Challenge" back in April because I was able to integrate the standard narrative storyline with newspaper articles and internal Ministry memos to form a cohesive narrative. Also, I got to write a lot of Harry & Hermione, which I haven't done for a while, so it was really nice to get back into writing them, especially as adults with high-ranking Ministry jobs.
How do you come up with the titles of your stories/chapters?
I'd like to say that I have a method, but I honestly don't! Sometimes it gets pulled from a line in the story, or in the case of my TGWDLM fic, the story chapters are the names of the songs from the show in reverse order. Half the time I just kind of throw something on there that seems relatively okay and just stick with it.
What is your ideal writing space?
On a porch or balcony with soft lighting and a comfy seat. (things which I currently do not have, but hope to have eventually )
Would you prefer writing as a hobby or writing as a career?
I think I would prefer writing as a hobby -- I really truly enjoy my current situation as a grad student in atmospheric chemistry, but I think it would be a great adventure to be a novelist on the side.
Who is your favorite character that you’ve written (OF or canon, any fandom)?
WHY WOULD YOU ASK THIS OF ME!? Um really though, I think the favorite character I've written in my 7 years of creative writing has to be Amaryllis, my OC witch in my OF world. I've just got so many ideas for her and want to explore her so much more than I already have, so yeah. Amaryllis is my fave so far!
The Story of the Month winner was @val's Logarithmic! We have an interview with the author and a review column prepared for you.
I N T E R V I E W
| V A L |
What inspires you to write?
Starting with the tough questions, I see. Anything and everything, probably? I draw a lot from personal emotions and try to channel them into writing (free therapy, yay!), but sometimes it's also a random sentence I'll overhear in the street or something I'll see from the car. Other people's enthusiasm is what keeps me writing, and what kicks me into gear if I've been in a slump for too long.
What is a genre/trope that you’ve never written before, but want to try?
Mystery! I don't know that I have the brains to pull that off though, because I am a shame to my House.
Who are some published authors you look up to?
Nerd answer: all the scholars who wrote my academic textbooks. Fiction-wise, George RR Martin deserves to be applauded for creating so extended a universe (though he needs to hustle and give us the next book in the ASOIAF saga). Agatha Christie, for the sheer amount of murders she's written and the fact that I still never manage to figure out whodunnit before the big reveal. Any author who makes me phsyically laugh aloud, too, because it doesn't happen very often.
Oh, and Maggie Stiefvater! My god, I want to roll around in her writing like a pig in shit (if that term's not acceptable on the forums, let's go with mud instead) -- it's magical, there's really no other way to describe it.
If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be?
Offering advice feels very pretentious buuuut probably make note of ideas as they come, personnally I never remember that one Great Idea that pops up right before I fall asleep despite being persuaded it'll still be there in the morning. I've learnt my lesson and now I keep (voice)notes on my phone.
How long did it take you to write Logarithmic?
Way longer than was polite for the people willing to read it. (Over six years, eep)
What sparked your interest in Eloise Midgeon?
Someone else wrote a one-shot about her (and Cormac), I didn't particularly like the characterisation, and figured I could do better. It's an incredibly petty origin story for my fic but here we are! I also liked that she allowed me to play with Hogwarts-era canon without very little pressure because there's barely anything about her at all in the books (although one of the things we know about her is that she's technically one of the students removed from Hogwarts in chapter 11 of HBP, which was not a fun realisation to come to five chapters in. I weaseled my way out that plothole by assuming Harry's oblivious to pretty much everything, which is a marvelous 'get-out-jail-free' card. Oh, there we go, that can also count as a piece of advice!)
R E V I E W C O L U M N
| L O G A R I T H M I C |
Before we get into my favorite subject (characterization), the readability of this story is certainly worth mentioning. Before writing a review column, I like to read through the entire piece to get a decent grasp on the story. This can be a sizeable task when it comes to completed novels, but the ease of reading made reading breezy and enjoyable. If you're looking for the type of story you can sit down and binge-read several chapters at once over a cup of tea (or two) or need a chapter to read before bed, I highly recommend this based off of the comprehensibility alone.
Now onto characterization. While I appreciate a number of different characters portrayed in this story, I'll just focus on the two in the main pairing -- Eloise Midgeon and Cormac McLaggen. One of the features that comes with Eloise is her distinctive lack of beauty, at least by any standard set by the initial narrator. It might be one of those perfect flaws that brings a character to an attainable level when balancing out her unyielding drive for learning and her intelligence in general. Then, of course, there's Cormac, who is not lacking in terms of athleticism, popularity, and being a goofball. And opposites do attract...if only with a little work, time, and attention.
The real treasure, of course, is watching the avenues of the relationship unfold over time. This is made even more interesting as the story drops us into a critical time during the Second Wizarding War, where Voldemort is on the rise and student's lives are about to be turned upside down forever. However, to get more of that story, you'll have to read it for yourself! (Go on, click the link!)
As usual, we are bringing you news from the CRs! Whether your up in a tower, down in a dungeon, or nearby a kitchen, please feel free to celebrate with the other Houses in their accomplishments!
In Gryffindor, there was a tie for Featured Fic between The Art of Confidence by @nott theodore and Curious Traveler by @belgian quaffle! September Leading Lion was @Crimson Quill! We have some interviews with all of them!
| N O T T T H E O D O R E |
The Art of Confidence was written for a challenge, but since you've haven't marked it complete, can we expect more of the story (and if so, when)?
You can expect more of the story - a whole novel, all being well! It was Taylor's challenge, and me trying to think of a way that I could make the fake-dating trope my own, that sparked the idea for TAoC, but that quickly spiralled into the plot for a full-blown novel. I'm hoping I'll get the next chapter posted within the month, but I'm not making promises, because life is really busy right now for me. Hopefully once things have settled down a bit I can update more regularly!
How did you decide on the title of the story?
I was a bit hesitant about using the 'The Art of...' format for the title, mainly because it's been used already by so many great stories and I didn't want to copy them. But it fit the story really well, and I couldn't think of anything better After all, you need confidence to convince people you're actually dating, right? There might be a double meaning to the title that I think some readers have already picked up on, but I'll say no more about that just yet...
What was the process you used in developing Emmy's characterization?
This is a difficult question to answer because I don't actually think I have any processes for characterisation? (There are so many reasons I'm not a Ravenclaw, this is definitely one of them.) Characters usually kind of walk into my head, and just spending time thinking about them helps me get to know them better. I think I have to try and write them in different scenes to get to know their voice properly, though - I definitely need to do more of that at the moment, and hopefully that'll translate into the story?
Disappearances. Attempted murder. What is the secret to suppressing your criminal tendencies?
I resent the insinuation that I have criminal tendencies I'm definitely a goody-two-shoes in real life, unfortunately. But I've always loved reading mysteries and morally grey characters are more interesting to write about, which is why I think I've ended up writing so many.
Any books you've read recently that you'd recommend?
Apart from academic reading, I haven't read much lately, but earlier this year I read Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman, and I'd definitely recommend it. It's a fascinating account of influential women in the UK from the mid 1800s onwards, many of whom have driven social reform, advances in healthcare and civil rights, made scientific discoveries - but, surprise, surprise, many of their names have been lost to history and they haven't received the credit they deserve for what they did. It's told in a really engaging way and if you're interested in feminism or social history at all, it's really worth a read!
| B E L G I A N Q U A F F L E |
The story baked in a blog structure is a whole lot of fun. How'd you decide (and implement) the structure?
ohh this is a tough question! honestly i'm not 100% sure how i decided to implement the structure? it probably came from another millennial criticism (millennials spend too much time on the internet! put down your phones/get off the computer and talk to people) because like, in person isn't the only way to talk to people now (duh). implementing the actual structure has actually been the fun part, i think! i've tried to use the blog as an introduction to victoriya and her character/life each chapter and also to sum that chapter up. so it's been an interesting way to introduce information and then continue progressing the plot withe actual narrative section as well!
What’s your favorite genre to write, and why?
probably humor? it's just so light and breezy and to me, so much easier to write that angst, at least at this point in my life, where i (thankfully) dont have a lot of angsty emotions to draw from.
Describe your perfect writing environment.
anywhere i can find inspiration? usually it's somewhere comfy or cozy like sitting in my bed or couch or in a cute little coffee shop. i have a hard time doing anything if all i can think about is how uncomfortable i am or how hungry i am
Have you ever blogged yourself? If no, name the one thing you'd consider blogging about.
i have not! i've thought about it once or twice but never actually got around to starting one up. if i were to start one up, it'd probably be about food or beer (shocking, i know!) or maybe possibly something related to healthcare (like physical therapy, tips for students, why you should vaccinate your kids and listen to your doctors; not about the us healthcare system and how broken it is)
What do you think is the most overblown criticism of Millenials? Which is the most accurate?
ok listen: i have a lot of thoughts about this because i work in a pretty wealthy area filled with baby boomers so i hear plenty of criticism about millennials every day. they're lazy. they're entitled. they're killing (insert literally everything you've ever heard anyone talking millennials killing before here). they never carry cash (which, what? and why). "back in our day we used to rip the holes in our jeans ourselves" yes karen, I DO TOO SOMETIMES
most overblown: millennials are lazy. we aren't lazy. we've been given this technology and grown up using it. some things that were hard for our parents and grandparents have been easier for us, but that's the idea. to create a better life for the generations that come after you.
most accurate: probably millennials are killing cash. i never carry cash. probably 99% of the people i know don't carry cash 99% of the time. it's probably the most accurate in that yes, i don't know many (if any) millennials that consistently carry cash. still not sure why this is such a devastating thing for other people.
| C R I M S O N Q U I L L |
Tell us how it felt to win your first (of many to come I'm sure) FROGS!
It was just insane. I was part of this community of writers that I spent years reading their fics! I think I was just so surprised that anyone rated my writing considering how talented people are here. It has given me so much confidence in my writing which was amazing. I think winning a FROG for Bee's character was really emotional because she is so important to me but the first time for Parisian Scars was mind blowing. I think I just felt really accepted after that.
Warpaint is a fic that uses POV swaps. How do you make it work from a story and writing perspective?
The story started just Bee's POV but I love Albus as a character. I think his character just came through to me so clearly that I found that he had his own story to tell alongside Bee. He was too good to be the 'love interest' so it just came together. I think it's a bit balancing act when organising their POVs like sometimes I want a certain moment in one of their POVs that it doesn't work out with timelines, it can be frustrating sometimes!
Tell us about the most Gryffindor thing you’ve done lately.
So I was struggling with personal stuff lately so I think the most gryffindor thing i've done is reach out for help and face it. that's scary but i'm better for it.
You were one of our house's hardest grinders this House Cup - especially during the finale. Can you provide our many members tips for survival?
I don't know about that but I think it is the people that keep me going through all of this craziness! I love the sense of unity that the house cup always brings! I think it's always important to find some balance too, hc is always fun but it can be time consuming too so make some time yourself before you go in head first!
What gears you up to write most?
totally discussing ideas! I love chatting with people about my writing and bouncing idea around. It's great when people get excited with me and just here for my ideas. So please chat with me!!
In Hufflepuff, @just.a.willow.tree won Puff of the Month!
I N T E R V I E W
| J U S T . A . W I L L O W . T R E E |
Congratulations on winning Hufflepuff of the Month! How do you feel about this recognition?
Thank you so much! I feel so incredibly honored—I still can’t believe at times that I’m a part of this wonderful House with so many beautiful and kind people in it, and I’m just really really grateful! Thank you guys.
You left a crazy amount of reviews during the HC finale. What is your reviewing strategy?
Hahaha if I’m being honest, I have no idea how that happened. Even contemplating the idea of repeating 30 reviews a day for the next major reviewing event is frightening me quite a bit—I personally think it was the encouragement and camaraderie from other Puffs that got me through without collapsing. In general, though, my review strategy is to jot down quick notes in a separate document so that later I can just type it up all in one go without needing to consult the story again...which may not actually be more efficient, who knows. But I like leaving genuine reactions mixed with more serious comments about the subject matter of the story—I find that I love receiving reviews like that, so I like giving them, too!
Your stories are wonderful! What writing projects are you working on - or thinking about working on - at the moment?
You’re too kind omg. At the moment, I’m working on an OF piece, which Kaitlin’s food challenge inspired me to finally write. It was in my mind for the greater part of the year, the idea of water curses and witches, but I never found time/inspiration till the summer! I’m still thinking about it constantly, and it’s just a matter of finding time now. But in short, it’s about this unfortunate girl who suddenly gets cursed with this awful perennial thirst, and she has to figure out what in the world is going on.
What do you love most about writing?
My absolute favorite thing about writing is just getting to use my mind for something really creative. I mean, I love school, but after some time it starts feeling rigid and formulaic, and writing and thinking up weird wacky things is just so much better. I mean, you get to make up your own rules in a completely self-created world! It’s amazing!
What's your favourite kind of music?
My favorite music is classical chamber music! i looove piano trios, because hearing the different instruments play together is just honestly such a remarkable experience.
What's your favorite animal? If the zoo in your town let you name their new one, what would you name it?
My favorite animal?? Eep how can I pick? I love penguins and turtles and sugar gliders and axolotls BUT I think i would have to say my favorite are whales! I love them and their songs and everything so much I would probably name a whale ooOoooOOOOooo or maybe even Dory, who knows
What is the meaning behind you username?
My go-to username originally was WillowAryaCyrilla which was a combination of names that I liked and wanted to put in a story a long long time ago, but eventually I didn’t like it and wanted to change it while keeping some essential element. And so this came to be! I would say I’m less than a willow tree, because they are majestic and wondrous beings, but that’s the general story behind that. Thank you so much, again!
I N T E R V I E W
| N O R T H B O U N D 2 4 |
How did you decide to integrate Shakespeare into this piece for the Shaking Up Shakespeare Challenge?
Well with this story, the whole Dumbledore family situation coupled with Grindelwald having ambiguous Seer traits in the Fantastic Beasts series lends itself to a Shakespearian tone. So I saw Grindelwald as a version of Macbeth led by his own visions while Jimmy and Dumbledore are dragged along with him. And someone will make that comparison in the story at some point!
What is your favorite thread in the Ravenclaw Common Room?
The Ravenclaw Retreat, you never know what new things our lovely Eagles are going to discuss!
What do you find most enjoyable/interesting about writing Gellert Grindelwald?
One of the things about Grindelwald is that he genuinely believes in his cause unlike Voldemort who is an opportunistic chancer who's out for himself. He's enjoyable to write because he's so certain he can understand and solve the secrets of the story and you're never sure what he's prepared to do to get answers.
How long do you plan on this story being, and can you give us a hint at upcoming events?
I don't really know how long it will be. In terms of upcoming events and hints?
Here's a handful of hints for you:
- Albus Dumbledore meets Grindelwald.
- Horace Slughorn and Garrick Ollivander anger a vicious unicorn.
- A tomb is disturbed and the person responsible pays a price.
- Fleamont Potter appears.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
| S I B I L A N T |
untranslatable by @sibilant takes a rough morning of trying to make breakfast with Padma and Parvati and turns it into a wonderful sisterly bonding experience. Her descriptions of each ingredient and the cooking process is done artfully and with true knowledge of the dish (pav bhaji) that creates a perfect, clear picture in the reader's mind. While not a direct sequel to her other story reorienting, this has nods to themes mentioned there while being able to act as a stand-alone piece. If you haven't read this yet, you're in for a real treat!
@copilot won Snake of the Month! Here's an interview with Em!
I N T E R V I E W
| C O P I L O T |
What is your favorite thing to do in the Slytherin Common Room?
easily the EvS tag - two of my favourite things: competition AND reviewing in one? SOLD.
What makes you proud to be a Slytherin?
on a personal level, my determination. i wouldn't be here without it, and that's putting it lightly. on a site level, the sort of found family/community aspect - everyone's so lovely, even when i end up pulling a three month disappearing act and feel like i don't belong
What are some of your favorite tropes to write and/or read?
if i could scream enemies to lovers from the rooftops, i would. (kidding, i actually am) i love tropes so much, it's actually a problem for me. i tend to go through tv tropes when i make characters and pick up a few that would make for sources of contention to further drive a plot and it's just CHEF'S KISS good
How long do you typically spend on a single chapter?
anywhere from a week to four months? sit-down writing is more or less a few hours, because with The Midas Touch i have literally got the entire plot just sitting there, mapped out into chapters (a whopping fifty five of them), but it's the writing it bit i have problems with. hopefully that'll change with the snake partners this quarter - kris and i are both competitive (as EvS can prove) and despite only rat racing once, chapter 6 is going fairly well!
Who is your favorite HP character? Why?
is it a cop out to say harry? i feel like it is, but i also feel like people never really say he's their favourite. i started reading the books when i was thirteen, and my mum's hair was falling out because of chemo and i can easily say that alongside sansa stark and feyre archeron, harry is at least slightly responsible for shaping me into the determined sasspot i am today. he was probably the first character i encountered that really went through substantial trauma, and that definitely helped me cope with life in general.
Welcome to the September Monthly Dilemma! Each month, we will ask a question! You have until the fifteenth of the following month (in this case, October 15th) to answer the question to be entered into a raffle for a free review.
Last month's winner was: @just.a.willow.tree! Please contact a prefect to tell us where you'd like your review!
This Month's Dilemma: What are some of your favorite ways to spread kindness?
graphics - deni
compilation, sotm review column, oom story advert - rumpels
ravenclaw cotm advertisement - madi
monthly dilemma drawing and question - tasha
couriers and interviewers - sarah, tasha, madi, deni, rumpels
reviewers - joey