How long have you been writing, and what made you decide to start writing fan fiction?
I've been writing nearly every day since about March 2004, when I started writing my first fan fiction story. Before that, in the summer of 2003, I worked on a joint project with a doll group, and by the end of it another woman and I had monopolized the work. I discovered that I could write, and that people actually would want to read it. Truthfully, I've been trying off and on since I was 10 to get the courage to write. Lots of creative writing was thrown away, or even shredded.
I started on fan fiction via an Alan Rickman obsession. I read a little bit of it through an AR fan group, and I can't remember what spurred me on to actually start something of my own.
What is the writing process like for you? Do you find any part of writing difficult? (Coming up with ideas, narrative, dialog, etc.)
It is a series of highs and lows. I can write for hours and it flows, but there are times when I'm feeling low and I'll get very little out. Writing is difficult for me when I start to doubt myself.
Coming up with ideas is not a problem, and I've learned to trust that when I get to a section of story, the words and ideas that I need to tell it at that point will come to me. I've also learned to set things aside and work on a different portion of the chapter. I have faith that a section that I'm stumped on will work itself out, and it usually does. It was a nice thing to learn.
If anything is hard for me, it is judging the quality of my own writing. I labor over my prose, particularly in narrative. Also, character motivation is something I spend a lot of time with. How should they behave based upon what has come so far, and where I need them to end up. Dialog is easy, humor is easy once it starts to flow, plotting is easy. Angst and romance are harder for me, partly because I'm so worried about writing sap.
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration? Do other people ever suggest the ideas for your stories?
I get some of my ideas from other stories. This was true of Unbroken, which was inspired by a work by Anne Rice, although it bears no resemblance. I'm not sure where the rest came from. The Phoenix character in Lydia's Love Potion has been with me for over a decade. The ideas of immortality and healing by touch have also been a preoccupation of mine for at least that long.
Which story are you the most happy with how it turned out? Looking back is there anything you'd want to change about any particular story now? I suppose I am happiest with Outnumbered!, because it is complete, and short enough to have been polished to a level I can accept. Of the longer works, definitely Lydia's Love Potion. Each work improves upon the previous ones, and I suppose when I go back to Unbroken, the later portions will please me more than even LLP does now.
Unbroken needs to be edited! It is long and rambly, and even though the readers and I love the side-trips and extra characters, they bog the story down.
Which story was the most difficult to write and why? Unbroken has been the most difficult so far. I put Snape into a life-altering situation, one that would possibly alter his core personality. I've had to make him true to canon, but only as far as a character like Snape would react to this odd situation after going through a traumatic experience. In nearly every chapter there was a scene for which I had to get into his head and think, 'Okay, what is he going to be like today? How should he feel? What is he thinking?'
What draws you to a particular fandom, character or couple? Is there anything in particular, or any common threads, that explain your interest?
I know I don't care for canon characters with each other, except in the relationships as the author has portrayed them. I don't like slash so much because I figure if the author wanted them to be homosexual, she would have written them that way.
At the same time, stories that are very well written will please me no matter what the authors do with the characters. There are Snape/OFC (my 'ship) stories that make me cringe. There are Snupin stories I love, and even some Snarry.
I like complex, original plots, original touches that the fanficcer adds to the canon universe, intelligent humor, haunting moods.
Do you have any favorite authors (original and/or fan fiction)?
I am not that well read compared to a lot of fanficcers out there. I see people quoting things and think 'I should have read that.' Or if I did read it, I've forgotten all about it. Or worse, 'I've never even heard of that.' I actually have that reaction a lot.
Still, I like Steinbeck for the way he takes the ordinary world, and ordinary people, and turns them into something greater than everyday. I like any author that has a lyrical style, or the ability to evoke a haunting mood. Martin Cruz Smith, Ray Bradbury. Some of Anne Rice's erotic fiction has a lush sensuality that I would love to be able to emulate.
Favorite fan fiction authors...Arachne's Child has some brilliant stuff, Vocalion. I don't read much any more.
Are there any special things you do for inspiration? (Read certain books or fics, listen to certain music?)
I never feel the need for inspiration. I do get inspired by talks with other authors, or reading things, but when I need something for my stories, I go inside myself.
I get inspired not so much to write, but to write better. The authors mentioned above, particularly Bradbury and Smith, inspire me to write better prose. Poets often inspire me as much as fiction writers. I love writing that is like poetry with grammar and punctuation. If, when all is said and done, I can say that I wrote very good, lyrical prose, I'll be content. Long way away at this point...
What's the one topic you'd really like to tackle in fan fiction?
I would like to write a least one piece that has a truly a canon Snape. Outnumbered! is the closest I've come, but there are premises in that one which make me cringe a little. My Snape would be ugly, evil, and unrepentant.
Do you have any advice for people thinking about writing their first fan fiction?
Read it first. There are a lot of clichés out there, particularly in plots. Some of this can't be avoided – there are only so many ways you can get an adult Hermione back at Hogwarts. Still, if you know what to avoid, you are more likely to create something fresh that won't have you cringing every time you think about it after it is finished.
Look up the definition of Mary Sue, and learn it by heart.
Was it harder to read fan fiction after you started writing it?
Absolutely. I am much pickier now about both the writing style and the way characters are portrayed. Mostly though, I find that other authors' characters, as well as their adaptations of canon characters, get into my head and refuse to be evicted. I live my characters and stories, and when someone's work spawns a plot bunny, my current work suffers. I have enough trouble sorting out my own various plots and characters.
What do you do with snippets of story or scenes that you write, but that don't make it into the fan fiction? Do you save them? Delete them?
I keep them in my head. I write very little that is not used. There are portions of the original draft of Lydia's Love Potion that will probably never get used. There is one scene that might end up in an erotic fiction, but I don't need to see the original. When the right time comes, I'll rewrite it from memory.
Would you describe your ideal writing surroundings (food, weather, music, etc.)?
Denny's. No kids, no interruptions, no distractions, comfy seat, my Uniball Signo 207 gel pens, and a spiral-bound notebook. Waitresses to bring drinks. I've had my most productive writing sessions at Denny's. JKR has it right about coffee shops.
I don't get to Denny's more than once a week, at most, but I've been to the local one often enough in the past six months or so for the waitresses to know me. My husband goes in to read and drink coffee, and chat with people at the counter. One day I knew he was up there, and decided to surprise him by showing up with the kids. The waitresses were stunned, walking around telling each other, "You won't believe it! The coke lady is married to the coffee guy!"
What do you look for when you read a fan fiction story?
Snape and more Snape, and absolutely in character. Plausibility, first and foremost. By this, I mean plausibility for the canon characters to behave as the fanficcer portrays them. Plots can get more far-fetched. Originality. Mood. Humor is good. Beautiful prose is nice, but I don't see it often in fan fiction; I'm thrilled enough to find intelligent, mature writing. And I just love it when a fanficcer creates original stuff to add to the canon universe, as well as having well-developed OC's with rich back stories.
Do you usually write in a linear fashion or do you write scenes out of order? Does one method work best for you?
I started with out-of-order writing, which is one reason why Unbroken is languishing. With Lydia's Love Potion, I told myself I would write it from beginning to end, and pretty much have. I'm finding that out-of-order writing is a waste of time, because the characters often evolve in different directions than I'd planned, and the later stuff ends up having to be scrapped or altered.
What was your first fan fiction story? What was it like to post your first story?
Lydia's Love Potion was actually my first, with a quite different plot, but I abandoned it. Unbroken was the first I ever published, and that first chapter was scary. I made the faux pas of putting a note at the end: 'please review and I'll continue if there is interest.' I had no idea if my work was worth reading or not. Those first reviews were a thrill.
Reviews are still a thrill...
How do you choose a title for your stories?
Um...dunno. I do know that sometimes the title comes first, or very early in the creative process, and serves as the inspiration for the work. This was true of Unbroken and Lydia's Love Potion, and Why He Hates Muggles, as well. Outnumbered! did not have its final title until after it was published, and I asked the readers for help.
How has your writing evolved since you first began? Has it become easier with experience or more challenging?
My writing has evolved, and it has become both easier and harder. The writing process is what has improved. I'm much more efficient in how I approach the work. All that outlining, plotting, and character development stuff is much easier because I've done enough of it to know how. However, it is harder to be satisfied with my work, because I've learned so much about writing. I know where the problems are, and expect more of myself. Just looking at what I wrote a year ago, I'm shocked. I published that?!?!?!
How much research do you do before writing a story? How do you decide what to use and what to make up?
Er...research? What for? This is fan fiction. If I need to remember how to spell something, I look it up at the Lexicon. I don't even look at the books.
I research things for my OFC as I need them. A trip through Google. My OFC in Lydia's Love Potion needs a little, and I'll do just enough so that I don't completely rewrite history, and so that it is plausible.
Well...there is a section of Unbroken that is going to take a fairly large amount of historical research. *shudder* Research has been my nemesis throughout all of my academic and professional endeavors.
What do you think are your writing strengths—plot, characterization, dialogue, action, etc.?
I suppose you should ask my readers, or my betas, for the least biased answer. I believe that I'm pretty good with plot, and probably best at creating characters. I've found that I can write humor. I don't worry too much about my dialogue, which I suppose means it's ok. Action...I tend to neglect that. I struggle with setting the scene, and narrative. They both take work.
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