How did you discover fan fiction and what made you decide to start writing it?
I discovered Harry Potter fanfiction four years ago when I stumbled across Barb Purdom's novel-length Book 5, Harry Potter and the Psychic Serpent. I really enjoyed it, and went on to read her others too, and then realised there were hundreds, even thousands, of stories out there.
Up until then, I hadn't been aware of it except as a very uncommon practice that odd people did...the first fanfic I ever read was a Keanu Reeves one, on a long-defunct website. (I know, because I've been back to check!) It was the usual fantasy-fulfilment stuff and reminded me of the stories my friend and I used to make up when we were pre-teens.
A friend was writing a Snapefic herself, and challenged me to have a go...I started off with a single image of the man standing in Diagon Alley, which became my opening line of Snape In Love. The opening paragraph became a chapter, then ten, and it just snowballed beyond anything I'd ever imagined I could do.
Do you have any writing experience outside of fan fiction?
Yes, I've a partially completed original novel. Until I started writing fanfic, I hadn't written anything creatively since school.
What is the writing process like for you? Do you find any part of writing difficult? (Coming up with ideas, narrative, dialog, etc.)
The most difficult part is coming up with an idea. Narrative and dialogue are easy if I know what the basic plot is, and I can extrapolate from the germ of an idea quite well. It's that original idea that always eludes me.
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?
Chasing Darkness Away, without a doubt. I knew exactly how the narrative would move on from its predecessor, and I found that the words just flowed. It contains my best writing and is emotionally rich, for me. Getting inside (my) Snape's head was fascinating.
Which story was the most difficult to write and why?
Casting Shadows was a real struggle, because I had got out of the habit and because I addressed issues very personal to me in it.
Do you find any particular genre (angst, romance, humor, etc.) more difficult to write? Do you prefer to write any particular genre?
I prefer angst and romance. I like to explore my characters' psyches and put them in searingly difficult situations. Humour is a very difficult genre to write, and I steer clear, unless it's in a short story. I prefer to insert wry humour into my angst fics when appropriate, instead!
Almost every writer at some point or another suffers from writer's block. Have you ever had that problem and if so, how do you get past it?
Yes, I've had it for the past year, partly because I finished Chasing Darkness Away and partly for personal reasons. Writing Casting Shadows was an attempt to drag myself beyond it, but I couldn't.
Do you find love scenes more difficult to write than other types of scenes?
Not love scenes, no. I am a very emotional writer so the love scenes are written from the emotional point of view, not the physical. I would find a sex scene very difficult to write, I think. There has to be a strong connection between the two protagonists for me to be able to write sex, which is why I don't write one shot PWPs.
Have you ever been flamed or received negative feedback regarding your stories? How do you handle it?
Only once, believe it or not, and I handled it badly. I've learned now that everyone can't be on the same wavelength.
Would you describe your ideal writing surroundings (food, weather, music, etc.)?
Silence, indoors, on the sofa with my laptop, alone, raining outside. Lovely!
What is the hardest part about writing a story? The easiest? The most satisfying?
The initial inspiration, or idea.
Seeing it all become cohesive, with themes and foreshadowing and cliffhangers in all the right places.
Is writing sexual tension different from writing smut?
I would say yes, definitely. Smut requires no backstory, although it can have it, whereas sexual tension suggests a relationship and some sort of emotion.
What do you think makes a really good love scene? Are there specific things that you try to include or avoid? Are love scenes difficult to write?
Deep, seating emotion makes a good love scene, for me. Yearning, relief, being overwhelmed. A connection like that between the two protagonists makes it far easier to write, too.
I don't like dry, clinical descriptions of the act. Insert Tab A into Slot B, that sort of thing. Also marathon sessions that go on and on with no respite. I have a real problem with language too. I can read whatever, as long as it's not too clinical, but when writing I find explicit words difficult to use. I tend towards euphemisms, I'm afraid! Nothing too ridiculous, though; you wouldn't catch me describing a pulsating purple mushroom-headed love truncheon, or anything like that. Or making any reference to dripping slits, for that matter. Eww.
Do you usually write in a linear fashion or do you write scenes out of order? Does one method work best for you?
Linear. Got to be. I always go back and add scenes to parts I've already written, but the story as a whole is always unfolding in a linear fashion. I can't write a scene that will appear in Chapter 33 when I'm only up to Chapter 19.
Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite? Why?
My absolute favourite is Snape. Well, duh!
I think he's fascinating, and the one I have written has been extrapolated a fair way from canon, but believably (to me) and rifling through his thought processes was completely absorbing for me.
I don't much care for writing about Harry, Ron and Hermione. I wrote Hermione's Diary just to see if I could write from a completely different POV, as a relief from the intensity of Chasing Darkness Away, but wasn't entirely satisfied with the result, and I've got no interest in writing the others at all, unless it's for a drabble.
How did you go about creating an original character? What are your thoughts on original characters in fan fiction?
I would prefer to read about a well-written OFC than a canon character shoehorned into a relationship with a canon character. As a SS/OFC shipper, I am bound to say that!
In general, I think that OCs can bring a lot to a fan fic, if used in moderation. The prime focus should always be on the canon character. I introduced several OCs in my stories and I like to think they fit into JKR's world quite well (i.e. no transfer students or half-elves, please!). My main OC has always been my heroine, Ella. I've introduced a brother for Snape and two children, and a couple of very minor characters for various reasons (often comic relief). Caius, Snape's brother, needed to be a foil to Snape, a very different character who can help explain Snape's upbringing and why he turned out the way he did. Writing him wasn't that hard; I just created a polar opposite!
Ella developed as I wrote her. When SIL started she was very much a cipher; I was feeling my way, and wanted her, as an OFC, to be a means for the reader to insert herself into the story. We all like to fantasise! As the story developed far beyond anything I had expected, she changed and became as complex and as damaged as Snape, in keeping with her pretty painful backstory. By the time I came to write Casting Shadows I was drawing quite heavily on my own neuroses (author insertion, anyone?) and I portrayed her as emotionally very conflicted and insecure. I hope that made her even more convincing as a character.
How do you choose a title for your stories?
The process has evolved. Snape In Love does what it says on the box, and that's about all that can be said for it as a title! I know think of that story as 'Redemption', which is far better and more accurate.
Chasing Darkness Away was a different way of describing the same thing, really.
Casting Shadows is a title I am particularly pleased with because it has multiple meanings. Shadows are cast on what is, on the surface, a happy marriage, and Persephone begins to dabble in dark magic, casting dark spells. It's a story of adolescence and the battle between good and evil, too.
Which story was the most fun to write and why?
Chasing Darkness Away, without a doubt. I knew exactly where I was going with it, and I loved getting inside Snape's head. As for the process itself, I was very happy with it and the prose flowed. It almost wrote itself.
How much research do you do before writing a story? How do you decide what to use and what to make up?
I don't research very much. I just wing it!
What do you think are your writing strengths—plot, characterization, dialogue, action, etc.?
I like to think I write character fairly well. I like my interpretation of Snape, because I explain him to my own satisfaction. As for my original characters, their motivations are usually clear too.
I like writing dialogue, and I like to think it reads well. I hear it in my head as I am writing it, as if I'm watching a play, so I think that helps.
What is the writing process like for you? Do you revise as you write, or do you prefer to get a first draft down first, and then revise?
I am usually doing up to three things at a time when I write; writing, i.e. advancing the plot, going back and adding scenes if necessary to make the plot advancement more cohesive, and editing earlier chapters over and over until I am satisfied with them.
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