- How did you get involved with writing fan fiction?
I stumbled upon fan fiction when I did a Google search for Ron/Hermione and The Quidditch Pitch was the first website on the page. Curious, I clicked the link and was enthralled that all of these wonderful stories existed! I was amazed at the creativity of the pairings and the various descriptions and summaries of the fic. I remember spending the next day and a half reading and saving as many stories as possible to my hard drive for a long plane ride I was about to take. I was hooked pretty much from the moment I clicked onto TQP’s homepage.
During my trip, a couple story ideas came to mind and I began to jot them down in the notebook I always keep with me. For a couple of the stories, I had a pretty good idea of what I would want to see, so I wrote out an outline for each other them. I decided to challenge myself to write my preliminary thoughts into an opening chapter, as a way of psychologically and emotionally working through some personal experiences- this eventually became Wake Me. On a whim, I wanted to see if it would be accepted. It was and the rest is history.
- Who is your favorite Harry Potter character and why?
Ron Weasley, hands down, though Hermione Granger comes in a close second. I adore Ron for so many reasons, but the biggest one is his immense courage. He is honest and genuine and very funny. He is brilliant, but he doesn’t see it. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he loves fiercely and deeply. He is protective and passionate. Ron is the heart and soul of the Trio- neither of the other two would survive without him.
- What was the most shocking moment of the HP series?
For me, it was when Sirius Black fell through the Veil. Honestly, I didn’t expect that. I had been prepared for something to happen, but that definitely wasn’t it. I was so shocked and very saddened by the hole he left.
- If you could ask JKR one thing what would it be?
I would love to ask her: did Hermione really snog Krum?
Maybe I’m just channelling Ron a bit, but I’ve always been extremely curious about that. Was it a simple kiss that Ginny exaggerated and used as a weapon when she was angry? Or did Hermione really snog Krum and only share that information with Ginny? I’m sure there are better things to ask her, but this would be it for me!
- Who are some of your favorite fandom writers
Gosh, that’s such a hard question to answer. Actually, it’s an easy question, I’m only worried to forget to list some. The first fan fiction I read was BelovedRanger’s Clean Sweep series. It is one of my favourites to this day. I also really enjoy just about anything by Solstice (especially Within These Walls and Without Walls) and Emmilyne (especially Of Hearts and Heroes, which I really hope she finishes). I think the person in fandom with the best word craft is Thevina. I can’t possibly list all of my favourites, otherwise this response would be several pages long. Suffice it to say there are some very, very talented writers in this fandom and we are lucky to have all of them share their creativity with us.
- What is the defining moment in the characterization of your favorite character?
In my opinion, it was The Silver Doe chapter in Deathly Hallows. Specifically when Ron saves Harry and then destroys the Horcrux. I think the scene when Harry and Hermione come out of the locket and Ron has to face his worst fears was the moment. He has to examine his heart and fight against his insecurity and doubt, but he comes through with flying colours. This is the essence of who Ron Weasley is: he faces adversity with humility, bravery, and a pure heart, and he comes through a victor.
- What advice would you give to first time writers?
Write for yourself and write often. If you write for other people, you’ll quickly realise that you can’t please everyone. If you write for yourself, you will hopefully be happy with the results. I also think it’s really important to put a bit of yourself into your stories.
Additionally, I think it’s good for new writers to keep in mind that this is a skill and something that needs to be worked at. Most writers have a natural talent or some inherent gift for weaving a story together, but most also work very hard to hone their craft and to become more effective story-tellers. In the beginning stages of writing, it’s important to not become discouraged or to not let negative self-talk get in your way, because with practice and guidance their stories will become stronger. Personally, I think the most important element which pushed my writing was the guidance I received from my first beta, who gently corrected my mistakes and increasingly expected more from me. Her approach of slowly having me take more and more responsibility for the polishing of my fics boosted me to look with a more critical eye at my own writings. Learn from your beta- that’s what they’re there for!
- Which is your favorite Harry Potter book?
It’s difficult for me to single out one book from the seven, but if I had to choose a favourite, it would be Order of the Phoenix. It’s really hard for me to pinpoint exactly why, but this book was a turning point for me. I felt the caliber of the writing was the strongest, the plot was very intricate, and it was the book where I was the most surprised. In the other books I’ve been able to predict and guess some of the elements, but Order of the Phoenix swept me off my feet. I think it’s the book where my obsession with the Harry Potter series when from “fan” to “fanatic” status.
- Tell us something interesting about where you are from.
Los Angeles, California is the home of so much interesting cultural, entertainment, and economic history. The part of Los Angeles that I’m from is called the South Bay, which is basically the southern coastal region of the city, including the Long Beach port. There are tons of really neat things in the area, but here’s a couple that are very close to the part of the South Bay that I grew up in:
The world’s only surviving wooden lighthouse in the world is at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro, CA. It is a Victorian style lighthouse and it is simply beautiful, overlooking the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. For more information, you can see a picture and a short description here: http://www.sanpedrochamber.com/champint/ptfmlths.htm.
The South Bay is home to the official landmark to welcome visitors to Los Angeles: the Vincent Thomas Bridge, also know as “San Pedro’s Golden Gate”. It connects the San Pedro and Long Beach ports (the parts of Los Angeles port), which is the 4th busiest port in the United States. For more information, you can see a picture and a short description here: http://www.sanpedrochamber.com/champint/vtbrdg.htm
- What character is the easiest for you to write? Which character is nearly impossible?
Hermione is very easy for me to write. I find that almost anything from her POV flows out of me quickly and I have very little characterization problems with her. I feel very similarly with Ron, though I definitely have to work harder on his characterization than hers. However, I find it basically impossible to write Luna, which is a real shame, because I love her character. I can’t seem to get into the same head space that she occupies. It unfortunate, because I’ve wanted to have her in a couple of my fics, but it just wasn’t going to happen.
- What would be the thing you’d miss most?
If we’re talking people, definitely any of my friends or family- I couldn’t live without them. But, since you asked about what “thing”, I would have to say music. A world without music would make me miserable. Unless I’m in with a patient, there is always music playing. There is music in my soul and it runs through my blood. No kidding, my great-great grandfather was the founder of the Gregorian Institute of America and I’ve inherited some of his music. It’s always been a part of my life and I can’t imagine my life without it.
- Give us five ways you’d use the Imperius Curse.
- I would make Ron Weasley pledge his undying love for me. Hehe.
- Have somebody at the California Lottery rig the machine to pull my numbers for a jackpot.
- Have my bank mark “paid in full” for my extensive student loans- becoming a doctor is expensive!
- Force my roommate/best friend to do all of the cooking and washing dishes, do my laundry, do all of the household cleaning, etc… of course, he actually does quite a bit of that willingly, without my even asking, so I suppose that would be a waste of using the curse.
- I’d use it on various fan fiction authors, to make them finish their abandoned fics. I refuse to point fingers or name names, but there are some fics that I’m dying to know how they end- what better way to get what I want and benefit all of fandom too?
- Fred and George have given you a Daydream Charm. Which four characters would star in your daydream and where would it take place?
I would pick Ron (I know, what a shock), Hermione, Ginny, and Harry at Disneyland. Why? Simple. Can you imagine how funny it would be to see Ron and Ginny being a bit confused, but amazed at all of the attractions? Hermione would probably be trying to tell them all of the history of the park and the surrounding area, when things were built, etc., because she thoroughly researched it before they went. Harry would be trying to keep the peace and trying to make sure everyone had fun. I’m a people watcher and that would certainly be a group of people I couldn’t keep my eyes off of… you know, if I wasn’t constantly trying to convince Ron to wander off with me alone.
- What is your favorite food and would which famous person (non-HP) would you most like to share it with?
I absolutely cannot choose between them, but my two favourite foods are capellini é pomodoro é basilico (angel hair pasta with tomato and basil) and Koobideh (ground beef kabob). Not together, obviously. I’m about half-Italian and about half-Persian-Jewish, so that’s pretty influential in what I eat. If we’re suspending disbelief that I’m eating with a famous person, why not also suspend time barriers? I’d love to sit down with Jane Austen and just listen to her talk. She was talented and intelligent and so ahead of her time. I think it would be fascinating to hear her opinions on various topics.
- What inspires you to write?
The inspiration for the majority of my fics comes both from my real life and from my professional experiences. I tend to see my writing as a personal catharsis, and as a way to work through emotional trauma. As I said above, Wake Me began as a way for me to continue some important processing I had personally done many, many years ago. Additionally, I work with a lot of rape survivors in the course of my professional practice, and this is a way to help me process and then flush the negative out of my system. Furthermore, I get inspired by my patients, who often have the most amazing things to say. While I, of course, NEVER use their words or situations, their emotions will stick with me and I can get entrenched in their feelings. I think a lot of that comes out in If a Man Answers, because heartache is something I unfortunately get to hear a lot about while treating my patients.
I think beyond my personal and professional experiences that drive the stories, a huge amount of my inspiration comes from some of the reviews I’ve received. I’ve had people review and personally email me to say thank you for writing both Wake Me and If a Man Answers. Many of the people who have emailed me have spoken about their various experiences with similar situations and how healing it has been for them to read it through someone else’s eyes. This is such an awesome experience, and I cherish each and everyone message I’ve received. I feel so privileged, thankful, and grateful to be allowed to help aid in a healing process for people I don’t even know and that inspires me beyond words.
- What type of environment do you like to write in?
I have two preferred environments that are basically opposite of each other. Most often my preferred environment is a café with lots of people going about their lives. If I have my choice, I will sit outside and watch as people come and go from the café. When I write at a café or outside in general, I always have my iPod, with a specific mix of music, playing loudly in my ears. It took me a while to create a list that always motivates me and that I would never have to skip a song, but now I’m quite attached to it. I also really enjoy writing in complete solitude, with my music list playing very lightly in the background.
It’s funny, but in this age of computers, I still write nearly everything by hand and then transcribe it over to my laptop. I do most of my pre-beta editing by hand before the words ever reach a computer screen. There is something about having a pen in my hand and having contact with the paper that helps my creativity to flow. I will write directly on my laptop in some instances, but that rarely happens with any of my heavy angst fics. Since I typically write in my notebook though, any environment can become an opportunity for me to write if an idea strikes me.
- Who are your favorite real life authors?
Absolute favourite is Jane Austen. I read Pride and Prejudice when I was about 10 or 11 and I fell in love with it. With each successive book I read of hers, I found myself enthralled by her wisdom, her genuineness, and her courage to write about such things in the time period she lived in. I’ve always wondered if she was able to talk to anybody about her thoughts. She had a strong relationship with her father and her sister, but she seemed miles ahead of them. I imagine she must have been lonely. Yet, to have such an understanding of human nature and relationships was a clear gift and she found a way to share it with the world. I admire her immensely. Other favourites include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, J.K. Rowling, Bernard Shaw, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. I typically read a lot of older classics and some fantasy, but really I’ll pick up almost anything that someone hands me or recommends to me. I had so many years of reading only psychology and biology textbooks that now I’m just happy when I have the opportunity to read anything outside that realm.
- What do you do for fun outside of fandom?
I think I’m pretty typical in my interests: I love to read, hang out with friends and/or family, talk on the phone, go to movies, go to the theatre (especially musicals), play my piano, chat with friends online, go out to eat, go dancing, explore Los Angeles, write poetry, browse through bookstores, take a dip in my swimming pool, etc. I love to travel, but it’s difficult to do that with my job, because I have to make arrangements for my patients each time, so it becomes a big hassle.
- This is a standard question: Why does Simons_flower keep killing Ron? Is it to torture Annie?
It very well might be. Of course, I nearly rip Ron’s heart out of his chest in both If a Man Answers and Wake Me and he’s my favourite character! Perhaps it’s just her way of showing love? ::Risie comforts Annie::
- What have you gained from Fandom?
I’ve gained a lot from being in fandom, most notably the friends I’ve met and come to love. I love being a part of the fandom community, which has a pretty big presence on LiveJournal, and being able to share my love of these characters and this world. I’ve also become a much stronger writer through my involvement in fandom. I’ve had to sharpen my grasp of language and story-telling, but having direct contact with readers has made an incredible difference for me.