Hello and welcome to the Immeritus Fandom Blacklight! This feature puts the Blacklight on the giants of the Harry Potter fandom. These
are the people who have written the best fanfics, created superior fanart
and composed the finest fanpoetry—and we're finding out more about
what makes them tick. In our interviews, we ask for their views on the Harry
Potter books and the fandom and learn what inspires their creativity. We're
interested in their methods of working and their favourite characters. And
then, we ask a few more questions! So onto our first interview...
We're thrilled to be able to announce that our interviewee
is none other than Maeglin Yedi!! (And yes, Moon was squeeing like
the fangirl she is!) For those of you unfamiliar with Maeglin, she is a 32
year-old prolific fanfic author from the Netherlands. She has 54 Harry Potter
stories archived on her website and more work on her livejournal. Her stories
are distinguished by strong narratives and excellent characterisations that
range from drabbles to novel length work.
I: Which (real-life)
authors and/or artists do you most admire?
MY: I love Stephen King.
I've been reading his work for many years now, and I love how he manages
to focus on the characters in a story even when the settings are often
supernatural. My favorite of his work is without a doubt The Stand. Besides
King, I also love a lot of Dutch authors who I've been reading ever since
I was a kid: Thea Beckman, Jan Terlouw, Guus Kuijers. Those names probably
won't ring a bell for most of you, but trust me when I say they're all
I: Have they inspired your own style in any way?
MY: Stephen King has certainly
helped me with learning that it's always about the characters, no matter what
plot they're in. And I also found King's 'On Writing' very useful and interesting.
It's a must-read for any 'aspiring writer', I think.
I: What advice would
you give to novices wanting to start writing/drawing?
focusing on fanfiction, I'd say: read. And then read some more. See for yourself
what's already been done, and how it's been done. See how others build a plot,
write dialog, or interpret canon. And listen to advice, whether it comes from
your own beta reader or random reviews of your work. Never think you're beyond
learning and improving.
I: Why did you read your
first Harry Potter book?
MY: This was back in 2000, when only
the first three books had been published yet. I was on a short holiday, and
in a local bookshop (I always like to buy a few new books when on holiday)
I noticed the HP books (in the children's section. I do like to read children's
books). I'd heard a bit about them, skimmed through them, and decided to give
them a try, thinking that if I didn't like them I could always give them to
my nephew. I started reading PS, finished it in one night, loved it, and did
the same with CoS and PoA. And then I had to wait several months for GoF to
be published. Oh, the frustration. I've been a fan ever since.
I: Which is your favourite HP book and
MY: Oh boy, this is such a hard question.
I really loved PoA when I read it the first time; the whole Shrieking Shack
scene is just brilliant, how the whole plot comes together like that. And of
course, this book introduced Remus and Sirius. I've loved those two from the
start, even before I ever discovered the joys of fanfiction. I also love GoF
(again, great plot!), because Voldemort returns in it. And I really liked seeing
so much of Voldemort's life in HBP. So there you have it: PoA, GoF and HBP.
I: What do you like most about the Harry
MY: The whole magical world
JKR has created, along with its many characters. JKR has an amazing imagination,
evident in all those wonderful details in her books; the names, the spells,
the subjects at school, the magical laws, etc, etc. That drew me in from
the first book on.
I: What do you like the least?
MY: Jo's addiction to adverbs. Besides that, I do sometimes
raise my eyebrows when I see how dubious things are completely ignored in the
books. For example: in HBP we're introduced to Love Potions. We see how Ron
is affected by it, how the twins eagerly sell it, but we never see anyone punished
for it. When I was reading HBP the first time, the mention of those kinds of
love potions raised my hackles, because to me they sound a lot like rape drugs.
So, yeah, I do sometimes get irritated a bit on how JKR seems to completely
ignore issues like that.
I: Who's your favourite canon character
to read about and why?
MY: I love so many
canon characters, but if I have to pick one, I'd have to say Harry. The books
are about him, after all. Besides, I love seeing him grow up in the books.
I love him as a clueless teenager. His attempts with Cho in OotP were just
hilarious. And I love that he has a darker side: he isn't always a nice kid.
He [messes] up. He gets angry for no reason. I just adore him.
I: What would you
most like to see in the final book?
MY: Sirius returning, of course!
I was so upset that he died in OotP. Ever since, I've been mostly in denial
about it, but yeah, that's my biggest wish for book 7: having Sirius return
in some way. I do miss him in canon.
I: What would you
say to someone who referred to the HP books as childrens' books?
say they obviously haven't read the books. I think the first 2 books can be
called 'childrens' books', but PoA already gets darker, with very adult themes,
and GoF even more so, with the way Cedric is killed. It's a mature series,
which can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
I: How do you view the gender divide in
the HP series? Do you find the female characters as engaging, well-rounded
and strong as the male characters? If not, why not?
MY: I'm sad to say that no, I don't find the female characters as
engaging. I like Hermione in the books (and she's certainly well-developed
as a character in canon), but she just doesn't interest me in fanfiction. When
I look at canon, all the really interesting, well-rounded characters are male:
Harry, Sirius, Remus, Snape, Draco, Voldemort, and Dumbledore. I do like McGonagall,
Luna, Tonks and after HBP, Fleur, but we just don't see much of them. A pity,
because if they were given more time in the books I'm sure they'd be just as
interesting as all those guys.
I: When did you first discover
the HP fandom and fanfics/fanart?
MY: September 2002.
I'd discovered fanfiction about six months prior, when searching for Buffy
the Vampire Slayer episode guides on the net, and I was hooked from the start.
I read Buffy and LotR fanfiction for about six months, and then decided to
give HP fanfiction a go, since I was already a fan of the books. I've been
in the HP fandom ever since.
I: How would you say your work has improved
since you first started out in the fandom and how instrumental has feedback
been to that?
MY: My work has improved
in every possible way. I'm not a native English speaker, so writing in English
was quite a challenge at first. I've improved my English spelling, grammar,
punctuation and my vocabulary. But I've also learned about writing in general:
things one should avoid, how to build a proper plot, etc. And feedback has
helped in that, certainly (one of the first reviews I ever got mentioned I
should get a beta reader � truer words were never spoken), but also my trusted
beta readers, who've helped me improve my knowledge of the English language.
I: Are there any topics which you think
are taboo or out of bounds for the HP fandom? Are there any subjects that you
personally would not address in your fanwork? Would you censor your work depending
on who you thought your audience would be?
MY: I'm a firm believer of the fantasy vs reality theory. I write fiction—fantasy—and the characters I write about aren't real people, and thus nothing
is taboo, because it's simply not real. There are subjects I don't think I'll
ever write, such as Mpreg or cross-dressing, not because I think they are wrong,
but because they just don't interest me much. And I'd never censor my own work:
I put up clear warnings, so readers know what to expect. That's enough for
I: What genres have you worked in? Are
there any genres you would avoid and if so, why?
MY: If you mean by genres 'angst, drama, humor', things like that, then
I've written just about everything. My fics range from romantic humor to dark
non-con. I love all genres, and I write whatever strikes my mood, really. If
by genres you mean 'slash, het or gen', then I mostly write slash and occasionally
gen. I have written het, but since most female characters in the HP fandom
don't interest me much, I just don't get a lot of ideas for it. I've never
written femslash in the HP fandom. Not because I don't like femslash (because
I do), but because I just don't see the same dynamics between the female characters
as I do between the male characters.
I: Have you noticed a bias towards male
slash in the HP fandom? If so, has this affected the kind of work you've produced
(e.g. by making you less likely to write about/draw het or femmeslash)? What
are your thoughts on the reasons for a mainly female fandom writing/depicting
a lot of male slash?
MY: It all depends
on which corner of the fandom you hang out, I suppose. I'm a slasher, for
several reasons: I like the idea of slash (two or more guys getting it on
is hot), and I like a lot of male characters and the dynamics between them.
But the HP fandom is large, and there is also a huge het following (think
Snape/Hermione, Harry/Hermione, Ron/Hermione, etc).Both slash and het are
equally big in this fandom, I think. It has never affected my work: I write
what I like, simple as that.
As for why slash, I think the reason
is simple. Straight and bi women like men. And what's better than one man?
Right, two men. Together. For me, it's also the fantasy aspect of it. I get
het in real life. Slash (two men together) is something I'll never experience
in real life, because I'm a woman. So that makes it even more interesting to
read and write about. At least for me.
I: Do you keep your fandom life separate from your 'real' life e.g. do friends
and family know that you write/draw? Why do you think so many people keep
that divide - is fandom something people are ashamed of, in your opinion?
My family knows I'm a big HP fan and hang out with other HP fans on the net
(I've had a few fandom friends visit me and they met my parents), and my sister
(I've brought her over to the Dark Side � got her to read the HP books and
now she's a big fan as well) has read some of my gen fics and liked them. I
don't force my explicit slash on her, since it's not her cup of tea, but my
family's a liberal-minded bunch, so they have no problem with what I do.
isn't something to be ashamed of, but not every country is as liberal as mine.
I know people who got into trouble with work/family because they wrote slash,
so I can certainly understand why some people keep their fandom life separate
from their real life.
I: Who are your favourite
MY: This is such a difficult question.
There are so many authors/artists I admire in this fandom and whose work
I love. If I have to name a few, I'm going to go with people whose work I
love and who are also fandom friends: Nimori, GMTH, Amanuensis, Snapetoy,
Ella Bane, Cluegirl.
I: What do you like best about the fandom?
MY: The sense of community (we're all here
for the same thing � HP) and all the awesome people I've met in fandom; people
I now consider RL friends as well as fandom friends.
I: What prompted you to start creating
your own fanworks?
MY: I've always loved writing,
but as so many amateur writers, I never had an audience for it. So during most
of my life I wrote a bit, when the itch became unbearable and I just had to scratch,
but that was it. When I discovered fanfiction, I spent the first 4 months or
so reading, and then realized that this was a great way to write again: I'd be
dealing with subjects I loved (like HP) and I had an instant audience, which
motivated me to write even more. And I've been writing fanfiction every since.
I: What preparation do you have to do to
create your fanworks? How essential is it to muse on canon characters and storylines
before putting forward your interpretation?
MY: It all depends on the story. Some stories just came to me
ready-made and all I had to do was sit down and type. Other stories involved
a lot of planning, checking canon, etc. So I don't have one method: I do
what the story requires me to do. And I chat a lot with fandom friends, and
we often discuss canon issues and characters. Besides that, I have a big
friends-list on livejournal, and I read a lot of canon and character discussions.
All those things help me shape my interpretation of canon so that I can later
use it in stories.
I: How would you describe your approach
to writing? Do you sit down and plot out an entire story before writing, write
in stages as scenes develop, or just sit and write, for example?
MY: If it's a short story (anything under 10000 words) I don't really require plotting.
I may think about the story for an hour or two, and then start writing and
things will fall into place as I write. But when it's a longer story, I usually
do plot, at the very least the basics (where does the character start in the
story, what journey do I want him to take, and where's he going to end up).
When I have those basics sorted out I can start writing, and often when writing
a longer story, more details and plot twists will pop up as I write. But I
always start writing at the beginning of a story and work my way to the end.
I'm a linear writer, definitely.
I: Who's your favourite canon character
to write about/draw and why?
MY: Harry. He's easiest to write for me. I have no idea why, but I just don't find
it hard to write his character. Hence why Harry's one of the main characters
in so many of my stories.
I: Of all your work, which is your favourite
piece and why?
MY: Again, a difficult question! I'm going with Penance is the Play (Harry/Snape),
because for a long time I never thought I'd be able to write a long Harry/Snape
fic. Snape as a character used to intimidate the hell out of me when it came
to writing him. So just for the fact that I did write a long Snape/Harry fic
and people seemed to enjoy it, I'm going to say that's my favorite of my own
I: Every so often there's a reference
in the fandom to a couple of your earlier fics, Welcome to Slytherin and Sleeping
With The Enemy, both of which were abandoned. Do you regret starting the fics
as you still get asked about them? Would you ever consider using the same basic
plot premise for another fic?
MY: This question both amuses and frustrates me. I don't regret writing them, absolutely
not, because they played an important part in my development as a writer. I
wrote them before I'd made any real improvements, though, and for a while I
really enjoyed writing them. However, there came a point when I did improve
my writing and I looked back at those stories and saw everything that was wrong
with them. I realized at that time that I was never going to finish them, and
rather than leave two unfinished WIPs up, I decided to take the stories down.
I never dreamed people would still be talking about them three years later,
though. I still get emails from people asking for those fics.
As for using the basic plot points again... the premise of Welcome to Slytherin
was hardly original (Harry going back in time and ending up at Hogwarts with
Tom Riddle). At this point, I don't think I'll ever use that again. I have
other ideas for Harry/Tom and Harry/Voldemort stories now. As for Sleeping
with the Enemy... well, I wrote Lucius as a closet good guy in that story,
and my views on Lucius have changed since then. I do have ideas for Harry/Lucius
fics, but they won't involve that kind of Lucius, methinks.
I: Some of your most
chilling work has been in the drabble format (e.g. Death waits for no-one,
If you had known): are drabbles easy for you to write? 'To See The Human Soul
Take Wing' was a monster fic: what did you enjoy most about writing a novel-length
story? What was the most difficult aspect of writing it? Do you find it easier
to write a particular length of story?
MY: Drabbles are a great exercise in writing.
They're also bloody frustrating to write, at least for me. About 2,5 years
ago we came up with 'Drabble Nights' in our regular chat room: one person gave
a prompt (characters and/or brief summary) and then we had 15 minutes to write
a 100-200 words drabble. Like I said, that is a great exercise, because you're
forced to tell a whole story in very few words.
I don't consider myself a real drabble writer, though. My preference goes
to longer stories, where I can use all the words I want. But occasionally,
I'll still write drabbles (usually for challenges).
What I like about longer stories is that you can build up to certain points
in the plot, you can take the time to unravel things, leave hints for the reader
along the way, show character and relationship development in detail, things
like that. The most difficult thing about writing long fics is avoiding plot
holes. Sometimes you're so wrapped up in a few aspects of the plot, you won't
notice the gaping plot hole somewhere else in the story. But that's what beta
readers are for, bless them.
I: Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort features
in a lot of your work. What is it about his character that fascinates you?
How do you think the details of Tom's childhood according to the HBP fit in
with Dumbledore's mantra about 'it is our choices that show us what we truly
MY: God yes, I'm such a Voldemort fangirl. I find, like so many others, the bad
guys usually more interesting than the good guys. But I find Voldemort particularly
interesting for several reasons. One of them is his main motivation: Voldemort
wants immortality because he fears death and thinks of it as a weakness. And
that's something we can all understand, I think. Most of us aren't too keen
on dying. I also love the parallels with Harry, from their upbringing to the
cores of their wands to the similarities in their looks and the connection
through Harry's scar. Two sides of the same coin: one of them became evil and
one of them is good.
I used to have a lot of questions about Tom's childhood days and his years
at Hogwarts, and I even explored some of that in a few stories. And while I
was thrilled to see so much Tom/Voldemort in HBP, JKR did disappoint me in
some of her explanations. The way we see Tom in HBP, he never had a choice.
When we first see him, he's already as evil as an 11-year-old can be, really.
JKR only rubs this in even further by showing us the Gaunts as an inbred, insane
family. So in my views (and this is not excusing his behavior) Tom never did
have a choice. It would have been much more interesting to see a relatively
normal 11-year-old Tom at the orphanage, and then explore his choices from
that moment on... because in RL 'normal' people do evil things too, not just
those who happen to be born with a set of bad genes. So, yeah, that makes Dumbledore's
speech about choices useless, really. But I'll stop now before I turn this
into an essay.
I: What prompted
you to write 'Riddles of the Dead' (an Indiana Jones/Harry Potter crossover
fic)? How easy was it to write compared to your other fics?
of the Dead is a story I've wanted to see written ever since I joined the
HP fandom. In my mind, it was the perfect crossover, since the time-lines
match so perfectly, as does the subject matter. However, no one shared my views
on that (no one wrote it), so when I took part in a HP Crossover Fest last
year and my recipient listed Indiana Jones as one of her choices, I decided
to write my own story for this idea. And it was relatively easy to write, perhaps
because I'd been thinking about it (not in detail, but still) for such a long
time already. It just made sense in my mind: Tom leaves Hogwarts, searches
for magical artifacts and needs an experienced archaeologist to help him at
I: Finally, your work has inspired quite
a few pieces of fanart. How have you felt about that? Has anyone succeeded
in capturing the same picture that you had in mind when you write a story?
Are you able to distance yourself from your work and appreciate the fanart,
even if it's not as you pictured the scene?
MY: I love fanart, and I always feel
so flattered when someone creates some for one of my fics. And yes, I've no
problem appreciating fanart even when it often doesn't match my own, private
image of a character or scene. It's actually one of the things I love about
it: seeing how others see something I've written. I consider it a huge compliment
when an artist takes the time to share their views of my work with me and the
rest of the fandom.
So that concludes the first interview! We hope you've enjoyed reading it as
much as we did! If we piqued your interest, you can find Maeglin's website
here and her livejournal
here. Please pay attention to warnings and ratings as both contain adult content.
If you want to comment on the interview please follow this link.