Author has written 18 stories for Harry Potter.
If Snape were real., I would be ten months older than him. I'm London-Irish, of mixed English, Irish, Scots, Cornish, Burmese (Shan) and Chinese ancestry, but living in southern Scotland. Raised nominally Christian, I seriously contemplated converting to Judaism in my teens, and then had a sort a pagan revelation (at a Jewish summer school, which was embarrassing). I've been pagan now for over 30 years, but still with some Jewish leanings and with an appreciation of Christianity as a part of Britain's folk-heritage, even if I don't share its beliefs. Perennially unlucky in love - only been in love twice and they both died :(
I have a degree in Zoology and have been at various times a secretary at a major newspaper, an NHS computer programmer and the owner of a small occult shop, but I am currently paid by the state to stay home and act as assistant to my arthritic elderly mother. My interests include pet rodents (I currently have nineteen rats, one domestic mouse, one wood mouse with a dwarfism problem, one lame pigeon and one overwintering hedgehog), late Mediaeval British history, folklore, drawing, writing etc.. Have won a couple of quite prestigious awards for poetry, and am currently working on the first part of a straight SF trilogy. I am, strictly speaking, a straight SF fan, not primarily a Fantasy or media fan, although I adore Terry Pratchett. But I dote on Snape, who reminds me of several of my close friends (what can I say? I have a thing for clever, prickly, difficult friends), and the ending of The Half-Blood Prince inspired me to go back to writing fan fiction - a thing which I had not done for about 20 years, except for filks. From 2007 on until his death in 2011, I also became friends with John Nettleship, JK Rowling's Chemistry teacher who was the main model for Snape.
I was always rather drawn to dark hurt/comfort stories. I find stories in which someone suffers terribly and there's no ultimate help for them deeply upsetting - but tales of last minute rescues, of terrible things being put right, should be dramatic, touchingly revealing of character, and a way of practising for when we have to help traumatized people in our real, outer life. And Snape is the ideal subject for this sort of story, because of his precarious position vis-à-vis Voldemort.
All too often, though, h/c fanfics turn out to be badly thought out, and either unpleasantly sadistic or stickily sentimental, or both (though there are at least two absolute gems on ffn - Ashen and Sober Skies by Zhaneraal and Survivors by Dyce - which are beautifully done). They forget that it takes a long time to recover from trauma, and if you squash it at the time it will nearly always come back later. Even more importantly they forget that people who have been abused, tortured, traumatized are still themselves, have their own private agendas and react in ways which are expressive of their particular personality - which in Snape's case will include being rude, ill-tempered, uncooperative, ungrateful and generally bloody-minded. And one of the things I like about JK Rowling's writing is that she knows about "humour knowing its place as farce in tragedy" - that even the most angst-ridden situation may also be full of wit.
In the early 1990s I myself had a boyfriend who had been abused quite severely as a kid. He wanted me to know what had happened but didn't like to talk about it directly, so he would drop hints into the conversation. When I had collected enough hints to trade them in for a definite suspicion I would tell him what I thought he was trying to tell me, and he would tell me if I was "warm" or "cold." If I didn't get it he'd sit there and poke fun at me for being slow on the uptake - so the kind of brittle, knife-edge conversations and situations which I like to write about, where horror flips into hilarity and back again, are inspired by real life.
Note that the alternative ffn ID Borolin is used for stories written collaboratively by myself and Dyce. There you will find the story Lost and Found, which is a dark-but-ultimately-hopeful h/c which we wrote as a follow-up to a story we read in which, indeed, terrible things happened to Snape without any favourable resolution - so we decided to provide one...
Nota Bene: I like to collect and share good fanfics (and there are some absolute gems out there, if you dig hard enough). I find both the Favorites and the C2 systems on ffn deeply unsatisfactory, because Favorites limits the number of stories you can list and both of them simply reproduce the summaries which accompany the story-listings on ffn - which are themselves severely limited as to length, and often give you little or no idea what the story is about or what it is like or how good it is.
Therefore, I have set up my own LINKS PAGE under the www. whitehound. co. uk/Fanfic directory of my home-page (URL as per my account details above). This lists stories which I think are especially interesting, well-written and/or original, with my own potted description of what the story is like and why someone might want to read it. The majority of the stories are on ffn but there are links to stories on other sites as well. Most of them are Harry Potter-verse stories involving Snape, because he's my favourite character by far, but there will be links to other fandoms if I see something especially good. There are well over a thousand stories listed and more are being added on a regular basis.
Also on my website you will find a page of BRITPICKS, as an aid to non-Brits trying to write a convincing British setting; an FFN HOW-TO page which explains some of the oddities of Ffn's text-handling and how to use the editing facility, and gives samples of attractive section-breaks which will display correctly on ffn story-pages; and essays on various other topics relating to Harry Potter fandom or to fan-writing in general. These include an exhaustive (and exhausting) analysis of Snape's character, entitled "But Snape is just nasty, right?"
LET'S START THE REVIEW REVOLUTION COUNTER-REVOLUTION!
I keep on seeing writers advertising the Review Revolution in their profiles, urging readers to review every story they read, but IMO this is a very bad idea. Consider what would happen if this were actually to become general practice.
Firstly, even with the best will in the world the majority of stories on ffn are really not very good, and even the good ones often use themes or styles which appeal to a limited audience. Unless you stick only to authors you already know, it is inevitable that most of the stories you read, or at least partially read, will turn out to be ones you didn't like much. If it was compulsory to review these, most reviews would be either highly critical, or they would be lies.
A fairly high proportion of authors throw a wobbly and attack anyone who leaves a critical review. If readers were compelled to review every story they looked at, either these aggressive writers would cease to be read at all, or they would be made miserable by constant criticism, or they would receive false praise just to keep them sweet.
On the other hand, if reviewers were honest, and told bad authors what they really thought, they would damage and depress incompetent writers many of whom are in fact children, and who are having a bit of fun and not doing anybody any harm. These weak writers would be driven off ffn and would lose a source of harmless pleasure, and a venue in which they might have improved their skills.
Secondly, at the moment, it is possible to use reviews to get a rough idea of whether a story is worth opening at all, or whether it is worth persevering with one you aren't too sure about. This works in three ways.
1) If a story has been up for weeks or months and still has significantly fewer reviews than chapters, it's probably not worth even opening, although it may still be worth looking at those few reviews to see what they say. Bear in mind that a story which has no reviews at all, or only a few but they sound reasonable, may be by a new author who is perfectly good but just hasn't been noticed yet (see 2) below) - but one which has been up for a long time and attracted only inane reviews probably isn't any good.
2) If a story attracts thoughtful, detailed reviews it's probably worth reading even if it only has a few reviewers.
3) If you can see that a story has been reviewed, and generally liked, by other readers who you already know have similar tastes to your own, then you know the story is probably going to be worth sticking with even if you didn't like the first chapter much.
This is a great time-saver: it saves us from having to plough through pages of stuff we really don't want to bother with, in order to find a few gems. However, if everybody had to review every story they opened, reviews pages would be filled with hundreds of meaningless filler comments. It would not be possible to assess the likely quality of a story by how many reviews it received, nor to find the few thoughtful, informative reviews which might be buried in all the dross, nor to locate reviews written by other readers whose opinion you specifically want. The result will be that people who have limited time simply won't bother to open stories by unknown authors, and will stick only to writers they already know in advance that they will like.
Thirdly, leaving reviews can be a time-consuming strain, especially if you are tired, and especially if you don't have anything pressing you really want to say about the story. I know that if I was compelled to review every story I read, I would simply read far fewer stories.
Fourthly, if every reader left a review, it would destroy the social link between reader and writer, because it would become impossible for writers to reply to more than a tiny percentage of reviews and still have any time left for writing. Those authors who write popular multi-chapter stories which receive thousands of hits per chapter would be overwhelmed by an unending flood of filler comments, and would probably have to give up writing altogether.
It would be nice if people who liked a story enough to add it to their favourites left a review at the same time. But as a writer, I would far rather receive five thoughtful reviews from people who really had something they wanted to say than several hundred from people who only commented because they felt obliged to.
And finally, if everybody reviewed every story they read on ffn, it would fill up ffn's servers and cause the whole site to grind to a shuddering halt, and ffn would have to start charging us a subscription in order to buy more space.
In short, then, the Review Revolution, were it to be generally adopted, would destroy the usefulness of the review system and render it meaningless. It would make reading stories a chore rather than a pleasure, resulting in an inevitable loss of readership, and it would make it harder for unknown new authors to attract readers. It would overload those conscientious authors who feel they should reply to all reviews, and leave them with no time actually to write; and those popular writers who receive thousands of hits would probably be forced to give up fanwriting altogether. And it would overload ffn's servers, and quite possibly bring about the end of the free fanfiction scene.
Join the Review Counter-Revolution. Review if you have something to say and the energy and motivation to say it. If you liked a story enough to add it to your Favorites, try to make the effort to say why. But don't feel obliged to clog up ffn with white noise just for the sake of it, and don't turn reading fanfiction from a pleasure to a chore. It's meant to be fun.
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