Interview - Darsynia

Ashley Marie

Headmaster
Staff member
Our next author interview is with @darsynia. Darsynia has 24 stories currently posted to HPFF and you can find them, here. All of her writing is very passionate, and it feels as if you're watching it all play out in front of you as you read the stories. It's an absolute treat.

Do you remember the first time you realized that you wanted to become a writer?
Yes! My mother homeschooled me for first through fourth grade, and for my big history ‘project’ in fourth grade, I chose to write a diary as if I were a girl posing as a Cabin Boy on Columbus’s ships crossing the Atlantic ocean. I remember how much fun it was pretending that there was a close call and they almost discovered I was a girl, and talking about what the food was like, how long the journey was, what it was like when we first sighted land. In effect, it was my very first fanfiction! I still have that diary!

Have you always felt like you had the necessary tools and support to move forward in your writing pursuit?
Yes, the biggest of which is the ability to type at a pretty good speed. When I was about ten years old, computers were just becoming available for home use, and my dad found me a typing tutor program that was fun as well as useful. It made sure that the words used for practicing were all real words (did you know you only use your right hand once when properly typing ‘secretary?’) I remember saying to myself that I was ‘going to marry a computer guy’ so that I’d never be without that technology--and I did! So I’ve never been without the tools to both write quickly on my own device with a word processing program. While my husband isn’t really a fanfiction guy, he doesn’t belittle it either, and so I’ve never had to hide my hobby. I will say that in the last few years, the general social attitudes toward writing fanfiction has opened up considerably, to the point where I will mention it in passing to strangers, sometimes!

What made you want to start writing fanfiction?
My first fandom was CSI, and the urge to write and read fanfiction came from the simple fact that the show writers weren’t focused on giving their viewers much more than tantalizing mini glimpses of characterization in the midst of the actual meat of the show. It was wonderful to find a community of readers and writers who felt the same way as I did about expanding on those characters! As I moved away from the CSI fandom, I started reading Harry Potter, and my favorite characters were the adults in supporting roles, like teachers and mentors. I wanted to read more about those characters and sought fanfiction to scratch that itch. I found that the characters I enjoyed pairing together weren’t the same ones as the majority of the people posting stories, so I started writing what I myself wanted to read. One of the best parts about having a long hiatus between stints of HP fanfiction interest was that my favorite story was in progress when I drifted away in 2006, and is now complete and over 700,000 words!

What would you say your greatest strengths are within the fanfiction realm?
I LOVE writing dialogue. I’m all about trying to be realistic with it, so for example when writing an argument, it’s important to remember that everyone’s emotions are high and chances are not great that you’ll get out a whole big long paragraph telling someone off! It’s much more likely that they’ll cut you off after the first insult and/or walk away. Another important thing when writing dialogue for me is to get the characters’ ‘voice’ right. I wrote Stargate: Atlantis fanfiction for a while, and one of the main characters (played by Jason Momoa) is extremely brusque. I found that sometimes I would have to write out what I wanted the character to convey, and then go back over it and change the words used (and the number of words, hah!) so that it would read more like the character speaking. I often pepper my dialogue with ‘stage direction prose,’ so that the reader knows what my characters’ facial expressions, body language, and physical locations are. Those can help clue the reader in, if the character isn’t verbose.


What about weaknesses?
I tell long stories. This is a problem when posting works in progress! I also have a natural tendency towards using ‘full stops’ in my stories. I overuse the m-dash (--) and have to go back over every chapter to weed out the ones that can be replaced with other punctuation. Thematically, I tend to avoid anything that fundamentally changes the status quo (major plot changes, deaths, etc.) too much, but I think that has more to do with spending half my life writing fanfiction for television series. One worries that your readers will drift away if you’ve hopped off of the train mid-season towards something completely out of the blue. At the same time, that innovation and creativity in plotting is something that draws readers in, and sometimes I wish I had more guts to go for it.

Are there any genres of fanfiction that you wish were more involved?
I wish there wasn’t a Marianas Trench between the writers and readers of gen fic and the writers and readers of shipping fic. I’m guilty of this as well--I am just flat out not interested, oftentimes, in a story that doesn’t have relationships at the heart of it. I’m also fascinated by the way each fandom sort of gravitates to various tropes, like Time Travel, Alternate Universe (Coffee Shop AU!, High School AU!, etc.), Soulmate Identifying Marks, etc. I wish sometimes that the tropes I enjoy the most in one fandom would cross-pollinate over to others, especially Soulmate Marks.

Tell us a line from your favorite work of fanfiction.
My favorite story is ‘Chemistry and Timing,’ a Hermione/Remus time travel story where she ends up traveling back to her third year at Hogwarts as a 20 year old adult, after the events of the books. Hermione ends up hiding in Remus’s rooms at Hogwarts until her time turner can be used to go back, and she and Remus fall in love. The line I love from this story is impactful because of the emotional weight behind what Hermione knows and what this younger Remus does NOT know about his own future. He asks for her to remain with him in the past, and she tells him she can’t, so his response is to tell her that he will wait for her, rather than move on to allow himself to love someone else. She rejects this idea as impossible, and he can tell this by the look on her face.

“You don’t believe me,” his voice was soft. “Hermione, I promise I will wait for you!”

But, of course, Hermione knows for a fact that he will not, for if he does, there will be no Teddy Lupin. It’s a bittersweet, beautifully miserable moment for both of them.

If you could be any character in the Harry Potter realm, who would you be?

Definitely, Hermione, as I was basically Hermione before she was ever written, bushy brown hair and all!

If an aspiring writer were to ask you for your three best pieces of advice, what would they be?

  1. Write what you like, because, in the end, that’s what you have the most passion for. Don’t assume that because you can’t find as much material that you like that this must naturally be because there’s no appetite for it! Not everyone who wants to read something has the ability to bring it into being!
  2. Don’t get so bogged down by the framework of writing that you don’t end up writing anything. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t get the punctuation or spelling quite right at the beginning, don’t bother with it on your first draft! Get out the meat of what you’re saying, fix the rest later.
  3. You do not have to write in chronological order! If you have a scene you just NEED to write, go ahead and write it! Just leave out the ‘framing’ of the story, the things that lead up to and come down from the scene, and just write it. You can alter the things that need to be adjusted (continuity errors, etc.) later on. Don’t let yourself miss out on a scene you have a passion to write simply because you’re not there in the narrative yet.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned, thus far, about writing fanfiction?
How life-affirming and enriching participating in it is! I pinned this message on my twitter page, and I firmly believe it (though I don’t judge anyone who doesn’t choose to review every single thing they read!):
Reminder: a review on a story you liked is like a stem cell planted in the mind of the writer. It can grow into self-confidence, inspiration, motivation, and lasting self-esteem. Isn't that the ideal effort vs. reward?

What is the first story or book that made you cry?
Losing Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables was super emotional for me. Though I had a wonderful childhood and therefore didn’t identify with Anne in that way, she and I are strange, creative creatures and reading about her losing the person she loved and trusted who truly understood and loved that about her was just devastating.

Have you always had an emotional connection to literature?
Definitely. I have always basically put myself in the shoes of the main characters for as long as I can remember, and as the kind of person who feels things very, very deeply, this has put me in some very raw places over the course of my reading life! I hardly ever just ‘like’ a character, I’ll love them so much that it feels like I could just turn a corner and be able to sit with them to talk.
 
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