We have our first highly anticipated Author Interview with pdantzler completed, and it's now ready for your viewing pleasure Pdantzler is the author of A Time and Place to Grow and it's sequel A Time and Place to Learn, a favored series on P&S, as well as other fan fiction sites. She was a gracious and honest interviewee and we both hope you enjoy what she had to say regarding both her stories and the series as a whole.
Tell us a little about yourself. Schooling? Career? Professor or student age?
I was home-schooled growing up, and I got a BA in English Literature. Currently, I'm 24 and in the Masters program for English Lit. I wanted to be a college professor, hopefully teaching 18th-Century Lit. Not very exciting, but I like it.
The Harry and Snape relationship in canon (i.e. the books) is hardly friendly. Given that fact, what drew you to this particular sub-set of the HP fandom - what is it about this unlikely relationship that you find compelling?
I feel that Harry represents our creative, child-like side, the part of us that wants to believe in magic and adventure and love and happiness, the part that lets us hope against all odds. Snape represents our cynical side, the part of us that reacts negatively from experience and disappointment. Now, both parts exist simultaneously in us, so I find it realistic that these two characters could eventually get along. Also, the books focus a lot on ideals and misconceptions between the two characters that fanfiction can resolve very easily by just getting them to admit their own weaknesses. I always felt in the books that if Snape had ever come out and apologized straight to Harry, Harry would have forgiven him in a moment.
What types of Snape & Harry stories do you like to read? Are there any common elements in the stories you consider favorites?
I like the stories where the characters remain as In-Character as much as possible. Part of what makes Snape great is his snarky, sarcastic comments, and I love Harry's disregard of authority, a sort of "I'll do it my way" attitude. I also like stories that play out scenes to their fullest, giving us details along with dialogue so we feel like we're there. Maybe I'm guilty of doing that a little too much in my own stories, but it just feels so good!
Favorite category on Potions and Snitches?
Probably the Guardian. The Sevitus or however you say it always seems to have trouble getting off because they have to explain how Harry is Snape's son, and I find that too much explanation slows the story down. There are some great stories there, but I like the ones best where Snape and Harry are thrown together for the summer and have to get along or die trying.
When did you first discover Harry Potter, and when did you start writing fan fiction?
I saw the first movie in theaters before reading the books, but I spend the next summer at my grandparents' lakehouse and read all four books that were out then. I remember sun-tanning on the dock and sobbing because I thought Sirius was going to get the Dementor's Kiss. Later I got the fifth book and read it all in one day, all 864 pages, my big claim to fame. But I didn't start reading fanfiction until Christmas a year ago when I was sick with the flu. I read tons of stories, and then in February of that year, I started my first fanfic ever.
Do you write fan fiction for any other fandoms?
Yeah, I do. Angel, Supernatural, Peter Pan, and Lord of the Rings. All my stories are on fanfiction.net, but Harry Potter is still my favorite, now and forever.
For those who have read your stories, it is well known that you have no issues with incorporating corporeal punishment into your stories (something few people will touch) – what drew you to that initial decision? What would you say to another author contemplating on the same warning label?
Yeah, I don't know. I guess I've just noticed how kids get so whiny and rebellious and pouty all the time, and other forms of punishment (restriction, grounding, lecturing) seem to only infuriate the kids and heighten the emotions to the boiling point. I was spanked a few times as a child – a few smacks, you cry, Mom or Dad hug you and say they love you, and then it's all over. No drawn out punishment, or hostile silence or angry looks that go on and on. It is something personal that the adult and child share, especially when the discipline is handled carefully with love and control. It's not abuse if it's handled correctly – usually the child realizes that the adult's attitude is "I love you enough to keep you from hurting yourself, even if I have to hurt you now." It may not be the PC thing right now and this may offend some people, but hey, how many bratty kids do you see everyday everywhere that seem to run wild? I baby-sit a lot to put myself through college, and while I would never punish a child that way because I am not the parent, I do support parents' rights to discipline their children with love and firmness. And I have to say, the kids whose parents are not firm with them tend to be more out of control because no one sets boundaries for them.
For anyone else contemplating writing this kind of fanfiction, play hardball from the beginning. Put the warning on and don't take any flak from people who object to it. It's your story – write what you want. With a warning from the very beginning, you can ignore flames. And I've always said, I won't criticize your story if the right warnings are up – don't criticize mine. There will be few people that quibble, but you can ignore them for the most part. And remember – you will never ever please everyone no matter how hard you try. Write to please yourself first and foremost, and you'll never feel cheated.
If you went to Hogwarts, what would be the first thing you would do?
Probably go the library. Maybe even try to sneak into the restricted area. Then run around the castle and try to get into every room. I love old English manors, and I think living in a castle would be cool, except maybe at night when it gets creepy.
Do you read other stories on Potions and Snitches? Which ones are your favorites?
Dina'a The Painful Guardianship, Corbin's stories, and Jan's Muggleville. I read other stories, but that's all I can think of now.
Was there anything that happened to you in your life that helped your writing?
I grew up without a TV. We didn't get one until I turned 16, so growing up I read and read and read some more. Classic stuff like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, the Narnia series, Tom Sawyer, and
Is writing a hobby of yours or something you would consider making a career out of?
I would love to write a real book. I'm working on one right now with a writer's group from my college. We meet and share our writing, and I always bring way too much and everyone struggles to finish my stuff for the next meeting. But fanfiction has been an incredible experience – seeing what people like and hate and trying to create a good story.
Are you known as anything else, on any other fandom sites? What are your usual haunts?
Fanfiction.net of course and a few yahoo groups, I'm usually pdantzler or Perry. I never could come up with a creative screen name. I've thought about starting a webpage for my stories, but then I would have to read a book on web design to figure out how to do it, and that seems like too much work right now.
What Hogwarts House are you in? How do you know?
I always thought I would be in Ravenclaw because I like school and learning, but I took some long test at a Hogwarts site, and they put me in Slytherin! So I guess I'll wear green and bow to the snake, but I still think the Sorting Hat got it wrong!
What Hogwarts character are you most like?
Probably Professor McGonagall. She's strict, but fair, and I like to play by the rules and enforce fairness. Other than that, Hermione, because I read a lot and talk way too much.
What is your favorite HP book?
Has to be the third book. They are all terrific, I think, but the third had all kinds of twists and turns. The show down with Snape, Lupin, Sirius, and kids where everything keeps turning around – Sirius is the enemy, then he isn't, then he wants Harry to come live with him – I loved it, and still do!
The majority of us at this site adore Snape – however, when looking at the realistic scheme of things, some of us are more willing than not to view him one way or another. That being said, do you think Snape is good or evil? What is your basis on your theory?
Man, I hate to go one way or another. If I say he's good, he'll be evil. If I say evil, he's bound to be good. I thought with the end of the sixth book, he had to be evil, but my brother read it and said that the moment Snape killed Dumbledore, he knew he was good. So, I really don't know.
Do you think Harry will live or die come the end of Deathly Hallows?
I want him to live – really, go through all that fighting and preparation just to die? If he dies, I'm not sure I will read it. Live, Harry, live.
Since you've earned a BA in English Literature, do you find it easier or more difficult to read fanfiction? Is it easier to leave constructive criticism or do you tend to be more selective as a reader?
Some of the fanfiction is really hard for me to read, I'll admit. The characters aren't developed very well, the plot seems unbelievable, and I feel like I'm watching puppet heads talking rather than real characters interacting. That being said, Potions and Snitches has had some really strong stories that I've loved. I try to leave constructive criticism, but I've found that writers have a really hard time accepting it. Sometimes I suggest changing one little thing, and they turn all "Don't bash my baby!" So I tend to be selective about what I read. To be honest, if you can't catch my attention in the first chapter, I probably won't keep reading.
As a serious writer, would you openly suggest pursuing the art of fan fiction to help with creating an original story?
It's great for instant feedback. You write something quickly, or you try something new, and wit for people's reactions. If they're all "It's good," then you know it works. If they hate it, you can try something new. And honestly anytime you write regularly, you get better as a writer. For those serious about writing like I am, find a writer's group. I'm in two, and it's great to work closely with writing if you can take criticism.
Any special tricks you use to help climb your way out of writers block?
Really ,just making myself sit down and do it is hard for me, but usually that's all I have to. Other than that, I suggest start a conversation in your head for the characters. Suppose Snape comes in and says something mean, and then Harry can answer, and you're off writing. If you get stuck on a paragraph, skip down one or two and keep going, and you can fill the missing paragraphs in later.
Do you plan to continue the alternative universe you have created with A Time and Place to Grow, beyond that of A Time and Place to Learn, or have you plans for other stories with no relation to that universe?
I'm not sure. Sometimes, I'd like to write a new story line, but I don't know if I could start all over again with Snape and Harry hating each other. The whole summer was wearing for me to do, and I hate to put them and me through that again. But we'll see – I might just surprise myself.
And lastly… what would you do with a chocolate frog? :)
Let it free and see what it would do. As a child, I didn't really like to eat cookies or candy in the shape of animals. I always felt bad biting the heads of Teddy Grams. If the Chocolate Frog was jumping around at first, I'm not sure I could eat it. Maybe lick it for a while, but take a big bite? Probably not?
Hope you all enjoyed!