Essential Snarry Reader Interview with Aucta Sinistra

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Essential Snarry Reader Interview with Aucta Sinistra
Interviewer: Aubrem
Interviewee: Aucta Sinistra
Date(s): January 3, 2005
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Harry Potter
External Links: interview is here; reference link
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Contents

In 2005, Aucta Sinistra was interviewed for Essential Snarry Reader.

Some Excerpts

I didn’t really realize it was called that, but the first fanfic I clearly remember writing was after I watched the movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. I so badly didn’t want him to die I wrote a bit of Sueage in which another ship visited the Genesis planet (all this will make no sense to non Trekkies) and found him alive. With all his people. People, you say? No, I’m not talking about Spock. I’m talking about Khan! The gorgeous Khan and his gorgeous sidekick Joaquin. Although that’s the first one I remember, I know I must’ve written “Alias Smith and Jones” stories before then, since I loved that show from the getgo, which was in 1971 if I’m remembering my getgos clearly. I’ve got a dozen half finished stories that I’ve had since I was a teenager that I still pull out occasionally to play with. My second clear fanfic memory is the story I started and soon abandoned after seeing The Man From UNCLE: The Fifteen Years Later Affair (This is long after I’d started writing original – fantasy – fiction; that began when I was 14. I still have that first story; handwritten on lined paper, and my God it sucks). The “Return” movie, as it’s called, got me totally hooked on The Man From UNCLE (the actual series was a trifle before my time) and I started watching reruns of that show and reading the novelizations and that leads me to how MFU was my first online fandom, because I was surfing about 4 years ago and came across some fanfic and got hooked on that. So MFU gets the credit for awakening me to the online fanfic world and to slash.

Now I started reading the Harry Potter books at about that same time (that is, about 4 years ago). I read fantasy. That’s mostly what I read and write. I enjoy children’s fantasies a lot and I enjoyed these a lot. But I was never tempted to delve into reading the fanfic until (roughly) Prisoner of Azkaban / Goblet of Fire. I tiptoed over warily from MFU into the HP fandom and it was quite a shock. I had been writing MFU slash for a bit at this stage and looked mostly at the HP slash. No excuses or pretense of seeking literature – I was looking for pr0n. Snape Lucius pr0n, definitely due to the movies. That scene of the two of them side by side at the quidditch match is tailor-made eye candy. Unfortunately the Snape-Lucius I found was so disturbing (I couldn’t tell you what it was now) I ran away and dabbled warily in the shallow end of the slash pool for a while, avoiding all kinkage/channage/deathage/fanfiction.netage/etc. It was after Book 5 that I saw the light (to put it mildly) and started my first Snape-Harry, which has yet to see the light of day though it’s about 80 percent done.

And this is a way longer answer than anyone could possibly want to read, but I’m old. I got a history, man. : )
I generally start posting when I've got the whole thing "outlined" (to use an inappropriate word; when I know how it's going to go, broadly, and when I think I've solved the plot complications so I won't get derailed) and when I've got enough text written (around the halfway to two-thirds-of-the-way point, again, broadly) that I know I'll be finishing the story. "Hollow" was a trifle different in that I wrote and posted it on the fly, literally writing scenes, stopping at a good point, rereading, spellchecking and posting. That one flowed fast and I rarely had to stop and think; there really wasn't much in the way of that pre-writing process, you know, notes and scribbles and jottings. I knew I'd finish it (sometimes you just know *g*), so there was no concern for me about posting in such a rushed way. "Pariah" was the same; that one I wrote, from idea to finished product, in about a week. I pondered a bit for a couple of days, made a few minor notes, then just started writing. There were, in those two stories, almost no "fill in" bits missing, which is what made posting so quickly after writing possible. In longer stories like "Scratch" I've generally got quite a bit of the meaty scenes written before I start posting, and as often as not, the delay in posting comes from not having written the necessary little connecting scenes yet. "This Thing of Darkness" is about, oh, 1/4 to 1/3 written (famous last words; they always end up longer than I mean them to) and it's completely plotted in the broad sense (I don't often plot individual scenes: part of that organic thing). I'm having difficulty with Harry's opening scenes because I'm having trouble getting a handle on his emotional state. I need it to have changed somewhat from "Scratch" and "Holly/Ivy" -- he's matured, he's lonely and frustrated and coming into his power and into his first real realization of that power -- but I'm not able to pin him down. Once I've got that (and sometimes the only way to do it is to forget about plotting/jotting and simply write/discard, write/discard, 'til something feels right) the plot will move things along.
You know, it really was the occlumency lessons, I think. Snape had gotten more interesting, of course, with every book, and his scenes with Harry got nastier and nastier and more and more intense and ... They really do positively sizzle. Uh oh. I feel a tale coming on…one time years ago I started to write a novel. In it, the main character was this young guy who was going to fall madly in love with the young woman character who was already madly in love with an older male character, a man the young guy respected, honored, hero-worshipped. So. A triangle. I had it all planned. The young guy was also going to learn about magic, from an older sorcerer and – inadvertently – from a mysterious stranger who appeared out of nowhere. This stranger pops in and out of the story at odd moments and has brief, puzzling and argumentative scenes with the young protagonist. I gave very little analytical thought to why I enjoyed writing those scenes so much and kept adding more of them (the mysterious dude was meant to be a very minor character). Then a woman in my writing group said in passing, “There’s a lot of sexual tension between them.” I expect I gaped at her. Remember I was determined he’d fall in love with the girl. But she was dead right, and I hadn’t seen it. I’d been enamoured of the scenes, of those two guys together, their chemistry and tension and head-butting, but had never realized it was sexual ’til someone else pointed it out. Well, that all fell into place after that, and I tell this story because when I saw Snape and Harry in Order of the Phoenix, there it was. I don’t suggest JKR means it that way, or that if a reader went, “There’s a lot of UST in the Snape-Harry scenes,” she’d go, “Duh! That’s what’s happening there. Thanks!” and start slashing them. I only mean that I’ve learned that that wonderful, sometimes adversarial, tension that sucks you into the relationship between two characters can very easily become – very easily be – sexual. So I look at Snape and Harry in their occlumency scenes and, for me, it’s there. It is so there.

The added appeal is their differences in age, power, and experience. I like the clash of older/younger, experienced/inexperienced, emotionally closed/emotionally open. I also see similarities in their being odd men out, guys who are different from the people around them, bearing the weight of uninvited expectations and mistaken perceptions. Guys who keep secrets.

Then there’s just teh pretty, of course (though in my head Harry’s not movie Harry but is rather older; the chan thing’s mostly not for me).

But it’s mostly just the heat they strike off each other when they’re in the same room – whew. JKR may not mean it that way, but hell, I didn’t mean it that way in my novel, and I doubt I have to tell you where those two guys ended up. : )
I don't have moral objections to much of anything in fiction except bad writing. :) There's a certain appeal to a teenaged Harry with Snape; that's partly the appeal of extreme contrast and partly the appeal of the innocent experiencing all these intense emotions and sensations for the first time. However, my preference is for a teen old enough to have at least some faint idea of what he's getting into. I won't read extreme chan (really, anything under 14-ish, to me) because child-adult sex is just ick to me. I've no interest in little children fucking, whether each other or adults. In real life, I reach for my gun (hyperbole alert); in fiction, I just go "ick, no thanks" and move on. When Harry reaches almost adulthood is when he starts to become fanfictionally interesting to me as a sexual being. This isn't to say younger teens aren't sexual beings, in fiction or in real life; I refer only to the point at which I'm personally interested in reading/writing about them. I realize it's a grey area and anyone else's mileage may vary. Some folks would like a chan story where Harry's 11. Some would be horrified if he was anything less than 21. It's all where you feel comfortable with the sexuality -- and again, that's if comfortable is what you want to be when you're reading it. I read/write, generally, comfortable fic -- my preference is romantic, erotic, mildly angsty. There's fic out there that's deliberately uncomfortable and painful and troubling (some of it chan), and some of it's very good. I'll read it and appreciate it, but it's not "erotic" for me, in general. The stuff I read for erotic pleasure rarely has a Harry under the age of 17, simply because a sexual story with someone younger than that stops being, for me, comfy angsty romance and starts being uncomfortable and not sexually appealing. This sounds like I only read for teh pr0n, which isn't so, but the element of the sexual/romantic relationship is certainly a large part of why I'm into the stories. Otherwise I'd read/write gen (as I did in MFU).