Essential Snarry Reader Interview with Luthien

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Essential Snarry Reader Interview with Luthien
Interviewer: Aubrem
Interviewee: Luthien
Date(s): January 6, 2005
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Harry Potter
External Links: interview is here; reference link
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In 2005, Luthien was interviewed for Essential Snarry Reader.

Some Excerpts

I’ve been a pretty fannish person since I was a kid, but I didn’t find organised fandom until much later. I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was ten. And I loved the original Star Wars, which came out at about that time and was closely followed by the original Battlestar Galactica, also a favourite. Later on, there were various favourite shows with a big fannish following, such as Star Trek: the Next Generation, but I still just a fan and not a Fan, if you know what I mean. Over the years, I knew a few people who were into fandom – one friend in particular, who used to go to conventions and all the rest of it, but I never got involved. All that changed in 1998, when I saw an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess that made me want to find out more about a particular actor in that show. After the episode finished, I got on-line and went looking for websites with information about this actor. I found an entire webring devoted to him, including an archive of adult fiction featuring his character. I read a few stories, and happened to read a slash story that just made everything click for me and… well, I joined the ML that the archive belonged to and that was that.

About six months later, I read a story that I really loved and which made me realise that fanfic could be just as well-written as profic. That was when I decided to try writing something of my own, to see where I could go with these characters. And so I did. That first story was long and plotty...

Around the beginning of 2001, I left Xena fandom and spent much of the year drifting around the edge of other fandoms, including Buffy, Angel, Hornblower, Battlestar Galactica (I’d clearly picked up on the phenomenally slashy subtext of this show when I was twelve without realising it *g*) and a bunch of others. I was mainly lurking and reading, but I kept trying to write and not getting very far. After a good few months of this, I began to think that I wasn’t going to write again. I was pretty severely blocked, to put it bluntly. Towards the end of the year, I heard about the forthcoming Harry Potter movie, and decided I really ought to read the books before the movie came out. A RL friend had been at me to read them for a couple of years, and I’d even bought the first two HP books about a year before and left them on the bookshelf, unread.

So, I read the first two HP books. And then I jumped in the car and sped off to the nearest bookshop to get books 3 and 4. While I was still reading book 4, I went looking for HP slash fandom. I knew the fandom was there, because I’d seen references to it made by other slash fans, but I really wasn’t sure about whether I wanted to get involved in a book-based fandom. So I found a few archives and MLs, and tried reading a few different pairings, but didn’t find anything that really appealed. After the first week or so, I thought I might forget about HP fandom and move on somewhere else. However, I thought I’d try out a little more Snape/Lupin first, so I was digging my way through the message archives of the snapeslash ML in search of Snape/Lupin when I stumbled upon the first four stories of Telanu’s Tea series. I loved those stories and decided to hang around for a while in hope of more. I also read Jaykay’sToo Wise to Woo Peaceably’, but there really wasn’t any other Snape/Harry fic that I could find. When Telanu issued a challenge and asked particularly for Snape/Harry if anyone could possibly bring themselves to write it, I decided to have a try. It was only a challenge response, so it wasn’t as though it had to be a perfect story or anything, so there was no need to tie myself in knots over it. I sat down to write, and about a day later I had ‘Aftermath’.

It was about then that I realised that not only had I started writing again, I also had a new primary fandom. Since then, I’ve played in other fandoms a little, and written several stories in one particular fandom, but HP is still my primary fandom.
While I don’t tend to write huge numbers of pairings, I’ll read just about anything in HP, including het and gen as well as slash, so long as it’s well-written, though I prefer stories in which Snape is at least a major supporting player. I love stories that can take a well-worn idea and make it feel fresh, or stories that take an original – but convincing - spin on canon. I’m also a total sucker for any story that can present a strong emotion and make it feel real. And, more than anything, I love stories which explore my favourite characters in detailed and subtle ways. I’m in this for the characters more than anything else.

“Never say never” is something I’ve learnt to keep in mind when reading fanfic. It’s no use saying “I’d never read/enjoy/be convinced by X,” because all it takes is for the right writer to come along and convince me that X can work. In quantity, I’m reading a lot less than I used to, though more than I was a year or so ago when I was still recovering from HP fandom burnout. A lot of what I read now is determined by accident rather than design, as I don’t usually seek out fanfic these days: it finds me, either through a story post on my flist, or through a rec, or through a chat window when various friends share snippets of whatever they’re working on at the moment.

Favourite pairings to read? Not really. I’m not an OTP sort of person, except in fandoms where there’s really only one main pairing, and even then I’m up for any good story featuring an unexpected pairing. Sometimes, I like the idea of a pairing more than a lot of the fanfic written for it; sometimes I’m not terribly interested in a pairing, but the fanfic makes me enjoy reading that pairing more than I expect to.
[Snape/Harry] Well, it’s a large part of Snape slash. I’m not sure that I’d go so far as to say that it’s a very large part of the fandom. HP is such a *very* large fandom that it’s easy to stay in your own little corner of it and not even be aware of other parts of the fandom – which, in turn, are probably largely oblivious to the existence of your part of the fandom! *g* Snape/Harry is certainly the most popular Snape slash pairing these days, though. It’s been interesting to watch it develop from being a very rare pairing that was regarded as a bit strange to the sort of pairing that has a large number of OTPers devoted to it. I’ve seen fans of other Snape ships complain that Snape/Harry stories tend to get a lot more feedback, and suggest that people only write Snape/Harry for the feedback rather than because they like the pairing and want to explore it through fic. That just bemuses me when I think back to how very far from a popular pairing Snape/Harry was when I first started reading and writing it.

There has been an evolution to Snape/Harry, as there is with most things to do with fandom. Fanfic is not just written in the context of the canon, it’s also written in the context of the fanfic that’s come before it. With a pairing like Snape/Harry, the early stories do shape the way in which other writers interpret it – even if it’s just that later writers react against some of the ideas central to the earlier stories. Eventually, you reach the point where newer fans find the early stories *after* reading lots of more recent stuff, and they really don’t quite get just why some of those early stories had such an impact. It really is a case of having to be there at the time.

I think, early on, there was a bit of a squick factor for a lot of people with regard to Snape/Harry. HP slash fandom is a lot more “anything goes” now than it was then – or at least it seems that way to me. I remember, when I first got involved in HP fandom, being surprised at how easily squicked a reasonable number of Snape slash fans seemed to be. I’m not talking about being squicked by kinks – though that was certainly there too – but simply by pairings. One of our aims when planning the first wave of the Severus Snape Fuh-q Fest was to think of as many “challenging” pairings as we could and throw them out there for people to write, to try to shake people up a bit. I think the boom in Snape/Harry coincided with the first wave of the Fest, and the Fest gave writers an opportunity to try out new and different things – such as Snape/Harry - and also, in turn, exposed a lot of readers to the pairing. There were a lot of new people coming into the fandom at around that time, perhaps because of the first movie but certainly just drifting in from other directions as well. cybele and josan both wrote their first HP stories as part of the Fest, and a number of minx’s early stories were written for the Fest, too, just to give a few examples.

After that, I just watched the pairing get bigger and bigger. I stopped reading HP fic for about a year in the middle there somewhere, so I don’t have a clear idea of the whole evolution of the pairing. Now that I’m reading the pairing again – and attempting to write it again - I think perceptions of the characters have settled a bit. I’ve seen this happen with other characters and pairings elsewhere, too. While, on the one hand, you have a lot of variations on the main theme of how fans of a pairing see the characters that form that pairing, you also do still have that core shared understanding of who these characters are and how they should behave in relation to each other. As a writer, there is a lot more flexibility with interpretation of characters when you’re writing a rare pairing as opposed to a popular and established one. People approach reading a popular pairing armed with a lot more preconceptions about “right” and “wrong” characterisation and about the vibe of the pairing in general. I felt a lot freer to play with the characters early on, since there was no real established idea of the pairing either to conform with or deviate from. That sort of thing isn’t ever going to stop me from writing what I want to write, but I can’t help but be aware that it is there.