Saturday, January 8th, 2005

Interview with Tara Tory

*Please note that some of the links in this interview take you directly to NC-17 rated stories. Please do not click on them if you are a minor in your jurisdiction.*

Below please find the sixth installment in our Author Interview series: an interview with Tara Tory. I am also excited to announce that Tara has finally joined us on Livejournal. You can find her at My Tara Tory. She is still getting used to the way LJ works, so please be gentle with her. : )

Tara is the author of a number of Snape/Harry classics, including No Place Like and Hall of the Mountain Kings. She is one of our great romance writers. Be sure and check out all of her stories: here.

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Friday, January 7th, 2005

Artist Interview with Lizard

We are thrilled to present our first Artist Interview here at the [info]snarry_reader. [info]lizardspots is one of the most popular Snape/Harry artists in the fandom, loved for her extraordinary detail work and of course, Severus Snape's nose. I consider her a true fanperson's artist, drawing the characters and pairings we love the way we love to see them.

[info]lizardspots draws in two fandoms now, including slash, gen and het. She also takes commissions when time allows. You can see all her work at her temporary art archive. She has drawn some marvelous demos for this interview - I hope you enjoy them.

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Thursday, January 6th, 2005

Interview with Luthien

As a writer, and as one of the creators of the Severus Snape Fuh Q Fest, [info]luthien can rightly be called one of the founders of the Snape/Harry ship. I am thrilled she agreed to be interviewed for the [info]snarry_reader.

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Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

Interview with Telanu

The fourth author in our Author Interview Series needs very little introduction. Telanu's stories are amongst the best-loved in the fandom. Her famous Tea Series, including the novel "A Wizard Song" and the latest installment, "Possession," can be found at her site: The Rag and Bone Shop. Be sure to also check out the hilarious "Coffee Series" and one of my favorite ficlets of all time, "A Modest Proposal." In fact, if you haven't already, be sure to read everything on her page! Telanu can be found on Insane Journal as [info]somniesperus.

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Tuesday, January 4th, 2005

Interview with kai

Our third Author Interview at the [info]snarry_reader is with kaiz, who has written in a number of fandoms. Within Harry Potter she has written several slash pairings as well as het and gen and is best known for two of the most recced Snape/Harry stories in the fandom: Contemporary Magical Innovations, by H. Granger and Wabi-Sabi. Her recent horror story A Necessary Evil (scroll down) is also fast becoming a classic.

Visit kai's website to find more insightful and beautifully written stories. One of my favorites is Justice For All, a look at how young Snape became a deatheater and spy. (Snape, McGonagall, gen. A prequel to A Matter of Trust: Part I, Snape/Kingsley cowritten with Josanpq).

Also be sure to check out kai's extensive recs page, an excellent source of recs for all sorts of genres and pairings.

(To read a Russian translation of this interview click here)

Interview )

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

Interview with Aucta Sinistra

The second in our "Author Interviews" series is with [info]auctasinistra. Aucta entered the fandom as a writer less than a year and a half ago but has quickly become popular for her consistently well-written Snape/Harry romances. She generally posts them in installments on her livejournal and then archives them at Walking the Plank, Inkstained Fingers and Skyehawke.

Interview )

Comments are more than welcome here

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

Interview With DementorDelta

We've decided to do a series of "Author Interviews" at The Snarry Reader. For our first interview we were lucky enough to snag [info]dementordelta, one of the most popular Snape/Harry authors in the fandom. Some of her best known stories include Parseltongue-tied, The Devil Will Drag You Under, Over Tea, and The Dreaming Spires. You can find her stories archived at the Snape/Harry archive, Detention, and also at Skyehawke. A smaller selection of her stories can be found at Delta's own website, Serpensortia.

(To read a Russian translation of this interview click here)

Interview )

Saturday, March 9th, 2002

Interview with Acid and Sinick

Below please find our Author Interview with Acid and Sinick. To read our Art Interview with Acid, please click here.

You can find Acid on livejournal at [info]ac1d6urn and her stories at [info]ac1dfics. Sinick can be found at [info]sinick. They write both individually and as a team. Sinick acts as a beta for Acid on Acid's wonderful WIP Price of Magic and they have co-written the lovely Snape/Harry stories: Lion About the House and Commonplace Magic. I first fell in love with their work as a team when they unveiled [info]hello_hbp. Hello_HBP is a post-HBP WIP that intermixes amazing graphics with great writing. Be sure and check it out if you haven't already.

Aubrem: Hello Acid and Sinick. I've never interviewed writing partners together - should be fun! Can you both tell me your fannish histories?

Sinick: That's fair: I've never been interviewed before!

Heh. I'm afraid I've got rather more fannish history than any one fan should probably have.

As a little kid I'd been interested in Star Trek (this was in pre-TNG days), but my first fandom obsession began at age nine, with Lord of the Rings. At the time Mosaic wasn't even a gleam in CERN's eye, so I joined the English Tolkien Society, and had a poem published when I was fifteen.

My second fannish obsession was Star Wars: it was fun to see the huge impact the first movie had on mundane awareness of matters fannish.

Then the Wrath of Khan (actually Khan himself) dragged me by my gonads into costume-sewing, con-going Trek fandom.

My first net.fandom was Deep Space Nine, specifically the Cardassians. My only previous attempt at collaborative fiction dates from that time: "Mastery", a zineful of BDSM stories written via unscripted emails, where [info]snaples wrote Bashir and I wrote Garak and Dukat.

Then Darth Maul renewed my earlier interest in Star Wars, and prompted me to write some stories for Siubhan's Sith Academy parody website.

I'm a serial monogamist as far as fandoms go, and although I'm still fond of my previous fandoms, the release of the Philosopher's Stone movie kindled instant, singleminded interest in all things Snapeish: and this is one fannish obsession that shows no sign of flagging.

Acid: My fannish record is nearly blank, compared to Sinick's. I started off in Xena femmeslash fandom around '99 (and still have a bunch of old sketches somewhere to prove it).

The summer when OotP came out I read all of the books at once, mostly because I was without a computer for a week and had nothing else to do. Never really liked the first five books that much. In my defence, book six, was definitely an exception to that, but back then it was the fandom creativity that drew me in after I checked out some of the fan sites.

HP fandom with its collection of pairings and the amount of new fanfic was quite a change from my old one. I began drawing fanart illustrations for some of the stories I read and liked; never planned to start writing myself but then the first ideas for Price sort of happened and Sinick bravely volunteered to beta-read the beginning chapters. I bet she had no clue back then what she was getting into.

Aubrem: Heh, I'm with you Sinick on the Khan, Cardassians, Sith Lords and Snape. And Acid, the same thing happened to me - I thought the books were good reads but nothing special until I found the incredible creativity in fandom (well, and hotness) and that was it. Ahem. But, this isn't about me ... So can you guys tell me what it is about Snape and Harry and the two of them paired together that you like?

Acid: Snape fascinates me. His ambiguity, his sarcasm, the contents of his mind, his nose. (Er, the nose is fun to draw; the rest mostly applies to written word.) Harry, on the other hand, makes me laugh and inspires me with his every achievement and every mistake; they can be equally grand and terrible. The impossible brat sort of grew on me; I was indifferent to his character in the books until I read his interaction with Snape in some fan fiction stories and my face lit up: whoa, all that potential! Now I like his stubbornness, his optimism, his penchant for trouble, and his easy-going nature.

As for these two together... where do I begin? I like the interaction, the arguments and the banter, the irony of them -- of all people -- ending up with one another. And now I suddenly have an image in my mind of Harry, Snape, and the resulting echoing groans (No, not that kind of image, Sinick.): "Why *me*?" And the follow up: "Why *him*?"

But seriously, they have a lot to teach and to give each other, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. I like the match (or mismatch) of their individual strengths and flaws and the conflict it creates. Harry's recklessness, impulsiveness, and enthusiasm against Snape's pragmatism, caution, and cynicism. Harry with his persistence and Snape with his eternal grudges. Pessimist and optimist. 'Ugly old git' and a 'scruffy, half-blind, moderately attractive, young idiot with a quaffle for brain and ... er, well, you get the idea.' They already bring out the worst in each other and are very capable of bringing out the best as well. They have the strongest subtle chemistry out of everyone else in the books.

Sinick: I don't really have a One True Pairing, so much as a One True Character: Snape was what piqued my interest in the Potterverse in the first place, and I still find his character, background, motives, personality and problems endlessly fascinating. He's the most layered, mysterious and morally ambiguous character in the entire series, and anti-heroes and shady characters have always intrigued me. I particularly like his intelligence, his self-reliance, his sarcasm and cynicism (I would have chosen 'cynic' for my username, but that was already taken).

The Snape half of Snarry was inevitable for Snape-obsessed me, so your question really boils down to: Why Harry?

It's easy to be annoyed by Harry as he appears in canon, particularly in OotP when the CAPSLOCK-ITIS hits. But although his stupid, self-absorbed moments in OotP irritated me as a reader, as a writer I adored JKR's characterisation of Harry: his behaviour in that book is pure teenaged boy. But I think it would be a mistake to dismiss Snape/Harry because of some annoying moments in canon: almost as grave a mistake as to dismiss Snarry and other cross-generational ships as being the province of closet ephebophiles. While I've read and enjoyed plenty of stories where Harry is still a student, I not only have so little RL interest of any kind in sub-adults I decided to remain childless, in general I'm definitely more interested by the characterisation possibilities offered by an older Harry: seventh-year, a young adult on the verge of leaving school, or even better, an adult, post-Hogwarts Harry. A more mature Harry is more interesting to me because he's more of a match for Snape than a younger student (I'm sorry but I really don't see Happily-Cowed-Sub!Snape).

But I digress. Why are Harry and Snape so good together? They incorporate all the best points of the "Opposites Attract" school of characterisation, while at the same time they are similar enough that I can see a relationship between them working (romantic cliches aside, relationships of opposites rarely last in the real world).

They're strikingly (and I think deliberately) alike in their backgrounds: both halfbloods, both coming from loveless childhoods to a Hogwarts and a wizarding world in which they are basically outsiders (though for opposite reasons: Harry is usually idolised while Snape is universally despised). Yet their personalities develop in basically opposite directions from those similar backgrounds. Harry is extraordinarily good-natured and well-adjusted (at least until fifth year), and it's not until sixth year that he shows any signs of the sarcastic repartee that seems to be Snape's stock-in-trade.

Despite the clear enmity in their pasts, they have the capacity to heal each others' wounds. They share a need for approval and belonging. Snape has never been influenced by Harry's fame; he's saved Harry's life with maximum effectiveness and minimum fuss any number of times. Snape could offer the grounding Harry needs: Harry could coax him out of his shell and share the capacity for optimism and joy that is his most attractive feature.

Aubrem: I am fascinated by the similarities you mention between Harry and Snape - halfbloods, loveless childhoods, outsiders, and no doubt more. I wonder just what JKR was up to in having Harry feel so much affinity for the Half-blood Prince. There was quite a strong link there - what did you two make of that?

Sinick: To me the similarity between Harry's background and Snape's (and Tom Riddle's, for that matter) is very deliberate on JKR's part. In fact, long before HBP came out, I was wondering about the sheer peculiarity of JKR's definition of "halfblood". Why in the world would the wizarding world draw no distinction between (a) offspring of a marriage of a wizard and a witch, one of whom had muggle parents, vs. (b) offspring of a marriage between a wizard/witch and a muggle? This lack of distinction between marriage to a muggleborn vs. a muggle was peculiar because the wizarding world clearly does draw a distinction between a muggle and a muggleborn witch/wizard (or else, why would they have coined the two distinct terms, 'muggle' and 'muggleborn', in the first place?)

I believe that JKR's definition of 'halfblood' is so oddly inclusive, solely because only thus can she put Harry (son of a wizard and a muggleborn witch), in the same category as Snape (son of a muggle and a witch) - and, for that matter, as Riddle (another son of a muggle and a witch).

As for the link between the Half-Blood Prince and Harry: ohhh, I loved, Loved, LOVED it! I think it was JKR's single greatest gift to the Snarry ship: even greater than the "on all fours in Snape's office" Occlumency scenes in OotP. (I know I'm far from the first person to observe that the very title "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is a long way of saying "Snarry".)

I remain stunned that there haven't been more stories written capitalising on the juicy plot thread that was left hanging at the end of HBP: where Harry knows that the book is Snape's, and still has to resolve the conflict between his hatred of Snape and his gratitude, admiration, even fanboying, of the Half-Blood-Prince (without whose bezoar tip, Harry would have been unable to save Ron from poisoning). Of course, that sympathy that Harry felt for the Half-Blood Prince was the inspiration for [info]hello_hbp.

I'm hoping against hope that JKR will pick up that dangling plot thread and use it to draw together the two of them before the end of the last book. The antipathy between them has been sizzling for six books: in the seventh, it's time that Harry (and by extension, the reader) is finally shown the moral lesson behind the character of Snape: that one need not be a handsome, attractive, sympathetic, nice or even a polite person, in order to be a courageous, heroic, good person.

Acid: Despite the chuckle I got out of the title of the sixth book and the idea of Harry smitten by Snape's diary, I can be a realist on rare occasions. I imagine that the similarities and Harry's (POV character’s) affinity for the Half-blood Prince were put in for the purpose of distracting the readers from the big conclusion of book six. At least that's how I would've written it. Who knows why JKR did it.

As for the resolution of that developed character link, I can only guess that she is setting up Snape to teach Harry a lesson, one that Harry would never expect to learn from him of all people. Most likely the lesson would incorporate Snape's death in some major way but let me ignore that possibility just awhile longer.

Aubrem: [info]hello_hbp is truly a thing of beauty. I can remember squeeing for real and out loud when I first saw it. Can you tell me how you two came up with the idea and how your partnership works?

Sinick: Because I'm a hopeless packrat (I keep emails and IM logs) I can trace back exactly how and when [info]hello_hbp all began. The first episode was posted Nov 24th. The day before, Acid emailed me with a plotbunny that she'd been bitten with for a challenge at [info]snape100: "Harry sending notes to Snape after killing Voldemort written on the pages ripped out of HBP's textbook." Acid included some initial plot skeletons in the email as well, (which I won't repeat here for fear of possible spoilers).

That morning we IMed: in the course of which I came up with the other half of the idea behind the community. (Various ideas for spells/potions/pages have been edited out, again for fear of possibly spoiling upcoming episodes.)

snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:33:35 AM): Anyway, I think the book thing is a terrific idea.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:33:44 AM): Loads of interesting potions that could be used to send a message.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:34:57 AM):
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:35:10 AM): Oh my, this might just grow into something bigger than I expected.
ideas snipped
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:36:00 AM): *bookmarks*, grins. Ohh, yep!
ideas snipped
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:37:19 AM): See what I mean? Yepyep this is a nice story length (certainly not a novel like PoM but a much better idea than can be crammed into a drabble
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:38:22 AM): And it's post-HBP compatible too! Wow. Reminds me of that old short story about Harry writing a letter to the Prince.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:38:32 AM): Yes! That came to my mind as well.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:38:42 AM): Could be viewed as a sort of sequel to that.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:39:05 AM): Very true! Will probably have the same humorous mood too.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:40:19 AM): *nodnods*
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:40:21 AM): Exactly.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:40:33 AM): *grins, starts looking through the list of potions to use . . . not just potions, spells too*
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:40:47 AM): Oh that's true, because he was writing spells in the margins.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:41:06 AM): Snape can use his 7th year textbook to reply, bet he has all sorts of interesting things there!
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:41:23 AM): Or just random pages out of encyclopedias
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:41:24 AM): *loves the lexicon*
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:41:48 AM): Seventh-year text would be cool. Especially since it'd have the same sort of notes.
LOTS of ideas snipped
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:54:47 AM): Eep. Channelling Price!snape: I am only at C's and there's a whole lot to this alphabet . . . ."
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:54:56 AM): Perfect!
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:55:23 AM): Ohhh you know what this would need?
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:55:30 AM): What?
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:55:32 AM): Posting in instalments. With gifs of the pages.

ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:55:55 AM): OOOOOHHHH. The thing is . . . I have the book. The pages, I mean!
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:55:59 AM): You are so right!
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:56:08 AM): OH YES YES YES I'd forgotten about that cool parchment.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:56:14 AM): Ohh you are a genius!
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:56:23 AM): This needs another comm!
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:56:25 AM): I was thinking just do the pages up in Word and use a nifty script font for Snape's notes.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:56:48 AM): *grins* YESSSS!!! Images and text.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:57:04 AM): Oh holy hell. .Combine them. Do the text up in Word and print it on that cool paper.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:57:50 AM): I'll need a ton of help on Snape's notes and contents of the pages, you know. YESSSS. Hmm. *considers* Yeah, will end up ripping out pages anyway, so would work. Will put them back in
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:58:23 AM): Wow. WOW! Great idea!
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:58:30 AM): *nods* Course I'll help out.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 9:58:37 AM): *bounces* Oh this is going to be so GREAT
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 9:59:43 AM): *got the book* hmm, lemme see if there is an image of it online soemwhere . . .
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:01:03 AM): Would probably be easier if I printed out the pages. Got this colour printer arms' length away. And a flatbed scanner at work I can use anytime.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:01:49 AM): Or, no, wait.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 10:01:53 AM): Ohh, true. I might have to send you the journal or the pages piece by piece
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:02:10 AM): SIMPLEST thing to do would be to scan a page of the paper and use that as the background. Composite the text over the top in PS
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 10:02:18 AM): Or might have to send back and forth.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 10:02:42 AM): Hmm, see, I am not sure if I'd want to handwrite the whole thing with actual ink & watercolour stains.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:03:07 AM): That's what I mean, that way if you just scan a page, use that as the background, write the text over the top in another layer.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:03:19 AM): I agree, writing all that out by hand would be a LOT of work.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:03:32 AM): By writing the text, I just mean use the Text tool.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:03:39 AM): Type it in in a cool script font.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 10:03:54 AM): True. Photoshop text might be better, plus some additions in openCanvas. Easier.
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:04:01 AM): Exactly.
ac1d6urn (11/23/2005 10:04:10 AM): Ahhh, this is going to be great!
snapeslytherin (11/23/2005 10:04:14 AM): *NODNODS*

...And off we went. The comm was created and the first post appeared the very next day.

And that should give you some idea of how we collaborate as well. Lots and lots of Y!M chat and emails flying back and forth, mad plotbunny pingpong, a feedback loop of ideas building on ideas with loads of mutual inspiration and energy. It's invigorating, often hilarious, and fun as hell. We share a silly sense of humour (and, quite often, a single brain: coming up with the same idea at the same time so often I've had to explain to Acid all about the kids' card game of "Snap" ;) )

Acid: Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! I think Sinick covered everything about the initial idea for [info]hello_hbp but I can talk more on how we collaborate. I've noticed a pattern so far. Usually we have a brainstorming session over the messenger. Pretty much anything can trigger it: an idea, by either one of us, or a back-and-forth dialogue exchange. First half of Lion About the House was based on an RP transcript, for example.

After we discussed and established the basics, I begin sketching out the initial outline of the story. When I'm sick and tired of staring at the text and can't add another word (which means done) Sinick takes over and returns the document covered with virtual red ink.

What she actually does is takes my basic layout and expands it into something often twice the size of the original. She is usually responsible for a lot of Snape’s characterisation; she expands a lot of scenes with details, and adds all those lovely turns of phrase I'd otherwise (as a non-native English speaker) have no clue how to use. I do better with basic scene layouts, straightforward dialogue, vivid imagery, and silly humour. I've gotten pretty good at Harry's thought and speech patterns, since they're so simple and I can relate to his age and mindset. Sinick, on the other hand, has years of experience writing Snape.

It's a vice versa process on the pictures for [info]hello_hbp. First Sinick sets up the layout of the notes and the fonts, then I take over her Photoshop file and add some images, textures, borders, and the final 'handwritten' tweaks to the text.

In the end we both go over the drafts and give them a few rounds of merciless editing. After that we call it done.

We fell into this routine (with me starting the draft layout and Sinick taking over it later) because it was familiar to us since our writer/beta-reader days of The Price of Magic and it worked out really well so far. Although nowadays Sinick is doing a lot more writing and I've learned to do more editing.

Since our strengths and weaknesses in writing tend to be the exact opposites of each other, they balance each other out. What you see at the end is a blend of two very different writing styles which often provides a nice variety in the final text and lets us switch between two distinct viewpoints.

Aubrem: So do you think that because you've found this partnership that works so well for you that you are both writing more fic than you would have individually? And Acid, does this cut into your time for art? Or does the partnership actually inspire more art?

Sinick: No question whatsoever: teaming up with Acid has definitely got me off my blunt end and back into writing! One glance at my LJ is enough to see how sparse my output in the Harry Potter fandom was before our collaboration began.

And what’s more, I’m sure that the quality of my writing has improved right along with the quantity. As you’ve probably noticed from my replies, I tend to be wordy, and working with Acid has helped me concentrate more on tightening my prose.

I had fancied myself something of a grammar maven, but I’m thrilled to admit that on more than one occasion, when I dug out the references to settle a question, it turned out that I was the one who was wrong. A writer’s skills never get that sort of honing from working in grand isolation.

Acid was a joy to beta for, and she’s a delight to collaborate with: she’s got a mind sharp enough to shave with. I’ve never needed to nitpick any issue with her writing (whether stylistic, grammatic, canon-compliance or whatever) more than once: she learns that fast. If I’d had more students like her I wouldn’t have climbed down from the Ivory Tower. It continues to amaze me that English is not even her native language.

Acid: A simple 'yes' to all three would probably be an understatement. I don't think I would be writing at all on this level in the fandom without Sinick. I've learned a lot about writing just from the process of her beta-reading Price early on and I've learned even more from collaborating with her.

Art is something I've been involved in for as long as I can remember. However, I didn't try writing until very recently and it's a skill I am trying to improve on daily basis. I have to push myself to be good as a writer while the art skills seem to come naturally at times. Writing is more of a challenge while art is an outlet.

I don't really have a set time for art. There are times I want to write, and times I feel like drawing (and then there are days I want to do both so I make comics) but there are really not enough hours in the day to do even a small part of everything I have in mind. Ever had that feeling? It must be common. So yeah, art takes away time from writing, writing cuts into time for art, and there is also reading and other projects and family and life and, well, it's a gamble. :)

I'd say that without Sinick, I'd probably be writing anyway but in very small (and unposted) amounts since I simply won't be able to trust my abilities enough to attempt anything bigger.

Inspiration, wow, that's a tough one. I'd say that Sinick's work affected a lot of my recent art in subtle ways. For example, many of my Snape portraits are based on her vision of the character in RPGs and [info]hello_hbp just because nearly everything I know about writing Snape I learned from her by either example or trial and error. Not to mention the illustrating I've done based or for our collaboration work. So yes, I believe it does.

Aubrem: Well, I for one love the way you two work together. Just yesterday you posted Commonplace Magic, your new The Price of Magic AU story. I have to say that the story is exquisite: full of intense, sharp emotion and some of the hottest sex I've read in a long time. Combined with your usual amazing scene-setting, it's an unforgettably beautiful story. I'd like to ask two questions about it. First, much of the scene setting of course comes from The Price of Magic, is that something you researched and have a particular interest in, Acid? How did you research it? And second, the amazing sex in Commonplace Magic, is, I think new to your partnership. I'm curious as to whether one of you took the lead in writing that.

Acid: To answer your first question, early on when I was researching London as a setting for Price, Sinick surprised me by telling me some of the first-hand experiences of her trip there. I must've overloaded her brain with all the follow-up questions.

She was the one to help me decide on the final locations for Price. The majority of them, excluding Severus' flat (which is a completely made-up place, so, don't go searching for it now) are real and suggested by her.

Last summer when Sinick went back to London and Reading for a convention, she was kind enough to take photos for me, while before that I had to resort to finding images, and, in the best case, panorama views of the places I was writing about online. Most of the beginning Price chapters were already written but the photos created such a vivid picture of all those places in my mind, I couldn't resist reusing them again.

I remember we went through a lot of trouble trying to figure out where Hermione and Neville would live in Reading, looking through the housing ads and finally checking with a local person over the web. I never did establish the exact address for them, but at least we settled on the approximate one. You could say that those places came to life for me as I began researching them and heard about them from Sinick.

And to answer your second question, it was definitely Sinick as well. (If you look at the ratings of my very early writing in this fandom, it'll probably become obvious.) I contributed a few bits and pieces like some imagery, notes for the end and the beginning of the sequence, dialogue lines (I remember laughing over the 'book' exchange but never thought it would stay in the final version). Sinick was really the one to tie it together into a coherent text. She outdid herself on this one. I did some editing on the first and second scene of the sequence, mostly for the sake of pacing and simpler phrases, but the third one (Harry's point of view) hardly required any changes. Usually I attack her complicated sentence structure and language and simplify it for Harry's simpler mindset, but when I looked over it, I didn't even think of changing anything. It sounded perfect as it was.

I really adore the fact that she was able to take very basic, mundane actions: touching, speaking, body contact and put deeper meaning and emotion behind each one.

Sinick: Acid's beaten me to it this time: I spent 3 weeks in Reading on a business trip back in January 2003, and each weekend while I was there I took the train into London and walked around different parts of the city. One day I walked up Tottenham Court Road, past Ampthill Square Estate to Camden, where I had a Guinness at the World's End. Another day I had lunch at the Cheshire Cheese and walked across the Thames at Waterloo Bridge. When I first started betaing Price for Acid and she mentioned she wanted to set it in London, the floodgates of squee were well and truly opened and I bent her ear at painful length about everything I'd seen in London and Reading. Except for Snape's apartment building, all the locations in Price (and, of course, Commmonplace Magic) came directly out of my trip-related witterings.

When I went back to Reading in July-August last year (for Accio 2005) I had the unique experience of deliberately revisiting most of those sites and doing a photoshoot explicitly for Price locations. It was the most extraordinary feeling, to have some completely aimless walks around a foreign city from several years ago, turn out to have so much impact on my life, and feeling all the added layers of meaning Price added to each location when I went back there the second time round, camera in hand.

As for the sex scenes, actually the scene in Commonplace Magic wasn't a complete first for us: Lion About the House also has an explicit sex scene. Mind you, I do have to plead guilty to having perpretrated both of those scenes. ;) Lion was my first explicit story in this particular fandom, though I've certainly roleplayed erotic scenes in this fandom before (I played Marauder-era Snape with [info]underlucius' Lucius, and [info]themostepotente's Sirius and Regulus).

Aubrem: Well, you two make a terrific team, I am so glad you found each other. Hopefully, there will be a lot more Snape/Harry to come from you guys. It's time for me to talk to Acid about her art now but I want to thank you, Sinick, for doing this interview - it's been a real pleasure.

Sinick: It's been tremendously flattering to be interviewed! Thank you so much for all your patience, Aubrem!

Acid: Thank you for interviewing us! It's been great to talk about the collaborative writing process and the two of my favorite characters.

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To read an interview and tutorial with Acid regarding her art, click here.

* * *

Acid is a computer geek and a graduate student from Illinois (and originally from a former USSR republic) who spends her rare free time catching up on Snape/Harry fanfic when she isn't drawing, writing, or programming.

Sinick is an Australian of English and Scottish background, who won the Green Card Lottery and emigrated to California, leaving a tenured professorship in Psychology for her current Silicon Valley career. She is of the firmly-held belief that you're only as old as the characters you slash (or not even as old, in Snape's case).

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Art Interview with Acid

Below please find the art portion of our interview with Acid. To read the fanfic interview with Acid and her writing partner, Sinick, click here.

Acid can be found on livejournal here and at IJ [info]ac1d6urn. Much of her art can be found here. Be sure and check out her comic series MWPP. And don't miss my personal favorite, her Snape/Harry comic: Toil and Trouble.

Aubrem: Acid, you are one of those rare creatures in fandom, wildly talented at both writing and art. Please tell us about your art background. Have you always drawn? What art training have you had?

Acid: Thank you! I guess I just want to try everything in life while there's an opportunity. Training? Well. 'None, officially' and 'my whole life' would probably summarize it. I took some courses in high school and college. Though even then my math and programming courses outweighed the art. But as far back as I remember I always liked to draw and even though I didn't get a chance to study professionally, I am constantly learning on my own, by example or reading the available literature or simply practice. Oddly enough, I keep picking up various techniques from strange places. A lot of my digital coloring techniques come from dealing with the raytracing algorithms in a computer graphics class as well as various Internet tutorials and the usual trial-and-error routine.

Aubrem: Can you talk a bit about the various media you use?

Acid: I tend try everything I can just to see if I can use a certain technique. I do a lot of mixed media work and in digital art's case, combine several programs to draw something.

In traditional art (No need to call me Sir, Professor, Snape and Harry) I combine a lot of materials at once (anything to get the intensity and brightness of the colors I need.) Usually I end up using color paper, ink, markers, watercolors, or acrylics to define the base colors of the image and afterwards use color pencils, ink, oil pastels, and whiteout for texturing and detail. Usually the materials for base colors produce dark and saturated tones, and the materials I use for texturing and detail afterwards produce very light, almost transparent tones on top of the base.

The trick to using various media like this in one painting is to remember what has to be used last and what the certain media is good for. Lighter oil pastels over a dark base color (acrylics, ink or markers) provide nice texturing for stone walls or grass, but trying to add anything else over the layer of oil pastels is nearly impossible, nothing sticks to them but whiteout. Lighter or darker hues of color pencils over saturated marker tones can define lights and shadows of the object well, but try using pencils to define base colors and markers to color in the shadows
and it'll turn out either very blurry or very messy.

When I paint digitally (Take My Hand, Morsmordre, Expecto Patronum, Silence), I usually end up curled up in a comfortable chair with the laptop and a huge digital tablet over the right armrest blocking half of my keyboard space. It's a very relaxing working atmosphere. The pen for the tablet has a mind of its own, so usually every drawing session begins with me digging through everything in the room, trying to track down where I left it last time. It's always in some obvious place I forget to check. For something that I use more often than I use actual pens or pencils, it has a way of disappearing when I need it most.

My main painting program is OpenCanvas. I have at least three versions of it installed, but usually use a free clone of OpenCanvas 2.2 which was distributed over the web as a demo by Deleter CGIllust (you can still download it from their website: CGILLust). OpenCanvas is great for the oil painting effects and can produce very bright, shiny color. Its layer modes provide a lot of control over the lighting schemes.

A lot of digital images lack texturing because it's easy to produce an area of very flat and spotless color on the computer, while simulating the irregular watercolor or bumpy canvas texture is much harder. I use another free program called Project Dogwaffle to add more textures to the final image. It is not as bulky (and not to mention as expensive) as Painter and its collection of organic brushes is really nice.

Photoshop and ImageReady are the final couple of programs that I use to adjust contrast and saturation to the completed picture and add border effects. Since the picture is almost done, most of the techniques I use at this point are similar to photo editing.

Other programs in my CG collection include ArtRage (nice brushes, needs better canvas size/zoom controls), Corel Painter (too many tools, haven't found the ones I like yet), some 3D rendering software, Bryce (landscapes), Poser (anatomy/poses reference), Flash (for vector graphics and inking outlines, if needed), Pixia (one of the free CG packages from the web), and so on.

Now, it might sound funny after this long list of software, but tools really do not matter (except maybe in the digital tablet vs. the mouse argument because the precision really does help a lot). This is coming from someone who used enlarged mode of MS Paint for pixel art for two years before switching to oekaki-like web applets and only afterwards trying out other digital painting programs.

Uhm, now that I bored everyone to death, I guess it's a good place to stop.

Aubrem: Not in the least boring! I'm kind of boggling at the amount of practice and experimentation that must have gone into developing your mixed media techniques and figuring out how best to combine the computer programs. I've noticed you do a lot of light effects - sort of dark background and then the subjects picked out in light. Is that dependent on the media you use? Your comic Toil and Trouble isn't always done that way so much though - it's more dark drawing and shading on light background. How do you decide how to do a picture? And how do you figure out to design the composition?

Acid: Ah yes, the light effects are much easier to do digitally, because computer screens (as opposed to actual paint on canvas) are naturally shiny. I can simulate those to some extent with traditional media by using light yellow pencils or oil pastels.

Usually I try out several color schemes for the picture before deciding which one fits the mood best. Darker, colder colors, like purple, blue, or green, work well with skintones, so I use these a lot for portrait backgrounds. Toil and Trouble is an exception because it uses a lot of uncolored sketches to begin with, so I often end up with darker outlines on beige or light-brown backgrounds. The color combinations I use most often would probably be red and green - they contrast well, visually as well as symbolically in this fandom - as well as yellow and purple, the natural light and shadow colors.

For composition, I tend to start with very simple shapes: curves, circles, or lines. The composition of Lessons Learned, for example is based on a couple of diagonal lines. This technique really helps if you want to express some sort of movement from one side of the image to another. Then there are the usual composition tricks, like the rule of thirds and such.

Aubrem: I didn't know about the Rule of Thirds, that's fascinating. I need to read up on art composition - interesting stuff. Now, I want to ask you about the thing I'm so excited about - the new [info]snarry_reader layout! When we decided it was time for a new layout and asked you if you might do some art for it I never expected anything so spectacular - it's gorgeous! I love every element of it. How did you create it?

Acid: The layout was fun to make. You contacted me on my day off, so it was great timing. I was able to start on the drawing in the morning and finish it overnight. The night before I saw the email, I drew a quick sketch I was never planning to use again. It served as the idea for the layout on the next day.

Let me do a quick walkthrough of how I went from the sketch to the final version of the picture.


Outline sketch.

The composition techniques taught me a lot in a process of designing the layout at the sketch level. Mostly they deal with the focal points and the leading lines which have to be established early on when you begin the drawing.

In the initial sketch I was experimenting with the dynamic movement. It's really important to keep track of it in the image, especially when you're drawing anything that involves an action: someone casting a spell in a duel, jumping, running, kissing and so on. With the action scenes you aren't just responsible for showing one moment in time, but also have to suggest what happened just before and what will happen afterwards. Without the suggested movement you'll get two posed mannequins and absolutely nothing happening in the picture.

Drawing a kiss is really a lot like drawing dynamic fight scene in comic books with the character getting punched in the face; you get the same sort of action (Harry) and reaction (Snape) concentrated around and leading into a single focal point: the punch itself or in this case the kiss. Once you figure out the pattern of that kind of movement, the direction and the curve of it, everything else in the picture bends and follows those two or three initially sketched leading lines. For example, Harry's shoulder, neck, and chin form one of the suggested lines: he’s moving forward. His hand and the curve of Snape's back and hair, is another: Snape is reacting. Those two lines curve and lead the eye right to the focal point: their mouths.

Once the leading lines and the focal point are established, everything else is just a matter of adding detail. I don't erase anything unless I absolutely have to, even in the initial sketch, I turn down the opacity of the sketch layer down to 25% to 50% and redraw the lines I’d like to keep on a new layer while zooming in more and more into the drawing each time. Sometimes it takes several layers to ink the drawing completely. If I want to add a new object to the drawing, I have to zoom all the way out so I can see how it will affect the entire picture. Only then, when I make sure it looks all right, do I zoom back in and add detail.

For example, at some point I was trying to draw the curtain and the window at Spinner's End. Halfway through it I realised that the edge of the curtain with its suggested additional movement line led the eye away from the original focal point, so I replaced it with something less distracting, just a window with the row of potion bottles smoothing out the corner edge.

I wasn't planning on drawing the second half of the layout at all, but I was beginning to realise that the image wasn't narrow enough for the header. I decided to color it first and see how it looked.

Right panel Coloring.

My digital coloring technique is pretty simple. I make use of layers and layer modes and break down the coloring process into three steps: drawing the colors, the shadows, and the highlights. Each set is drawn on its own separate layer with the mode set to either Add (highlights) or Multiply (shadows or colors) so the color overlays the outline instead of blocking it. The flat colors are just what they are, the actual colors of the objects. Harry's shirt is red, Snape's robes are brown, there's green stuff in the potion bottles (except for that one stray cheerfully symbolic red), the chunk of the wall behind Snape is blue-green (it took me forever to figure out the correct hue until I gave in and used the exact opposite of brown on the color wheel to contrast Snape's hair and robes). Harry's hair is not black, but a very dark purple. There are light skintones and dark saturated colors everywhere, but note the lack of absolute white or black. That's because there are no truly black or white objects, even the parchment behind Harry, the lightest object there, is not quite white.

The next step is the shadows. They are drawn on a separate layer with the blend mode set to Multiply. (You can do this in any program that supports layers and layer modes: Photoshop, Painter. I use OpenCanvas.) What the Multiply mode does is overlay the colors of a layer (in this case purple) on top of the previous layers. It's a lot like painting with the purple watercolor over a previously colored piece. Purple adds onto whatever color is below and produces a different hue and shade.

Shadows are always drawn with purple, since it's the opposite of yellow (the color of natural light). The hue of purple changes from blue to magenta just as the hue of light in the picture can range from orange to a very light green, but it is recommended to use a single hue for the image or the lighting will look inconsistent. When painting shadows, you have to keep track of the light source in the picture and the direction the light falls, and assign the shadows to the objects accordingly.

After the shadows, the same is done with the highlights. All highlights are also drawn on a separate layer with the mode set to Add (in OpenCanvas) and Lighten or Screen (in Photoshop). The Add mode is similar to shining some light on the picture in the areas painted with color (in this case yellow). Think of it as setting up a lot of multicoloured flashlights to shine on certain areas of the picture. The highlights are all painted on this Add mode layer according to the light source and the positions of shadows. Just as with shadows the highlight color has to be a single hue, preferably the exact opposite of the shadow hue. However, there are exceptions with the shiny objects that reflect light or transparent objects that let the light pass through it: the glow around them takes on the color of the object itself, such as with the potion bottles.

At the end there are four layers, each affecting the ones below it. From bottom to top, they are: outline, color, shadows, and highlights. With the purple shadows on the Multiply layer and the yellow highlights on the Add layer the flat colors come to life and change into a wide variety of hues. And what's more, it's possible to tweak the opacities and the colors for each layer without changing the rest of the layers. So, for example, if I want to change the background color from brown to green, I can replace one flat area of color with another on the color layer without having to repaint the shadows or the highlights all over again: the old ones will affect the new color just the same. It saves a lot of time.

With the highlights and the shadows complete, the drawing is mostly done at this point but usually I add more detailed highlights on another 'light' layer with a very small brush or a pencil, such as hair or clothes outlines, as well as very small round highlights on the shiny objects. Sharp edges (the book) are also outlined that way.

Left panel coloring.

After I finished the first part of the drawing, I realised that it needed another side. I recycled the original outline and left Snape's figure in it, removing Harry's, and changing a few things around. Pretty much everything else (the background, the layout) stayed the same. It's fascinating how the mood of the same drawing changed after I removed one person and changed the color scheme. I went through the same process of painting colors, lights, and shadows in the second part and then put both of the images together at the end. There were a couple of additions such as textures and a border but mostly that was it.

Final result

Below are some links to screenshots of the bottles to give you an idea of the size of the original drawing. It was around 6000 pixels across when I joined both parts. This is also the zoom level I use in order to paint the details (click on each image to see the actual size, approximately 800x600).

The outline

Colors + Outline

Shadows + Outline

See the following pictures: Shadows + Colors + Outline, Highlights over black background with inverted outline (otherwise the layer doesn't show up on white), Outline + Color + Highlights, Outline + Color + Shadows + Highlights, a screenshot of the bottles on the other side, and the final image after all the texture and color manipulations in Photoshop and Project Dogwaffle here.

Aubrem: Wow, that's quite a tutorial. Very, very interesting. Let me link now to a lovely mixed media tutorial you did last year in case anyone has missed it: here ETA: Picture links broken. Find them here.

I think that's about all I can ask of you for this interview. : ) I want to thank you again for the gorgeous layout along with this fascinating tutorial. This interview has been very interesting - my new knowledge helps me appreciate the art all the more. I look forward to both new art and new stories from you in the future.

Acid: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about all things artistic. I don’t get a chance to do it often to this extent. Hope I didn’t bore everyone with my color theories and there’ll definitely be more of both, art and stories.

* * *
To read a Fanfic Writing Interview with both Acid and Sinick, click here

Broken Links altered 2nd May 2008

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