Thank you for all the lovely reviews, ladies.

Jess' Questions

In your stories, there is a prevalent moodiness/darkness to your writing, but outside of MNFF, you are quite upbeat. How might you categorise this disparity?

I've been mulling over this question since you first posted these, and I'm not sure I'm any closer to an answer. I think you may have flummoxed me, because I've never thought to question it before.

The obvious answer would be to say that I get my dark side out in my writing and exorcise it, but I don't think that's the case, because writing is rarely a cathartic exercise for me. I don't have a particularly intimate connection to the darker elements of my writing, and I rarely write directly from personal experience.

I think it's probably just down to the much less profound fact that characterisation is by far the part of writing that I find most interesting, and writing characters in darker situations tends to present more of a challenge than saccharinely fluffy situations. It's more interesting to have conflict in a story as far as I'm concerned.

Also, I like the challenge of creating atmosphere. I always prefer a dark, brooding atmosphere to outright horror or angst. I love reading and writing stories with that sort of unsettling atmosphere. It's the reason that one of my all-time favourite books is Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.

Okay, you have a fascination with candles. Pour quoi?

I blame writing Offerings!

I think actually it probably all comes back to my love of atmosphere. Candles are great shorthand for setting up so many atmospheres from a dark ritual to something much more meditative and spiritual and from lighting a grief-stricken vigil to a very romantic or erotic moment.

How has your post-secondary education (uni) played a role in your writing?

Which one, law or chemisty? I think they both have both in terms of occasionally inspiring subject matter and in informing the way I structure my thoughts and consequently my writing.

I don't think I'd have written Unforgiven were it not for being a law student at the time. The underlying theme of justice vs the law was something that was triggered by what I was studying and fascinated me at the time.

Similarly, I have a fondness for technical, potion-making detail in fics that probably stems from all the time spent in a lab (and is one of the reasons I'm quite so fond of a certain Potions Master because I can relate to his reverent passion for the subject).

In a somewhat less concrete way, I've been told that I make my various obscure pairings quite persuasive, and I think that's probably because, unwittingly, I end up applying my legal training and structuring the story so as to present an argument for the validity of the pairing through my writing, if that makes any sense?

I think as well, the very ordered, logical way that chemistry taught me to think probably comes through to some extent. As a result of being a scientist, I do tend towards being very concise too. My first draft of a story generally ends up being just the bare bones and then I have to go back through it adding all the detail afterwards.

You have mentioned that VV's In the Eyes of Others changed how you felt about Severus Snape, hence making him your favourite character. Who was your favourite character before that?

Probably Harry. I certainly mostly wrote Harry when I first started out (most of those stories are no longer up as they were a bit rubbish though >.<), but whilst he remains one of my favourite characters in canon, I got a bit bored of writing him. I found the fact that we know him so very well made him simultaneously very easy to write and yet very hard to get exactly right. The fact that we know him so well meant that I ended up feeling a need to put him in increasingly more and more extreme situations as well in order to find the challenge of writing him in a situation that it wasn't immediately obvious as to how he'd react (hence Unforgiven).

When writing about Severus, some... people like to portray him as an angsty, emo, sex god who doesn't know how hawt he is (airline sick bag, please). You manage to keep him canon, yet have the ability to write him in so many different situations. How did you come by such a deep understanding of his character?

Aww thank you, dear - I'm blushing.

Good old hard graft really, I suppose. I've spent a lot of time reading and studying him (in canon and good fanfics) and thinking about his motivations and the details of his character (seriously, I have a whole post buried somewhere in my LJ about how he takes his tea, which aptly demonstrates the ridiculous level of overthinking).

Oddly enough though, when I write him, I don't do too much overthinking at all. I actually find him one of the easiest characters to write and it just sort of comes out, almost more like taking dictation than writing.

You have a fixation with rarepairs that I have only lately come to realise that I share. Where did that come from? Which rarepair is your favourite (though I think I know the answer)?

I'm not sure where it came from really - I suppose mostly from a fondness for minor characters and the challenge of trying to make a pairing work that isn't already tied up in a neat little bow for me by canon.

As for my favourite, that would be Katie/Oliver. Those two would be the nearest I come to having an OTP, although that term never seems quite fitting when I'm actually more than happy to pair either of them with someone else where necessary too.

You and I share a love of Katie/Oliver as a pairing. Why was this such a natural leap for us to make, instead of the indomitable Mr Wood falling for a girl his own age (OC) or one closer to his age (Alicia, perhaps)?

Like I've said, the first time I wrote them was almost accidental really. I had the idea for Hard Loss and needed characters to fit to the plot. Oliver was an obvious choice, and I needed to pair him with someone who understood his passion for Quidditch, which ruled out the likes of Hermione or Lavender, but at the same time it needed to be someone who was less intense and obsessive than him and who could ground him, which ruled out people like Angelina or Ginny, so I ended up with Katie almost by default in the end.

The thing was, when I started writing them, they took the story and completely made it their own, and I just fell in love with the dynamic between them as I wrote them (which I'm sure you can relate to ).

Elene's Questions

You obviously like Other Pairings! Which is your favourite and why?

Katie/Oliver – something about them just fits so perfectly. They have a very real dynamic between them when written well – they aren't some big, overblown, forbidden love or anything like that; they are just ordinary in the most human, relatable fashion. They are minor enough characters too to give plenty of space to play in, but they are rooted firmly enough in canon that there is canon context to writing about them still – so they are the perfect balance for me.

What would you say is your niche, your comfort zone in fanfiction?

Probably angsty romance. I like writing pairings because I love exploring the dynamics between characters, but I prefer something darker and weightier rather than anything too fluffy.

What's the furthest you've ever stepped outside of it? Have you ever been tempted to just write something completely different.

I'd like to think I've experimented a bit with my writing. Some things were a stylistic experiment like the non-linear structures in The Raven Woman and The Day Before, and there are many times that I've tried out new characters or new concepts.

Some stories are lighter in tone than my usual D/A fare too, like the The Bookshop Owner's Gift or Purely a Business Arrangement, which are probably both closer to a standard romance story, and then there's Pay Back, my Severus/Bellatrix story, which is virtually crack!fic.

Your Spew Spooky Swap was amazing to read. You seem to really have a way with creating a certain mood and tone. Where do you go to for more emotive scenes? Do you do anything like listen to music etc.?

You ladies really are making me blush!

I have to listen to music when I'm writing – if I can find the right song or songs for a scene, it really sets the mood for me. Sometimes it's a playlist and sometimes it's just a single song on repeat.

For my SSS, it was a playlist of some Muse, Sarah McLachlan and Evanescence.

In general, are you a canon or non-canon girl? What is your favourite canon pairing or moment?

Non-canon, every time. I like some of the canon pairings in canon, but generally in fanfic they just don't interest me because they've been done so many times that it's rare to see anything fresh and new. I guess I don't really have a favourite canon pairing, unless the unrequited Severus/Lily counts?

In terms of moments, I don't know – there are just so many. Perhaps Harry's walk into the forest to his death in DH, just because it moved me more than any other moment in canon.

If you could chose, would you like a prequel or sequel?

Sequel, I think, because generally Marauder Era doesn't interest me that much (or at least the Marauder Era stories that JKR would be likely to give us – I very much doubt she'd write Severus-centric stories or an explanation of what went wrong with Peter or really messed up Sirius/Lily adultery, which are the sorts of Marauder Era stories I'd enjoy), but I do have a fondness for next gen so I wouldn't mind seeing what would happen next.

Paige's Questions

Hi Hannah, I reviewed Hard Loss. The others have asked so many good questions, all I can think of is: what book(s) are you currently reading, and if you had a rainy day and a library at your disposal, what book would you like to read (or reread)?

I just finished reading Sarah Dunant's [i]Sacred Hearts[/i[, which was surprisingly interesting given the very limited setting of a sixteenth century convent, but it was very characterised, and I've just started Kate Atkinson's Human Croquet, which I've not really got that far in to so as to have formed much of an opinion on yet (I'm still not entirely sure what's going on).

As to what I'd read or reread given a rainy day and a library, there's hundreds of books that I'd love to read, but I have realised recently that I've never actually read any Dickens, and that's a glaring omission that I probably ought to rectify. Rereading-wise, perhaps Gone with the Wind, because I do love it but I always put off a reread because it's such an epic undertaking.