Sunday, May 6, 2012

Interview with HalfHope!

Earlier this week I, Little Miss Mionie, sat down (aka: talked via email correspondence!) with the fantabulous HalfHope, author of infamous fics such as Hush, Little Baby, Hijacked, Terrors and Joys and I Do, to talk about her fics, the fandom and her writing process. Read below to find some some very interesting information about I Do revealed....

Hi HalfHope! Thanks for letting little ole’ Nightlock interview you!

Thank you for thinking of me! I’m excited to be here. :)

“I Do” is your most popular fic, with over 1,500 reviews. What do you make of this response?
I remember when I Do hit 1,000 reviews, I thought (after asking myself how in the world it happened), “Well, that’s going to be the last milestone in reviews for this one.” Then even after it was complete, somehow people kept finding it, and the movie boosted it to its current count. I’m excited so many people took time to read and review. Whenever I get a review, not just of I Do but anything, it makes me just feel warm and fuzzy to know my stuff is being read.

Do you feel as though this fandom has many reviewers that take the time to critique your creative work? Do you like this, or are excited reviews more your style?
I really appreciate reviews that critique my work. After all, if no one does, how will I get better? Other than one troller, all of my reviewers have been lovely, whether or not they like what I wrote. I do get more excited reviews than critiques, but I think both have their place. If every one I got was a critique, then I’d probably just get beaten with it and never share my work again. But if every one was an “OMG! Amazing!” then they’d all blend together and I’d get a big fat head. 

Do you think there is a big want in the fandom for AU fics?
Oh, most definitely. One of the comment I get most for I Do is people feeling like Mockingjay didn’t deliver it for them. Now, I love Mockingjay (I’m the minority, it’s my favorite of the trilogy) but some people looked for more, especially with Peeta and Katniss. I think AU fics give them more of what they hoped for in Mockingjay. And even for people like me who loved it, AU is just fun to imagine the characters in different situations.

Where did you get the inspiration for I Do?
A simple “what if.” I asked myself what would happen if Katniss and Peeta did get married by the Capitol. I pictured an awkward scene of getting to a hotel room for their wedding night, Katniss freaking out, and Peeta being…well, Peeta. Then he whipped out annulment papers and I got excited and knew I had to write it. I Do started as a one-shot, but as I noted in the second chapter, my imagination ran away with itself. After that things just flowed out from there.

Did you find anything hard to write in it? I am always struck when I read I Do at how wonderfully you kept canon elements in the story. I felt as though these really kept the story grounded – a believable AU, if you will – was this a conscious decision?

My decision to continue or not was the hardest thing for me in I Do. I started it before Mockingjay came out. I’d already written my ideas of what District 13 would be like in another AU of mine, my second fic, Hush Little Baby and its sequel, Down Will Come Baby. I didn’t really want to do that over again, so I figured I’d leave it off like CF did. Then it took me longer to finish it than I anticipated, and MJ came out. I agonized whether I made the right initial decision. The hard thing about fics is that you publish them chapter by chapter, and then you can’t really go back and edit. Figuring out where to take things from where I left them was hard. But after pounding my head against my wall and thinking some more, I knew that to start off I Do, I just put the characters into the situation I thought of. So I tried to do the same with the District 13 and other characters we know. A lot is the same, because some of the same decisions would have been made, however events that happened before left the outcomes and responses different than in MJ. The Capitol would still hijack Peeta, but Katniss would demand to act sooner, resulting in a less hijacked form, but still difficult to deal with. Coin would still be evil, but with new complications of dealing Katniss, her tactics would be different. I hoped to keep elements of the story that I love: its honesty in war and the pain it brings, while combining it with my fluffy side. Fluff with pain, so to speak. So yes, I definitely kept the book’s message and its characters in my head while writing and canon played a huge part in it.

Something that I also thought you did wonderfully in I Do was the growth of Katniss. Despite her circumstances, she grows into someone who does love Peeta, and grows into a motherly sort of character (ie. She keeps her pregnancy later on in the fic, although miscarriages later.) without becoming an OOC character. I honestly felt like it was one of the few times in the fandom where Katniss didn’t turn into the idealised version of a woman (a dutiful wife and mother) because the author wanted marriage and babies. There were definite political underpinnings to this plotline, and the character progression was kept in check by her fighting spirit. Basically, I’m saying you are awesome and this fic is so layered. Was it originally this way? Or did Katniss not progress this much?

First, I feel like I have to say thank you for that lovely comment. I strive to stay in-character and Katniss can be hard for me, because I’d be running down the aisle to marry Peeta and have his babies, haha. As for your question, I feel like Katniss’s development outside of growing to love Peeta comes from my decision to continue on. That’s when the war starts and it’s more than just the two of them and their relationship. So, as I said in the last question, it wasn’t originally that way. Her layers, as you say, come out in the latter half of the fic.

Read more of HalfHope's interview under the cut!

Your I Do-verse is massive, with a lot of missing moments such as “Some Brotherly Advice”, “Almost Believing” and “Letting Her Go”. Did you write these because fans asked for them, or did they just not fit in the final version original story?

In I Do Gale mentioned certifying Rory to kiss Prim. A reviewer commented on how she’d love to see that, and I was like, “Why did I not think to write it before?” Thus, “Some Brotherly Advice” came to be. As for the other two, I’d been donating fics (such as “It Was”, “I Asked for District Twelve” and “Bought and Sold”) for various charities. One, Fandoms Fight the Floods, I thought to myself, “What would get people to donate?” As I Do was most popular, and probably 99% of the readership Peeta fans, I thought a chapter from his perspective might get more people to donate (conniving of me, I know, but it was for charity). Thus, I wrote “Letting Her Go.” Since it wasn’t (really) anything they didn’t know, I decided not to post it like the others originally. But to make it up to people who couldn’t donate for whatever reason, I wrote “Almost Believing” for everyone. Then, about a month ago, I got a PM from a reader asking where to donate so she could read “Letting Her Go.” With the fandom growing so much and not everyone getting the opportunity to donate, I decided to go ahead and post “Letting Her Go” for everyone. So, they were mostly just treats for me and the readers, never planned to be in the original fic or to even be written in the first place. 

You’ve been nominated, won and been runner-up for so many awards in the fandom, mostly for I Do and Sing For Me. Do you think these accolades have helped with the popularity of your fics?

I’d say so. I think it’s how people find my fics even now, when I’m not updating. With so many HG fics now, they get drowned out. But when people want good ones, they look at who got awards or was nominated. So there’s no doubt for me this helps with how many responses I get.

I feel like we’re a bit connected in this fandom; we’ve both written one-shots for Fandom Fights the Floods and Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness! Why did you decide to contribute fics to these awareness and fundraising campaigns?
I’m a soft-hearted person. Seriously, all of those charity commercials make me bawl no matter how cheesy they are. I love helping people however I can, and when huge devastations like the floods or tsunamis happen, I find myself feeling helpless in what to do, being just a poor college student. So when I found these organizations, I pounced at the chance to contribute my work and bring awareness of them in the HG fandom.   

Were you nervous about introducing so many OC’s in Sing For Me?

Sing for Me was probably the one fic where I didn’t stress as much about characterization. The characters in it are largely minor or OC’s, so I could make up a lot of them however it fit me. Whereas with something with Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, etc. I find myself needing to analyze every word and action they say and do. So, in that sense, Sing for Me was a breath of relief!

How do you feel about the Hunger Games fandom at the moment?
MissScarlett05 wanted to know how the series has impacted your life.
I have a strange mix of feeling toward the fandom right now. On the one hand, I love that more people are into the series, which means more fans to talk with and get new insights from. On the other hand, I’m a book hipster, and to see a book that I read three years ago now in obscurity in the limelight is strange. Not bad, just strange.

Oh, MissScarlett05, this question! I hope I can get it out right. As a writer, it’s taught me so much about everything as far as making a novel interesting and engaging, from characters to plot to the world-building. But it’s taught me that’s not all that matters in a novel. It has real substance. It has grey areas. It’s honest. I love that, and that’s probably why I love Mockingjay the most, for its gritty honesty. Of course, it’s led me to meet wonderful people and carried to me to my new obsession, and a lifetime one. I’ll keep it at that, otherwise I’ll just keep rambling.

 I know you’ve taken a break to concentrate on original writing – but do you still read fanfiction?
I’m judging for The Pearl Awards, so yes! I have been reading fanfiction. This past year at college for me has been a lot busier than the year before, but I try to get some in whenever I can. Not as much as before, though, unfortunately.

On that note, do you think the enormously positive response to your fics has encouraged you to venture into the world of original story writing?

Actually, I wrote original before I wrote fanfiction. I know, backwards from most situations, isn’t it? I think that’s what makes THG so incredible. If I’d known what fanfiction was in the height of my Harry Potter craze I probably would have written it, but I was only introduced to fanfiction through the internet, and thus in my Twilight days (my parents were stricter on computer and internet use when I was younger, so I didn’t really get into the internet culture until I was about 16). I tried to write some for Twilight, and one of them I did publish, but for the most part I couldn’t get steam with them. Then THG came along and I just couldn’t stop writing it! But I think the responses I’ve gotten from the fanfiction have encouraged me to keep going with my original writing. After all, if people are enjoying my writing, I must be on the right track, right? I’m not perfect or publishable yet, I’m the first to admit it, but fanfiction has given me the confidence that I have rough talent and with work (a lot of work) I might just be able to land and agent and publish one day.

Can you recommend us any of your fave THG fics?
Well, I can’t recommend any nominations from this year’s Pearl Awards yet as to keep my preferences to the Judge’s Award a secret, but I’ll point you to some others. “sweetheart” by koalakoala is amazing. I love “Twenty-Four Victors, Twenty-Four Tributes: Meet Your Quarter Quell Contestants” by aimmyarrowshigh, “Peeta Mellark Ruined My Life” by Geeky-DMHG-Fan, “Moments” by Ceylon205, and “Secrets” by Maia Mill. And of course my Mr. and Mrs. Everdeen shipper heart adores “Too Little, Too Late” by Silver Tongued Wonder. A cross-over between THG and Twilight that I love is “Tributes vs. Vampires” by crisskisses. You’ll laugh your face off at it.

Lastly, is there anything you’d like fans of your stories to know? Perhaps a secret of Katniss’ in I Do that never made it into writing…or a wild theory that you’d like to kill?
Well, first I want them to know that they’re amazing and I appreciate them so much. I guess one thing that sometimes people bring up in reviews is the fact that in I Do, I end it while Katniss and Peeta are still young, and just getting re-married, so there’s no babies. People want to know if they have kids or why I didn’t include them. I ended the fic there because in my AU world, I didn’t see Katniss having a baby after her miscarriage and I thought that’d upset some readers. Of course, I as the author ended it at their wedding night, so if you the reader picture them having kids, then go for it and imagine them with little Dara and Orion, or Primrose and Cinna, or whatever names you give their kids. I just don’t seem them having any babies.

Thanks, HalfHope!

You can find our previous interviews with Holymfwickee and Medea Smyke hereWant us to recommend your favourite THG fanfic author? Send us a tweet @nightlockrecs!

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