Interview with TheTrueSpartan, a Fanfic Author

King Leonidas of Sparta... Probably.

Introduction:

I used to write short stories as a kid, like a lot of people do, filled with danger and death, and no, they weren’t very good!

The following is a conversation with TheTrueSpartan, a fan fiction author who is currently writing Fate, a Harry Potter fan fiction where Ron Weasley is the main character. the story is known for not only being well written, and very dark, but also for its size. It has already more than three million words.

Spartan has a discord server, created by his fans. I actually asked for help in finding a feature image for this interview there, but unfortunately size related issues caused me to find another image at the last moment. If you’re from that server, please forgive me if the image sucks.

Interview:

Me: I like to start simple. So, tell us a little about yourself?

Spartan: I’m TheTrueSpartan, and I’m 26 years old. I was raised in Australia, but I was born in Pakistan. I don’t remember much from my time there, as I left for Africa when I was very young, and then later settled in Australia. I enjoy reading, writing, playing the occasional videogame, and overall indulging my love of lore and history, no matter which world it’s from.

Me: When did you begin writing?

Spartan: I used to write short stories as a kid, like a lot of people do, filled with danger and death, and no, they weren’t very good! I left creating writing behind by the time I was a teenager, as I was more focused on reading and enjoying the social aspects of school. I only returned to writing three years ago, when I released the first chapter of Fate on FFN. After reading a lot stories on the site, I found myself searching long and hard for a decent story with Ron, arguably my favourite character in Harry Potter, at the helm. I’d seen his character bashed over and over again in the various stories I’d read, and although I found myself growing increasingly annoyed with the bashing, I was only truly discouraged, and salty, when I realised that no one was lining up to write a story about Ron. All the best ones had been abandoned long before I’d arrived, and the ones still being written were short-stories that had little time for character growth and analysis. So, I simply decided to open up a word document and get to work, to share the love I have for the Harry Potter Universe with people across the world, but also to make a change within the fandom, no matter how small it might be.

Me: So, a lot of people would say that you should have written an original story instead of a fanfic. Many authors even hate those. What do you have say to these people?

Spartan: A lot of people, especially my family, do say that. They think my time would be better spent writing my own work, but their whole reasoning is money… It’s all about making money. To the people who tell me to write my own work in order to generate a profit, I also invite you to turn your favourite hobby into your job. You’ll quickly find that what once brought a smile to your face will now crinkle your brow. I write simply because I enjoy writing. And since I adore the Harry Potter Universe and all the whacky, loveable characters in it, why not combine the two? Now, there’s a few Authors out there who don’t like the idea of fan fiction, like G.R.R.M, and I can totally see where they are coming from. We know what the majority of these fan-fictions are like, let’s be honest here… They’re not very good, and if I were Martin, and I saw my complex characters and plot-threads being butchered by fans, I’d be mad too. Luckily, Rowling is a big supporter of fan fictions, and there’s no other fandom like Harry Potter when it comes to fan fiction. If Rowling personally reached out to me and asked me to stop, I would, but I don’t think she’s going to do that anytime soon.

Me: I think that writing a fanfic is great practice for writing stories of your own in the future. What do you think about it?

Spartan: Definitely! Creative writing isn’t what I originally thought it was. I needed a lot of constructive criticism from my readers to get better, things like flow and paragraph structuring meant nothing to me at first, and it’s only through years of writing a fan fiction that I can safely say I’m a better writer than I used to be. When one day, I do begin my own project, all the lessons I’ve learned and all the pitfalls I’ve discovered will help me immensely, of that I have no doubt!

To the people who tell me to write my own work in order to generate a profit, I also invite you to turn your favourite hobby into your job. You’ll quickly find that what once brought a smile to your face will now crinkle your brow.

Me: I used to read a lot of fanfic. I saw how many authors just love tormenting their characters. Do you think there is a difference between pointless suffering, and actual character development?

Spartan: It’s a bit of a running joke that tragedy = character development, and although this is true, as facing adversity does change people going forward, it’s not the only way. To use a character from my own story, let’s look at Daphne. She begins the story as any 11 year old heiress would; she’s quite simply used to getting her way and she’s quick to judge Ron on superficial qualities (His eating habits, his general lack of manners, and his limited sense of understanding of the ‘nobility’) She is quick to irk, quick to judge, quick to play the victim and cry, and even quicker at getting jealous over petty things no one should care about. She, so far, has not faced any brutal torment at the hands of some evildoer, nor did she suffer any real challenge from Ron when she was behaving like a brat, and yet she’s turned into a very caring and loyal friend over time. Ron even goes as far as to say that she’s his best friend, the person who’s always looking out for him. Her attitude changed a lot during her time with Ron, as she was sort of forced to take on a role of a carer. It is through Ron facing adversity, and Daphne witnessing it firsthand, that she’s able to see past superficial values and realise that its merit that counts, not your birth.

Now, I do understand why some authors, and I’m guilty of this, enjoy tormenting their characters… An epic without conflict is not an epic at all, and no one is going to keep reading if there’s no ‘hook’ to catch their mind. Tragedy and loss are very easy tools to use to grip people, and I think a lot of writers get lost in that, even myself. You shouldn’t just torment a character for the sake of torment, obviously, as that gets stale quickly, but if the writer is able to use this torment to push the character further on their journey, or, in a completely different direction, then by all means, go ahead!

Good times don’t change people nearly as much as hard times do, but you can and should still be a little creative about how you develop your characters. Some characters in your story don’t need development at all sometimes, and not every character has to learn things the hard way. Just remember that people learn in hundred of different ways, and there’s nothing wrong with a few boring steps leading up to a big change in a character.

Me: You write such huge chapters. What kind of writing routine do you use, and do you have a daily quota of words?

Spartan: I used to have a daily quota, when University was a bit more relaxed, but I’ve since abandoned that method because I found myself being discouraged more often than not. When you have a set quota of words, and you don’t meet said quota, there’s a big chance that you’ll feel disappointed in yourself, at least I often did. So, I decided that instead of setting a ‘word quota’, I should instead set up a ‘quality quota’.

When I sit down to start writing, I make it my life’s goal not to look at the word count. I instead try my hardest to focus on what I’m putting on the page, and once I’m done, I read it all back to myself. If it meets my standard, then I’m happy and I’ll keep what I’ve written. However, if it’s not good enough for me, if I feel as though certain emotions didn’t get through or I failed to convey a character’s thoughts properly, then I work on that the next day, and move on only once I’m pleased.

Me: You’re an Australian. I’ve seen some really serious cricket fans from there. Is cricket popular there?

Spartan: Yeah, it’s very popular, and it also happens to be our national sport! Especially in the countryside! My mates and I used to play on the school field, but it’s a sport that can only be enjoyed with good weather. It’s a summer sport, so I don’t usually see many people playing it. A more popular sport in Australia would be footy, which is a bit like rugby but with no padding and no nonces. Sport in general is a huge part of Australian culture, I used to play a bunch of sports in high school myself. Cricket, squash, tennis, badminton, basketball, footy, indoor soccer, and even one ping-pong tournament!

Me: Do you think that reading is important for a writer?

Spartan: As Tyrion Lannister said ‘A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge’. I think reading is something that everyone should be doing, even those who don’t plan to write. Reading helps the brain process information, it keeps your imagination and focus on the words you’re reading, and the pictures they’re painting in your mind. With a movie, its so easy to just disengage and sit there, absorbing nothing but still having a bit of fun, but with a good book, you can’t just turn off your brain.

Things like flow and paragraph structuring meant nothing to me at first, and it’s only through years of writing a fan fiction that I can safely say I’m a better writer than I used to be.

Me: What do you do for rest and recovery?

Spartan: I like to go out with my friends, but if they’re not around, I just play some games or read a book. I’m currently doing a reread of the Harry Potter novels, and I’m on the fourth one! Every night, I read a few pages, and then promptly pass out and lose where I was. I know exercise is also really good for stimulating the brain, but I’m a bit lazy these days, so I need to get back onto that!

Me: How do you deal with the criticism?

Spartan: Depends on the criticism, really. If you’ve read Fate, then you know I take constructive criticism very seriously. If I believe someone wants to genuinely help me better my craft in any way, then that’s the person I’m going to be talking to. However, sometimes people are just out to be mean, and although you can spot them easily enough and even ignore them, some of them can be real tossers. I’m lucky to have such a positive fanbase of my own, and even luckier that I don’t get haters, but my advice to anyone facing these issues would be to have thick-skin and a need to improve oneself. Like I said before, you will need adversity in your life to help you become the best you, and being criticised can be very difficult for some people. Take the good criticism and apply it to your work, power through the pointless hate, and develop a love for yourself and your work. The best way to deal with criticism, wanted or unwanted.

Me: Now, what do you think about magical combat? personally, I feel that Harry Potter fanfic authors wrote much more creative battles compare to the original. My favorite is Lord Blacks Versus Voldemort in the story A Black Comedy.

Spartan: I’ve not really seen much combat in the fan fictions I’ve read through, but I think a big part of why they feel bigger and better is because they generally are. Rowling was not writing for a young adult audience, nor a mature one. She wanted Harry Potter to pander to EVERYONE, while her publishers realised that the most money would come from kids. Rowling was quite limited with what she could put on her page, as she once stated herself in an interview. Her original idea for how a Horcrux is made was so gruesome that the publisher got sick, and told her that they would never publish her work if she put it in the story. Luckily, we fan fiction writers don’t have publishers, and a thousand other outside factors, playing into how our stories turn out. I definitely feel as though the combat in canon could’ve been better, and the ongoing war more built upon, but I also understand why Rowling didn’t focus on those aspects of her story.

Me: Many people don’t like Harry as a protagonist, especially since he gets compared with Naruto a lot. What are your thoughts on that?

Spartan: Well, I don’t know about Naruto, I don’t really see much similarities between the two, aside from tragic childhoods, and even that ends when Harry gets to Hogwarts because he is practically worshiped by Wizarding Kind, whereas Naruto was hated for a long time until he proved himself valuable and decent. They both do share some defining ‘hero’ tropes, however, but they share these traits with so many other protagonists out there.

Personally, I actually quite like Harry, even if there are some parts of his personality that greatly irk me, such as his lack of questioning his surroundings and the people who advise him. He may not have been the most proactive protagonist, but that’s because a big part of Harry’s story is coming to terms with his place in the world. A lot of the times, he just winds up in crazy situations and tries his best to do the right thing. And he’s brave! Harry Potter is braver than most people could ever hope to be, and the fans who don’t understand that don’t really understand the sacrifice he was willing to make for his friends and schoolmates. He had no idea that Lily’s Protection would save him, he went into that forest, at seventeen, having been forced to make peace with his death, and all because he put the needs of others above his own, even after how unfair his life has been.

Now, I do understand why some authors, and I’m guilty of this, enjoy tormenting their characters… An epic without conflict is not an epic at all, and no one is going to keep reading if there’s no ‘hook’ to catch their mind. Tragedy and loss are very easy tools to use to grip people, and I think a lot of writers get lost in that, even myself. You shouldn’t just torment a character for the sake of torment, obviously, as that gets stale quickly, but if the writer is able to use this torment to push the character further on their journey, or, in a completely different direction, then by all means, go ahead!

Me: Did you ever thought that a discord would be created by your fans for you?

Spartan: No, I honestly didn’t expect to get through Year 1 of Fate, let alone reach 3 million+ words! Acnelli first approached me about the server, offering to set it up and keep it running, and although I was a bit skeptical at first, she blew me away completely. No one expected the server to grow as big as it did, and to be as active as it is, save for Acnelli! Without her, and the support of the fans who joined us along the way, it simply wouldn’t exist.

If any of you are reading this, I still can’t express how grateful I am for all this overwhelming support! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! And Nelli, keep being a madlass, please! I hope you know just how much joy you’ve given me, and hundreds of others, by creating this server, and giving us all place to be friends and fans together.

Me: Do you have any plans for publishing something original in the future?

Spartan: Definitely, but first, there’s a story that still needs finishing!

If you enjoyed this interview, please leave a comment, and share this article, thank you. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Published by Tanish Shrivastava

I'm a guy who likes programming, chess, and writing.

6 thoughts on “Interview with TheTrueSpartan, a Fanfic Author

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Fan fiction is a great practice for writing stories, provided that you do want to write something beyond smut in the future. And let’s be honest, there are a lot of people who would only want to write smut, even if they write original stuff.

      Keep commenting, Hetty.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. TheTrueSpartan does sound like a pretty interesting person indeed. And like Hetty, I was never one for fan fiction until reading about it from the POV of someone who actually writes it.

    I like that you’re using pics and pull quotes now, and to add onto your ever-growing checklist, may I suggest you bold your questions in future interviews? That helps distinguish between question and answer, especially in this substantial post.

    Also, to answer your question to Hetty above, I think you’re fine with the quotes. In fact, you could even add a couple more without problems. Even pics too. Anyway, thanks for this introduction to TheTrueSpartan!

    Liked by 2 people

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