Exclusive interview with Aimée Carter: Published teen author started with Harry Potter fan fiction

  June 19, 2003 at 10:42 AM ET
  Cheeser     HPANA (via PR Newswire)
  aimee carter, phoenix ashes, harry potter fan fiction, jk rowling, multiple sclerosis, barnes & noble

From PR Newswireopens in new window:

Teen author Aimee Carter will be among the millions of people who celebrate with excitement at 12:01 a.m. June 21, 2003, the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. But Aimee, 17, has special reasons to be excited about the release of the fifth book in the Potter series.

Rowling's writings enticed Aimee Carter at age 12 to take the first steps toward becoming a published author. In December 2002, at age 16, she published Phoenix Ashes, a gripping story dealing with delicate issues in a mature manner far beyond the author's chronological years.

Aimee Carter is part of a growing new genre of writers who learned the art of writing through fan fiction on the Internet. As a fan fiction writer, Aimee often chose Potter plots and characters and wrote new scenarios and reworked characters with other online writers. After Phoenix Ashes was published, Aimee's value as a writer was affirmed in a personal note of encouragement from J.K. Rowling.

"The letter I sent J.K. Rowling was about Multiple Sclerosis, which her mother and my grandmother suffered and died from, and about our mutual experience of losing a mother." (Rowling is an advocate of and volunteer for the MS cause.)

On June 21 at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Northville, Michigan, Aimee and her father will attend the celebration of the release of Rowling's fifth book at 12:01 a.m., the Summer Solstice. Her father will appear dressed as headmaster Dumbledore.

A senior at Plymouth Canton High, Aimee plays the piano, drums and guitar, holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and plans on attending University of Michigan or Sarah Lawrence University to major in literature. In August of 2003, Aimee plans on attending the Maui Writers Conference in Hawaii where she'll be meeting other talented writers and looking for a literary agent for the second in the trilogy of Phoenix Ashes.

I got the chance to interview Aimee earlier this year when Phoenix Ashes was first announced. Here's what she had to say about her book, learning to write, and the impact of fan fiction on her burgeoning career:

HPANA: Naturally, the interest in Phoenix Ashes from Potter fans has been the orphan-coming-of-age similarity, but you've said that's about where it ends? No magic, but an imaginary friend. Tell me about where the idea for Minty came from.

AC: The idea for Minty came from the song "Counting Blue Cars" by Dishwalla (which was the original title of the book). I've never remembered my dreams, and the idea of a character having a separate life in their subconscious fascinated me. So I decided to take it and run.

HPANA: At what age did you start writing for enjoyment? Did you ever think you'd be published?

AC: I started writing for fun when I was about eleven, but I didn't seriously get into it until I began writing Harry Potter fan fiction. I never, EVER thought in a million years I'd be published, to be honest. Even now I have to keep reminding myself of that fact.

HPANA: You mentioned you have a "plot book." How much of Phoenix Ashes' plot was actually in there? Is it just a place to jot down ideas and theories, or do you flesh them out at all in the journal?

AC: The only part of the Phoenix Ashes plotline that's in there is the idea for Elizabeth, who was originally intended to be a [character] in a Harry Potter fan fiction [I wrote]. I haven't used it in a while, to be quite honest. It can fit into my back pocket, but I don’t usually care it around. My hand tends to be the place I write plot ideas and the like. All I do is write a word or two to remind me of what the idea was - never the entire concept.

HPANA: What do you think motivated you to pursue writing?

AC: My father, definitely, as well as the fact I love making up my own worlds and being able to come up with some outrageous things that the characters do. I love surprising and shocking people - it's one of the perks in life.

HPANA: If you had to summarize Phoenix Ashes in one word, what would that word be? (Sounds like a silly question, but I'm curious to see what you say.)

AC: Good Lord, this is hard! Hmm... Inspiration. Optimistic. Reality.

HPANA: We talked briefly before about the legality of fan fiction. What might have happened if you hadn't had the opportunity to write and "publish" (online) your first fan fictions? Might your interests have taken you elsewhere, or do you think you'd still be where you are today?

AC: If I wasn't able to write fan fiction, there is no doubt in my mind I wouldn't be writing today. The people who are trying to ban fanfic from the net have absolutely no concept of what it is doing for aspiring writers like myself; fan fiction is giving us the chance to receive encouragement, inspiration, and help with what we love to do. A writer can never get better if he or she doesn't realize what they're doing wrong, and sharing stories with others who are interested simply because of genre and characters allows writers to use their imagination to their fullest extent, and to learn how amazing writing really is.

HPANA: From where do you get the depth about Zac and the other characters? Any personal experiences or those of family or friends that influenced development of the story?

AC: Zac shares many of my personality traits, as well as many of my fears and insecurities. However, the situations he is placed in have never happened to me; most of them exist only in my mind as ultimate nightmares and things I'd never want to have to go through. Minty is my "Albus Dumbledore", despite the fact he's some 130 years younger. He's the person from whom Zac receives much of his guidance, and he shares many of my own "words of wisdom" and beliefs. Elizabeth is a character I purposely made for myself not to like. She's rather weak in her own way and tends to be extremely emotional; any kind of depth I gave her was completely accidental. ;)

You can buy Phoenix Ashes or learn more about itopens in new window at Amazon.com.


Browse Related Stories