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Review:nott theodore says:

Seriously, you are an amazing writer! I love this story so much and I get genuinely excited every time that I see you've updated with a new chapter, so I want to say thank you for that.

I thought this chapter was brilliantly written. I'm glad you mentioned the film Love & Other Drugs as your inspiration for this story, because when I was reading this chapter I couldn't help be reminded of it (not as though you had copied it or anything, but the similarities are there - I love that film so much, it's so sweet!)

Now that you've mentioned the film as your inspiration, I am really excited to see where you go with the story now. I seriously can't wait for the next update (although you always update quickly anyway, something else I want to thank you for).

Anyway, on to the actual chapter...

Carla is back! Or rather, James went to get Carla back, but it's pretty much the same thing.

And oh my Merlin, we finally found out her secret! I've been curious about this for ages and I'm really happy to know, although of course I can't help being a little sad that Carla has to suffer from something so terrible.

I told you in my last review that I had my theories, and some sort of terminal illness was one of them, but I actually never thought of Parkinson's when I was trying to guess the storyline. I can see, especially now, why Carla had to be a muggle. Aside from all the other reasons of course, but I love her character and I'm not a fan of those stories where a witch or wizard becomes the only one in the world to develop a fatal muggle disease. With Carla as a muggle, the plot seems much more real and plausible (apart from the devestating fact that JK's magical world is fictional. Sob).

I thought all of the detail about the disease - though I'm not claiming to be an expert - seems really convincing, so I think all your research paid off. Although Carlotta's reaction and attitude is really sad, it's also completely understandable. There's nothing exaggerated in the way you write it, because a lot of people with these sorts of illnesses feel like they're a burden, even though they never could be to the people they love.

I think it also makes James' reaction more real as well. In all honesty, he doesn't know anything at all about the illness, and that makes it easy for him to say he'll be there, because he doesn't have any real idea of what he would be committing to. Having said that, I absolutely love James in this chapter, he's just so sweet and it's nice to see him finally prepared to fight for something important to him. I have the feeling that he is going to carry on fighting, too, and I really hope he does!

I love how you have developed this story. The characters at the beginning, James in particular, seemed mostly fun and light-hearted. But you have fleshed out every single character until they are completely believable - everyons has their own story, and we can see how that has made them become what they are. Even the fling between James and Carlotta, which began as fun, has developed into something deeper and more meaningful, which neither of them expected. I think that is so hard to do, and I've read published books where the writers struggle with it, or just don't seem to attempt it at all - I think you have done incredibly well with that.

Sorry for the excessively long review! I just want to say that you are one of my favourite (and in my opinion, one of the best) authors on this site. I enjoy reading everything you write, and as well as finishing Off the Rails, I'm excited to see what else you're going to write in the future. I seriously think you're amazing!

Anyway, I'm going to stop boring you with my rambling now, so congratulations on this chapter and the whole story so far, and I'm looking forward to the next one!

Author's Response: To be fair, I doubt that Parkinson's would be the first disease that would spring to someone's mind when trying to think of terminal illnesses! I decided to opt for continuity and go for the same disease that featured in the film, given that that was where the inspiration came from. Plus, I think cancer can be overused in fics (says the author with a character who's dying of cancer, but he's a minor character so that clears me!). I think (I only vaguely remember my initial creation of this plot, so I can't be sure) I opted to make Carlotta a Muggle so as to avoid that plotline of witch-with-rare-and-incurable-illness which, to me, is becoming a bit of a cliche. All the same, I was still a bit worried about throwing a character with such an illness into the story, but it's gone down well (aside from me making Carlotta and James' lives a bit worse!) so I'm happy with the reaction. :)

I'm hoping that I WON'T need masses of detail - because most readers won't be looking for it! All the same, I want to make sure that what I AM including is correct. I'm glad you found it convincing though. This chapter was really hard to write in the sense that getting Carlotta's point across was such a delicate job. James IS going into this blind, but at the same time he's totally fallen for Carlotta, and so it will take one HELL of a lot to get him to turn away. :)

There was certainly a conscious effort to develop James' character as the story went along. I think that was helped by the fact that when I first started writing this fic, I didn't know any of my characters all that well. I knew their general traits, and what would happen to them in this fic, but I didn't have them fully fleshed out in my mind. I've gotten to know them all - especially James - immensely well while writing, so that's certainly helped in terms of adding dimensions to them as the fic has progressed. I'm really glad you liked that though :)

Don't apologise for the long review! I really enjoyed reading it; it's great to know what people think of this fic because I've put a lot of time and effort into it. As for future projects, there will definitely be a sequel to Off the Rails, and I have a couple of side-projects in the pipeline too, so lots more of James to come which I hope will please you! Thanks very much for your review :)

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