Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harry Potter: I LUUUUURVES It!

So why would I dedicate my Thankful Thursday to Harry Potter? On my Son's BIRTHDAY, no less? How could the Boy Who Lived merit a spot with my friends and family? It's about Timing, sort of... but Identity mostly... let me e'splain...


In 2001 Thing 1 was a first grader. I was working in a relatively new city, trying diligently at my job, listening to a lot of NPR... and I heard the first hype about Harry Potter—it was related to a book release (I think Goblet of Fire) and there was some 'controversy'--conservatives wanting to ban the things for 'witchcraft'... and you know me... if conservatives want to ban them, it went on my 'I'd like to read that' list—but based on what I heard, I was thinking... maybe when she's 8 or 9... I had a couple years.



In a grand, giant coinkidink, the elementary librarian allowed my 6-year-old to CHECK OUT Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone a short time later. My memory is hazy—I don't know if short time is weeks or months. What I DO know, is she brought that puppy home in November and she and I started reading it. And then I put her to bed and tucked myself away in a bedroom and read and read and read... and then Santa went to Sam's Club and bought the first THREE, so they were waiting in the GIFT cupboard until I was forced to WRAP them Christmas Eve. That was a DEVASTATING seven hours they were wrapped and inaccessible. I was only halfway through Chamber of Secrets (having a day job and two kids to put to bed every night after I bathed them)

By Prisoner of Azkaban, I was truly and deeply in love and Goblet of Fire came to live with us.

Now Goblet of Fire was a bit harder for me to assimilate... it is more meandering, more complex... SEEMS to take more tangents. Now, after I've read them all, I know how it all fits in, but at the time I read it, that was my least favorite, and it mellowed me. I was happy to hear Order of the Phoenix came out, but I hadn't really obsessed between the two.


Order of the Phoenix however...

See, this is how I see it... in the first four books, Harry is sort of thrust into his life and experiences. Yes, there are choices he makes, but at each point, the BIG plot point is sort of thrust at Harry—it isn't his own doing. In Order of the Phoenix Harry begins to take control of his own destiny. Oh, sure, he falls into some traps set by those who would use him—he makes plenty of mistakes, but he also takes control.

And I have to be honest... I adored the angst. I've heard from people who were near Harry's age at the time, or too recently PAST those feelings in their own heads who hated it, but I felt like Jo nailed it. And as Michael so fabulously pointed out yesterday, it had a delicious villain. Dolores Umbridge is so atypical of villains—she wears a bow and a pink cardigan, speaks with a sugary voice, worked diligently and tirelessly as a civil servant.... and she is the nastiest piece of work I've ever read. I think the reason is because I am a true conspiracy theorist and evil manipulating incompetence within the government rang just a little too true circa 2003... I HATE Umbridge.... HATE HATE HATE... and how impressive is that to write a character who brings out such emotion in readers?

But now we get to the real crux... I was fully sucked in with two years to wait... so I did some searching... found some stuff... and finally settled on a site that seemed user friendly (HPANA) and started reading some posts PREDICTING the outcomes of future books. The first conversation I joined was on the Wizard War thread and was about mirrors... I came on and said something—I'm sure it was extremely intelligent... and I was welcomed warmly and introduced to the Queens... my response? “I didn't know we had a Queen. I thought we were an autonomous collective.” and I was suddenly immersed in friends for life... not a couple... MANY.

But that's not the identity part. Erm... other than maybe the Naked World Domination thing... And the Watery Tart Part.... Okay, maybe there is a lot of identify there... born right out of Harry Potter theorizing.

But that theorizing brought up some ideas I happened to think I was pretty good and nobody believed me... CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!? One of them? That Voldemort required Death Eaters to kill their fathers... just as he had... Another? That Snape's mother, Eileen Snape... had been at SCHOOL with Tom Riddle... that she KNEW HIM.

Well y'all know me by now... NOBODY TELLS ME I CAN'T! I decided on a contrary approach... I would write a story PROVING it could have happened the way I said... I would write Eileen Snape's life story...

Now this wasn't my first attempt at writing. I'd written a LOT of poetry as an angsty teen. I'd journaled for a LONG time. But my only attempt at a novel had been deserted at 250 (single-spaced) pages, but only about 60% done... (my early works were long). What I had NOW THOUGH, was AN ENDING and a TIMELINE. See... I knew Eileen had a SON eventually. But I also had my OWN ending to the story. I wrote The Other Prince.

During my early chapters I had good feedback, and one person in particular—you all know her as Rayna, suggested I could write a novel of my own. I'd had an idea dating several years back... and I was REALLY encouraged someone else thought so... I finished my story before I really got going, but THAT was where the seed was planted... and that was where my writer identity solidified. The Burrow was born there. And so really, was Hart, the writer... So I am very THANKFUL for JK Rowling and Harry Potter.

So while the movies are NOT the books... they are cute and I have a certain fondness, but I will NEVER use the term 'great movies', I am riding the wave tonight... My kids and I are seeing a midnight show (I gave in partially because it is Thing 2's birthday.

TOMORROW I will give you a review... but LATE. I can't write it until I see the movie, and I will be too tired after, and too busy in the morning... so maybe noon...

29 comments:

Ted Cross said...

While I may have encountered a bureaucrat or two who struck me as Umbridge-like within the state-side government, I am happy to say that in fourteen years of overseas work with the Foreign Service I have never encountered such people.

Mustang Sally said...

I adore Harry Potter. I don't care what age group it was directed at, it was THE BEST STORY I've read in a very VERY long time. The very first words out of my mouth when I finished Chamber of Secrets were "I wanna go to Hogwarts!" and they only kept getting better to me.

I was so sad to get to the end ... because then it was over, but I've read them over again several times. This will be the first movie release that I didn't reread the entire set. I'll find a way to go but probably not until Friday's matinee.

Mustang Sally said...

Oh and yeah ... Order of the Phoenix was one of my FAVES ... and I wanted to DO Sirius Black!

Hart Johnson said...

Ted-that's a relief that we keep our nasties state-side... I think...

MSally-yup ANY age! I really wish I'd had time to reread them all too--I will have to do it for the final one next summer--maybe the kids will even let me do it out loud for old time's sake. --And I know you're not alone on Sirius. Unfortunately, I married him, so I prefer Remus *shifty*

Boonie S said...

It's an interesting view that you portray here. Thanks for this.

All the best, Boonie

L. Diane Wolfe said...

So you started writing with fanfiction? Wow.

Old Kitty said...

Enjoy the movie!! I can't wait to read your review!!

p.s. I am most impressed by your The Other Prince! Wow!! My goodness!!!! Well done you!

Take care
x

Rissa said...

Not just fanfiction--GOOD fanfiction! I would like to take a moment to state-some people bought those theories!! (or at least one--I was sad to find them untrue)

I got warm fuzzies reading this :)

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

For a long time Prisoner of Azkaban was my fav, because i loved Sirius black so much. But with a few years space and a lot of rereads i have come to the conclusion the Order of the Phoenix is my favorite.
I AM SO EXCITED FOR FRIDAY!

TreeX said...

OotP was my favourite from the moment I got in my hands at fifteen and read it in 12 hours. But PoA is a very close second, simply because that's the final one before it all started to go to hell ;))

Have fun at the movies, Tamster, and HARRY STILL ISN'T A HORCRUX! So, there. ;)

TreeX said...

Alsø wik: why no link to the War? :(

Hart Johnson said...

Boonie-thank you!

LDiane--I DID! I think it is a fantastic schooling, actually, as you can focus on mastering a few aspects of writing at a time.

Jenny-did you actually go look at it? I still love the story, but hit spots that embarrass me in the writing--first big work, plus in a place with nearly no editing--could definitely be tightened, but since it is never salable, I'm sure I never will.

Rissa, I am going to quote you here: "Maybe had I read this first I would have agreed with you!!"--seriously--totally just found that on the thread! *hugs*

Sarah-PoA was huge for me, too--the real clincher... I loved the time loop part. I loved the Marauders, too, but that time bendy stuff is some of my very favorite stuff.

Joris-yup... those are my first and second choices for favs, too. And good idea to link to the war... I'll do that!

Harry is a horcrux!

Colene Murphy said...

I have to agree about Harry's angst in Order. It did annoy me but angsty teen DO annoy me so I think it was spot on!

Amazing story about how you got to writing. The movies aren't the best thing ever to hit the world, they do make my heart smile at all JK Rowling has accomplished and the joy she brings people with Harry.

Holly Ruggiero said...

Can't wait to read your review. I liked hearing your story about how you got into writing.

Jessica Bell said...

I SO can't get into Harry Potter :o( There must be something wrong with me.

Hart Johnson said...

Colene-the movies have often disappointed me because they skip so many important pieces, but they eventually grown on me. And I AM thrilled to see Rowling so successful, as the books are phenomenal.

Holly-12 hours!

Jessica-yes--definitely something defective... though honestly, I think I was as open minded as I was going in because I had been reading with my kids and they so positively compared with the other books I was reading them--far easier to read out loud--fabulously balanced in story, character, humor, detail... But that 'permission' to read a 'kids book' probably mattered... Hubby doesn't like them, but he doesn't actually condone anything that requires imagination...

Rissa said...

buwahahahaha--*dies* I said at least ONE! LOL

LTM said...

ooo, thanks for the insight! I devoured the first one, then had babies back to back and couldn't get myself interested in the second one. Then when I still wasn't sleeping well, JRM told me to read Goblet, but again, I couldn't get interested... suffice to say, I've only read Bk 1. I know. GASP!!! But now that I understand, ergh. The suspense is all ruined. :o\

One good thing: Hooray for Rayna encouraging you to write a book! The rest is history~ <3

Mary Vaughn said...

Thank heaven you weren't influenced by the lady who invented the Barbie Doll-- We all would have missed so much. :0)

Marjorie said...

I feel the SAME way about OotP. It is my favorite HP book because of the fact that it evoked those same emotions in me that it did you. I think you know I mistrust government just as much if not more than you do. Haha!

I have to say The Other Prince was some AMAZING reading too.

As for the movies, I am going to the midnight showing tonight. Yay for nerdiness!

roxy said...

I'd love to see the Snape story in print. Awesome idea that needs to be done!

Helena said...

I take umbrage with Umbridge because she's so terrible.

Have a blast at the midnight show!

Helen Ginger said...

I have a friend who read the first page of the first Harry Potter book and declared it horrible writing. She couldn't see how it could possibly have been published. I read it and kept reading and found it to be a wonderfully inventive story.

Hart Johnson said...

Leigh-you HAVE to read them! Start over. Go in order. By Prizoner of Azkaban you'll be hooked.

Mary, MAN NO KIDDING!

Marjorie-the difference between you and I isn't our lack of trust in government, it is that I trust business even LESS (by A LOT) and at least the government answers to voters... though it would be nice if the voters knew something.

Roxy-I actually know of a BRILLIANT Snape Version--and the HPANA site I mention, it is called 'A Difference in the Family.

Helena *snort* nice. and Thanks!

Helen-it is SIMPLE writing--deceptively so. And she is obviously having FUN. I think some people can't believe if it is fun to read that it is good.

Arlee Bird said...

It was interesting to read your story. There are so many books I want to read someday that I don't know if I'll ever get around to reading any of the Potter books. Same goes for movies. There's just too much out there to read and watch--sometimes I wish I could clone myself into many entities and funnel all of their knowledge into my one brain.
Sigh.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Cheeseboy said...

I think we all have an Umbridge in our lives and that is why there is so much emotion surrounding him. She does do a superb job bringing out his every trait.

I am not a huge fan of the books, but I do appreciate the impact they have had on children's reading and on popular culture.

Hart Johnson said...

Lee-it's true--there is a ton of stuff I'd love to have time to get to, and we all make our choices. I feel fortunate for having had kids the right age to pull me into this, as it has clearly been life-changing, but I can certainly tell where you're coming from.

Abe-I'm shocked! Not a fan!? A first grade teacher? Though I can also see how they might seem to take over the world...

Ellen aka Ella said...

Great birthday celebration!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I am sorry I missed Thing 2's birthday- shouldn't have because he is a week older than mine!
And the Other Prince is class fiction.