Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Interview From Hell

I promised that I would discuss my reaction to the transcript of an interview Jo Rowling
gave back in 2005 to two members of the online Harry Potter fandom. I will do that, but first I’d like to put it into a broader discussion of reader expectations and authors disappointing their fans.

J.A. Konrath has a marvelous blog for writers which informs and inspires. Last December he wrote a post Reader Expectations regarding the one author who had influenced and inspired him the most. He wrote about Thomas Harris and how utterly disappointed he was with the novel Hannibal.

Konrath wrote that post as a fan and as a fellow writer. The discussion in the comment trail was fascinating for it brought out many writers, published and unpublished, who have different thoughts on the issue of what authors owe to their readership.

I also contributed to the conversation and brought up examples from the HP fandom, and specifically referenced the Interview from Hell. Interestingly enough, I had two New York Times Bestselling authors reply to my post and they gave their own perspectives as to authors interacting with their fans. (I replied to both of them via their own blogs and email because it soon became OT for Konrath’s blog. I am also now fans of their work and follow their blogs.)

One was Tess Gerritsen and she wrote a post on her blog expanding on her thoughts of fans being huge critics of whatever she wrote. It was entitled, “You Can’t Please All Readers All the Time” and I agree with her basic premise. Authors have to be true to themselves and their artistry, but they need to realize that they may not live up to the expectations of their readership.

That leads me back to discussing the interview that Jo Rowling granted to Melissa Anelli of The Leaky Cauldron and Emerson Spartz ofMugglenet at the launch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HBP).

Recent fans to the online Harry Potter fandom may not understand why that interview is treated with such disdain in some quarters. In fact, a few weeks ago, I pointed a friend of mine to the Leaky Cauldron so that she could view the covers of the forthcoming seventh volume. She later told me that after going to the website to see the covers she read the online interview. She sounded as if she had just discovered something new and exciting. I shook my head and interjected my opinion as it being "The Interview from Hell." She became utterly confused because she was unfamiliar with the online fandom, and had no idea how that interview needlessly insulted the intelligence of many dedicated fans.

So for those readers of my blog who are like my friend and are scratching your head in wonder, I shall go over it in painstaking detail.

Jo Rowling hand picked two people to interview her, and according to her own words on her website, she wanted people who would care about the whole online fandom:

Why Melissa and Emerson? Because I knew, from having trawled their sites, that they know their Harry Potter back to front, that they care, not only about the books, but about the community of fans on the net, and that they were clever and funny and that I was going to enjoy meeting them at least as much as they would enjoy meeting me.


I must say that I was impressed and moved by how many fellow fans posted congratulations to them when they announced on their sites that they would be interviewing me. The thrust of most comments was that they deserved the interview as a reward for all their hard work; it was uplifting to see so many people express generous and fair-minded good wishes!

They were both, as I had known they would be, wonderful. Funny, bright, completely committed to getting some proper answers out of me. We were supposed to be together an hour: two had passed before any of us noticed and if I hadn't had a baby to feed, I think we could have gone on most of the night.

The transcript of the interview, plus their own individual reports on their time in Edinburgh, can be read on the-leaky-cauldron.org and on mugglenet.com. I will only say that I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed giving it.


Unfortunately I did not enjoy reading the interview as much as she enjoyed giving it.


The two people Jo picked were partisans in the shipping wars and were gleeful in being proven right. Now, for those wondering what the term “shipping wars” means, I shall explain. It is a slang term short for relation-ship. Those who advocate for specific romantic pairings are referred to as “shippers.” There are different kinds of shippers, such as preferential shippers who simply prefer playing matchmaker to different characters independent of whether or not they are likely to occur in the story, and then there are shippers who argue over those pairings they believe are going to happen in the storyline.

Prior to HBP, and the TLC/Mugglnet interview, there were strong arguments for either Harry/Hermione (H/Hr) or Ron/Hermione (R/Hr) as happening in the story (or canon – another fandom term.) The H/Hr shippers basically subscribed to the literary convention of The Hero Gets the Girl where the main male character becomes romantically linked with the main female character. A similar convention is also known as Best Friends Turned Lovers where two friends come to realize that their relationship has evolved from friendship into love.

The Ron/Hermione (R/Hr) shippers argued on behalf of the literary convention of Unresolved Sexual Tension or UST romantic pairings and compared them to Elizabeth Bennett/Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

H/Hr shippers didn’t care for the idea of the literary convention of The Sidekick Getting the Girl and The Hero Getting the Sidekick’s Little Sister.

Okay, for those who were blissfully unaware of the shipping wars, you should know that prior to the publication of HBP that countless hours were spent analyzing and arguing about the text of the series in regards to shipping. Passages were posted time and time again and trumpeted as being proof of whatever position the ship debater was trying to make. There was copious evidence cited which supported both sides as being possibilities. I recognized and admitted that JKR could have been writing R/Hr and H/G all along, but I thought it was H/Hr. That is because I thought of Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny as literary red hair-ings.

I was arguing in favor of more subtle clues.

I also wasn’t squeamish about the idea of love triangles. They work well in literature and Jo used them extensively in Goblet of Fire (GoF) and Order of the Phoenix (OotP), and I had no doubt that she would finally use the members of the trio in a love triangle.

Ron/Hermione shippers for the most part couldn’t tolerate that idea. They didn’t want Harry and Ron competing over Hermione. I welcomed the idea because I thought it would make for good drama.

The shipping wars were divisive and the most emotionally charged of all the debates, and both Melissa and Emerson knew that full well. However, rather than attempting to be ambassadors from the whole fandom, they allowed their partisan nature of being Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny shippers to come to the fore.

They not only insulted the intelligence and sanity of H/Hr shippers in the interview, but their insults extended to editorial comments in the transcript that wounded the feelings of their debate opponents. This editorializing reflected poorly upon their professionalism and caused unnecessary divisiveness in the fandom as a whole.

See page 2

MA: How much fun did you have with the romance in this book?

JKR: Oh, loads. Doesn't it show?

MA: Yes.

JKR: There's a theory - this applies to detective novels, and then Harry, which is not really a detective novel, but it feels like one sometimes – that you should not have romantic intrigue in a detective book. Dorothy L. Sayers, who is queen of the genre said — and then broke her own rule, but said — that there is no place for romance in a detective story except that it can be useful to camouflage other people’s motives. That's true; it is a very useful trick. I've used that on Percy and I’ve used that to a degree on Tonks in this book, as a red herring. But having said that, I disagree inasmuch as mine are very character-driven books, and it’s so important, therefore, that we see these characters fall in love, which is a necessary part of life. How did you feel about the romance?

[Melissa puts her thumbs up and grins widely while…]
ES: We were hi-fiving the whole time.
JKR: [laughs] Yes! Good. I'm so glad.
MA: We were running back and forth between rooms yelling at each other.
ES: We thought it was clearer than ever that Harry and Ginny are an item and Ron and Hermione — although we think you made it painfully obvious in the first five books —
JKR: [points to herself and whispers] So do I!
ES: What was that?
JKR: [More loudly] Well so do I! So do I!
[All laugh; Melissa doubles over, hysterical, and may have died.] (emphasis mine)


Honestly was there a need to include Melissa doubling over with laughter to the point of hysteria and the “may have died” comment – other than to insult those who disagreed with them?

I recognize that both Melissa and Emerson were sleep deprived due to jet lag/time change as well as reading a massive book in the span of a single night. However, they chose to write up their transcript and inserted the hurtful editorial asides, what did they expect in return?

The interview continues showing evidence of deliberate insults to those whom Melissa and Emerson disagreed.

ES: Harry/Hermione shippers - they're delusional!
JKR: Well no, I'm not going to - Emerson, I am not going to say they're delusional! They are still valued members of my readership! I am not going to use the word delusional. I am however, going to say — now I am trusting both of you to do the spoiler thing when you write this up —
[More laughter.]
JKR: I will say, that yes, I personally feel - well it's going to be clear once people have read book six. I mean, that's it. It's done, isn't it? We know. Yes, we do now know that it's Ron and Hermione. I do feel that I have dropped heavy -
[All crack up]
JKR: - hints. ANVIL-sized, actually, hints, prior to this point. I certainly think even if subtle clues hadn't been picked up by the end of "Azkaban," that by the time we hit Krum in Goblet...
But Ron — I had a lot of fun with that in this book. I really enjoyed writing the Ron/Lavender business, and the reason that was enjoyable was Ron up to this point has been quite immature compared to the other two and he kind of needed to make himself worthy of Hermione. Now, that didn't mean necessarily physical experience but he had to grow up emotionally and now he's taken a big step up. Because he's had the meaningless physical experience - let’s face it, his emotions were never deeply engaged with Lavende
r -

[Much laughter in which Melissa emits a "Won-Won"]

JKR: - and he's realized that that is ultimately not what he wants, which takes him a huge emotional step forward.

ES: So he's got a little bit more than a teaspoon, now there’s a tablespoon?

JKR: Yeah, I think. [Laughter]

MA: Watching all this, were you surprised when you first logged on and found this intense devotion to this thing that you knew was not going to happen?
JKR: Yes. Well, you see, I'm a relative newcomer to the world of shipping, because for a long time, I didn't go on the net and look up Harry Potter. A long time. Occasionally I had to, because there were weird news stories or something that I would have to go and check, because I was supposed to have said something I hadn't said. I had never gone and looked at fan sites, and then one day I did and oh - my - god. Five hours later or something, I get up from the computer shaking slightly [all laugh]. 'What is going on?' And it was during that first mammoth session that I met the shippers, and it was a most extraordinary thing. I had no idea there was this huge underworld seething beneath me.
ES: She's putting it into a positive light!
JKR: Well I am, I am, but you know. I want to make it clear that delusional is your word and not mine! [Much laughter.]
MA: You're making our lives a lot easier by laying it on the table -
JKR: Well I think anyone who is still shipping Harry/Hermione after this book -
ES: [whispered] Delusional!
JKR: Uh - no! But they need to go back and reread, I think. (emphasis mine)


Okay, now that was the part where I felt insulted by Jo Rowling.

I realize that she has more to do everyday than trawl internet sites and understand the myriad discussions of the fandom, but she let us know that she was aware of the shipping wars. She referred to that in an interview in 2003 with Jeremy Paxman at the launch of OotP.


JEREMY PAXMAN: So there will be some pairing up will there in this book?
JK ROWLING: Well in the fullness of time.

JEREMY PAXMAN: Unlikely pairings? Not Hermione and Draco Malfoy or anything like that?
JK ROWLING: I don't really want to say as it will ruin all the fan sites. They have such fun with their theories ... and it is fun, it is fun.


I interpreted that as meaning that the romantic pairings wouldn’t become evident until the end of book 7. Once she revamped her website she mentioned the topic of shipping several times. The first and most important was in her first set of questions she chose to answer on her FAQ page:

Does Hermione love Ron or Harry?

I can't believe that some of you haven't worked this one out yet, but I'm not going to answer because that would spoil the arguments, which I enjoy.


She enjoyed the arguments. Or so she said. Then she decided to disregard what she had previously said to Jeremy Paxman and went out of her way to sink some ships. She sunk the Draco/Hermione ship with this quote in an online chat:


Chibimono: Do you have any future plans in particular for Draco Malfoy?
JK Rowling replies -> I've got plans for all my characters. Actually, this is a really good place to answer a question about Draco and Hermione, which a certain Ms. Radcliffe is desperate to have answered. Will they end up together in book six/seven? NO! The trouble is, of course, that girls fancy Tom Felton, but Draco is NOT Tom Felton! (My daughter likes TF very much too, because he taught her how to use a diablo)

She also used her website to sink the Neville/Luna ship

Section: Rumours

Luna and Neville will hook up in HP&THBP

The Luna/Neville shippers are much less vehement and scary than the Harry/Hermione, Ron/Hermione tribes, so I hope I won’t receive too much hate mail for quashing this rumour. I see Neville and Luna as very different kinds of people and while they share a certain isolation within Hogwarts, I don’t think that’s enough to foster true love - friendship, perhaps, although I think that Neville would always find Luna’s wilder flights of fancy alarming. (emphasis mine.)


Vehement and scary. So she was aware of the passion. You would think that she’d spend some time figuring out exactly how best to defuse the situation knowing that her fans really cared about these debates.

She further teased Ron/Hermione and Harry/Hermione shippers with this next post:

Section: Rumours

Dumbledore is really Ron/Harry ‘from the future’

Your inventiveness knows no bounds, and I do not mean that sarcastically; these theories open up exhilarating new vistas of possibility… but they’re wrong. Could it be that by speculating that Harry/Ron becomes Dumbledore, you are seeking reassurance that neither dies young?

I’ve also heard a whisper about Ron and Hermione’s son time-travelling, so I shall go further and tell you that NONE of the characters in the books has returned from the future. As for the idea of Ron and Hermione having a son… (chuckles as the distant roars of a million shippers reach my ears, all cursing me to an eternity of unsatisfied curiosity).


So when in the Interview from Hell, JKR suggested that Harry/Hermione shippers go back and re-read her books, I felt personally insulted.

I expected more from her.

I know the first five books in the HP series frontward and backward. I can generally find a passage I am looking for within about fifteen seconds. That means I not only know which book it comes from, but which chapter and what comes before and after it.

I don’t have that ability with HBP, because I have not re-read that book. That interview left a bad taste in my mouth for the series as a whole and I now consider myself as a recovering fandom addict.

I believe that I know her books in closer detail than she does. I’m not trying to boast, but that is something else she confessed to earlier in that same interview:


ES: This is kind of a strange question but how many times have you read your own story?

JKR: That is not a strange question, it's a very valid question because once the book is published I rarely reread. A funny thing is when I do pick up a book to check a fact which I obviously do a lot, if I start reading then I do get kind of sucked in myself and I may read several pages and then I put it away and go back to what I’m doing, but I would never, if for example I was heading to the bath, and I wanted to pick up something to read, I’d never pick up one of my own books. Therefore there are thousands of fans who know the books much better than I do. My one advantage is I know what’s going to happen, and I’ve got a lot of backstory.


To confirm my supposition that Emerson did not attempt to be an ambassador for the fandom-at-large is this quote from his own summary of the events of traveling to Scotland and meeting Jo Rowling:

Emerson's write up: http://www.mugglenet.com/emscotland2.shtml

Harry/Hermione shippers can expect me to be even more arrogant and cocky
thanks to my recent vindication (see interview or just the last four books). "...Anvil-sized hints..."


He was as good as his promise and created a special board to collate comments by H/Hr shippers and include his own running commentary.


I wish things had been handled differently.

For starters, I wish that Jo Rowling had picked people who were more mature and responsible. It would have made a tremendous difference if someone like Steve Vander Ark had been asked instead of Emerson Spartz. I cannot imagine Steve openly ridiculing members of the fandom whose theories were proven wrong.

The interview would still have had questions about shipping, because every administrator of a HP fansite would be well aware that it was a “hot topic.” However, the tone of the interview would have been vastly different.

Furthermore, I wish that the discussion regarding the romantic element had veered into another direction entirely. It might have defused things in a way people wouldn’t have expected.

This idea comes from a discussion I saw on the Harry Potter for Grown Ups List Serv – Off Topic Chatter from January 2003 and a discussion about the four kinds of love:

Eros, Philos, Storge and Agape.

One of the most memorable aspects of that discussion was the pet peeve that audiences (movies, television series, or books) are trained to see friendship between males and females as only being a prelude to them hitting the sheets together. The idea that men could not be friends with women “because the sex part always gets in the way” was the underlying philosophy of Harry Burns in the movie When Harry Met Sally…

I wish that Jo had spent time waxing philosophical and saying one of the things she wanted to show in her series was the idea that boys/girls and men/women could establish and maintain friendships without eros complicating things. I would have appreciated that more than her emphasizing that she didn’t want Ginny to be the first girl that Harry ever kissed.

I also wished that Jo Rowling had said something different on her website to acknowledge the passion and dedication that many of her fans had shown to her hero and her main female character. I had hoped that she might show appreciation for all the shippers who were devoted to both sides of the shipping divide by giving a joint fansite award.

I envisioned an award given to Sugarquill and Portkey because of the prominence they earned by championing their respective ships.

Alternatively, I thought it would have been good to have given a fansite award to Fiction Alley since they are open to ships of all shapes and sizes. I wanted her to make a statement acknowledging that she appreciates having fans who are as are creative and passionate in their love of her characters and the Potterverse. That would have gone a long way to make peace in the fandom.

She didn’t do anything like that.

The Leaky Cauldron was the only fansite given an award in 2005. Then in 2006 she gave an award to a Portuguese language website from Brazil.

In other words, she chose to do nothing and hoped it would all just blow over. Another thing that JKR did to insult her fans was in her remarks about Emerson and Melissa on her website. She mentioned how she contacted Emerson by phone to invite him to interview her.

“I was worried that Emerson, who was not expecting anything at all, might simply hang up on me; as I heard his Dad walking away from the telephone to fetch him I was trying to think of way to prove it was really me and not some angry Harry/Hermione shipper trying to lure him down a dark alleyway. However, I didn't need to offer an impromptu quiz on the sub-plots of books one to five; he believed me, he could make it: we were set!” (emphasis mine)

In that same post she referred readers to her website to read the transcript. So it is likely that she had read the transcript and felt that it was safe to poke fun at H/Hr shippers. Because she probably believed Emerson and Melissa’s assertions that we were a small, but vocal minority in the fandom. As if it is socially acceptable for an author to insult the intelligence and integrity of their fans. She could have at any time simply made a statement on her website like she did with Neville/Luna.

We deserved better at the hands of Jo Rowling.

Honestly, we were creative in our theories, but that is because the series itself is extraordinarily inventive. To show how weird interpretations can get I will mention the example of a metaphorical reading of a movie that baffled the screenwriter. William Goldman was interviewed in 1994 about the phenomenon that is the legacy of the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1969. He mentioned that the movie was such a strange hit and that it impacted people so strongly in the late 60’s and early 70’s that there was a theory floating around that the movie was about the Vietnam War. That “the Super Posse was the government and Lyndon Johnson coming to get you, and Richard Nixon.” He was “staggered” when he heard that theory, but he had heard it from many people at the time and no one seemed to know where that idea had started. Goldman however, was willing to speak out publicly against that theory. (From the DVD interview with William Goldman.)

If you would like to see one of the influential essays showing a literate and persuasive argument that there was sound textual evidence for a Harry/Hermione romantic relationship in the series, I recommend you read Penny Linsenmayer’s Partners and Friends Essay. I challenge anyone to read it and come up with the conclusion that it is “delusional.”

I wish Jo Rowling had chosen to respond with her fans in a manner different than she had.

I wrote to her, included my suggestions on how to help heal the fandom, and I included on a CD many of the detailed essays I had written in support of H/Hr so she could get an idea of some of the rationale used to defend that reading of her series. I did not hear back from her, but then again who am I except for just another fan and an unpublished author? I do not know if she ever received my correspondence.

I did not write to Emerson for I felt it would be a waste of my time and he might instead take any criticism from me as a badge of honor. I didn’t want to swell his head any further than it already was. Afterall, he prefaced his special Wall of Shame with this description of himself:

"A note from the unprofessional, arrogant, unprofessional, insensitive, unprofessional, immature, inconsiderate, unprofessional, irresponsible, unprofessional, juvenile, unprofessional, tactless and unprofessional Wall of Shame founder and caretaker, Emerson:"

Any message I would have written would have used the term unprofessional in it, and therefore it is doubtful that I would have elicited a twang of remorse or pang of conscience in him.

I did not write to Melissa for I felt that as a journalist, she should have known better. I felt that my condemnation of her unprofessional behavior probably would have been considered as merely sour grapes.

In case anyone is interested, this is a link to my acknowledgment of defeat in the shipping wars.

Overall, I do not regret having spent time in the fandom and having spun many creative theories. I do wish that Ms. Rowling acted differently in regards to what she knew was a topic of intense and passionate interest among her fans.

Elaine Cunningham had suggested in her response to my post on J.A. Konrath's blog that authors avoid internet fandoms and not insert themselves into debates. J.K. Rowling's actions show what can happen when you not only learn about fandom debates, but insert yourself in them by actively teasing fans and then insulting them.

I shall now try to follow Tess Gerritsen’s advice:

“And to all those nitpicky readers, the ones who think they’re so much smarter than the writer they’re complaining about, here’s a revolutionary idea: go write your own damn book.”

I am doing just that and I vow that once my trilogy is published, that I shall not treat my fans in the fashion that I am criticizing with this post.


Friday, May 25, 2007

I promise to complete my essay soon

I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth. Really, I haven't.

Life has just been busy and I let you know that I started working on an essay regarding my thoughts of the Interview from Hell that I referenced in previous posts.

However, it is one of those essays where I keep moving my text around as I refine my thinking on the issue. It's a bit unwieldy at this point, but it is taking shape. Heck, Jo Rowling gave that interview two years ago, so my reaction isn't exactly timely.

Therefore, I want to make sure that it is reasoned and thoughtful before I post it online. Hopefully it will be completed sometime next week.

In the meantime, I wanted to mention that I happened to discover a wonderful literary blog written by the loquacious Anne Mini. She demonstrates a wealth of knowledge in regards to the publishing industry and how authors will benefit from noticing the nitpicky details that drive agents, editors, contest judges, et al. up the proverbial wall.

I have learned a lot from her and am trying to assimilate the wisdom she has shared with her blog readers.

Until I finish my own post, I recommend those people who are writers check out her blog and start exploring. You can click here or you can always look on the margins of my blog and find the link later on my list of literary websites.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, May 4, 2007

Reasons I haven't warmed up to the Harry/Ginny relationship, Part II

I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to finish my thoughts on this subject, but I have found it hard to do so. In fact, I've been procrastinating because I felt as if I should re-read Half-Blood Prince in order to do this essay justice. I have only read the book through cover to cover once, and I have no real desire to read it again.


That's as damning a statement I can make about a series that I spent countless hours obsessing over, sharing my insights and thoughts with other fans, debating, writing essays, reading and writing fanfic. I have Deathly Hallows on order, and I expect that I'll read it immediately once I get my hands on my copy, BUT I'm not feeling the same level of excitement and anticipation that I felt before the release of Order of the Phoenix or even, Half-Blood Prince. My level of expectations have fallen dramatically. All I want now is to see how Jo Rowling set out to plot this immense series so many years ago.

I want to know if all my questions will be answered, or if she'll leave plot threads hanging everywhere like the backside of my first counted cross stitch picture I made at age ten.

For the record, my favorite book of all time is Aztec by Gary Jennings. It is an amazing work of fiction that does not have a single detail that is extraneous. Every seeming aside or amusing anecdote comes into play later in the story. Warning: it is not for the faint of heart. It has graphic violence, graphic sexuality, and human sacrifices galore. That being said, I still am in awe of that novel twenty years after my first reading of it. I've likened that novel to an immense tapestry where every detail was neatly tied off.

I thought after reading the first four volumes in the HP series that JKR had taken a similar attentiveness to detail like Gary Jennings and stretched it over an entire series. Now, as I mentioned in previous posts, I am less likely to think that everything in this series was as well thought out as I had previously thought.


I'm not a big fan of genre romances. That comes from having read a few of them when I was in high school and having a problem with how one novelist chose to structure her stories. I didn't care for the formulaic structure which included having the heroine's first sexual experience coming from a rape, and then later having a dashing man show her the true meaning of love and passion. It was as if the author was afraid of having the heroine make a conscious decision to lose her virginity. I read two books by the same author with basically the same plotline, and I lost my interest in reading genre romances shortly after that experience.

:shakes head at the memory, and the residual bad taste in my mouth:

I enjoy romance in novels, but as I mentioned before I am not a consumer of genre romances per se. It is a huge and profitable part of the publishing industry, but they aren't making their billions of dollars based on my purchases. I am not someone who expects that every romantic storyline end happily at the end of a book. In fact, I prefer not knowing whether or not there will be a happy resolution for a romantic couple.

That way I will more likely have a richer emotional experience while reading.

I enjoy reading stories that move me to tears, to laughter, and that will astound me in other ways. Betrayal is a powerful act, and when committed by a loved one hurts more than when done by a friend or an acquaintance. If there is romance in a story, I want to vicariously feel as if I am falling in love. I want to feel the attraction as well as the nervous excitement that comes with wondering whether or not the romantic feelings are reciprocated.

There is also the idea of sacrificing your own happiness for the benefit of others or out of concern for propriety. This is shown by Tristand and Isolde, Cyrnano de Bergerac, Brokeback Mountain, and The Thorn Birds.

Unrequited love churns up powerful emotions as does being rejected and/or betrayed by someone you love. All are rife with potential dramatic conflict, as does fear of rejection which leads to lovers doing stupid things in order to protect themselves. This includes dumping someone prematurely out of fear of being dumped.

So when I was debating ship with people, I was fine with the idea of a Love Triangle within the Trio. Many people were averse to that idea because they didn't want Harry and Ron to fight over Hermione.

:rolls eyes:

I didn't have a problem with it because it would be filled with conflict and therefore make for good drama.

I thought it was a certainty, because love triangles are such powerful dramatic structures. It turns out that Jo used lots of love triangles except the one that would have put her lead characters put into the position of having to face big dramatic decisions regarding loyalty, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Jo had said in interviews that she wanted her characters to be "truly seventeeen and discover boyfriends and girlfriends have sexual feelings."

And yet...we don't truly get that sense in her books. We aren't allowed to feel what Harry is feeling when it comes to romance.

In the Harry Potter series, we have not been allowed to feel Harry falling in love. It is as if Jo took his emotions and put them at arm's length. We know he fancied Cho, but until Order of the Phoenix we really didn't have much of a description about her. She had been described as "extremely pretty" in Prisoner of Azkaban, as well as being a head shorter than Harry. In Goblet of Fire we knew what color ball gown she wore, but not much else. Other than that, we really didn't have much to go on. Due to her name it was assumed that she was of Asian ethnicity and fanfic artists gave her black hair and brown eyes.

Then in Order of the Phoenix we had Harry's first kiss. And she made it happen off-the-page.

I think Jo was afraid that her readers might become emotionally invested in a Harry/Cho relationship, so while she allowed him to have some snogging, she kept it from us. We saw the mistletoe, Cho's freckles, tears in her eyelashes, but then the scene went black. Later, we heard what happened when Harry was interrogated by Hermione and he admitted that they kissed, but that Cho broke down and cried in his arms.

Tell me this, wouldn't you have liked to have read that scene? I would have. I would have liked to have seen Harry to sit down and try to tell Cho what happened to Cedric, to answer her questions as best he could. And for her to cry on his shoulder and he try his best to comfort her.

Hurt/Comfort a powerful dramatic emotional dynamic for romance.

However, we didn't see this because he didn't comfort her to any real extent and he didn't talk to her about Cedric's death. To me that was selfish on his part, and I don't care for that. Cho's character deserved as much honesty as he could give her, even if it might have caused her to be fearful of being his girlfriend.

I wrote a scene in my 5th year fic showing how I felt Harry should answer Cho's questions, and I was correct in my plot structure by thinking that she would seek him out on the Hogwarts Express. Silly me though, I actually had him respond to her inquiries without using Stinksap to cause her to run from the scene.

I liked the Valentine's Day Date Disaster in Madam Puddifoot's, even though the day of their date was February 17th and not the 14th. (Remember, I'm a L.O.O.N., I check the calendar for these kinds of things. Their date was on Valentine's Day because JKR wanted to raise the stakes of his embarrassment for leaving Cho early to be with Hermione.)

Harry didn't seem all that keen to try and make up with Cho afterward. He was confused about what she expected from him, but he didn't terribly depressed over his first date being a fiasco.

Later after the Quibbler article came out and Cho said she thought he was brave, we didn't see Harry wanting to figure out when or where he could be alone with her. It was as if he didn't have time to think about such matters of the heart. (I know, I know, OotP was long enough as it was, JKR didn't need to spend more time on the romance subplot that didn't go anywhere...)

However, when Harry and Cho had their argument over Marietta and then Hermione, we didn't really feel as if our hero was all that upset that things weren't going well with his love interest. Where was Harry's feeling of betrayal? It was negligible. However, Cho felt as if he valued darling Hermione over her.

He did, and he didn't put too much thought about trying to get back on Cho's good side after that point.

Not much of a love story there. It was a flat emotional storyline which could have had peaks and valleys. Possibly this is all part of the Nigredo aspect that John Granger keeps writing about. Me? I just look at it as a means to show that the Harry/Cho relationship didn't have much of a chance and it is something no one should want to see resurrected.

This leads my discussion to the Harry/Ginny romantic subplot. I have to say that it just didn't work for me.

We had hints that Harry liked Ginny, what with the Amortencia potion smelling flowery like something from the Burrow which was later confirmed to being Ginny's smell, then came the monster in his chest when he saw Dean and Ginny snogging. We also got clues that Ginny was popular with the guys due to her looks. Pansy became concerned when the Weasley girl's name was mentioned and it is apparent she was worried Draco might be attracted to the redhead.

It seemed as if overnight Ginny was Miss Popularity at Hogwarts and all the guys were drooling over her. The easiest way to explain sudden popularity in the teenaged years comes down my bringing up the subject of appearances. To say it without mincing words its the "Ginny Grew a Rack Theory."

Sorry if that offends anyone.

I also kept misreading "monster in his chest" to be monster in his pants.

Honestly, I didn't come away with the idea that Ginny was this funny, powerful, *insert positive adjective here* witch that blossomed and was all of a sudden noticed by everyone. Instead it seemed more likely that puberty struck and treated her well.

The thing that bothers me the most about the Harry/Ginny ship is that once they got together, from the public kiss in the Gryffindor common room that we did not get to see them together as a couple.

I expected to have a tender scene with Harry and Ginny expressing their feelings toward one another. I wanted something to make me realize that yes, they complemented each other rather than simply complimented each other. In other words, I thought JKR would seal the deal and make me and all of her readers become sold on the romantic pairing.

She didn't. We got a line with Harry daydreaming when he was supposed to be doing homework and was instead "reliving a particularly happy hour he had spent down by the lake with Ginny at lunchtime."

Now, I'm not saying I needed or wanted to read detailed snog sessions. I'm saying that JKR should have written a scene where Harry and Ginny talked with one another about yup: their feelings!

Then there was the break up scene. Shortly after HBP was published I came across someone's blog on LiveJournal where they did screen captures from the first Spider-Man movie and compared the scene where Peter Parker denied his love to Mary Jane at the funeral of Norman Osborne to the Harry/Ginny break up at Dumbledore's funeral.

It was almost verbatim. So much so that I felt cheated. I don't know if JKR had always planned to have their break up at Dumbledore's funeral or not, but it was the same type of noble hero trying to protect his beloved by saying they can't be together.

It was clichéd.

I expected more. Then again, I'm not a big fan of Jane Austen. To me, figuring out which couples are going to connect among the nobility is not something that I find terribly entertaining. I read Emma for research for the shipping debates and I have to say that I wasn't enthralled with the romance. It was as if Emma's heart was securely locked away whilst she was merrily trying to play Cupid with others around her. It would have been a far different book if she had allowed herself to fall in love with Frank Churchill, then when his secret engagement to Jane Fairfax was revealed then Emma would have felt rejected, jilted, betrayed, etc.

Instead, it was far more clinical and detached.

I guess that's the big difference in what I look for in romance versus what J.K. Rowling looks for in romance. It didn't work for me at all, and I'm disappointed for it could have been more, much more.

I'll post my thoughts later on the Interview From Hell and explain what that means if you are scratching your head. I think J.K. Rowling was badly served by her internet friends and unwittingly insulted a large portion of her fanbase. Had she done things a little differently, she could have mitigated the bad feelings.

She didn't and for that, I feel terribly disappointed in her as an author. That to me has left me with a bad taste in my mouth in regards to the series, far more than my betting on the wrong romantic couple in the Hogwarts Love Sweepstakes.