Sunday, October 21, 2007

J.K. Rowling talks, people listen...

I am going to pause from posting about my trip to France and weigh in ony my thoughts to recent remarks by J.K. Rowling.

So if you have come here to read about France you can find those posts here, posts about the business and craft of writing can be found here. If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series and have read all seven books - keep reading. Otherwise, back away now lest ye be spoiled.















That should be enough blank space to prevent people from reading things they do not want to learn about prematurely.

J.K. Rowling is on a publicity tour of the U.S. and has revealed things about her completed series that she had been coy about before.

First revelation:

She spoke about her series having Christian themes.

"To me [the religious parallels have] always been obvious," she said. "But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going."

Yup, I knew that. I knew that shortly after joining the fandom and reading a post on HPfGU's regarding an article in The American Prospect which in turn had quoted from an article published in the Vancouver Sun. Here's that quote:

Is she a Christian?

''Yes, I am,'' she says. ''Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books.''

Seeing that quote led to my longfelt belief that Harry Potter would have to be willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the Wizarding world.

I knew he was going to die.

It was only after Book 5 and the mention of the permanently locked door (containing the Power of Love) that I started thinking that he might be Resurrected to Life.

My friend John Granger author of Looking for God in Harry Potter can run a victory lap around Harry-haters such as Richard Abanes who wrote books claiming that the books were a bad influence on children. The Harry Potter series is in fact a great influence for children because it is great storytelling and has had an incredible impact on literacy. So take that Mr. Abanes - you were wrong!

Second Revelation:

Dumbledore was gay.

Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?
JKR: My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that's how i always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!" [laughter] "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!"

Jo also said after revelation: "You needed something to keep you going for the next 10 years! ...Oh, my god, the fan fiction now, eh?"

My reaction: Hmmm, I missed the boat on that one. Of course, I had not spent much time contemplating Dumbledore's love life or lack thereof. The most was an inchoate idea that perhaps he and Minerva McGonagall had a covert relationship. I considered that they might be secretly married and for appearances sake, they kept it under wraps. Or they could have just been a couple but without marital ties. Guess I was wrong on that score.

Dumbledore was gay and had been in love with Gellert Grindelwald. That will stir up a lot of plot bunnies and I am sure that within a month Fiction Alley will be filled with fanfic dedicated to Dumbledore/Grindlewald scenes from their younger years as well as their infamous duel. Whether or not they were lovers at one time was not specifically stated by Rowling.

I am sure that relationship will be explored in a myriad of ways. It also adds another layer of meaning to the lines in book 7 in the Daily Prophet interview with Rita Skeeter (p. 26, Scholastic hardcover edition):

"Very dirty business indeed. All I'll say is don't be so sure that there really was the spectacular duel of legend. After they've read my book, people may be foreced to conclude that Grindelwald simply conjured a white handkerchief from the end of his wand and came quietly!"

I predict that there will also be Dumbledore/Doge fanfic soon flooding the internet.

Honestly, there were only three characters that I really considered as showing outwardly gay characteristics in the series.

First was Gilderoy Lockhart with his shocking pink robes, penchant for using peacock quills, and a stated fondness for the color lilac. Then again, possibly Lockhart only had eyes for himself. Ye old Lockhart/Lockhart ship.

Second was Professor Grubbly-Plank. With her pipe smoking ways and her brush cut, it seemed to be waving a rainbow colored flag to say, "she's a lesbian."

Third was Rita Skeeter. Although I cannot say exactly what her sexuality was - because the idea of Skeeter engaged in any sexual activity is not something I wish to consider at all. However, with her "thick fingers" "heavy-jawed face," "surprisingly strong grip"(all from page 303 Scholastic paperback edition) and "large mannish hands" (p. 307) I was led to believe "That's a man, baby!"

Now onto the last revelation which is actually more of J.K. Rowling's authorial intent which many articles seem to focus on the idea that Rowling announced that she married a man like Harry Potter.

Questions about love were also directed at Rowling herself. When asked by an 18-year-old 12th grader, "Which of the Potter characters would you marry?," Rowling giggled. "The truth is, in my younger days, I dated Ron more than once," she admitted, giving an inside look at why Hermione (the closest character to Rowling's younger self) might be attracted to Harry's best friend. "He's fun to write, but not so much fun to date." And once she had learned her lesson, Rowling said, "I married Harry Potter," referring to her second husband, Neil Murray. "He's up there [in the wings]. I just mortified him," she laughed. "But he looks like Harry would look like, at a certain age. I married a very good person and a gutsy person. And that's who Harry is."

Fans might think that's even more reason why Hermione should end up with Harry — but Rowling said she always knew that Ron and Hermione were meant to be together, just as she thought Harry and Ginny were meant to be together. "I thought it was obvious, but apparently there are Internet wars about this," she said. "And they get very vicious." Rowling said she was unaware of the shipping wars for years, until someone suggested she take a look at the fan sites. "It was scary!" So many readers wanted Hermione and Harry to be a couple, Rowling said, that "I got hate mail ... from adults! Not people your age. You at least understood."

And for those who didn't, she explained. "Harry and Ginny are real soul mates," she said. "They're both very strong and very passionate. That's their connection, and they're remarkable together. Ron and Hermione, however, are drawn to each other because they balance each other out. Hermione's got the sensitivity and maturity that's been left out of Ron, and Ron loosens up Hermione a bit, gets her to have some fun. They love each other and they bicker a bit, but they enjoy bickering, so we shouldn't worry about it."

Yup, the shipping wars got vicious.

I am sorry that she received hate mail from adults. I am. I wrote to her and tried to be as diplomatic and forthright as possible in explaining the phenomenon of shipping.

I do not know if she ever saw my letter.

However, she has her own part in fanning the flames of the situation and turning what she knew was a heated situation into an inferno. I am referring to the Interview From Hell that I wrote about previously. I will just reiterate that it is not advisable for authors to tease your fans and then insult them. I did not appreciate her telling fans like myself to go back and re-read her books because we must have missed things. I lost my enthusiasm for the series in one quick quip. I am now a recovering Harry Potter addict. I have not eschewed the series altogether, but I do not have the same interest or passion on the subject.

However, the larger issue for discussion here was that the shipping wars demonstrated the passion that she created between the fans of her books with those characters she created. However, it still does not appear that she truly understands the phenomenon. Even after all the letters she will have received.

:wipes brow:

It seems she still does not understand why many fans wanted to see her hero become romantically linked with his best friend. Hermione was the most fleshed out female character in the series and one that readers grew to love - bushy hair, bucked teeth, and all. Those readers who were bookish females (like myself) found themselves identifying with Hermione.

A large part of the debate centered on which boy - Harry or Ron - would be better suited for her. Or which one it appeared that she preferred.

I thought Harry was better for her. I also thought she was demonstrated a devotion to him bordering on obsession. I did not see that same level of commitment from Hermione towards Ron.

We also knew that Jo Rowling on many occasions said that she patterned Hermione's character after herself. So the idea that Jo dated a Ron-like person, but chose as her husbnad a Harry-like character is not unlike some of the shipping debate rounds.

Many of the shipping debate rounds.

I also wish to state for the record that one of the reasons I did not like the Ron/Hermione interactions in the books (at least the first five when I was ship debating) was due to the bickering.

It annoyed me.

I did not find it to be anything that I would consider to be bantering. Not at all. Sniping, barking, and snarling, yes. Playful banter? No.

The statement that "they enjoy bickering" is something I dislike intensely.

There are times that my husband and I bicker, but it is never something that I enjoy.

I dislike watching people bicker. My in-laws remind me at times of two chihuahuas barking at one another.

It is not the same as playful banter. Not at all.

Bantering is fun. It is pleasant to engage in and enjoyable to watch.

So Jo thinks they like to bicker. :shudders: If you say so Jo, you are the author afterall.

I must say however, that there was something in which I can say "I Was Right!"

I knew deep in my bones that in order for Hermione and Ron to be a couple that he would have to respect her political thoughts regarding house-elves. It was, in fact, my first post on the infamous H/Hr vs. R/Hr Debate Thread on Fiction Alley: The Politics of House-elves.

Feel free to read it. I had summed up my argument with:

(U)ntil Ron recognizes that he is propping up an unjust system he cannot be someone that I think would be romantically suited for Hermione.


Ron needs to See The Light. Until he does, I can’t see any future with him and Hermione.

I felt really good when Ron and Hermione's first full on kiss on the mouth was after Ron said that they should make sure that the house-elves were safe from the final battle. At that point Hermione gave him a bone-crushing hug and smooch.


I was right about that. He evolved as a character to the point where his political opinions matched hers.

I may have been wrong on other accounts in where the books were going, but I knew some things.

I knew they were based on Christian and Alchemical themes.

I knew Harry had to be willing to sacrifice himself.

I also knew that in order for Ron and Hermione to be a romantic couple they would have to see eye-to-eye on The Politics of House-Elves.

I pounded on that subject time and time again. That it all came down to politics.

And I was right. :-)



José said...

I kind of like it when Ron matured enough to recognize the fairness of the House Elves political issues. It was nice to see how Ron saw the beauty of Hermione's ideals.

Two goals (soccer goals, so they are more valuable :) ) for your preddiction :)

As for the other comments made by JKR, to be honest right now I think she is having her fun. She is adding some "pink details" to her novel - like Neville/Hannah. I really don't see where that came from. But that is OK.

AH! Ron is getting his political conscience! Good! If Ron, Hermione and Harry are going to change the Ministry of Magic and turn it into something new and better, a political conscience is absolutely vital. Hooray for Hermione for that!


L.C.McCabe said...

Thanks José,

I remember when I was debating the politics of house-elves that one R/Hr shipper suggested that Ron would help Hermione do research on the magical contracts and find some kind of loophole that would nullify their slavery.

I about gagged when I read that message. All I could think of was "Noooooo, house-elf slavery is not going to be overturned by a legal technicality. That has no dramatic bang!"

So yes, Ron changed his mind on the matter and he matured. Both things I felt were needed in order for that relationship to be one that would seem healthy.

And as you said in a previous post, there was Ron struggling with his own self worrying that he came in second to Harry again, this time in regards to Hermione's heart.

The Trio Love Triangle.

The only thing was that Jo didn't have the nerve to truly make it a reality. She could have easily.

She just didn't want the hard feelings that would have been present via Ginny->Hermione and Ron->Harry if it had truly gone Harry/Hermione.

It could easily have gone that way. The time that Harry and Hermione were alone camping...all it would have taken was for Harry to comfort Hermione when she was crying and then notice the smell of her hair.

Etc., and then a myriad of fanfics have already had situations trumped up to get them alone before they realized their true feelings for one another.

It could have happened.

Except Jo wanted Ginny for Harry and she wanted Hermione for Ron.

C'est la vie.


John said...

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your congratulations -- and for not mentioning all the times you saved me from embarrassing missteps in canon and with Fandom along the way. I hear Richard Abanes is doing back flips about the Dumbledore is gay tempest (he could play Peeves in the movies, right?) and I wish you lived next door so we could have a beer and raise a glass to the closing of canon and "what we got right." I'd be toasting your victories in speculation more than
you mine, because we both remember all that I got wrong.

You're the best Potter maven out there, Linda.

John Granger, in admiration

L.C.McCabe said...


Thank you for your kind comments.

You are the best in analyzing the canon content afterwards to determine Alchemical and Christian symbolism.

Your analysis of the cave scene in HBP was something that I would never have come up with and you helped me to appreciate it.

I've been waiting patiently, now impatiently for MSNBC to update their transcript page. I want to know what Keith Olbermann said last Friday night. I am a loyal viewer, but due to personal errands missed that show.

On Monday's show he dealt with the revelation of Dumbledore being gay, but the thing that made my jaw drop is that he said he had introduced Jo Rowling at Carnegie Hall and then left to return to the MSNBC studios to do his broadcast.

I can't understand why he didn't get the night off and have a replacement. Heck, he could have still written his script and let some other person read it. He's done that before.

He also said that he talked with Jo backstage and she said pretty much the same thing about the underlying political message of the series was to question authority and not believe everything that your government tells you. Keith then went on to say that she said other things to him as well but that he didn't know if they were off the record or not. Therefore he wasn't going to divulge them if they were said to him in confidence.

One) I am surprised that a reporter didn't ask if their conversation was off the record or not.

Two) I am surprised he did not try (and or succeed) in allowing her to be interviewed by him for about six minutes or so. He's done interviews like that before where it is taped ahead of time and then shown on the broadcast later. He did that yesterday with Valerie Plame Wilson.

Three) That there are still reporters out there with enough integrity to sit on what could be a scoop and without information that he possesses out of a sense of fairness.

Four) I wish that he had interviewed you instead of Chris Cillizza who is only a casual fan of the books. Chris may know the ins and outs of Washington politics, but he is not a Potter maven by any stretch of the imagination.

Keith just needed someone to bounce his thoughts off of and it would have been a far more interesting conversation if you had been there.

Possibly that will happen in the future.



Richard Abanes said...

JOHN: I hear Richard Abanes is doing back flips about the Dumbledore is gay tempest.

ME: John, buddy, please, I'm beggin' ya, stop spreading rumors about me, mmkay? I mean, I think you should get plenty of mileage out of the false accusation you made about me lying with regard to the sales of my novel "Homeland Insecurity." (I still think you should apologize to me, btw, for that one -- sigh). Ahh well, best of everything to you in the new year!!

Richard Abanes