Reading, Writing, Rowling, Episode 10: Adeel Amini Discusses Re-Release of His Interview With J.K. Rowling in 2008

“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 10: “Adeel Amini Discusses His Interview With J.K. Rowling in 2008”

I’ve explained in another post how important Adeel Amini’s 2008 interview with J. K. Rowling is. She says in it, flat out, for instance, that seeing the Christian content of the Hogwarts Saga is reading the books with your eyes open. It’s an astonishing piece of journalism from a prodigy reporter who only this year agreed to re-release the interview. Read my post for more about that.

From the MuggleNet page for the podcast With Adeel Amini:

What happens when a student journalist meets a famous author? Ten years ago, journalism student Adeel Amini spontaneously asked J.K. Rowling for an interview for the University of Edinburgh newspaper. Having spotted her in a coffee shop in 2008, he successfully landed the interview and produced a unique character study of our favorite author in the wake of Book 7’s publication.

Guest Beatrice Groves (author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter), John, and Katy discuss the revealing and distinctive interview on its tenth anniversary with Adeel, now the owner and editor of PressPLAY OK. We talk about how Adeel handled the interview and the unusual moment during which he was able to gain this level of access. His article provided much new information about Rowling’s thoughts on the Christian imagery in the books, her response to the media frenzy over her revelations about Dumbledore’s sexuality in 2007, and her earlier experiences with depression.

Adeel quickly took down the interview as a result of the furor over Rowling’s revelations about her struggles with mental health, and he tells us about that decision as well as why he has decided now to release the interview once again. Adeel’s interview reveals Rowling as a fellow human being who, like the rest of us, has struggles and concerns about what is happening in the world in the 21st century.

Join us to hear about Adeel’s reflections, ten years later, on his conversation with her along with our speculations about queer readings of the Harry Potter books (and Fantastic Beasts), Rowling’s continual revisiting of the wizarding world and subsequent creative efforts, and her relationship with her fans and the media.

Let me know what you think!

A Cratylic Cormoran Strike Fan Theory: Is Robin Doomed? The Dobby Link

From the mailbag!

Dear John,

My name is Joseph A and I have been reading and enjoying your books thoroughly since I found The Hidden Key to Harry Potter way back in 2003. Your books have certainly given me a new set of eyes to scan J.K. Rowling’s text.

In light of J.K. Rowling’s apology for killing Dobby yesterday I want to share a concern that I have.

I was researching Robin’s surname Ellacott and came across this:

Ellacott is prominent in Devon, Cornwall, and Wiltshire, is of Anglo-Saxon and Cornish origin.This placename is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “Ella”, a short form of various compound names with the first element “aelf”, elf, and the Olde English “cot, cote”, a cottage, shelter for animals. Read more. 

Is it reasonable to interpret Robin’s name as Elf House or House Elf?

In the Galbraith books Cornwall is referenced in connection to Cormoran (The Cornish Giant) and Robin through her surname. Cornwall is only is used once in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Shell Cottage is located on the outskirts of Tinworth, Cornwall and is the final resting place of Dobby. What could this be pointing to?

In fear for Robin’s safety,
Joseph A

Great letter, Joseph! Three quick thoughts to jump start the conversation here: [Read more…]

Guest Post: Ludonarrative Dissonance and the New Hogwarts Mystery Game

Special Guest Post from Elspeth Gordon-Smith in the UK on Ludonarrative Dissonance and the new Harry Potter ‘Hogwarts Mystery Game’! Enjoy —

We’ve all played Monopoly right? The gameplay – buy properties from rent collected from the other players, build on the properties, collect more and more rent until the other players are impoverished and cast out to where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth – is fully immersive. How many times have you stared into the faces of the most cherished, most beloved people in your life, and gloried in their demise and failure as you snatch the last penny from their feckless grasp?

Monopoly’s gameplay works with an unspoken narrative of rampant, unchecked capitalism and, by winning, you become the cruellest, most vicious capitalist of them all. Monopoly cannot be won by playing it safe with the train stations and waterworks; only by covetously collecting the big prizes can you beat the other players. Your win probably came with you gloatingly counting your millions and toting up your hundreds of houses whilst the other players quietly grimace in barely contained jealousy. At their expense, you are richer and, according to the game, better than those miserable peasants surrounding you.

Fun for all the family!

Monopoly works because it pits you against your friends and family within the gameplay. Monopoly is one of many examples of a game giving you a full ludonarrative experience. But what is ludonarrative? [Read more…]

The Ultimate Potter Fan Theory Medley

John Granger: Three Minute PhD Thesis

Swansea University, at which I am pursuing a PhD in English through a collaboration with the University of Central Oklahoma (read about that here), has a contest each year called ‘Three Minute Thesis.’ I’d never heard of it but was told it is a big deal not only in Wales but globally; more than 200 universities participate. I decided to give it a go, both to clarify the thesis for my own work, crystallize it really, and as an exercise in public speaking.

As a rule, I do not read a paper when I give a talk. This has the great advantage of bringing the exchange to life. Not being scripted, however, dynamism aside, has the downsides of making it very hard to know exactly how long the presentation will actually be. My best talks are solo performances, consequently, of about an hour in length before a large crowd. My embarrassing memories ‘on stage’ are all from academic events before fifteen or twenty people, at which events everyone else reads their exactly fifteen minute long papers — and GilderJohn goes over and gets cut off. Ouch.

Why not practice a timed talk, then, that wasn’t just read, a practice I find borderline unforgivable in a speaker? (“I didn’t travel all this way to hear you read; I can read the paper later and get more out of it that way. I want to hear you speak with me as an expert, not demonstrate your literacy…”) Why not try to speak from memory and within a set time? I decided to give it a try.

So I wrote out a ‘three minute thesis’ talk, timed it, cut it, timed it, cut it, timed it, and added a sentence and phrase here and there. Then I memorized it, practiced it with stop watch, made changes, and memorized that version. Rinse, repeat. The Swansea event is live in front of an audience of 200 (large by uni standards, I know, not fandom conferences); I had to record my talk in Oklahoma with a web-connection to Swansea before an audience of two. [Read more…]