Two Weekends, Two Virginia Magic Festivals and One Tired Professor

It’s definitely Harry Potter copyright-free Magic Festival season here in the mid-Atlantic, with the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival hereafter ‘QCMM’) in Staunton, VA on Sept. 28-30, the Generic Magic Festival (hereafter ‘GMF’) in Roanoke, VA on Oct. 6th, The 7th Annual Harry Potter Conference at Chestnut Hill College, PA on Oct. 19-20 (and the associated Wands and Wizards Festival in the town of Chestnut Hill) and finally Scottsville, VA’s Wizarding Fest On October 27. All of these events, of course, began as bona fide Harry Potter Festivals, and all, except the academic conference, which has a Shield Charm based on its educational nature, changed their name after receiving cease-and-desist Howlers from Warner Brothers.

To my delight, my own institution decided to get a bit more into the act for the QCMM this year, sponsoring a reptile show on the main downtown stage and “Hufflepuff Village” (based in part on our shared yellow school/house color) on the main campus, as well as the academic presentations at “Beauxbatons Academy” that I coordinated. After two long days during that weekend, I trekked down to Roanoke yesterday to present a talk, be on a panel and record a podcast at their festival. This flurry of activity makes my missing the Chestnut Hill conference for the first time since 2014 (thanks to a conflict with my 30th college reunion) a little less depressing. I have had a great time giving and hearing presentations over the last 10 days, and I want to summarize some highlights here. [Read more…]

Taylor Swift’s “White Horse” is Lethal White’s Perfect Playlist Selection.

I don’t know how popular Taylor Swift is in the UK, or if JKR RG is a country music fan, but if either of those is true, I’d be willing to bet Swift’s  “White Horse” is is the song the author had in mind for her official playlist, rather than Andrea Ross’s “White Horses.” See my earlier post for links to both tunes. Ross’s song, of course, gave away fewer spoilers, and therefore was the safer choice for a pre-publication interview. For the same reason, I’ll explain why after the break, for the benefit of those still reading.

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“He Strangled it… Up by the Horse” Provides a Breath of Fresh Air: Louise’s First Impressions of Lethal White

I took time I didn’t have to read Lethal White last week, and I’m glad I did. As with the Harry Potter series, Rowling’s Galbraith’s books keep getting longer, but they keep getting harder to put down.

The most surprising thing to me was what a kinder, gentler volume this was–for a murder mystery, that is–with the gruesome factor and body count drastically reduced compared to The Silkworm and Career of Evil. There was a corresponding reduction in both cursing and casual sex. Every time I give a Harry Potter talk, I recommend the Cormoron Strike series, with the caveat that the recommendation is limited to the adults in the audience.  This volume, I would say, could be suitable for mature teens.

Spoilers below the jump.  [Read more…]

Rowling Offers ‘Lethal White’ Play List: Andrea Ross’s ‘White Horses’ For Robin

Go right to the source and ask the horse,

He’ll give you an answer that you endorse.

We here at Hogwartsprofessor have been chomping at the bit for three years waiting for Lethal White, and speculating about the title meaning since we heard it. Beatrice Groves has done a marvelous investigation of all possible white horse connections: from art, to Biblical imagery to poetry to archeology. Not having her knowledge–see my decidedly un-scholarly epigraph, above–I’m going to share something from “Mr. Galbraith’s” recent interview in the New York Times. The reclusive veteran thoughtfully provided a playlist for the novel.

There are eight songs or pieces of music mentioned in the novel that should be on the playlist: “Cutt Off” by Kasabian , “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley , “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling , Rihanna’s “Where Have you Been,” “ Ni**as In Paris” by Kanye West and Jay-Z and “Oliver Twist” by D’Banj , “Black Trombone” by Serge Gainsbourg and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, C Minor .

I’d add “So Long Marianne” by Leonard Cohen for Strike and Charlotte, “Heroes,” by David Bowie for the Olympic backdrop and “White Horses” by Andrea Ross , not only for the book’s leitmotif, but for Robin, and a romantic, innocent girl’s idea of adventure and freedom. (emphasis added)

After I got over my delight at seeing the phrase “Olympic backdrop,” I started looking up some of the songs.  When I googled “White Horses lyrics,” I landed not on the Andrea Ross tune, but White Horse, by Taylor Swift.  Check out these prophetic words:

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The WSJ Op-Ed on Young Adult Fiction that made Rita Skeeter look Impressive

Last June, I had the privilege of being invited to attend and present at the first, and I hope annual, Summit on the Research and Teaching of Young Adult Literature in Las Vegas. I attended many fine
talks from authors, educators and researchers, met Dr. Kia Richmond, who has written a book on mental illness in young adult literature and gave a talk on PTSD in young adult literature, including Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Perhaps most exciting aspect was the opportunity to speak about PTSD in Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak and The Impossible Knife of Memorywith the author herself in the audience. Luckily for me, Ms. Anderson was both gracious with her comments and generous with her support for my work, in addition to being an all-around very cool person.

They say any publicity is good publicity, so I suppose the Summit organizer, Dr. Steven Bickmore, should have been glad to see the event as the subject of a Wall Street Journal editorial. However, the WSJ author, Steven Salerno, chose to devote 723 of 782 words of his column to criticizing the Summit, three of its guest authors and their books, for the crime of depicting a world  “spinning off its axis” with overly dark tales of dystopia, mental illness, racism, and other signs of depravity. Like theHarry Haterswho decried the Potter books as a gateway to the occult without even a cursory reading that would have detected traditional Christian symbolism and pro-social themes, Salerno apparently formulated his opinion without attending the summit or interviewing the attendees he quoted. Instead, he appears to have pulled all of his information from other published summaries. Rita Skeeter, for all her faults, at least made a pretense of speaking to a few Harry’s, Bathilda’s and Pansy’s before misrepresenting their words and  twisting them to fit the scandalous story she had already decided to tell. [Read more…]