Ink Black Heart Cover Release Tomorrow

Any guesses about the image behind the placeholder cover behind the leaf screen?

And the wall of leaves that open like a beaded screen between rooms?

We will discuss here tomorrow, of course; see you then!

“The Main Theme in Wizarding World”

This 2016 video is for the most part forgettable publicity B-roll and fan servicing that was released in the run-up to the release of the first Fantastic Beasts film. It does include a brief interview with J. K. Rowling, however, during which she made two comments you might want to file away for future citation: 

“I think I set out my stall (sail?) with the first sentence of the first Harry Potter book. ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ And that set out the main theme in this whole world: ‘What is normal? And what does that mean for us who do not conform to those norms?’ Which, actually, when you start digging down, is a huge number of people.”

“I think it took me decades of my life to realize that not only did I have to be me [but] that was okay. Like a million other people, there’s nothing especially unique about this, but it’s something that I feel quite strongly and I understand readers who feel that way, who feel ‘it’s okay to be me and now I must find out what that means and how I can be the best me’.”

Hat-tip to Chris Calderon for this find!

25th Anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone!

Twenty five years ago today, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom. I want to share three articles in British papers about the event for your reflection and comment on this anniversary.

(1) ‘There was practically a riot at King’s Cross’: an oral history of Harry Potter at 25 (The Guardian). This piece shares the memories of many of the principals involved with the publication of Philosopher’s Stone and I confess to being startled at how much I learned from this “oral history.”

The only disturbing thing to me, though sadly and perfectly understandable in light of Team Trans terrorism, was reading that J. K. Rowling is “not taking part in publicity around the anniversary.” Such a shame that there could not have been a gathering of Rowling and the Little Agency and Bloomsbury veterans that made this publishing event possible.

(2) Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury says reading boom here to stay (BBC.com)

Bloomsbury also said sales of Harry Potter books had increased by 5%, as the 25th anniversary of the series approaches.

It added that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the sixth bestselling children’s book of the year, according to UK Nielsen Bookscan, which reports book-buying trends.

Forgive me for doubting that the incipient anniversary had anything to do with the increased sales of Philosopher’s Stone this year. Without the relevant data, of course, nothing can be said with certainty, but I think it more than likely that Potter book sales have been climbing every year for quite some time now as Generation Hex has children and buys a new set for their bedtime reading (and new young readers discover and make them their own). It seems credible, consequently, that the Hogwarts Saga will remain the 21st Century’s ‘Shared Text’ for at least the foreseeable future.

(3) London’s most popular Harry Potter books ahead of 25th anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone (Evening Standard). This very short article is really just a list of Amazon’s ranking of the seven books from most to least popular: “Amazon.co.uk has released its sales information via London sales data, which includes both print and digital sales, as well as downloads.” Not too surprisingly, the list only has two departures from a list of the books in sequence (as a series, the first should be the most popular and the last or later books much less popular because some readers naturally will fall away from the series as it is published).

The two exceptions are that Deathly Hallows  was one spot more popular than Half-Blood Prince and, the only real head-scratcher, Prisoner of Azkaban was rated the sales loser of the set. Go figure.

I have three questions I hope Rowling Readers will answer on this anniversary:

  • Where were you twenty-five years ago — and did the publication of Harry Potter and your eventual encounter with it change the direction of your life in any significant fashion?
  • What was your most memorable experience at a Midnight Madness book release event or in any other purchase moment with the books?
  • At what level of enthusiasm do you share your love of these seven books with friends who have not yet read them? Are you a Potter proselytizer (“Read this today! I’m buying you the set!”)? An enthusiast (“Really, there’s so much more to these books than you can believe. I heartily recommend them”)? Or are you over it (“Potter is fun, but it’s history. Pick up Cuckoo’s Calling for the adult version”)? 

Thanks in advance for sharing your answers, thank you for the decades of fun and learning together in dioscussion of these books and others, and have a happy 25th anniversary, Potter-philes! (A hat tip to the friends in the UK who sent me the links to these three articles!).

Team Trans Terrorists Attack JKR Venue

Earlier this month, J. K. Rowling and journalist Suzanne Moore held a Lumos fund raising function at Pino’s Italian Restaurant in Kensington. The owner of that venue celebrated the featured speakers for their heroic stands against transgender overreach.

You can read about what happened to him at GBNews.uk in an article titled The owner of Pino’s Italian held an event with JK Rowling and a journalist with gender-critical views. In brief, subsequent to that charity event, his restaurant out of nowhere (!) received a host of negative reviews online from transgender activists and, more telling, the actual building in which the restaurant does business was attacked.

One is obliged to note that there is no proof that there is a connection between these attacks and Rowling’s appearance at the restaurant that would lead to a conviction in a court of law. “Could obviously be a coincidence!” as the man says. I am also obliged, however, to say out loud what the perpetrators of such anonymous attacks had in mind, namely, the principal objective of all terrorists, to frighten anyone considering opposing them with the possibility that they might become targets of such attacks themselves.

If anyone has a report of those in Harry Potter fandom who slander Rowling by calling her a transphobe and bigot that have chosen nonetheless to call out transgender activists, Team Trans, who threaten the author with physical violence in their tweets, attack venues where she appears, and act as anonymous terrorists online to chill any resistance to their ’cause,’ let me know. Until then, I’m deaf to the reports — ‘unfounded accusations’ really as there is never any evidence offered beyond feelings and identity — of how “J. K. Voldemort” incited violence against transgender people with her “hateful” tweets and essays.

Rowling, Inc., Releases Statement about Russians Who Pretended to be Zalensky

Those in the Rowling, Inc., bunker miles beneath King’s Cross met in special session yesterday morning to craft a public response to the video released by Russian comedians Vovan and Lexus. I posted the remarkable TheRowlingLibrary YouTube video yesterday with three comments you can read here to catch up on the subject. The Hollywood Reporter, a curious venue for the release but perhaps Rowling’s agent and barrister has an ‘in’ there from his days with Warner Brothers, printed the statement in part:

The author’s spokesperson called the hoax “distasteful” and noted, “J.K. Rowling was approached to talk about her extensive charitable work in Ukraine, supporting children and families who have been affected by the current conflict in the region. The video, which has been edited, is a distorted representation of the conversation.”

I think it’s fair to call that reaction “predictable” because I predicted yesterday that this would be the party line, though I hoped they’d not give the subject any oxygen at all. The video itself, with Rowling’s several allusions to children followed by breaks reflecting edits and cuts, all but confirms that this ‘spin’ from The Presence’s handlers is almost certainly true. This explanation makes why Rowling was deceived into thinking she was talking to President Zalensky but does not make her several embarrassing comments any the less humiliating given she was trying to win Zalensky to the Lumos cause.

What we haven’t seen yet, is a translation of the Putin Fans Trio’s serenade to Rowling (10:15 in video), after which she told them more than once that she loved them. I’m confident that this must have been the funniest part of the hoax to viewers in Russia and Ukraine because Rowling cannot read their shirts (“Only Putin”) or understand the lyrics but feigns an enthusiasm for the group. I will share a translation of these lyrics here when I have them. I’ve reached out to Russian speaking friends, but welcome your version in the comment boxes below.