1. I know HP lovers always remember how they first came into contact w/the books. How were you first introduced to Harry Potter?
This story is going to be longer than you probably intended, because my introduction to Harry Potter was in phases, and all three phases are important.J
My sister’s teacher was reading them aloud in class during the height of anti-Potter mania in the Christian world. She must’ve been about 8, and I was 11. My mom wasn’t sure she wanted my sister hearing them, since she’d heard a lot about the evils therein and how the books were going to turn all kids into witches and whatnot.
My sister wanted to keep hearing the story, and as she explained it to my mom, I wanted to read it, too. So my mom decided she would actually read it to see if it was as harmful as all the Christian buzz said it would. She read it, loved it, and found nothing wrong, so my sister was allowed to keep listening to them during story time, and she bought me copies of the first three books to read.
I don’t remember reading them for the first time. I wish I did, but that was an age where I devoured books. They didn’t affect me much stronger than others, until my sister lost the first four books, hard cover, at school. I couldn’t afford to replace them, so I became a less devoted fan, reading a friend’s copy of new releases until 2007 and never re-reading them.
I was a casual fan until The Hunger Games came out and, after reading Catching Fire, I Googled “Peeta as Christ figure,” because the imagery made a lot of sense to me. I came across a website called hogwartsprofessor.com, which analyzed Peeta as a Christ figure in depth. And much of the older posts on the blog, as evidenced by the name, were about the deep symbolism and literary devices that could be found in Harry Potter. I read through all the archives, added it to my blogroll, and had a renewed interest in the Harry Potter series. Three years after Deathly Hallows was released, and thanks to an extremely nerdy catalyst, I was part of the fandom.
2. The names in HP are so creative, and lots of fun. If you had to name your child after a HP character who would you go with (no character is off limits)?
I can’t say this is something my husband and I didn’t seriously consider.
I’ve always been partial to the name Luna. If our second was a girl, it came up as a serious contender for a middle name. Most girls’ names were too weird (Hermione) or too normal and not Harry Potter-y enough (Molly) for serious contention. There’s no way I could name a girl after my favorite character, since even she hates her name. (No Tonks or Nymphadora for me.)
As for a boy, we’d probably go with Seamus or George. James and Dean would be higher on the list, but combining them with “Deans” is just a bad idea all around. ;)
3. Please give us the juicy deets on being publishing in Harry Potter for Nerds II!
Well, as always in publishing, this is a very slow story. I mentioned in the answer to the first question that I’d been following Hogwarts Professor since 2010. In 2011 I read a guest post and while reading it, I had an epiphany—or what would be an epiphany if I could prove my hypothesis. Proving it meant learning a lot more about literary alchemy than I had to that point, so I bought a recommended book and spent the next year reading it cover to cover in conjunction with the first four books, which my hypothesis applied to. The evidence supporting my hypothesis was stronger than I thought it would be. Once I’d finished taking extensive notes (sometime in late 2012), I started writing.
When I finished my essay (in mid-2013), it was 7,000 words long. I’d intended it to be a guest post on Hogwarts Professor, but my rebuttal was (1) two years later, and (2) way too long for a blog post. I sent it to the webhost anyway. He read it and recommended I send it on to Travis Prinzi, who had edited the first Harry Potter for Nerdscollection and was thinking about starting another.
I didn’t hear back. Instead, I was invited to speak on a podcast for MuggleNet—and they invited the original guest poster to be there as a rebuttal. So in July 2013, I recorded a podcast with the idea.
(Here’s the link to the hour-long podcast, Rochelle's part starts about 20 minutes in.)
In June 2014, nearly a year to the day after sending my essay off, I finally heard back. They were interested in publishing the essay. After months of waiting and a back-and-forth that involved rewriting basically the entire thing (from a colloquial blog post into a veritable essay for a collection), it was ready. And now, four years after I started researching, it’s published!
4. There is so much fun HP merchandise out in the world! What item do you wish you could have right now?
I’m actually not much of a souvenir collector. I have a Gryffindor Quidditch onesie I bought long before ever getting pregnant, the series in British English that I bought on my honeymoon, and Chamber of Secrets in Koren, a gift from my brother in law.
The only thing I’m missing is my actual letter to Hogwarts. ;) As they say, “Friendly reminder that anyone born from 1985-1998 didn't get their Hogwarts Letter as Voldemort's ministry destroyed all Muggleborn records.”
Although the new illustrated edition for when my kids are old enough would be awesome.
5. Lastly, what themes in HP speak most strongly to you?
Way to ask the hard questions, Leandra. There is seriously so much going on in the series that I can’t get enough of, especially since I tend to write thematically. Since saying the main themes of love and tolerance being enough to overcome evil is probably cliché, we’ll go with a theme that spoke to me personally. Hermione and I have a lot in common (I mean, you’re interviewing me because I’m getting published in a collection for nerds), so I have a lot to learn from her. This is one quote I’ve tried to take to heart:
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Occupy Hogwarts! Do you see the revolutionary potential of Harry Potter? Where would you stand in the Battle of Hogwarts? Readers who appreciate J.K. Rowling's messages about political and social repression, and about the empowering qualities of empathy, invisibility, and transformative love, will discover inspiration in the latest compilation of essays from editors Kathryn N. McDaniel and Travis Prinzi. Fans of the first Harry Potter for Nerds will find this second volume packed with literary studies of favorite characters, like Remus Lupin, Dobby, Nearly Headless Nick, and the Weasley Twins. And they will also encounter political, economic, and philosophical analyses that explore the problems of our world and point to Rowling's belief in the "power of the powerless" when it comes to solving them. From Squibs to house-elves, from ghosts to young wizards-in-training and even wands and Snitches, the authors in this volume find power in unexpected places. Most of all, they demonstrate the power of expert readers to apply fantasy to the real world in ways that liberate, delight, and inspire.
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