Transcript – Bonus Episode 3

[Show music begins]

Eric Scull: Welcome to the Alohomora! Leviosa panel.

Alison Siggard and Kat Miller: Yay! [laugh]

Eric: Hi, everyone.

[Audience cheers]

Eric: We appreciate everybody who’s here…

Kat: Yes, thank you.

Eric: … with us to talk about the commercialization of Harry Potter.

Kat: That’s our topic today. It’s a good one.

Eric: That is our topic. It’s going to be interesting, folks. Stick with us. Actually, can you talk about Alohomora! Just introduce people who may not be familiar with the podcast.

Kat: Sure! Does anybody not listen to the show in this room? Cool.

Audience Member: I’ve never heard of it.

Kat: Hey! Okay.

Eric: There you go.

Alison: Oh, yay!

Kat: So, started out as a global reread of the Harry Potter series. We did one chapter per week. Well, two chapters every two weeks, and then one chapter per week. We finished Hallows about two months ago now, and now we are a topic-based discussion. So, we just did our first topic episode on the new Ilvermorny information. And next week’s episode is a really good one, so be on the lookout for that. But yeah, so today, we’re going to talk about the commercialization of Harry Potter, the franchise, and has the brand lost touch with the fandom, and whose fault is it, really? Is it theirs or ours, and we will explore that.

Eric: A little bit of recent news which slipped past my notice until it was brought up in our planning session for this panel, but there has recently been created something called the Harry Potter Global Development Franchise team. And this is… I’m going to quote three paragraphs of an article in Variety, which actually introduces the members of this Global Franchise Development… sorry, I said that wrong. Harry Potter Global [Franchise Development] team.

[Eric and Kat attempt to pronounce “HPGFD”]

Eric: This is from Variety.

[Audience member attempts to pronounce “HPGFD”]

[Kat and Eric laugh]

Eric: Thank you! Thank you. Thank you very much.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Okay, so, here’s a quote. Warner Bros. said that franchise management had become “ever more important to the studio,” and that one
Polly Cochrane will “continue to evolve Warner Bros. UK’s marketing operation while also leading on global brand strategy and guidelines for HPGFD in partnership with J.K. Rowling’s representatives at the Blair Partnership and Warner Bros. business units.” Next paragraph, “Will Harrison has been confirmed as senior VP and chief commercial officer, HPGFD, based in London, and will lead – sorry, quote – “lead on the commercial and business initiatives relating to the ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchises,” working in conjunction with,” again, “The Blair Partnership,” which represents J.K. Rowling. Third paragraph and final paragraph for this quote, “Nicole Blake has been named senior VP, HPGFD, and will head up the group’s office in Burbank,” which is Warner Bros.’s headquarters in California, “liaising closely with all Warner Bros. divisions and working hand in glove with Cochrane and Harrison on strategy, marketing and business development for the franchises.” We find ourselves in a situation, where nearly twenty years after the Harry Potter books first broke records and debuted the world and inspired us all, surely, we’re finding now that they’ve developed – just now – this Global Franchise Development Team.

Kat: Yeah, it was finalized about two weeks ago, so it is incredibly recent.

Eric: So what does this mean for our favorite boy wizard and his friends? And what does it mean for us as both consumers of the materials that they’re putting out and just as human beings, I guess, and fans of the original work?

Kat: And we have a few topics that we’re going to talk about today, and we wanted to hear from you guys too. So if you have questions, comments come up to the mike here, you will have another microphone shoved up your face, so we can record what you’re saying. But we’re going to talk about Pottermore, J.K. Rowling herself, the expanded universe, and then a wrap up, what we’re calling the separation between fandom and corporation. So think about those things. If you have questions, I guess then come up to the mike there.

Alison: So the first thing we’re going to talk about is Pottermore. Obviously, Pottermore started about 2012, if I’m thinking right. It was 2012, yeah?

Everyone: Right.

Alison: And if you all remember, I’m sure you do, the original Pottermore was an interactive experience that was supposed to go along with reading the books. It used to be really fun, there were games, you’d go moment by moment, and chapter by chapter, and then… how long ago was that, when it switched?

Eric: Within the last year.

Kat: Months, maybe.

Alison: Yeah. And all of a sudden, it switched, and the moments were gone, and it was replaced by this… it almost felt like a wannabe Buzzfeed or fan site [laughs] that was supposed to feature all the new writings, all the new experiences from J.K. Rowling and from all of these new enterprises that were going out. So, this is the moment that at least I personally… [coughs] sorry, I feel like things suddenly changed, was when Pottermore suddenly shifted, and it felt like it shifted from a very story-based experience and world into more of a business model.

Kat: Right. We were talking about this earlier when we were planning and coming up with the concept for the panel; it’s that, how, ten years ago, Harry Potter didn’t feel like a business. And now I don’t know if all [of] you agree, but we did that it feels like every single day, Jo, and the corporation and the fandom and the passion seems to get further and further and further removed from the series.

Eric: And the new content that we’re seeing.

Kat: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: So what could be the cause of that? What purpose, if any, will this HPGFD have and can it be anything but bad for us and our feelings on the series and our love for the series? What is it that’s allowing this to happen?

Kat: Right.

Alison and Kat: So…

Kat: Go ahead.

Alison: Sorry, I was going to say… So obviously, the big thing we get from Pottermore is we get new writing. But that, in a lot of ways, seems almost… I don’t know if “suspect” is the right word that I’m looking for, but we’re getting all this new writing. Specifically the differences in tone between the “History of Magic in North America” series and the new Ilvermorny stories.

Kat: Has everyone read both of those things?

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: You? Yes.

Alison: Okay, okay. Good.

Kat: Good.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Alison: Okay. Where – at least, to me – while I was reading them, the “History of Magic in North America” series felt more like the kinds of things that would have been kept in J.K. Rowling’s notebooks when she’s world-building, kind of the notes she would make to herself, and it was almost like someone took her notes and just put them together, whereas Ilvermorny – at least to me, and we were talking about this before – it felt more like Jo herself writing a narrative, she was creating things in a world she had already created, instead of trying to just give this information that…

Eric: So there’s some question about authorship, in terms of what content is being put out. Is [it] in fact from Jo, or to what extent is it from Jo? Now it seems there’s a possibility where Jo herself may not be in complete control of everything that’s coming out. And that’s actually different from what our expectations have been in the past – or what our understandings had been in the past.

Kat: How do you guys feel about the Pottermore stuff – the North America stuff? Are we all in agreeance that was pretty terrible?

[Audience agrees]

Kat: Yes? Yes? Okay. What about the Ilvermorny stuff? Better?

[Audience agrees]

Kat: Better. Okay.

Audience Member: I thought the Ilvermorny [story] was kind of lame. I thought it was just like a kid’s fairy tale more than anything. It didn’t really seem like her typical writing, as far as the Harry Potter stuff. I didn’t care for it too much.

Eric: I think what surprised me with the Ilvermony writing was that there was definitely room for what could have been a longer story with dialogue and the characters [we] meet. It was essentially a summary. It was as if J.K. Rowling had written a longer story with dialogue and then summarized it later, but the beats were there. I really felt that the points were all there for a typical J.K. Rowling-esque story. I felt a lot that had been removed from the original Magic in North America, which was four separate categories, that was more bullet-pointy. Whereas this at least told a story that felt like it might fit in her world. It was obviously still problematic and there were several reasons for that. But I did feel at some point… maybe it was just that she was connecting it with Slytherin and it was back to Hogwarts, and I was like, “Oh my God, this is amazing! We’re going back to Hogwarts.” But it really, to some extent, felt like she was there in some capacity. Now in terms of what capacity, that’s kind of the question. To what extent is Jo in charge of what’s coming out? And even on Pottermore, which in the intro video to Pottermore four or five years ago it was just her; they didn’t show her whole creative team like, “We’re all Pottermore; we’re developing this thing,” or this HPGF whatever…

Kat: [unintelligible] [laughs]

Eric: [It] was not there. And it’s not about are we being deceived; I’m not asking that. What I’m saying is, what really is going on in terms of content? Because I feel like if we knew that it wasn’t all coming from Jo, it would present a lot of other ramifications, in terms of how we see this thing that we just want to love.

Alison: And I think the question is more… not the ideas coming from, but who’s saying we want content like this? Is it coming from Jo herself saying, for example, when she came up with the original seven books: “Here’s the idea I’ve had, here’s how I’m going to develop it.” Or is it someone saying, “Okay, we want information on this thing. Here’s a topic; come up with something, Jo.” You know?

Kat: Right, it’s the question of passion for me. Like you said, when she was writing and developing the Potter books, it was about the love of the story that she had inside of her. And the new Pottermore to me feels like commissioned writing… personally. David…

Audience Member: Are you bothered by the fact that Jo did not write every single word of Cursed Child?

Kat: Oh…

Audience Member: [unintelligible]

Kat: We’re going to get there, hold that thought. We have strong feelings on that. [laughs]

Eric: Short answer to that question is yes, we are bothered.

Kat: Yeah, immensely bothered. Well, we can touch on it now.

Eric: Are we there?

Kat: Yeah, we can be there. So, that was something that we definitely want to talk about. How much is Jo in control of this Harry Potter machine, which is very much what it has become? Again, it feels for me so not passionate anymore. It just feels strictly like a business. If you read those quotes about the Chief Commercial Officer, why does a fictional series about a boy wizard need a Chief Commercial Officer?

Eric: I wonder if that sort of position didn’t already exist somewhere. I wonder if it wasn’t held closer to the vest, and they’re just not reporting [it]. This is obviously bigger than it’s ever been in terms of this HPGF – I’m sorry, I’m never going to remember this.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Global Franchise Development Team.

Eric: HPGFD – I was almost there. This is new, but Harry Potter was always in some ways commercial because it was always really successful. It was always… you needed certain people to manage the flow of the content. I think at least with the books, we always saw them as being J.K. Rowling, first and foremost. There’s a couple of editors who were really just there on a capacity to make the books understandable to the different regions of fans, right? You have Neil Blair and some publishers who are there to generally guide the book to where they need to be. But for the most part, it was straight Jo to us. But we have no idea really what kind of man power, what labor force existed in actually making that a reality. Surely there’s people who do the books for the publisher, who do the books for Jo, all sorts of financial considerations and contracts. Even going back to the creation of the Wizarding World and how all of that was worked out – Harry’s world in a physical place in the theme park and how all of those negotiations worked out – Harry Potter has always been commercial. Is it just that it’s now becoming more visible to us?

Alison: Well, I think the difference is… this sounds more like they’re trying to commercialize the idea of it, rather than the idea belongs to Jo. And the things that they were commercializing before were marketing books; they were marketing the results of the idea. Whereas this to me sounds more like they’re trying to take corporate control over the idea and the story of Harry Potter, which is… there’s a distinction there, I think.

Kat: Going back to your question about Cursed Child, David, I think my major issue with it is… so we’ve talked about what kind of control Jo has over the content that is put out under the Harry Potter name. She didn’t write Cursed Child. Why? Okay, I understand that she doesn’t know how to write a play. She can write a story, we know that. So why didn’t she write a story and then have someone adapt it? [That] has been my question since day one with Cursed Child

Eric: Right.

Kat: And that’s the major issue that I have with it, aside with it being called the eighth story. Who wants that? But it should have been a story first and then a play, not a play with a story. I don’t know.

Alison: It’s very interesting in practice. I saw it last week…

Eric: Can you repeat that? So she did see Cursed Child.

Alison: I did! [laughs] I saw it last week; I got this shirt there. But it’s very interesting to see… when you’re actually watching it, there are things that I could see that’s definitely Jo’s fingerprint. That’s definitely something that has come from her, that’s the kind of way she thinks, that’s the kinds of ways she… these are the kind of themes she touches on a lot and the way she approaches them. But there were also things that I was like, “That’s strange and doesn’t quite fit with what we know.” So it is interesting, how much input did she have? How much input did she not have? How much creative control did she turn over?

Eric: And primarily, why does this exist? Is it that she was compelled by this other person’s story – John Tiffany and Jack Thorne? Was she so compelled by the idea they had for Harry that she [said], “I’ll authorize it, it’s great!” and worked with them close enough to make sure it wasn’t totally awful against some of her more held-close principles and then let it go? Or is there some kind of demand? Is she roped in, is she required to produce X amount of Harry Potter content in X amount of form? Is that a conspiracy theory to think that that could be a possibility? Because … in terms of how often or how frequently Pottermore content is released and all of the other projects that Jo herself is working on, I wonder what changed. Because for the longest time there was silence; there was radio silence. After Book 7 ended, there were five years of silence; Jo was raising her kids and secretly writing a mystery novel series under a different name, which we didn’t know at the time. But she stopped; it was gone. The J.K. Rowling Twitter for years had one tweet; it was: “Pen and paper is my priority at the moment,” something like that. But nowadays, Jo’s tweeting hundreds of times a day – sometimes about politics, sometimes about Harry Potter – but it all feels managed … and we’re grateful. I love hearing from Jo; I think she’s snarky, she’s witty, she’s great, she’s brilliant. I love Jo; I’d marry her if I could.

[Audience laughs]

Eric: But I wonder, I honestly wonder… is there a sinister purpose behind this all? Things like Cursed Child which don’t necessarily need to have existed… I’m sure it will be awesome to see a stage play with magic in it, but if it’s not completely her story, why is it there? Is it just because she ran out of time because she’s also working on Fantastic Beasts? Which sounds awesome, can’t wait to see it. What exactly is going on? We went from having no new Harry Potter content for years. It got to the point where the bookstores and publishers had to reinvent titles – or, sorry, do new covers – just to sell new Harry Potter books because nothing was happening. Now, all of a sudden, we’re overloaded with content.

Alison: I guess the question is, what’s the motivation behind the sudden influx?

Kat: Right.

Alison: Because it could be corporate, or it could be she just has decided to release these new stories she’s been thinking over for the past ten years or so.

Audience Member: At one time J.K. Rowling was the richest woman in the United Kingdom. She is no longer, because she gave away so much money to charities she really cares about.

Kat: Right.

Audience Member: I’m thinking maybe this is a money-grabbing operation, but don’t blame the evil corporation. I’m thinking this is Jo wishing to raise money so that she can continue her good work with her various foundations and charities.

Eric: That’s very interesting.

Alison: Yeah, that’s a good point.

Kat: So, noble intentions.

Eric: Noble intentions. Yeah, we didn’t even consider that!

Alison: No, we didn’t!

Kat: No, we didn’t, at all.

Eric: What’s going on? None of these bullet points are noble intentions.

Kat: No, none of them. You have a comment, too? Hold on, Eric.

Audience Member: Seven, correct?

Eric: Copies?

Audience Member: Yes, seven copies – I wanted to make sure I had my number right – that she had done and sold off at auction. And because word got out, she did release the book. She did the special edition for Amazon, which I’m proud to say I got my dad to get for me for Christmas.

Eric: Nice!

Kat: I have one, too!

Audience Member: It is my prize.

Eric: What’s in the special edition? Is it a new cover?

Audience Member: It’s a very large cover. Then inside is a very specialized version of the book.

Kat: Yeah, it has a metal encasing on it.

Audience Member: I can’t believe you don’t own it.

Eric: I’m so jealous!

Audience Member: [laughs] I’ve listened to you for years, so I’ve gone from MuggleNet to Alohomora! and now SpeakBeasty, of course.

Kat: Nice.

Audience Member: But… it is, I listen to them all.

Kat: Yay, thank you!

[Alison laughs]

Audience Member: And unfortunately I can only support one of them, and that’s MuggleNet, because that was my first one.

Kat: Oh, MuggleCast, you mean?

Audience Member: MuggleCast, I’m sorry.

Kat: Yeah, it’s okay, it’s fine.

Audience Member: It was my first ever podcast when I got my iPod.

Kat: No problem. [laughs]

Audience Member: So it’s my pride. It’s the one I’ve stayed with forever. But then Beedle the Bard was her first real project where she got the special one from Amazon and the money went toward whatever charity… I don’t remember what charity it was. But even the Fantastic Beasts, Quidditch Through the Ages

Alison: The schoolbooks.

Audience Member: The schoolbooks, yeah, thank you! Even those said on it that they went for the British Comic Relief, not to be mixed up with the American one. Because I just managed to get a set of those off Amazon before they took Fantastic Beasts out of the set, so I have that one.

Kat: So, I think for me the reason that those are okay [is] because they feel passionate to me.

Audience Member: Yes.

Kat: It feels like Jo wrote them because she wanted to and she loved it. And then it turned into something that she realized, “oh, okay, I’m passionate about this. These people are passionate about it, too? Okay, guess what, I’m going to do that.” Cursed Child feels like the opposite to me. It feels like somebody approached her and was like, “hey, let’s do this because it could be really successful.” And then she said, “oh, okay, that story is cool. Let’s figure out how to fix it and make it something great.” And the people who have read spoilers – she’s seen it, he knows all the spoilers; he hates it, she loved it – I mean, it’s divisive for sure.

Audience Member: I have one other thought and that is, I’m under the impression she wrote the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts.

Kat: Yes, but she did have help.

Audience Member: Okay. Couldn’t she have done the same thing with Cursed Child? Because I keep thinking, wait a minute, she wrote the Fantastic Beasts screenplay. And yes, every time I see a preview for it, I keep telling my husband, “You know you’re taking me there for my birthday, right?” Because it comes out a week after my birthday.

Eric: Nice.

Audience Member: And so I told my husband, that’s what I want for my birthday. I want you to take me to Fantastic Beasts opening weekend.

Eric: Well, if your birthday is in November, how many Harry Potter movie launch birthdays have you had?

Kat: A lot.

Audience Member: The only difference is this will be the first time I do it without my son. Because we no longer live in the same state.

Eric: Right.

Alison: Aww.

Kat: Okay. But we do agree wholeheartedly… I strongly feel that she could have written a story and then it could have been adapted. And that’s why it just feels less passion to me and more business.

Eric: Well, can we consider it canon? There’s all sorts of other implications here…

Alison: Ugh!

Eric: Yeah, we’ll get into that.

Kat: We’ll get into it. There’s a canon debate tomorrow, [so] show up for that.

Eric: There’s a canon debate…

Kat: David…

Audience Member: Let us also note that she also put another book out recently that I know is her and I know is passionate. It’s that little book A Very Good Life, which is her commencement speech at Harvard, which is a terrific speech.

Kat: Yeah. I was there live, and it was beautiful. It was beautiful.

Audience Member: So, that’s obviously genuine Jo, that’s obviously genuine passion, that’s obviously a money-maker…

Eric: Yes.

Kat: It is, but it’s also not Harry Potter.

Audience Member: No, it’s not Harry Potter.

Kat: Right. Which I think is for me where it makes it very different.

Eric: So we’re seeing this where Jo went to… was it Harvard?

Kat: Yes, it was Harvard.

Eric: … and gave this commencement speech. It was brilliant, it was everything that we love about Jo, and the world couldn’t help but bind it and sell it. Because it’s so brilliant? Sure. But how much money are they making off of it? There’s always going to be – there always was, probably – this issue of Harry Potter and money. But now it’s just seeming like, is the reliability of Harry Potter as a money-maker driving the force of the fact that there’s new content being created?

Kat: Right – the products.

Eric: Versus what was happening prior, which was it was always a very well-known narrative of how many books we were getting, and this was all because of Jo’s story.

Kat: It’s like the chicken or the egg. Which one’s coming first now? And it’s hard to tell which. Is it the passion or is it the business?

Eric: Mhm. And why didn’t Jo write Cursed Child? Was it a timing aspect because she was also working on Cormoran Strike and Fantastic Beasts? And if that’s the case, why didn’t she just wait a year? Give yourself… take all the time you need, Jo!

[Kat laughs]

Eric: She was off for five years [and] we loved her still. So I wonder what is the darn fire that’s been lit to create so much Harry Potter content in such a short time, some of which is not written by her but authorized by her, which was unique. So what’s the deal?

Kat: David?

Audience Member: Question: When did her last child start school?

Alison: Oh.

Kat: I know.

Audience Member: But I’m wondering if there wasn’t a perfectly normal explanation of, “Wow, all of a sudden momma has a lot more free time.”

Kat: Quite possibly.

Alison: Yeah, that’s [possible]. I don’t know if we’re necessarily saying it’s a bad thing that we’re getting all of this content. I know I, at least, was excited for everything. Like Kat said, I loved Cursed Child. I see its issues but overall I loved it. I’m super excited for Fantastic Beasts. I loved the Ilvermorny story. But I think there’s this interesting thought because it feels different. It doesn’t quite feel like it’s all centered around the story. It feels like it’s… There’s just been this sudden shift and I think that’s what we’re wondering about is maybe what created the shift.

Kat: I think, since you brought up Fantastic Beasts – Mary, hold on – we really wanted to talk about the screenplay being published because that is straight up business decision.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Straight up. So Cursed Child, they’re publishing the script. Almost every single play does that. Granted, they don’t have midnight release parties and all that stuff, but most plays publish a script, okay? So that is not abnormal. I get it. Fine. How many movies have you seen that published their screenplay?

Alison: In a book.

Kat: Zero that I am aware of.

Audience Member: There’s been some.

Kat: With this big of a release?

Audience Member: Not this big of a release but when movies have come out with it after the fact they’ve done a novelized version of it.

Kat: But that’s a novelized version. That’s very different.

Alison: Yeah, that’s not [the same].

Eric: Novelizations are quite common. You’re quite right to point that out.

Kat: Right, very different.

Eric: Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a novelization.

Audience Member: The entire Star Wars series has novelizations.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Right.

Eric: I own some [of them].

Alison: A lot of scripts are published…

Kat: For free.

Alison: … online or [for] free for students and other film makers to study and things like that. But to have it be sold and be announced…

Eric: It’s been announced that this will be this…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: It’s being sold like a Harry Potter book. It’s the screenplay.

Kat: And marketed and everything.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah, they haven’t quite, right? They called Cursed Child “The Eighth Story.”

Alison: Which, it shouldn’t be.

Eric: What are they going to call Fantastic Beasts? A prequel to Harry Potter? What is going to be the marketing tag that they put on it?

Kat: Right.

Eric: Is this necessary? Do we need it? I want the movie.

Kat: Right.

Eric: I want the movie a lot.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: You don’t have to raise your hand David, you can just talk. [laughs]

Audience Member: I hear us worrying about the fact that the Cursed Child may not be 100% JK Rowling created content. You do know that Rembrandt’s students finished his paintings, right?

Kat: We do.

Alison: Yeah. That’s a common thing. I think it’s just… It’s so hard to talk about it because I don’t want to spoil anything.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Eric: How would Rembrandt feel about that, I wonder?

Alison: There are things that feel like Jo and there are things that don’t feel like Jo.

Kat: I think it’s a matter of fitting into the universe…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … and feeling like it is, I keep bringing it up but, a passionate thing.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: I feel like when we lose the passion, that’s when it stops feeling like her and then it starts feeling like something that was done purely to make money.

Audience Member: How much of this is coincidental? When you look at all the different pieces that are converging at this time, you’re seeing so much of it but a lot of it, it’s just the timing of it. With Fantastic Beasts she’s got a lot of good background material she wants to share to help build up and prepare for that.

Kat: But do we know that she had that?

Audience Member: She did have that because that’s part of how she created the universe.

Eric: It’s interesting to see, as well, the initial comments that come out. For instance, when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the movie, was announced, David Heyman gave an interview where he said, “She doesn’t have to do this. She wouldn’t, in fact, have agreed to doing these films, which will be at least a trilogy, if she didn’t have the idea.” And that, for me at the time, that was the only thing I needed to hear.

Kat: Mhm.

Eric: That was exactly when I was like, “She had the idea. We didn’t force her into this.” We didn’t throw money at her and she said, “Okay, fine.” This was something that she was passionate about. This inspired her. She had this idea she was always toying with, or at least recently has decided to begin toying with, and we’re going to make that a reality. Fine, take my money.

Kat: Right. [laughs]

Eric: And give me back something that I can love and be passionate about as much as I am about Harry Potter. I think in the way that it’s been characterized in the media, the interviews that people are giving even about Cursed Child and the whole “Keep the Secrets” campaign and who that directly benefits. I feel like, also, there’s this consideration that we have to take into account [of] whether or not the original fans of the series are being left behind.

Kat: Mhm.

Audience Member: I have another vocabulary word.

Kat: Okay.

Audience Member: Maybe this would help: authenticity. Because you’re using the word passion and it strikes me, going back to David’s point, that you can be as passionate about making bookoo money to serve the purposes, the noble ends that she has…

Kat: Sure.

Audience Member: … as you are about the creation of literary work, right? So she’s passionate about both, right?

Eric: Yeah.

Audience Member: But I think the worry that I’m hearing is there’s some kind of loss about the original material that seems inauthentic to what’s going on…

Kat: Yeah, that’s a much better word.

Audience Member: … with all other interests other than Jo’s coming into and getting their hands involved in the creation now, the creation, the creativity of it. It strikes like it’s a different kind of world. I was thinking of Tolkien as an analog to this where he never finished what he wanted to do but his son took over.

Eric: Christopher?

Audience Member: Yeah. So you have at least some kind of hand-off there where you can kind of trust The Silmarillion [as], “Okay, that kind of represents what Dad was thinking.” But it would be a totally different thing if whoever the publisher was said, “Give me those materials. We’re getting a book out because this is so successful.”

Kat: Like Harper Lee.

Audience Member: Yes. Oh, yes. Good example. That worry about the commercialization, the roll of commercializing such an important cultural phenomenon. It’s not just a literary phenomenon but it’s a cultural phenomenon too. You asked the question, “What about the fans who came on board?” The commercial part of it, they want new fans. That’s the idea: more product. They want to move more product and those kinds of goals are going to be at odds with those of us who care deeply about the literary artistry.

Kat: We talked about this a bit before, too. Did we bring this upon ourselves?

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Because, for years and years, we were like, “More! More! More! Faster! More! Faster!” and it just… Did we do it to ourselves? And I feel like we have to take, as fans and readers and lovers of the material, some of the responsibility for this crap. Sorry.

Audience Member: I think you’re right because I think there’s a huge demand. I think it’s an outgrowth of fan fiction and everything that she’s allowed to occur, and now the universe is growing and she has to figure out, “What’s the next step? How does it expand? How does it expand in relation to how Star Wars and Star Trek expanded in their universes, to continue the story, to continue the fans’ love of the stories?”

Audience Member: I think it might be worth remembering that two of the most heavily franchised stories within the last 50 years have been – [are] you ready for this? – Sesame Street

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: That’s true.

Audience Member: We all love Sesame Street, right?

Alison: We do.

Kat: Yep.

Eric: That makes up [unintelligible], he doesn’t make any money.

[Everyone laughs]

Audience Member: And Peanuts, the cartoon strip.

Kat: Oh yeah, that’s right.

Kat: Who’s running Peanuts now that Charles has gone?

Audience Member: As far as I know, the corporation.

Kat: Really?

Alison: Interesting.

Kat: I know very little about that, to be honest so…

Audience Member: Huh.

Kat: Interesting.

Eric: Question up front.

Kat: Yeah, Bella.

Audience Member: Does it at all seem like a C.Y.A. situation where, since 2011 when the beta opened for Pottermore, there was a lot of talk that wasn’t great, it was a lot of negative reactions. I know MuggleCast, one of their favorite subjects for a while was…

Eric: Guilty.

Audience Member: … talking bad about Pottermore. And then with the new Pottermore, it’s not gone over well. No one’s happy with it.

Alison: I think it’s worse, yeah.

Audience Member: It is!

Alison: Terrible.

Audience Member: It’s not good at all, and as much as they’ve said that all of the information’s on there, you can’t find it.

Alison and Eric: No.

Audience Member: It’s impossible to search for it, and then with Cursed Child there’s good reviews, there’s bad reviews. I know nothing about it, I’ve stayed away from… I haven’t even listened to the spoiler-free reviews. I just don’t want to know.

Kat: Me neither.

Eric: Yeah, don’t listen to MuggleCast‘s interview video.

Alison: I would definitely suggest…

Eric: It’s supposed to be spoiler-free, it’s not.

Alison: Go impure.

Audience Member: Yeah, I skipped it. So I really want to go, whenever I get the book, I want to just go into it not knowing anything, but that’s not been going over well so I’m really nervous about it. And then with Fantastic Beasts, that’s pretty much the thing people are most excited about because that is what Jo did.

Kat: It feels the most authentic…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Aye.

Kat: Using the word, that’s right.

Audience Member: We care about it and we want to see it but then there’s, again, the script coming out and no one’s excited about that. Somebody I follow on Twitter said, “Why are they doing this?” and I was like, “Because they know we’ll buy it.”

Alison: Yeah.

Audience Member: That’s why.

Kat: I won’t buy it.

Eric: We’re a cult here.

Alison: I’m not going to, but people will.

Audience Member: With the magic in North America and with the new Ilvermorny stuff, people are angry. People are not happy with it, and so maybe they’ve created this HPGFD to cover their behinds and try to make up for all of the anger that the fandom has over all this stuff that they’ve been putting out over the last few years that just hasn’t done it for anybody.

Eric: I really wonder if there’s not a person in that article mentioned or as part of the team that is designed to basically, PR her. That interest me.

Kat: Yep. What I really hope is that somebody on that team actually gives a crap about Harry Potter

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … because it’s really easy to find people that will do a job but it’s one thing to take somebody from the fandom who’s been in it for 10, 15, 20 years and let them help you figure out what is going to be good for the people who are consuming your product. I feel like that would help the authenticity of it, if you had somebody it felt like they actually cared about the product that was being put out there…

Eric: It is a tough duty…

Alison: I…

Eric: Yeah, go on.

Alison: Oh, I was going to say. I think that’s my biggest concern, is I’ve felt in the past couple years, there seems to be this large gap and it’s widening in the past year or so between the fandom and this kind of corporation where it feels like the corporation is… For example, the one example we were talking about earlier was the VidCon YouTubers’ thing…

Eric: Ugh.

Alison: … for Fantastic Beasts.

Eric: Right.

Alison: And how…

Eric: Do you guys know about this, by the way? What they had was, they invited… was it a dozen of the…?

Alison: From around the world.

Eric: … from around the world, a dozen famous YouTube celebrities to the set of Fantastic Beasts. I was going to say dressed in a period attire but then one of the guys had a North Face jacket in the photo. But they took photos of them…

Alison: On set.

Eric: … on set, so 1920s New York, God I love it…

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Eric: … to promote the film and they used to use their built-in YouTube – but completely foreign to us – fans to promote Fantastic Beasts rather than going the old route, Harry Potter fansites, doing set visits, reporting on it, the way that it used to be. Are we mad? Are we angry [about] being excluded? It’s just weird because it just seems that they really are going for a younger audience, a newer audience and this is something that they’re no longer relying on fansites to provide the news which is just weird. It’s like, “Oh, when did we get excluded from the conversation?”

Alison: Even with Pottermore, with new Pottermore when they were getting negative reactions from people who have been involved in Potter for a long time, it seemed like they just ignored everyone’s feedback where people didn’t like it, people wanted the old stuff back and it just felt like that just got lost in the void and no one cared.

Eric: And something happened with Sony, something there with Jo and Sony… as soon as that relationship ended, stuff went…

Kat: Right.

Eric: … could you elaborate on that, Kat?

Kat: Yeah, sure. So the original Pottermore was in partnership with Sony and they also had Pottermore online – if you remember, the PlayStation world…

Eric: That was amazing.

Kat: Yeah, that was really great. [Does] anyone know what we’re talking about?

Eric: Did anyone get to play Pottermore at PlayStation Home?

Kat: Okay, it was the best. Eric and I did a review of it one time, and we were the only two people in the world…

[Alison laughs]

Kat: … and it was wonderful. We danced on the Gringotts steps.

Eric: I often still think we’re the only two people in the world.

Kat: [laughs] It’s true. But anyway, so that partnership eventually ended for whatever reason, I don’t know why. So Pottermore at Home went away, and then Pottermore as we knew it, had to disappear because Sony hosted all of that stuff. So that’s where the new Pottermore came in. However, personally, I feel like they probably could have found another sponsor and Pottermore… Jo said it was going to be a place where you could go and explore Harry Potter while you’re rereading the series, but somehow it has now become this…

Eric: Vessel.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … this terrible fansite.

Eric: Why do they need a fansite, we’re fansites. Not just us…

Alison: There [are] multiple, yeah.

Eric: … there’s ten long-running Harry Potter fansites. Pottermore did not need to be…

Kat: Right.

Eric: … that additional aspect.

Kat: But I think what they probably should have done when that Sony relationship ended, was they should have kept Pottermore Harry Potter, and then they should have created something like, “wizardingworld.com” and made that be the hub. Because if you notice at the bottom of Pottermore, there’s a little “WW” logo that says, “J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World”…

Alison: That’s true.

Kat: … and that’s the little corporation that now runs everything.

Audience Member: I was just going to say, when you were saying about the gap getting bigger between fans and shooting for younger fans, I’m not old, I’m only 19…

Alison: Yeah, I’m 22.

Audience Member: Yeah, I’m part of a young crowd but me and a lot of my friends who grew up going to the premieres and stuff had absolutely no idea what was going on with any of the new release stuff. And part of the only reason that I know the new Potter stuff coming out so frequently is because of MuggleNet and working with them, but friends of mine would have absolutely no idea what’s going on. My best friend in the whole world didn’t even know what Cursed Child was because there’s such a break between how they’re releasing information now as opposed to the way they used to and the way people are used to getting information. Even fans that are my age that are on the Internet generation constantly aren’t getting a lot of it, which I think is really interesting.

Eric: There’s something that is also happening – which we were talking about earlier and planning, but which sort of runs against that or tangential to that – which is that everything J.K. Rowling says or does is now national news.

Kat: Or doesn’t do.

Eric: Or doesn’t do.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Kat: Right, like that new story she wrote about Harry Potter.

Eric: This is not even a case of paparazzi following Jo; this is every story she writes not only gets posts on BuzzFeed or… where else is to be expected?

Alison: BBC. You get it on BBC all the time.

Eric: Well, and the Guardian occasionally, as I said. But Time magazine is posting about every new Pottermore update. What has happened?

Kat: The local news… Okay, I live in a really sleepy town in western Massachusetts. My mother will text me about three days after big news breaks. She’ll be like, “Oh, did you hear about this thing? I saw it on the news tonight.” I’m like, “Holy crap! I can’t believe that that made it to my local news station.” And it’s something stupid like… “Moaning Myrtle’s middle name was released today.” Why does that need to be on the news? [speaking to audience member] Yes.

Audience Member: I love hearing this conversation. I have a couple of thoughts; hopefully they’re related to what you’re talking about.

Eric: Thank you.

Kat: Yeah, always.

Audience Member: Number one: I’m picking up a real strong vibe of real love for Jo Rowling…

Kat: Mhm.

Eric: Yeah.

Audience Member: And what I’m hearing is a kind of worry like I felt when I watched Bob Dylan do an IBM commercial for the Super Bowl.

Kat: Ugh! [laughs] Yeah.

Audience Member: There’s that worry that she’s selling out somehow, right?

Kat: Mhm.

Alison: Yeah.

Audience Member: So I’m hearing that really, really strong and I hope that if this ever got back to her that she would hear that you have a dedicated fanbase of years and years who care deeply about her and her gifts and what she has given to us, right? I love that. I think we should reinforce that. Number two – the second point, if I can remember it now – is… oh no! I’m going to forget it. I’ll come back.

Kat: Okay. [laughs] I do agree completely that – at least for me – I have always been a big supporter of Jo, and I love that she supports so many charities and that she does do things and that she dropped off the billionaire list because she donated so much. I feel like she has a beautiful, big open heart and I love that about her, and I will always completely support her. But it doesn’t mean that…

Eric: She’s also brilliant.

Kat: She is. Right.

Alison: Yeah, and I love… If all this is authentic like we’ve been talking about, I absolutely am perfectly happy. As a person who writes myself, I know that sometimes you catch onto an idea and it just spirals and there are times when you feel like you can’t control it and you just need to get it out… and if it’s like that then fine. Like I said, I’m not super upset about a lot of the information. I see problematic things in it but like we’ve said, we’re excited for Fantastic Beasts. We’re excited for some of these new things, but we’re worried about where it’s coming from and what that means for what’s to come, I think.

Kat: Right. Is it really coming from Jo, or is it coming from somebody on this Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team? They should have come up with a shorter name for that.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It’s the HPGFD. What’s so hard about it?

Kat: But anyway… are they saying, “Jo, we need to push Fantastic Beasts a little bit more. Can you write something for us, please?” That feels not authentic to me because that’s not coming from a place that… She doesn’t necessarily want to write that, but they’re saying, “We need this,” so she writes it.

Alison: But if she’s saying, “This could be important to understanding the background of maybe why I do some things in Fantastic Beasts and I want to…” it’s almost like what we got on the old Pottermore, where we got retroactive things after the series of “Here’s a little bit more information about this character, which helps us explain their motivations,” and things like that. Or “Here’s how this object or this idea of magic works in this world,” and it’s almost like we’re doing that before instead of after this time. And if it’s like that then that makes sense, but if, like Kat said, it’s just [that] they’re looking for some specific things and want her to just write these things up, then that feels inauthentic and as a fan that makes me feel cheated a little bit. That’s not the kind of world I want her to be giving to me.

Audience Member: I can think of my second thing.

Kat: Yeah.

Audience Member: So… I think there’s an interesting generational thing going on here too. I taught a college course on Potter and I was asked – a local station who thought that was a crazy idea – this was 2007 and so they knew that the last movies were coming out, and they were asking, “When these last movies come out, is it pretty much over for Harry Potter? Is this fandom going to die?” No, it’s not going to die because there are things like this conference and there has continued to be conferences that care deeply about the canon and it’s inexhaustible. There’s no way that you can [stop] – you can mine it forever. I just heard a great talk on Snape and Sirius over there. So… I think that, as a first generation [of] fans – let’s call everybody here in the room first generation fans – I don’t see us affected really by what the commercial enterprises are doing. I can see that worry about being sold out, being cheated, those kinds of things. I think that’s fair to say and to keep informed about that, but if we keep doing what we’re doing with conferences like this, we’re bringing it. We are bringing the real thing here and we’re talking about the canon; it’s always about the canon. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about the canon.

Alison: And that’s something that I think has, at least for me, always been about the story and at the core of everything is this story that – when I was five years old – completely took my imagination and set me off on so many things in my life. And I think the further away this cooperation gets from this story and that heart and the core of it, the more concerned I get about it because… I mean, I have a niece and a nephew that are little who are going to grow up that I want to introduce to the series… and if culturally it’s become something that’s less about the story, then I’m worried that that whimsy, that magic, those ideas and themes that I loved as a kid are not going to translate to the next generation.

Kat: And I think that’s important. I think that part of the reason this frustrates us is because we did have that amazing experience where it was pure and it was authentic and it was passionate and it was all of those beautiful, wonderful things and – at least for me because I am so intrenched in it – the further and further it goes on, the more it just feels like it’s getting demolished. Things are being hit from all sides and they’re crumbling a little bit, and it just doesn’t feel pure.

Eric: I wonder if this is another J.K. Rowling life lesson. The Harry Potter series has taught us so much. It was my first introduction to a ton of new things and concepts. The world, to say the least… even gay characters in literature, all this… It arose when I went and saw Prisoner of Azkaban, and the woman next to me was a big Remus/Sirius shipper, and I had never even known that was a thing, and now I think it’s probably the most canon-compliant ship there is. So it’s all these different things, and I’m wondering if… and as a fandom, we’ve always had, as that man was saying, great discourse at these conventions about the canon. I wonder if having this type of a talk about commercialization and about whether the content is feeling forced is not in fact another lesson to be learned about how global franchises work here because I think, eventually, this story will continue to develop. This is not the end; this is merely the beginning. And I think, certainly as more voices join the chorus of people upset with the new stuff that is coming out by J.K. Rowling and upset with the practices that are being put forth by different people who are in charge of the Harry Potter franchise to really be a force in change. I think I’m pretty confident that we will be continuing to voice our concerns, and I wonder if it won’t, in fact, end up being highly educational and in the end, heralded by the purest of all J.K. Rowling’s… in the end, maybe? Maybe she’ll one day come out and say something that’s… I didn’t have the time to witness all of this stuff, but it really did mean a lot to me in my heart that this was all happening now, and then I think that will go a long way to alleviating some of our fears about it. But I think that there has been a very noticeable trend of, I feel, less attachment between Jo directly and the source material. Whether this HPGFDP… I forgot it already, sorry.

Kat: GFDT.

Eric: If this is a sign of the end of times, or whether it’s not just in fact something that arises because Harry Potter is just so big. It has always been so big. Is it now…? Has something happened now where it’s too big for its britches…?

Kat: Hey, I said that before!

[Audience laughs]

Eric: You said that. To use your… Sorry, Kat, what was the phrase?

Kat: “Too big for its britches.” [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. Is it a situation where what she said or now, and is that all we’re seeing or is there something more? But I think that I’ve learned about so much. Being able to discuss this type of thing is my passion. It’s why I’m on podcasts, it’s why I’m here, and I think that it’s interesting to think about this type of stuff.

Kat: I do think it is funny that the more people [who come] between the story and Jo, so like all these teams and Pottermore and all these different writers and all that stuff, I think that’s a good point, that that’s where the disconnect is happening. Because before, it was Jo, book, us. There was not all these other… I mean, sure, there were publishers and editors and stuff, but they were a part of that. Cheryl Klein, somebody we’ve had on the show before, is a bigger geek than all of us combined, [laughs] but she helped bring that, and she was a little minor, little step off of that. It just feels like there’s more in between us now.

Eric: More in the background, yeah. I mean, it’s a question: Are these people necessary? What is their goal? Is it malicious intent or is it purely noble and what is it? But there is a lot more of it now.

Audience Member: I have a question.

Kat: Go ahead.

Audience Member: Is maybe the struggle here that, as [the] first generation, we were engaged with these stories as books and that the new content is engaged very, very differently? And so I mean, does that have something to do with it?

Alison: Well, not for me. I just see them as different modes of storytelling. For example, I don’t think Cursed Child could have worked very well as a book. It would have been strange, the plot.

Eric: It’s coming out as a book.

Alison: But it’s coming out as a script. But in its finalized form, which I do know is quite unfair that it needs to be in this finalized form as a stage production because it limits people who can see it, but I’m still hoping they will broadcast it, because it needs to be seen. But I do think for that kind of story that it is, it needed to be told in that mode of storytelling. And maybe we’ll find that Fantastic Beasts, for the story it needs to tell, it needs to be in that medium. So that particularly doesn’t bother me, just because I just see them as different modes of storytelling, and different modes of storytelling can do different things. But it’s what I feel like we’re not focusing on the story anymore.

Eric: Well, and I like the idea that she’s adapting and growing as a person. She’s writing a film. That’s cool! Way to go, Jo. You’re developing some skills! You’re adding some new skills to your repertoire here. That’s cool. I will say, I think, as an original generation fan, I would probably still prefer a book every single one of the times out of ten.

Audience Member: I am wondering how much of this reaction we’re having is simply that it’s different or a little bit not what we expected. I don’t know how widespread it was, but I know that there were a number of people who were quite surprised about Casual Vacancy. Didn’t sell much like Harry Potter, did it?

Eric: I don’t think I’ve quite gotten over Casual Vacancy.

Alison: I haven’t actually read it.

Kat: I’m halfway through it because I just…

Audience Member: I recently finished it. It’s great, okay?

Kat: I’ve heard it’s great.

Eric: Okay, thank God!

[Alison laughs]

Eric: All right. Well, I have to go unbury my book from my backyard.

Audience Member: She even did an amazing thing. She went online somewhere and wrote about… Maybe it was on her Twitter account – I don’t know – but she wrote about a three- or four-thousand-word essay that really lays it out, what she was trying to do, what she intended, and how she planned it, the whole thing.

Eric: Oh my God, that’s cool.

Alison: Sorry, I’m a nerd. I love things like that. I’m a literary nerd, so that’s my jam. [laughs] But I do think that gets to the question we asked before: How much of this is down to the fandom too? How much have we been pushing? How many…? I think a problem, too, personally, is expectations that were pulled up, and sometimes the expectations or the headcanons or the things that we’ve come up with in this large gap that we were talking about where there was nothing, now there are things that she’s releasing and authorizing that go against that. And I think that’s where some of the pushback could be coming from, especially the reaction to Cursed Child. I feel a lot of it is people were surprised that that’s how it went in her head, and that’s not how it went in their heads, but people have become so engrained in what they were thinking that it’s almost like we forget that this story originated in Jo Rowling’s head.

Kat: But it didn’t. Because the story was brought to her.

Alison: Well, okay, I’m sorry. I was talking about the story in general. Harry Potter, this world in general, was the story that originated from her head, and I think sometimes we forget that because we’ve taken so much of it. And I think that could be problematic sometimes.

Eric: I agree. I agree with that.

Kat: Bella, comment?

Audience Member: Yeah, a couple [of] things. First of all, Kat asked if it has to do with the fandom asking for so much. I think maybe if we hadn’t gotten Pottermore, if we had gotten the encyclopedia that we were promised that there was a whole court case between Jo and Steve Vander Ark about, maybe this wouldn’t be a problem at all. And then, second comment, I feel like there’s a lot of discontent and disconnect happening in the fandom, and that makes me really sad. I have one of my best friends who… Story time: I was a proper down weird kid in high school and I would wear my Gryffindor sweater to school on like not-Halloween. [laughs] And he came up to me one day and he was like, [gasps] “Is that a Gryffindor sweater?” And I was like, “Yeah,” and he’s like, “We love Harry Potter!” [meaning] him and his friend. And so to this day – that was six years ago almost – we’re still best friends, and we’ve had several conversations recently where he’s expressed his discontent with what’s happening in the fandom and the franchise as a whole. And he’s told me that it worries him because he feels like he’s losing touch with it, and he’s not going to be able to stay in the place in the fandom that has meant so much to him and gotten him through so much. And that’s a really sad thing that’s happening, and I feel like that’s something that’s happening not just for him but for a lot of people.

Kat: And I think that’s a great point about the encyclopedia. How different would the fandom be now if that information had been published? [Say] it was like a one-time thing; it was out… or maybe it was a three-time thing and she ended up with three volumes, or four volumes or twelve volumes or whatever. How different would that be? And I think it’s a question of accessibility, especially where that comes in, because there are so many things. Like that Pottermore at Home on PlayStation, if you didn’t have a PlayStation you couldn’t play it. If you don’t live in London or have the ability to travel to London, you can’t read Cursed Child – or see it. And so… I think that’s a great point.

Alison: I do wonder, though, even if we had got the encyclopedia, if we would have still been pushing for more and more and more.

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: Of course we would!

Eric: What would have happened… we wouldn’t be happy with it. Because, like you said, we tend to build up these stories…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: … and the answers in her head [go] far beyond what can be accomplished by a mortal woman.

Kat: Right. [speaking to audience member] Go ahead.

Audience Member: Weren’t we… [unintelligible]…?

Eric: Okay. Here we go.

Audience Member: … Way back when, weren’t we originally promised…?

Kat: She did say she was writing one.

Eric: There was…

Audience Member: Yeah, because again, I have been listening to the podcast since 2007, and I distinctly remember multiple conversations… [laughs]

Eric: It was really funny, here’s what had happened so far as I can recall – so maybe a little of a plug. But no, this announcement came out that Sony was partnering with J.K. Rowling to create Pottermore, which was a companion to the books.

Audience Member: Right, I remember that.

Eric: About a few days later, Jo made a comment on what must have been her personal site at the time…

Kat: Yep.

Eric: … saying that she was finishing up working on what had been announced as The Casual Vacancy, and that after that she was going to be doing work for the encyclopedia, something like that. But she said “encyclopedia” and it was different than Pottermore…

Kat: Right.

Eric: Or it was not like, “Oh, and buy the encyclopedia – I mean Pottermore.”

[Audience laughs]

Eric: It was the encyclopedia and the fandom freaked out. We’re like, “Oh my God, not only are we getting this awesome thing in Pottermore [unintelligible] but we’re going to get the extended encyclopedia.” The post was taken down on J.K. Rowling’s site within a few days – it was all very strange and shady – and no mention of the [encyclopedia]. So long as Jo had that contract with Sony and so long as Pottermore existed, I don’t think there’s ever been another public comment ever made about the encyclopedia.

Alison: So the lesson from that is don’t buy anything from Sony ever.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: They ruined everything. Just kidding. [laughs]

Eric: Uh, I don’t know… but it’s like, what happened? That was the first [thing] that may have started the whole…

Kat: It may have.

Eric: What if Jo wants to put out stuff but can’t? Or what if she doesn’t want to but has to, et cetera, kind of thing? It’s an interesting thing that I think, in closing…

Kat: Right.

Eric: … Because it’s nearly finished. I think we’ll continue to just keep an eye on it. I’m not worried – I don’t think it’s the end of times – but it’s important to kind of realize the subtlety and the nuance with which this information being disseminated is different from what we got before – if it is – and to question what the trend is there.

Kat: Right. Well, because if the encyclopedia had happened instead of Pottermore, it would be a book, it’d be published, it would be canon, [and] there would be no canon debates about that material…

Alison: Oh, gosh… [laughs]

Kat: … ever because it would be published.

[Alison groans]

Eric: I think we’d all leave. If I got all the answers that I wanted to know, I might just walk out the door to the next thing. [laughs]

Kat: But it wouldn’t be everything…

Eric: No, no…

Kat: It would be the cool backstories…

Eric: It would never be enough…

Kat: Right, exactly.

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: And then we wouldn’t have… I feel like it would be less business-y…

Eric: Well, yeah, but…

Kat: … because there would be less corporate partnerships. It would be publishers and Jo and us.

Eric: Well, fewer untold stories to exploit or potentially exploit for money…

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: … I guess. You could always come up with new stuff though, but…

Audience Member: Yeah.

Kat: I suppose. Any other comments? Questions?

Alison: Any last thoughts?

Eric: Final thoughts? Anybody?

Kat: Bella.

Audience Member: I mean, in the end we’re all here…

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Audience Member: … because Harry Potter matters to us. Some of my very best friendships have come from Harry Potter, like my friend that I mentioned and my own roommate. We met, we were working together, and we had a mutual love of Harry Potter, and she was the only person I’d ever met in my small town who also listened to Harry Potter podcasts and wizard rock, and I was so excited about it. And so – I call her my twin – we look exactly alike even though we’re not related – didn’t know each other before that. But my deepest friendships are rooted in Harry Potter, and I think that’s what’s going to hold the fandom together – that we care so much about the fandom itself and each other.

Alison: Well, I think the purpose that we came up with when we were trying to discuss what we wanted to discuss and why we settled on this was… Okay, I’m just going to speak for me because I don’t know about them. I quite like a lot of the stuff that’s come out, but I think it’s important to go in it with our eyes open and just think about these hard questions and these difficult things that can be complex and make this a little bit problematic even, potentially. So I don’t know if it necessarily… I personally am not on with a lot of people who say she just needs to stop because I quite enjoy a lot of the stuff that’s coming out. But I think it’s just going in with our eyes open, trying to understand the whole situation so that we can be informed…

Eric: I think it’s really interesting presenting this type of discussion as well at Leviosa, which to my mind has been an amazing convention. It feels so much like the old school Harry Potter conventions in the heyday before all the books were out, and the fact that fans of the series who were passionate put this kind of thing together as a treat to everyone who can make it was amazing. And so, I actually am… I know we have a whole other day at con – a great ball to get to tonight, which I’m really looking forward to – but I leave with a renewed sense of real adoration for…

Kat: Community.

Eric: Community.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: For the community, for what this kind of group can provide for each other, and I’m not really worried about anything we talked about tonight.

Kat: Pottermore is not welcome. [whispers] Just kidding.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Yeah. No Pottermores allowed!

[Kat laughs]

Eric: And no HPGFD.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: T.

Eric: T.

Audience Member: XYZ.

Kat: [laughs] That’s right, exactly.

Eric: That’s right, HPXYZ…

[Show music begins]

Kat: Cool. Thanks, guys for coming.

Alison: Yeah, thanks for coming.

Eric: We really wanted to thank everybody who came to this.

[Audience applauds and cheers]

[Show music continues]