[Show music begins]
Unknown Male Voice: This is a special episode of Alohomora! recorded live in front of an audience at LeakyCon London 2013.
[Show music continues]
Caleb Graves: So welcome to our live Alohomora! podcast show! Hopefully, that’s what you’re here for, otherwise you’re in the wrong place.
Caleb: But my name is Caleb Graves.
Rosie Morris: My name is Rosie Morris.
Benedict Clarke: I’m Benedict Clarke.
Kat Miller: Kat Miller.
Rohan: And I’m Rohan Gotobed.
Caleb: Awesome. So the… myself, Rosie, and Kat are from MuggleNet.
Caleb: Obviously, our two guests are not from MuggleNet. They’re a little more special than we are, so we are super excited to have some of the former cast members from Harry Potter joining us today. How many of you guys actually listen to Alohomora! fairly regularly? Awesome! It’s so great to have you here! Thank you for coming, and for those of you who have not listened to our show, Kat, do you want to tell them just a little bit about what we do?
Kat: Sure. We started last April, and we decided to do a reread of the entire Potter series because it’s been so many years since the last book came out, and we wanted to keep the magic alive. So we’re doing one chapter a week, and I think we projected we’re going to end in about 2016. So we still have a little bit to go, but it’s been really great so far, and we love being at LeakyCon, live shows. We love meeting you guys, so thank you for coming.
Rosie: Okay, so this is obviously our live show at LeakyCon London, and we decided that we were… well, we were trying to think of what we want to talk to you guys about today, and the theme of this particular LeakyCon is the fifteen-year reunion of the Class of ’98, meaning the graduating class of ’98, which was obviously Harry Potter’s year at Hogwarts. That is the year of the final battle. And so we’ve been thinking about how old we were in ’98. Personally, I was seven. Caleb was…
Caleb: I think I was eleven by the time the books came out, so perfect age.
Rosie: And Kat was…
Kat: ’98? Sixteen.
Rosie: But you guys weren’t.
Benedict: I was two.
Rosie: You were two.
Rosie: And Rohan?
Rohan: Couple of months old.
Rosie: So just to give you an idea of how different of experiences each of us probably had of these books and exactly how we experienced them as they were coming out, or, in the case of our younger colleagues here, they were not even… they were all out probably by the time they got to read them. And so we thought we’d start off by reading a little snippet of an old review that came out in 1997, just after Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. And this is actually from The Guardian, so yeah, it’s an incredible review, so let’s have a look at what they said:
“It sounds like a film: A single mother traipses the rainy city streets, pushing her newborn baby in the pram. With the baby asleep, she sits in caf?s drinking coffee and scribbling a children’s story. Cut to three years later, and the young mother has sold her finished story to a publisher for ?100,000, two Hollywood studios are interested in the story, and she has just delivered her second book. But this is no film. Rowling is now being talked of in the same hushed tones as Nicholas Evans, whose debut novel The Horse Whisperer was sold to Hollywood for ?350,000 before it was finished. And Harry Potter, the hero of our tale, could assume the same near-legendary status as Roald Dahl’s Charlie, of chocolate factory fame.”
“‘I was writing for me. For someone to offer that amount of money for something that I had written because it is the sort of thing I like reading was incredible,’ she said. ‘I don’t know what I’ll do now. I’m very nervous of just packing in my part-time teaching and becoming a full-time author, even though that is something I’ve always wanted to do.’ New York’s Scholastic Book Club has 80 million members, which should ensure that Rowling could face the future with some confidence.”
“Her agent praised the young writer: ‘For a one book deal for a first-time author, this is staggering, but it is such a good book. She is such a wonderful, original voice. Her imagination is so lateral. You just keep going “wow” when you turn the page, thinking, “Where did that come from?”‘”
So in 1997 they didn’t know what Harry Potter was. There was this whole comparing it to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, comparing it to The Horse Whisperer, and hands up if you knew the name “Nicholas Evans.”?About…
Kat and Rosie: Three.
Rosie: So to be talked about in the same hushed tones as Nicholas Evans, you know J.K. Rowling was on to something there.
Rosie: Obviously The Horse Whisperer is a much more famous book, but you probably didn’t know the author for it. And we’re proud of Jo for growing past this review, and obviously we’ve seen what the Potter series then became.
Kat: I think Rohan found a good review.
Rohan: Yeah, we found a… I was googling it, and I found some bad Amazon reviews.
Rohan: Some of these are quite funny. I’m not sure when exactly they were published, but…
“In three words: a waste of time.”
Rohan: That’s four words.
“If your parents keep you in a cupboard under the stairs, you do not wait for a small, plump man with a beard to take you away to a mythical castle; you call the Social Services.”
“I HATE THIS BOOK, IT IS WAY TOO SCARY FOR ME AND THE GIRLS IN THE BOOK ARE NOT REALISTIC AND THEY TALK STUPIDLY.”
Rohan: I know.
“If you like this book, you have my deepest sympathy.”
Rohan: And this is the last one:
“Rowling makes a scene that wizards and witches and magic spells are okay when they aren’t.”
Caleb: Who are these people? I think we need to go find them.
Rosie: So the main thing we really wanted to talk to you guys about at start this session is the differences in growing up with the books that we all had on this panel, and then hopefully we can get some of your experiences, too! So you guys obviously are too young to have been to the release parties probably, yeah??Did you guys ever go to one at all?
Benedict: Well, I was around for [Books] 6 and 7, obviously, but when I started reading them, which was 2001 when I’d seen Philosopher’s Stone on DVD… so I started reading, and I was several books behind, obviously. But I didn’t go to release parties. I remember going and picking up… I remember someone telling me who the Half-Blood Prince was in the lunchroom at primary school, which was super annoying!
Benedict: And I do remember picking up Deathly Hallows at my local Morrisons at eight in the morning on the 21st of July, ’07. So that’s, what, six years ago?
Caleb: Wow, yeah. That’s a long time.
Benedict: It’s quite a long time. It doesn’t seem that long. But I didn’t go to release parties, but I was around to read [Books] 6 and 7 when they came out.
Rohan: The only book I can remember the actual release of is the last one. I didn’t go to any release parties or that sort of thing because I think it was probably a school night or something.
Audience Member: [unintelligible]
Rohan: I just… well, I don’t know.
Rohan: Midnight release day, I would be nine, so yeah.
Rohan: But I just… I think I probably waited a few days, maybe a week or so, before actually we had a chance to get it and read it. And then the rest is history.
Kat: This is where I’m going to age myself. I went to every one but the first one.
Kat: So I’m old.
Rosie: I was old enough to have worked in a bookshop for the last two, but I volunteered at the bookshop for the penultimate third. And I actually…
Kat: Broke the law
Rosie: I shouldn’t say this, but I broke the embargo of the last book.
Rosie: Yeah, this is bad. I’m going to get arrested tomorrow, aren’t I? We got our books delivered at lunchtime on the day of the release, and when I got out of school – I think I was in school – I went to my bookshop at lunchtime, picked up my book, stayed in the office, so I never left the shop. So it’s okay! I didn’t tell anyone! I just read from the moment I picked up the book until about 11:30 when I had to go and start selling the books to customers when they were coming in at 12, and I got to the moment where Dobby died…
Rosie: … and I had to close the book, and I was crying…
Rosie: … and it was a mess, and I had to go and sell books to customers and not give them any spoilers in my emotional state.
Kat: And look happy and excited while doing it.
Kat and Rosie: Yeah.
Rosie: But it was a brilliant time, so yay!
Caleb: I think I only went to the midnight release for [Books] 5, 6, and 7. I remember, for [Book] 5, I was not old enough to drive at the time. My mom was late to pick me up. I was very furious at her that night, but she got me there on time. But one of the cool things about growing up with the books was I started reading the books when I was eleven, which obviously is a really important age but it took me until Book 3 to realize that since I had already passed eleven, that meant I never was going to get my Hogwarts letter.
Caleb: How many of you experienced that sad realization?
Caleb: Yeah, it’s pretty damaging. Another… I’m okay now, just letting you know.
Kat: He’s lying. He’s not.
Caleb: I still cry at night.
Caleb: So another thing about reading it now is whether or not Potter is used in schools as a novel that English teachers or literature teachers use for their class. I can remember when… I guess it was when I was in 7th or 8th grade, and we actually convinced my English teacher to let us read the first book as one of our novels that year, so I’m wondering if now this generation that’s growing up now with the Potter books – they’re not releasing them obviously – how often they may be used in English and literature classes in school.
Kat: I would have enjoyed my time in English so much more if I [were] able to read Potter.
Kat: No, really. That was my least favorite class. I hated it. If Potter [were] there, I would have aced it. I’m just saying.
Rosie: Personally my class teacher read the first book to us when were in year five, so that would have been ’98 or ’99, so we were quite quick on the uptake apparently in my school personally. I think it’s now become – at least the first couple of books – staple reading in schools, at least as far as I know.
Benedict: Yeah, I mean we didn’t study any of the books in my school, but we were allowed to read them because we had to read aloud to practice our reading. So we had to read aloud to our teacher once every week in primary school. I can’t remember which book… it might have been the third one. [laughs] I remember I was approaching Sirius Black territory, and she clearly hadn’t got[ten] that far in her reading of it, and she eventually said, “Okay, I’m going to stop you right there” because she clearly didn’t want to find out what was going on.
Benedict: So I was ahead of her in spite of starting them so late.
Rohan: Well, to be honest, would you really want to study Harry Potter in schools? Because I’ve always thought that if you studied it constantly in school then that would make you bored of it?
[Various Audience Members] No.
Rohan: If you studied it and said, “Oh, J.K. Rowling uses this to identify this and this and this and this…”
Rohan: … it takes away some of the magic of the book, but I wouldn’t complain [about] reading it in class obviously because it’s such a staple of our generation in the class when they talk about Harry Potter and discuss that sort of thing.
Rosie: I think there is something to say about studying something for a grade or to get marks from it or having to look in depth in that kind of way, but then saying that, this is an Alohomora! podcast where we study the books in depth…
Rosie: …and we go chapter by chapter and we look into all of the little themes and all of the little details that you might have missed just reading just every day.
Bendedict: I mean, as in similes and…
Benedict: …metaphors, onomatopoeia.
Benedict: I mean, stuff that’s not really going to change your life dramatically.
Rosie: There’s not a lot of onomatopoeia in Lumos definitely, is there?
Kat: Noah brings that up like every other word.
Rosie: I know, every time.
Kat: It’s true.
Rosie: Don’t get Noah started on that. I did it once. Not a good idea.
Rosie: But, yeah. I think reading… the difference between our podcast and reading for an essay or something is that we do it for fun. We look into these details because we’re fun, geeky, nerdy people who like to explore these details because we want to investigate the world in such detail rather than write a thousand words on something and not really want to understand it properly.
Kat: Nobody wants to do that.
Caleb: So, do any of you guys… have you guys had experiences reading the Potter books in school? Maybe a teacher that taught it in a really weird way? If you do, we would love to hear it so we got a mic up here.
Kat: This is Rosie’s sister Charlie. If you have a question or comment, come up to the mic.
Audience Member: Actually, the first time I heard of Harry Potter was from my teacher in [unintelligible] in school. So, that’s my extreme good memory, and actually I was an assistant in a second grade school, so I’m not a teacher or anything, but the teacher always finishes the day off with reading and the last weeks before the summer break we were reading the first Harry Potter book, and they are eight years old. So, it’s amazing and they love it.
Audience Member: For my GCSEs, do we know what GCSEs are? Yeah, does everyone know?
Rosie: GCSEs are basically OWLs.
Rosie: There you go.
Audience Member: So, for my GCSEs English coursework, I did twenty-five percent of my grade on Order of the Phoenix and betrayals of power.
Kat: That’s the best book ever.
Audience Member: I got an A!
Audience Member: My primary school teacher actually read it to us in English when we were learning English and I remember when Goblet came out, that was the first book I could ever read in English and I was so proud. So, it’s basically taught me English and my whole class.
Caleb: That’s awesome.
Rosie: Do you find it difficult? There are lots of words in Potter that aren’t actually in the English language.
Audience Member: Actually that helped! Because it made it more interesting.
Audience Member: It wasn’t just all school English.
Audience Member: In my very first University lecture – I do English literature – she was talking about famous books and famous authors, and then she got to J.K. Rowling and started saying that J.K. Rowling capitalized on the success of the first book by writing six more.
[Audience laughs and gasps]
Audience Member: And we were looking… I was looking around and bonding with all the fellow Potter…
Audience Member: …who were all just glaring at her. It was freeing and horrific at the same time.
Audience Member: I teach math and science, but I also work with English people and so, I’ve been trying to get the English literature person to teach Harry Potter and their thing is, they don’t want a book that they can just watch the movie for in order to analyze it. So, I used it in math and science class and my excuse for that is that in America, they’re trying to push everything Non-Fiction and get rid of Fiction altogether and my thing with a math person is, if you don’t understand symbolism, you can’t do mathematics. So, I’ve been able to… what I ended up doing during math class is reading Harry Potter to my students.
[Audience laughs and claps]
Caleb: I’m sure they enjoyed the break from it. So…
Kat: And they’re definitely not learning math from Harry Potter, as we know.
Audience Member: I’m from Denmark and my sister missed last year’s. They had to like the theme, Harry Potter. They read the first book and they got sorted into houses and make wands and everything. So…
Rosie: Schools that live Hogwarts, it’s even more amazing.
Audience Member: Hello. I’m also a teacher and worked in a primary school for quite a short amount of time and they had Beedle the Bard as their fairy tale book.
Audience Member: Yeah. Also, while I was teaching English, I got one of my classes to transcribe the films.
Audience Member: It was their project.
Rosie: Brilliant ideas of using Potter outside of just plain English, reading the books using it as a launch pad for other subjects. It’s amazing.
Caleb: Yep. Next topic.
Kat: Yeah and actually, speaking of that, Potter – we feel – has really changed the face of children’s literature. I’m sure most of you would all agree with that and there’s so many books now that twenty years ago, books were compared to Roald Dahl and Lord of the Rings and now, they’re all being compared to Potter and that’s – we think that’s awesome.
Rosie: Yeah, definitely.
Caleb: We… yeah, we were talking about this the other day, this genre that is not part of Young Adult – YA – because if you think about before Potter, no one knew would have known what you were talking about and it seems like we discover the birth of YA is slightly different in the UK versus the US because, for me – and I could be wrong, but – I don’t think I started to hear YA until really The Hunger Games got really big and books started to follow that.
Kat: Yeah, I would agree, in the US at least.
Caleb: But Rosie, you were saying that it was slightly different over here.
Rosie: Only really because we got Hunger Games slightly later than the States and so, I think the main Hunger Games hype came about towards the release of the third book and the movies were impending by then as well. So, we’d already had the Twilight craze hit before that and we’d had a few of these Young Adult novels crop up and really build this – it’s not really a genre because there are genres within it – but this collection of novels. And I just think it’s interesting that this, again, collection has grown up with the kids that would have been reading Harry Potter at that age. So, as these kids, like myself, who were seven when the first book came out, reached their young adulthood, so the books became Young Adult as well.
Rosie: And there is now this massive, massive craze and massive industry in Young Adult novels and there are publishers cropping up who are purely Young Adult publishers. Most of the Lit Track authors here at LeakyCon this time have been published by a company called Hot Key Books, who are a Young Adult publisher here in the UK and I think it’s really great to see how the face of publishing and the face of literature has changed to suit the needs of a generation of young readers who are just looking for anything to read and looking for amazing books to follow from Potter.
Benedict: I’ve got to say, when I was reading Philosopher’s Stone at the age of six – [laughs] – I was on the car journey at one point and it was the bit when Dursley, when Vernon Dursley, he’s gone – am I allowed to swear?
Benedict: He’s gone bat crazy…
Benedict: …due to the letters coming in. And so, they’re on the road up to the – that island where they – that shack on the island. [laughs] I was so excited by the fact because I was on the way to a camping holiday and I asked my dad where we were going and he said, [unintelligible] – and it just seemed to be shadowing exactly what Uncle Vernon was doing and it was really bizarre. I thought I understood foreshadowing at the age of six.
Benedict: J.K. Rowling has got this story of them all going, disappearing form Privet Drive going somewhere and that’s what was happening as I was reading it. It was really exciting.
Rohan: Well, actually you can almost say that Harry Potter is a bit like the Spiderman movie in the way that, obviously, you see Spiderman created the PG-13 rating in the States and that’s all new era of the 12s and the PG-13s and that is what Harry Potter has done to create young adults in to a sort of safer market because that’s basically how many films try to be nowadays. They try to be PG-13/12 because that’s where the biggest market is and that’s what young adult books are doing as well.
Benedict: We’re talking about YA, but I think it’s really cool how you could read it as a kid and that there would be adults reading it as well and you’d have your parents reading it and friends of your parents, and I think that’s really cool how it reached out to people of all ages.
Kat: And still does every day. I mean there’s new… the old generations are re-reading, like us, and then there’s the new kids picking it up every single day reading it for the first time, and experiencing it in a completely different way than we did because fifteen years ago Facebook didn’t exist, no Twitter, no Tumblr, so the way we experienced the books – not only by ourselves, but with our friends – was completely different.
Rosie: Fifteen years ago this podcast could never have existed.
Kat: [laughs] Sad.
Rosie: Sad. Yeah, definitely but coming from England, personally, these guys coming from the States and two very far apart states as well. A couple of weeks ago we had staff member, Alex, who’s actually from Australia and we can chat to each other about these books. And we can share these books in a community that would never have ever been able to exist without the internet. So, to have a kind of a textural based conversation online, and then a vocal one, thanks to the invention of Skype and things like that, has definitely… the world has kind of globalized in terms of the community and we can build that into Harry Potter and obviously with the movies and the Harry Potter effect that happened around the world that has brought people together. And what better a place to discuss that kind of thing than here at LeakyCon where, as Kat just said, kids are picking up these books every single day and isn’t it brilliant that things like LeakyCon still exist so that they can still have that same excitement that we maybe got at release parties just here at conventions instead?
Kat: And we had a really great moment last week – I’m sure you all experienced this – when Pottermore released Lupin’s back story. It was myself, Rosie, Caleb, Alex, and Rosie’s sister and we were sitting in her bedroom… what?
Rosie: Check for people who haven’t read it.
Kat: No spoilers! Don’t worry!
Kat: No spoilers!
[Caleb, Kat, and Rosie laugh]
Caleb: Good call!
Kat: We were sitting in her bedroom, we all had our iPads, and we were reading the information and it was like six years ago. It was like we were sitting right there reading Deathly Hallows for the first time and it… the electricity in that room was just amazing. That was a moment…
Kat: …that I was so glad we were all together for that. Has everybody enjoyed that? The ones who have read it? We just did a two hour episode on that information so look for that too, by the way.
Rosie: That was released this morning. So, if you haven’t had a chance to get on the internet yet, you will be able to find it when you get home.
Caleb: Yeah. So, I think actually bringing up the technology aspect will transition into the next point perfectly. Obviously the way… so, our podcast is all about re-reading and obviously the way we re-read now is much different, like we’ve talked about with Skype and podcast, but there’s a lot of different avenues we experience re-reading with the Potter series specifically now, and I think most of you probably can guess where I’m going with this, the foremost, Pottermore now. Pottermore draws out a lot of different opinions.
Caleb: People have very strong views. We actually got the privilege of meeting some of the Pottermore team the other day, and they are wonderful people. So, just know that even though you may not have the best opinions of the way the site’s going, they’re moving in a good direction.
Kat: And they listen. They read every one of your comments.
Caleb: They do.
Kat: By the way.
Kat: And there’s really good things coming, that’s all I can say.
Caleb: [laughs] And we kind of want to throw… I think we can talk about it briefly but I want it… we’re interested to hear what you guys think how we interact with Pottermore in the re-reading experience. Now, do you really just go to get those new tidbits from Jo as she’s throwing them on, the latest being Lupin and a couple of other things? Or.. and another thing is new readers. The Pottermore team actually talked to us about this. New readers reading the Potter series alongside Pottermore at the same time, like their first read, which is a really interesting idea because of course, nothing like that when we started reading. So, maybe we can just talk about briefly here and see what you guys think.
Audience Member: Well, I feel like Pottermore is starting to become what Robert Louis Steveson or any other type of book that has introductory notes and then has notes within text that you go and see at the end of the book. That’s what it’s doing for the new readers. It’s sort of like, well, if you want to get just the book, you can read just the book, but now there’s all this kind of information that we as fans would have picked on and sort of digged into outselves…
Rosie: Like a critical edition.
Audience Member: Yes. Like a critical edition of Harry Potter. [laughs] Which is what I’ve been waiting for.
[Caleb and Kat laugh]
Kat: That sounds lovely. How does everyone think getting the information… like if you were a first time reader and you had Lupin’s backstory when you were reading Book 3, how do you think that would change your perspective on the series?
Caleb: Well, it would… yeah, that’s a tough question.
Kat: I throw them out there.
Caleb: I think… because at that point I was so engrossed in the story I would want to get my hands on anything immediately. Three chapters into the first book, I was ready to devour anything that was Potter related, so I would not be able to keep myself from reading it if it was there when I was reading the series.
Kat: Would you have literally died when Lupin died?
Kat: Out of sadness.
Caleb: What do you mean?
Kat: Would it have made it that more tragic?
Caleb: Oh, oh.
Kat: No spoilers don’t worry.
Caleb: I think that’s a safe one. Yeah. It definitely… reading his backstory – and again we’re not going to spoil anything – made his story that much more tragic. So, I think it was. It would make it a lot more devastating. Yeah.
Rosie: Though a lot of the information that we did get… it’s kind of alluded to within his personality and all of that kind of thing anyway. So, it doesn’t necessarily change the way you view the character, but it just adds that extra layers. It’s the whole Shrek thing. Lupin becomes an onion at this point.
Rosie: It definitely adds a new layer and a new element, but I don’t think I would want to read it alongside. I would want to get the story out of the way and then find the extra information. But then saying that, I joined MuggleNet at the age of twelve or thirteen because I had got to that point in the stories where there was a big gap between the books coming… books being released and I was desperate for more. So, I went onto… I found Mugglenet… the fanfiction site had just been set up and I started reading other people’s stories and exploring their ideas of what the world would be. And just exploring the so-called “Potterverse.” And different takes of characters. So, in a way, Pottermore is kind of J.K. Rowling’s own fan fiction of her own book.
Rosie: It’s just those extra details that add to something that doesn’t necessarily… it’s not necessarily necessary – necessarily necessary – for reading the book itself.
Kat: Do either of you use Pottermore in any way?
Benedict: I can’t say I’ve used it in recent memory.
Benedict: I got my sorting done. Hufflepuff. Wasn’t too chuffed.
Kat: Free Hugs!
Caleb: You got people really happy and then really upset in two seconds.
Benedict: I was talking about this with some people earlier, and I was saying how it’s interesting how Slytherin is very clearly defined as sort of cunning, ambitious. You’ve got brave Gryffindors and then incredibly intelligent Ravenclaws. Hufflepuff is just everyone else. Go over there. It’s somewhat… you get some prejudice toward Hufflepuff. I’m going off on a tagent here because I”m meant to be talking about Pottermore.
Benedict: I really enjoyed the interactive bits. I was talking to Melissa about this. I enjoyed how they got the riddle written by Snape, which Hermione does, involving the potions. Melissa was like you have to include that. She was telling me earlier. And I’m really glad they did because I like to play around. And it’s great how we’ve actually got bits… we’ve got the words from Jo, and we can actually solve it ourselves on there. But I’d like more interactive things because I feel I’ve sort of accumulated knowledge from elsewhere. Because even on J.K. Rowling’s website, it changed now, but when it used to be her interactive desk, she had notebooks or what-have-you with stuff in there, and I very much enjoyed that and I’d like more from that. I don’t necessarily feel that I need Pottermore. I’m happy with the books.
Rohan: As well as things where I’d gotten Pottermore early, and it sort of… For some reason I couldn’t add people’s – I think it’s friends, or something – for some reason, I had a bug with that, which annoyed me a bit because that sort of took away half of the interaction with other people. But to be honest, I didn’t… like Benedict said, it wasn’t as interactive as I thought it was going to be. For some reason, I’d envisaged a bit more like an online game, where you have this little character you’d walk around, saying “hello” to other Potterheads who are walking around.
Rohan: A bit like Club Penguin.
Rohan: If anyone remembers that.
Rohan: But in the end, it was sort of okay, but it didn’t really deliver anything that I lusted after. And so I’m happy with the books and Stephen Fry reading them to me every night…
Rohan: …that sort of thing.
Kat: Is there anyone who uses Pottermore while they’re reading? One?
Audience Member: I actually have two accounts. For the first one, I go through all of the interactive things, and then for the second one, I read along with it. So I already know all the new information, and that adds to the experience.
Rosie: So it adds to the experience of Pottermore because you’ve skipped ahead on Pottermore and gone back? Is that what you’re saying?
Audience Member: As I’m re-reading the series…
Rosie: Oh, okay.
Audience Member: …I use my first account to learn the new information and then I read with the second one, and with the new information, it adds to it.
Rosie: Sure, okay. Interesting. In that way, it’s kind of like what we do. Because we’re adding the new information with the re-read.
Caleb: Mhm. Yeah. So another thing that you brought up a second ago, Kat, I think it was you that mentioned that we didn’t, obviously, have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, things like that, back when the Potter series was coming out. So I distinctly remember – like Rosie mentioned – going on MuggleNet daily to see what the newest thing was, or constantly checking Rowling’s site for that door to open.
Kat: Definitely thinking…yes.
Caleb: You all know what I’m talking about. Oh, the hours I would spend in front of that door trying to figure it out.
Caleb: But I actually had a weird thought. What if we did have Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr when the books started to come out? Especially those lapses in time. We waited a long time for some of those books. Can you imagine… I wonder what the waiting, the collective waiting, would have been like on social media for those books, theorizing and everything else.
Benedict: It’s like the gap between Sherlock series.
Caleb: Exactly. There you go.
Benedict: Everyone just goes increasingly insane.
Caleb: Right, exactly. And we waited what, two years? Was it more than two years for Deathly Hallows? I can’t even remember now.
Benedict: It was 2007.
Caleb: Oh, was it three?
Benedict: It was two years, I think.
Rosie: But in a way, that’s what MuggleNet was. It was social media before social media, because MuggleNet was a place which had forums, it had essays, it had all those kinds of speculation areas that you could go talk about theories like Harry’s a Horcrux, and all of those kinds of things. That kind of meant when we read the last book we went, “Oh yeah! I talked about that two years ago with this guy over here on this forum.” So, I mean…
Caleb: It just didn’t have a lot of gifs that would be reblogged 895 times.
Rosie: Yeah. It’s the gifs. That was the difference. And also you could have long paragraphs and long essays rather than 140 characters to talk about things.
Kat: I think, too, you would have had to just avoid it. Spoilers would have been a bad… I’m actually kind of glad social media wasn’t around in those days, because…
Caleb: Just a little more telling that Potter came out right at the perfect time, and it just…
Kat: It did.
Caleb: Everything was a little special.
Audience Member: I wish it did. So, I didn’t have the social media thing because we were reading it, and then it was the next day and you go into school, and my friend actually went up to a guy who went around school yelling, “Dumbledore is dead!” and slapped him.
Kat: That’s awful!
Caleb: Let’s clap for her!
[Audience claps and cheers]
Rosie: How about you guys in the audience? Did you have a kind of experience… a kind of social network before social networking with Harry Potter at all? Did you chat with your friends about it at school, anything like that? How did you experience Potter before social media?
Audience Member: I’m going to back up what you said, someone spoiled Sirius’ death for me, which was tragic. But it actually… I had a couple of friends that we were talking about it, and so I think we definitely had more detailed discussions just sitting on trains going visiting places than anything about Sherlock. It’s now just coming like the old tweed and the same gif. I think we had more elaborate conversations. You were saying essays. I used to read so many essays on MuggleNet, but I think it was just more detailed and more enjoyable, maybe? Possibly? Anyway.
Caleb: Thinking about the essays just made me think, I think the thing I read more on MuggleNet than anything else was after Half Blood Prince, was whether Snape was good or not.
[Audience murmurs in assent]
Caleb: I think I read a million essays that defended both sides. Just random thought.
Audience Member: I didn’t really… I talked to my friends a bit, but actually when I was reading those books that were published – things like “Is Snape good?” – so that’s how I was getting the theories. I wasn’t really online yet because I was a bit too young. But I was just reading all those books and kind of discussing it with my friends.
Audience Member: I’m one of those people who are kind of old.
Audience Member: So I was…
Audience Member: Yeah, definitely. So I was there for all of the late night, midnight premiers, and I stood in line, and I had no friends who liked Harry Potter at all, so MuggleNet was really…
Audience Member: Muggles.
Audience Member: Exactly. MuggleNet was a really big deal for me, because that was sort of a place where I could go and figure out that it wasn’t all just me being kind of weird and standing in the queue for two hours to get the next Potter book while my friends were going out drinking, basically. So yeah, I used social media before social media was really social media.
Kat: I agree. I had the same experience. I didn’t have very many Potter friends.
Audience Member: Nope.
Kat: And, exactly.
Audience Member: So I’m from Portugal so I only started speaking English and reading English between the sixth and the seventh, so I used to go to forums in Portuguese. And it would basically be MuggleNet but in Portuguese, and it was amazing. I found people… when the books came out at midnight we found the people we’d met on the forums and it was kind of amazing.
Rosie: It’s really a kind of community-building thing, isn’t it? Whether you had friends who could go to these release parties or anything with you, or whether you could just find those friends online, it’s a truly amazing experience, I think, that we can all share. How about for you guys having the books already out? You didn’t really have the waiting-for-the-new-releases attitude. Do you guys have friends that don’t read Harry Potter for any reason? Are you able to chat about these things on the playground or anything like that, when you were kids?
Audience Member: I did. When I went back to school, having finished Deathly Hallows, I was eleven. I did, I said, “I’ll tell you what happens if you pay me a quid.” That was my business proposition as an eleven year old.
[Audience and Kat laughs]
Audience Member: I didn’t actually get any takers. People were actually quite keen on reading it, which was good, really.
Audience Member: But I reference Harry Potter quite a lot, and if people don’t get it, so be it. I can say, “Sorry, it’s a Harry Potter reference.”
Audience Member: If people do get it, all the better. I was talking to my girlfriend on Facebook yesterday and all I had to say was, “At LeakyCon they were doing London Underground scars,” and she knew immediately what I was on about. So it’s great when you meet people who are interested.
Audience Member: Well, now I’m one of the members of our school book club, so that gives you a time and place… it’s been six years since the last book, but we still have Harry Potter questions and quizzes. We still talk about Harry Potter as if there’s another book coming out.
Rohan: …so I don’t know any of my friends who don’t like Harry Potter. That sort of thing, if you want to talk about Harry Potter, we do. And then you can talk about other stuff as well. You can still talk about Harry Potter and if that draws you in, you can suddenly leap to something else as well. It’s natural… it’s very comfortable.
Rosie: So, if we had the Harry Potter books to wait for growing up, what are you guys most excited for coming out in the future? Do you know of any new releases that you’re waiting for? Any series that are coming to London?
Rohan: Well, obviously you’ve got The Cuckoo’s Calling series…
Rohan: I’ve finished the first book. I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s very good. I’m looking forward to the second [book]. Then also, there’s a local author who lives near where I lived called Andrew Lynn who wrote The Young [unintelligible] series. And he came and launched his new book at our store called Lost World, which is based on another Arthur Conan Doyle book. And I really enjoyed that one. So, that’s going to be part of a series film – looking at that one as well – because that’s a Young Adult novel. I’m also moving on to more adult novels, sort of just broaden your horizon.
Benedict: Not really for me. I’m kind of going back in time and reading the classics. Like the last thing I read was The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which was published in ’69. So I don’t have anything to look forward to and such, but I’m happy going back and reading things that were published a good while ago.
Audience Member: How often do you guys go back to Potter?
Benedict: In times of peril.
Caleb: That was a very Snape response!
Benedict: Philosopher’s Stone can be… it can be a comfort when you’re down. Even though the story starts with a murder, it’s still quite a homely book in a sense. I used to listen to Stephen Fry read them all the time. I’ve kind of fazed out all that, but I won’t say I won’t go back to it. I do enjoy Stephen Fry’s dulcet tones.
Rohan: Well, I still listen to Stephen Fry. Nowadays, I don’t even listen to it in order. In a couple of minutes, I know exactly where [the story] is, so it is quite strange. I think at the moment I’m about midway through Goblet of Fire.
Kat: Oh, so are we!
[Audience and Caleb laugh]
Rohan: And then… I’ve forgotten what I was going to say now.
[Audience, Caleb, Kat laugh]
Caleb: Good job, Kat. Good job.
Rohan: Yeah. It’s that sort of thing where if I want to read Harry Potter – which I do – it’s just that I have to take a month out of my time because that’s how long I’m going to be hooked on it.
[Kat and Rosie laugh]
Rohan: So it’s more a case of trying to have time when you can stay up late until half-ten, eleven o’clock at night reading in bed and sort of trying to finish it as quickly as you can. And it’s a long series; you can’t just read one book and stop it there.
Rohan: Even at this stage, if you read one book, you have to finish.
[Audience and Kat laugh]
Audience Member: If you read one page…
Rosie: Okay. I think we’re going to open up to questions from you guys.
Caleb: I think we have time for maybe three because we’re running close on time, but maybe three. Just… if you have comments or general questions on re-reading fifteen years later, anything like that.
Kat: How it’s going for you.
Kat: Criticisms on us. Whatever.
Caleb: [laughs] We want love.
Kat: I can handle it.
Audience Member: This isn’t a criticism at all. I just noticed something lately because it’s been a while since the first books came out. It seems like after the movies came out as well, more people are open-minded to Harry Potter and they’re a lot more respectful about the fact that you read Potter a couple times a year, maybe once a year.
Kat: Every day, every week…
Kat: Every month of every year.
Audience Member: And it’s just interesting to see the difference from ten, fifteen years back to now, and I find it really reassuring.
Audience Member: What has been your absolute favorite part about hosting Alohomora! and reading the books in that way?
Caleb: Well, I guess we actually… we did this recently, right? We did our favorite moment for our one-year anniversary.
Kat: We did.
Caleb: I don’t think mine has changed. One of my favorite parts is getting so many different voices on the show, like guests. Getting you guys on here is just incredible. But my favorite moment was getting another one of my favorite authors, Lev Grossman, on the show. And the reason he’s really special to me is because he is Time magazine’s book critic and he used to always review Rowling’s books like the day after. He also has his own series out now, so he is very much a Harry Potter nerd and fan and an amazing author himself. If you haven’t read his books, The Magicians, you absolutely should; they’re fantastic. But getting him on the show – who I’ve always loved so much – was… to get to talk about Potter was really awesome and still my favorite.
Kat: I think the fighting and the disagreements and the different viewpoints…
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah.
Kat: That’s the best part for me because that’s when we get things like ghost nuns and desk pigs.
Kat: It’s true and that’s… those are things that ten years ago, who would have thought about that? Now we get to fight and argue about it and talk about crazy stuff.
Rosie: For me, I think it has to be… well, before I can’t remember what I said as my favorite moment on the anniversary show, but my favorite moment is now yesterday because I worked on MuggleNet for about six years before joining the main staff – I worked on the fan fiction site. And that would just be me on my computer in my bedroom for six years chatting to fans and writers from around the world. But yesterday we were sat in a room, with Hank Green, with two Starkids walking in, with actors from the movies. We chatted to Alfie Enoch. We… basically, the last six years of my life joined together in one room yesterday and I kind of sat there going, “What is happening?”
Rosie: “This is very surreal! My laptop has come to life…”
Rosie: “… and it’s suddenly all around me in this room!” And that is all thanks to you guys for listening to us and for allowing us to be a successful podcast and allowing us to have panels like this one… and yeah, it’s been a brilliant, brilliant experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Caleb: [laughs] I think that’s probably all the time we have for today, so first off we want to send a big, big thank you again to Benedict and Rohan for joining us.
Benedict: Thanks for having us.
Caleb: And just a couple of closing things, first off, I have to send out a huge thank you to Audioboo for helping us through our technical difficulties to getting us something to record. If you follow LeakyCon on Twitter you’ve already seen them tweet about them. This is an awesome thing; you have to check this out. You can get the app and sign up for an account on Audioboo, and you can record your favorite moments and memories from LeakyCon on there. And make sure you follow us if you don’t listen to us yet. We’re just at Alohomora.MuggleNet.com. You can find us on Twitter, @AlohomoraMN, and…
Rosie: Facebook is Facebook.com/OpenTheDumbledore.
Kat: Open the Dumbledore.
Rosie: And you can email us as well at alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com.
[Show music begins]
Caleb: So thank you for joining us today. It has been a blast having you out here. I’m Caleb Graves.
Rosie: I’m Rosie Morris.
Kat: I’m Kat Miller.
Audience: Open the Dumbledore!
Caleb and Rosie: Thank you!
[Show music continues]