Throwback Thursday: My Childhood Drawings of Harry Potter Characters

I’m not sure whether it’s the abnormally warm weather or my incessant need to minimize my stuff while living in my tiny Bay Area apartment (probably both!), but I’ve been on a major spring cleaning kick–donating old clothes that I’ll never wear again and old books that I’ll never read again, and tossing all the junk that’s leftover.

In the flurry of consolidating my closet, I came across some things that filled me with nostalgia: my high school and college English lit essays, souvenirs from my 2012 trip to Tokyo, and the remnants of friendship bracelets and lanyards from my jewelry-making hobby.

By far, however, my favorite stops down memory lane were the pieces of artwork that my brother and I created when we were kids. Three of these happened to be Harry Potter-related, so of course I had to take some photos and share them with you all!

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James Potter (aka Prongs) drawn as an anime character

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Various characters surrounding Hogwarts (L-R: Dumbledore, Fawkes, Hagrid, Sirius, Lupin, Tonks, Mad Eye Moody, Hermione, Ron, and Harry)

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My brother’s drawing of the Marauders as anime characters in the Gryffindor house (L-R: James, Lupin, Sirius)

As embarrassed as I am to reveal my lack of artistic ability, I’m also impressed by the impact that Harry Potter made in my life. I especially loved the Marauders and have been dying to read a prequel about them for over a decade now. I’m not quite sure why I drew James Potter particularly, since I despised his arrogance and cruelty toward Snape, but perhaps I felt that Harry Potter was too cliché of a choice?

I’d like to say that these drawings were created when I was very, very young, but considering that picture #2 features Nymphadora Tonks, who is introduced in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was published in the summer of 2003, I have to admit that I was at least 12 years old, approaching my 13th birthday and my entrance into high school. That might sound plenty young now that I’m 26, but that only means that my brother was probably 10 or 11, and already a much better artist than I ever was (or ever will be!).

So alas, it looks like I’ll stick to writing instead of pursuing the visual arts. I’m sure the world would thank me!

Did you ever create art inspired by your favorite books when you were a child? Did you hold onto it or would you be too mortified to see it again? Share your own literary throwbacks in the comments!

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Call the whambulance: Jealous writer tells J.K. Rowling to move aside

Ohhhh, have I been itching for another literary rant, and now is my chance!

The blogosphere attacked with full force last week, this time at Lynn Shepherd, a novelist and copywriter who recently wrote on The Huffington Post, “If J.K. Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.”

Let’s just take a look at her complaints, shall we?

I didn’t much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I’ve never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can’t comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there’s so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds.

Ah yes, another uber-sophisticated person who thinks she’s above Harry Potter. How original. It’s one thing to judge a writer without reading her work (heck, I did it to Nicholas Sparks with zero regret). But she never even saw the movies? Was she living under a rock from 2001-2011? Perhaps, because *surprise surprise* up until this drivel was published, no one but her fellow HuffPo click-baiters had even heard of her.

Then Shepherd throws shade at Rowling’s adult novels, starting with A Casual Vacancy:

It wasn’t just that the hype was drearily excessive, or that (by all accounts) the novel was no masterpiece and yet sold by the hundredweight, it was the way it crowded out everything else, however good, however worthwhile.

You know what? Too bad! Rowling is insanely rich and famous now, and that means no matter what she writes–even if it suffers critical reviews like A Casual Vacancy in fact did–her fanbase is large enough that she’s still going to make bestseller lists. As a former single mother living on welfare, Rowling managed to overcome the odds and become successful. Good for her, and shame on anyone who would want her to give up on her dreams.

Shepherd continues playing the world’s smallest violin with this nonsense:

I know she used a pseudonym, and no doubt strenuous efforts were indeed made to conceal her identity, but there is no spell strong enough to keep that concealed for long.

So you acknowledge the fact that Rowling tried to remain anonymous, and you still diss her? I can’t comprehend the cognitive dissonance that takes. Rowling has never fought for anyone’s attention; she’s a very private person who rarely does interviews or public appearances.

And she donates more to charity than you could ever hope to earn in your lifetime. Seriously, the woman donated $160 MILLION a couple years back, knocking herself off the Forbes billionaire list. Green isn’t your color, Shepherd, and now you just made millions of people see red with this poorly crafted pity party.

Shepherd ends her article with this:

By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you’re doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it’s time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.

Come on, we all know that you don’t mean “other writers:” you mean yourself. God forbid you work on perfecting your craft when you can just demand more talented people take a back seat. With your line of thinking, Beyonce should stop singing, Meryl Streep should stop acting, and Jared Leto should stop doing both AND chop off his gorgeous hair (Just kidding Jared, don’t do that. Our future wedding photos will look dreadful!)

Wins an Oscar for dressing up as a woman. Looks better than all women by doing so.

Shepherd is what I’d like to coin as a creative communist. Guess what? Life isn’t fair! You shouldn’t get trophies for participation or blame others for your lack of success. Suck it up, work harder, and be grateful for what you have. Rowling is not your competition; your ugly attitude is what’s getting in your own way.

And might I point out that it’s a bit sexist that you targeted Rowling solely, when there are plenty of male authors saturating the adult fiction market, like James Patterson and Stephen King. They’ve been writing crime and suspense for much longer, but you just had to get your panties in a twist and start a catfight. Petty much?

Fortunately for karmic justice, no one can write without thinking and not suffer the consequences. Her article gained over 700 comments, most verbally ripping her to shreds. Jezebel called her out with their own critique, and Amazon now hosts dozens of one-star reviews of Shepherd’s novels, written in retaliation. Hell hath no fury like Dumbledore’s army scorned!

So I hope you’ve learned your lesson, Lynn Shepherd, and eaten the huge slice of humble pie that the Internet has served you. I’m glad you sent an apology to The Guardian, because you have a lot of sucking up to do now. It’s a shame that you had to resort to such pathetic levels to find a spotlight, a plan which backfired with gusto and essentially killed your career.

Now please go back into literary oblivion where you came from.

When an author changes her mind: On J.K. Rowling sinking “The Good Ship”

Image via Wikimedia

While most of America has come to a screeching halt to watch the Super Bowl today, the rest of the literary world has become embroiled in an all-out frenzy over J.K. Rowling’s recent admission that Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger would not have made the best couple after all in the Harry Potter universe.

Hypable reports that in a Wonderland interview between Rowling and interviewer/Hermione actress Emma Watson, the Harry Potter author revealed what many fans like myself always suspected:

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” she says. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” she continued, “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

Now, of course, we shouldn’t make too many conclusions without reading the entire interview, and even then, context is key. Admitting a mistake is not the same as regretting it, and media should remember not to project such emotions on Rowling.

That being said….HOLY MOLY, does this shake things up! Good Shippers are probably screaming from rooftops in denial right now. I remember digging through HP internet forums, reading smug comments that Ron and Hermione were perfect for one another, and it was SO obvious, and other shippers were just too stupid to see the truth.

This, of course, begs the question: to what extent do readers respect authorial intent? Many are refusing to accept Rowling’s news, saying that she should sit wrongly in her wrongness because that ship has long since sailed and there’s nothing she can do about it.

Others feel vindicated because the Good Ship, however sweet and wish-fulfilling it may be, wasn’t steeped in reality. Rowling suggests that Ron and Hermione would have needed “relationship counseling,” but that’s pretty clear to fans who witnessed their bickering through seven novels.

So what do I think? I would take Rowling’s word, no matter the verdict, because it’s her story and I have no right to demand it take a direction it wasn’t meant to take. But I also understand Rowling when she stated that she was clinging to her original plot; sometimes stories evolve, and smart writers need to know when to kill their darlings and sink their ships.

I will say, however, that I was doubtful of EVERY ship in the series. Honestly, I felt that the epilogue was completely misguided and unnecessary. It read like bad fanfiction, and this is coming from someone who read A LOT of Harry Potter fanfiction.

Apparently, the Good Ship wasn’t as good as everyone thought. But what of the other options? Harry and Hermione were better suited for each other, but I could sense a more familial relationship than a romantic one. Harry and Luna connected on a morbid level of death and suffering, but let’s face it, her loopiness would sabotage any long-term success.

Then there are the ships you just love to love: Hermione/Draco, Hermione/Luna, Harry/Draco, Hermione/Snape, Remus/Sirius. Think I’m crazy? So is the whole world of fanfic!

Dramione forever!

As of today, on FanFiction.net, there are over 673,000 HP fanfics (not including the crossovers into other stories). Here’s a look into the pairings:

  • 53.8K Hermione/Draco
  • 51.4K Harry/Draco
  • 27.1K Harry/Hermione
  • 25.6K Ron/Hermione
  • 16.7K Harry/Snape
  • 16K Hermione/Snape
  • 7.1K Harry/Ron
  • 2.5K Harry/Luna
  • 703 Hermione/Luna
  • 15 Dumbledore/Sorting Hat
  • 5 Hagrid/Buckbeak

The point of these statistics is to show that people will ship literally anything and anyone, so it’s best not to take any ship too seriously. What is serious is how devoted HP fans are to their fandom.

Many might think it silly to argue over the potential romances of fictional characters. But for my generation who grew up with Harry and friends, the books are more than just words on pages. They inspired an entire generation of children to fall in love with reading. They created a wonderful community that still stirs up lively discussion over six years after the series ended.

If you never joined this bandwagon, then I’ll be honest and say that I feel sorry for you. It’s easy to resist hype for the sake of being hype, but being involved in the Harry Potter zeitgeist is something that I wouldn’t trade for the world. You can call them mere children’s books and nothing compared to “real literature,” but you missed out on one of the most impactful literary experiences of our time.

Harry Potter taught millions of people to hold fast to their friends, fight for what is right instead of what it is easy, and love one another whether Pureblood or Muggle. And most importantly, to believe in the magic of both the world and the written word.

Image via Pinterest

So call me biased or dogmatic, but I’m proud of being a bookworm and I will defend the merits of this series until the end. The members of Dumbledore’s army can be the most strong-willed, opinionated people on earth–and after all the midnight book release parties, movie premieres, and forum trolling, I can say that you won’t find better company.

So sail on, HP shippers! And let’s keep our fingers crossed for the only announcement from Rowling I really care about: a future prequel starring the Marauders!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on this news! What are your favorite ships, and why? And if you could address all the haters out there, what would you say to them about what Harry Potter means to you as a fan?

Image via Pinterest

Book News!

It’s been an eventful week, not only for me, since I was a bridesmaid in one of my closest friends’ wedding last weekend, but also for book news! Here’s the recap:

Today would’ve been T.S. Eliot’s 124th birthday! My favorite Eliot moment was when we were reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” at UC Santa Cruz, and some hippie chick thought the protagonist was strong and brave, despite the entire class politely explaining that he was a weak, pathetic character. She couldn’t deal with the fact that there are wrong answers in poetry, and stormed out of class crying. Interpretation is key to literary scholars, but I think we know that T.S. Eliot was not a rainbows-and-puppies kind of writer.

Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby gets a North American release date of May 10, 2013. Coming Soon commented that this may not be a good choice, since the second week of May has opened quite a few duds. You mean, you couldn’t tell by the modern soundtrack?

Similar to Miley Cyrus flipping Disney the bird with her scandalous antics, J.K. Rowling is proving she can’t be tamed with her first post-Potter novel, Casual Vacancy. The New Yorker published an extensive profile on the author, who discusses the book’s adult themes and her unwillingness to write for critics. Reviews might be negative, but with the money she’s made with Potter, I say that she can write whatever she damn well pleases.

Speaking of flipping the bird, in a complete act of disrespect, Billy Connolly, who’s playing dwarf Dain Ironfoot in “The Hobbit,” called Tolkien “unreadable” and insulted devoted fans of the author. It’s a shame Peter Jackson can’t donate your salary to charity, because with that kind of attitude, you don’t deserve such an amazing career opportunity anyway.

The world of TV is working on its latest facepalm, this time a modern drama based on Wuthering Heights. Tentatively titled “Napa,” the story has swapped Victorian England for California wine country. I love a good soap opera, but leave Bronte out of it, will you, screenwriters? That’s a tale that needs no improving!

Lastly, my blog has been gaining traffic due to the release of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Unfortunately, it’s only in limited theaters (none of which are close to me), so it looks like I’ll be catching it when it comes out on DVD. But feel free to re-read my book review here!

So there you have it! What other book news has sparked your interest?

Happy Mother’s Day!

For Masterpiece Monday, I discussed the most infamous mom: Medea. But you didn’t think that I was done talking, did you?

As I have only five more days until my graduate commencement, I spent today reflecting on how grateful I am for my own mother’s love and support. Whenever I needed to practice a debate speech or read a rough draft of an essay, she was always there to listen. She’s been my inspiration and motivation, encouraging me to chase my dreams as well as keeping me grounded. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to have such a good relationship with her, and I can’t wait to make her proud when I finally get hooded.

As for moms of the literary sort, I’ll share my thoughts on the one I love and the one I love to hate. Of course, give a shout-out to your own mom and to any literary moms out there, good or evil!

Excuse the profanity, but this is hilarious!

Mom I Love: Molly Weasley (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

Come on, this one was obvious! Molly would be the best book mom. She not only had her hands full with seven children, she also helped save the entire world from Lord Voldemort. Sure, she worries about you constantly and knits you hideous-looking sweaters for Christmas, but she’s fiercely loyal to her loved ones. She adopted Harry like one of her own and was devoted to all her kids’ best interests. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that one of the most anticipated scenes in “Deathly Hallows: Part Two” was when Molly killed Bellatrix in revenge with her beloved line, “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!” Now, that’s a mom you do not mess with!

Let’s just forget that this movie ever happened, ok?

Mom I Love to Hate: Marisa Coulter (His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman)

Unlike her film portrayal, Mrs. Coulter actually had long, sleek, black hair, but her ice-cold personality was something not easily rivaled. First off, protagonist Lyra didn’t even know Mrs. Coulter was her mother, as she was brought up as an orphan at Oxford University. Marisa and her lover (Lyra’s actual father) Lord Asriel are so obsessed with power that they continually lie and kill to get ahead. At one point, convinced that her daughter was a modern-day Eve, she planned to murder Lyra to prevent another “Fall.” And, of course, let’s not forget her wicked golden monkey daemon!

However, Mrs. Coulter is an intriguing, multidimensional character with redeeming qualities. She saves Lyra from danger multiple times, and seems to experience maternal love every now and then. You don’t trust her as far as you could throw her, but her final action in the trilogy (which I won’t spoil) forces you to rethink your perception of her.

I highly recommend both fantasy series, if you haven’t already read them. Let me know what you think of these bad-ass moms, and be sure to come back tomorrow for the next Masterpiece Monday!!!