Mar 31, 2013
You may be able to recite the Sorting Hat’s song and rattle off different spells, but don’t get into a “Who’s the Bigger Harry Potter Fan?” contest with Alice Finch. The certifiable Potterhead spent 12 months building an incredible 400,000-piece, 170-square-foot Lego replica of Hogwarts Castle that puts your fan fiction to shame.
In addition to its massive size, the most impressive thing about the Lego castle is its depth of detail. Clearly Finch is a smart woman (probably a Ravenclaw) who thought to include a Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom with a closet for a boggart (à la Prisoner of Azkaban), the Chamber of Secrets, and even the Grey Lady. She also helpfully uploaded a 79-photo Flickr album of the whole castle so fellow superfans can properly obsess.
In an interview with Lego blog The Brothers Brick, Finch explained she got inspired by Lego building with her young sons, and that they, along with her husband, helped her finish this massive project. She also discussed how much time went into getting Hogwarts ready for (toy) students. The castle was finally finished in October for the annual Lego festival Brick-Con, where Finch went on to win “People’s Choice” and “Best in Show” last year — not to mention probably about a million honorary house points.
Sep 27, 2012
With today’s publication of J.K. Rowling’s first foray into grown-up fiction, The Casual Vacancy, you’d think the Harry Potter author would be having a muggle-centric news day. But, even as The Casual Vacancy bows, Rowling has brought the magical world that made her famous back into the equation. Yesterday, in a BBC interview, Rowling opened the door to the possibility of more fodder for Potter fans.
In the interview, Rowling discussed the freedom that comes from having Potter under her belt: now she only has to write what she wants to write, and on her own timeline. The author admitted that there were a couple Harry Potter books—”one towards the beginning and one towards the end,” but no specificity as to which—that she knew needed another year.
“I read them and I think, ‘Oh God,’” she said. “Maybe I’ll go back and do a director’s cut.” Rowling also left open the possibility of new non-Harry stories from the Potter-verse.
Potter readers: which books and plot lines would you hope get the expanded director’s-cut treatment
Sep 27, 2012
As expected, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling’s newest novel The Casual Vacancy, released earlier today, has shot straight to the top of the best-seller lists for Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. The Casual Vacancy is a departure from Rowling’s stretch of writing popular children’s literature and follows the town of Pagford as it deals with the sudden death of a town council member. The book’s description follows:
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
The Casual Vacancy is available in physical form at your favourite book store, and digitally at Amazon’s Kindle Store and on Google Play.
Sep 20, 2012
Life frequently works out stranger than fantasy. And so it proved in the case of Salman Rushdie and his friend and editor Liz Calder. An act of greed on Rushdie’s part, which he regretted for years, eventually worked out for the best and helped the world of muggles discover a young wizard by the name of Harry Potter, the hero of the bestselling book series and a hugely successful movie series.
All that, though, was far in the unforeseeable future in 1986, by which time Calder had been Rushdie’s close friend for 15 years. In fact, for almost three -and-a-half years, she had stayed as the lodger in a small house in which Rushdie lived with his first wife, Clarissa. Calder would sleep at night in the room in which Rushdie wrote his first novel, Grimus, by day.
Unknown to him, she would sneak looks at the manuscript. She was promoted from the publicity department at the publishers Victor Gollancz and became an editor just as he finished ‘Grimus’. When it was done, she published it and so his first novel as an author was also her first novel as a publisher.
Then in 1986, Calder left Jonathan Cape, the publishing house where she was working, and became one of the founders of a new publishing house, Bloomsbury, just as Rushdie was giving the finishing touches to his new novel, The Satanic Verses.
As Rushdie describes it in his recently-released memoir, ‘Joseph Anton’ (in which he writes about himself in the third person), “Because of their friendship, there was an assumption that he would follow her. His British agent was the highly respected Deborah Rogers, also a close friend of Calder’s. Deborah quickly agreed with Liz that ‘the new Rushdie’ would go to Bloomsbury for a modest fee, as the new publishing house couldn’t afford high advances. Andrew Wylie (his agent in the US) told him that if he accepted a low figure in the UK, it would ruin the book’s prospects in the US. After much hesitation, he agreed…The sweetheart deal was cancelled, Liz and Deborah were both deeply hurt… His love of his chosen friends had sustained and nourished him, and the wounds his actions had inflicted, even though they were justifiable in business terms, felt humanly wrong.”
Rushdie goes on to add, “After Zafar (his first son) was born, they had all holidayed together in France. That was the connection he had broken for money. What did that say about him?…But when the storm broke over his head, both Deborah and Liz at once set aside their grievances and behaved towards him with spectacular loyalty and generosity. It was the love and loyalty of his friends that enabled him to survive those years, and yes, their forgiveness too.”
Once he went underground following the issuing of a fatwa against him, Rushdie was, for a while, forced to move from one location to another, never staying at one place for more than a few days at a time. During this period, he often stayed at Calder’s home while she was away on work or vacation (he met the woman who would become his third wife, Elizabeth West, a colleague of Calder’s, when she came in to feed the pet parrot, Juju).
But while Rushdie remained contrite, Calder came to believe that it was probably just as well that he had not given her the rights to the book. In his words, “Liz came to feel that she had dodged a bullet. If she had published the ‘Satanic Verses’, the ensuing crisis, with its bomb threats, death threats, security expenses, building evacuations and fear would very probably have sunk her new publishing venture right away.” Instead, Bloomsbury flourished and eventually went on to discover an obscure, unpublished author who had been previously rejected by 12 publishing houses. The author’s name was Joanne Rowling. The rest is publishing history
Aug 6, 2012
Scholastic launches Harry Potter Book Club: J.K. Rowling to appear in live webcast
On Oct. 11, 2012, J.K. Rowling will make a virtual tour of US classrooms via live webcast, the first opportunity for the author to answer readers’ questions live since the last “Harry Potter” book hit shelves in 2007.
Though J.K. Rowling may be moving on to adult fiction with this fall’s highly anticipated “The Casual Vacancy,” she has not quite left Hogwarts behind. Scholastic has announced Rowling will once again be returning to the young wizard who made her world famous in the form of the Harry Potter Book Club. Even better, Rowling will appear on Oct, 11 in a live global webcast from the her home in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rowling will answer pre-submitted questions and discuss all things Potter, including the recently launched website, Pottermore.
The webcast is organized in conjunction with the first official Harry Potter Reading Club, an online portal geared toward educators, librarians, and parents, to encourage budding Potterphiles to read and to explore the world of Harry Potter. The site, which was launched with much less fanfare than Pottermore, appears to be geared toward younger readers.
Scholastic called it a destination for fans of Potter and a tool for parents and teachers to set up book clubs of their own.
“Scholastic has been in conversation with educators, librarians and other book lovers about ideas for bringing the Harry Potter books to new readers in exciting and different ways,” Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade, said in a statement announcing the club.
“The Harry Potter Reading Club is a direct response to that feedback and provides an entry point through which the thrill of these books can be shared with new generations of Harry Potter fans both within and beyond the classroom.”
The Harry Potter Reading Club allows parents, educators and readers to organize Potter clubs of their own. The site features reading and discussion guides, pronunciation aides and a plethora of interactive activities that relate to each of the seven books in the series. These include: a guide to starting your own Harry Potter book club, reading and discussion guides, pronunciation aides, a glossary of Hogwarts-related terms, and a cauldron’s worth of interactive activities relating to each of the Harry Potter books. Activities available for this month include a creative writing exercise in which writers must imagine they received a letter from Hogwarts, a “create your own wand” download, and a search for missing Potter objects. Scholastic has said it will add new activities each month. Bookmarks, stickers, and nametags are also available for download on the site.
The first 10,000 individuals to register for the club will also receive a book club welcome kit that will include bookmarks, stickers and nametags, although these items can be also be downloaded.
Consider the Harry Potter Reading Club and Rowling’s upcoming webcast your key to surviving the last weeks of summer with young readers – and a reason to look forward to another school year.