J.K. Rowling

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Dear Ms. Rowling,

Mr. and Mrs. Cassier of 103 Burbank Drive were proud to say that their daughter was a book-dragon, thank you very much. She was never one to be found without a book or two, because she just didn’t hold with their absence.

Okay, enough with the silliness. Firstly, it’s very difficult to sustain; secondly, it’s hard to joke when talking about the importance of Harry Potter in my life. I chose that quote from Deathly Hallows at the top for a big reason: I think it perfectly summarizes what I try to tell people when I attempt to talk about how much your positively radiant Harry Potter series means to me. Ever since Harry & co. walked into my life one evening — I actually was home sick with strep the night I first opened Sorcerer’s Stone and can recall that first reading experience with vivid clarity — it was like being possessed and entranced and in love and in pain all at once. Ecstasy is the word that springs to mind, though I didn’t know it back then. I, like so many people of my generation, quite literally grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We battled our own demons while they battled the Dark Lord.

I don’t make it much of a secret, but I suffer from bad bouts of depressive episodes, and they were particularly bad during some years of high school. And back then, when I was a teenager and feeling like the real world had lost its colour and its vibrance, that I was wholly alone…I would crawl back into the pages of Harry Potter and wrap myself up in them like a security blanket. Re-reading those books became a way of coping and trying to understand what was happening — to try to bring myself out of any “low” that I was in. Of course I understood that, reading these books, it was all happening inside my head — it was my imagination running wild in order to bring life to your words…

But, to me, it not only was, but still is real.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron are people with whom I empathised or with whom I agreed and disagreed — they weren’t just words on a page or scratches of ink. They, and all the others of the Wizarding world, were people. And what was best for that teenage me, was that in the world of Hogwarts and beyond, no matter how dark or wild it could get…it was still kind of real to me.

And it remains real to this very day.

It all being inside my head didn’t make any of the emotions I felt meaningless. And, so, your series has a very special place in my heart and in my life because it not only shaped my childhood, my adolescence, my young adulthood, and has been in my life longer than it hasn’t…but because it was the one place I could turn to when I felt there was nothing else, whether or not that was true. It’s part of why I make a point to reread and re-listen to the series every single year, usually more than once.

Because Hogwarts is always going to be there to welcome me home.

Forever grateful,
Madeleine

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J.K. Rowling

Dear JKR,

Thank you. I grew up reading any and all books I could find, but none left such a mark as the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter gives me a feeling unlike any other. I would say it’s almost magical, but that would be cheesy. When I opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time, I got bored and set it down. It collected dust for about a year before I picked it up again, and then I couldn’t put it down. I attended all the midnight book releases, movie premieres, and had all the merchandise available at the time. I dreamt in Potter, and was convinced that I would get my letter each summer. I have laughed, sobbed, and screamed during my readings.

When I was diagnosed with depression, Harry Potter was there for me. No matter how little I am able to feel, Harry Potter allows me to feel. When I was hospitalized multiple times, I still had Harry Potter. Every bad day, break up, fight, or loss was lessened by the presence of my HP books. The last book came out nine years ago, but I will never stop rereading whether it be in print or audiobook. Harry Potter gives me life, hope, and happiness unlike anyone or anything I’ve ever known.

To say that Harry Potter saved my life would be an understatement. Thank you, Ms Rowling, for creating the most amazing universe for me to escape into when real life gets tough. Thank you for allowing movies to be made even if they don’t always match the brilliance of the books. Thank you for giving me a fandom where I feel so comfortable. Thank you for giving me friends in Hermione, Neville, and Ron; role models in Ginny and McGonagall; everlasting laughs from Fred, George, and Harry; and self-assurance and confidence from the examples of Luna and Tonks, who stayed true to themselves regardless of what the rest of the world had to say. I couldn’t imagine a world without Harry Potter in it. Thank you for giving me a way to turn on the light during my darkest of times.

Sincerely,
Juliana (Ravenclaw)

What Harry Potter Taught Me About Satanism

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

Personal observation: my chosen photo has never been more relevant than it is in this moment.

I went to Catholic school for 16 years. This provided me with a somewhat different school experience than many of my friends, and certainly with myriad stories that friends still love to hear about the different things I learned and the different classes I took than my public school peers. One such class was a morality class I took as a junior in high school, during which we discussed pretty much any topic under the sun, with special emphasis on the Big Ones. You know, the ones that come up in the news all the time.

Like Harry Potter. When I was a junior in high school I was waiting eagerly for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which would come out over the summer before my senior year. The Order of the Phoenix movie was released that same summer.

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The Absolutely True Story of a Banned Book

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | Email

“Too vulgar,” “crude language,” and “inappropriate for a middle school audience.” What do those bring to mind? Maybe heroin use, prostitution, murder, torture? In the case of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, these complaints refer to a 14-year-old main character talking about erections and masturbation, and discussing how community members’ alcoholism affects his life.

Readers, you have been warned. This post is going to talk about erections, masturbation, and alcoholism. If that’s too vulgar and crude for you, you may want to avoid the Backroom Whispering blog this month, because we’re talking about books that have been banned or challenged for a variety of reasons.

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A Brief History of Modern Fantasy

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

A COMPANION TO TBT 07

Our most recent podcast on the “Evolution of Fantasy” featured a spirited debate about our favorite genre, from how we each defined “fantasy” to what we consider its developmental timeline. One of our biggest points of disagreement was about when what is considered “modern” fantasy started. Despite this, we at least had some general agreement that the publication of The Lord of the Rings‘ first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, in 1954 marked a significant turning point for the marketing and publishing of the fantasy genre.

To bounce off of this initial discussion, I wanted to write a brief history of what happened after 1950s, with some admitted speculation on my part.

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TBT 06: Sex in Fantasy Literature

In this special Valentine’s Day episode, a panel of Whisperers teases apart different ways sex is treated (or ignored) in fantasy literature. We cover works from Harry Potter to Anita Blake and all sorts in between. We recommend that only mature audiences join us for this lively discussion of “the juicy bits” of fantasy!

For listeners of The Book Table, Audible is offering a free audiobook and a 30-day free trial! Sign up at http://audibletrial.com/TheBookTable.

In this episode you heard from:
Stephen (Moderator)
Dorothy | @bwp_dorothy
Madeleine | @madnbooks
Rebecca | @rumy91989
Dave |
Akhi | @akhipill
Thomas |

The Book Table is a podcast from Backroom Whispering Productions. Our theme music is by Mark Wayne.

If you liked this podcast, rate us on iTunes! Or get in touch with us:
Twitter | @BackroomWhisper
Facebook | facebook.com/BackroomWhispering
Email | BackroomWhispering@gmail.com

 

Setting the Story: Medieval vs Early Modern

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

Fantasy, as a genre, has largely been associated with the Middle Ages. While this is obviously not always the case, especially with those stories set in the real world (many of which, like Harry Potter, take place in contemporary times), there is some truth to this. The fantasy movement did grow out of the Romantic movement of the 19th century, which was, in part, a reaction against the science and rationalism of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. The “Medievalism” of fantasy is related the genre’s use of magic, awe, emotions, folklore and escapism, as alternatives to the increasingly rationality, homogeneity, and banality of modern existence.

Thus, most constructed fantasy worlds, both historical and mythical, are essentially Medieval European in nature. These can either be based off of the Dark Ages (500-1000) of early Medieval Europe, which gives off an “empty-world” sort of feeling, or the more crowded and better-historically documented High Middle Ages (1000-1350). Jump forward a bit, and you may or may not be in the fantasy genre anymore. This is when you get to Steampunk based off of the 19th century Victorian Era, or the slightly later Dieselpunk, based off of the “interwar period” (1918-1939) through the 1950s. Relatively little fantasy is set in worlds inspired by the ancient and classical periods of human history. 

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Top 4 Reasons Rebecca Writes Women

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

 

A COMPANION TO NANOSODE 04

As a follow-up to our January 13th Nanosode, and to Madeleine’s brilliant post about it, I thought I’d take a minute to think a bit more about why I almost exclusively write female POVs. I thought about writing a nice hefty dissertation on gender issues in society and the difficulties females often face when entering a designated male sphere, but as my co-worker constantly reminds me: it’s best to make information snackable. Ain’t nobody got time for a dissertation. So here we are: a snackable list (YUM!) plus some pretty pictures because we are all children at heart.

let's do this

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TBT 04: Religion in YA Literature

Happy Holidays! Members of Backroom Whispering got together just before Christmas to discuss how religion is discussed and used in YA literature, including but not limited to His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, and the Chronicles of Narnia. We had a lot of different thoughts, so we hope you enjoy! Continue the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

In this episode you heard from:
Moderator: Dorothy | @bwp_dorothy
Akhi | @akhipill
Madeleine | @madnbooks | youtube.com/madnbooks
Rebecca | @rumy91989
Louisa | @otterbewriting
Sara (read by Dorothy) | @fantasticpiggy

The Book Table is a podcast from Backroom Whispering Productions. Our theme music is by Mark Wayne.

If you liked this podcast, rate us on iTunes! You can also listen on YouTube or on other favourite podcast apps — just search “The Book Table” and let us know if you can’t find us!

Or get in touch with us:
Twitter | @BackroomWhisper
Facebook | facebook.com/BackroomWhispering
Email | BackroomWhispering@gmail.com