[Show music begins]
Caleb Graves: All right. Welcome, everyone, to our first LeakyCon live show of Alohomora!
Caleb: We’re so excited that you guys are here. I’m Caleb Graves.
Laura Reilly: I’m Laura Reilly.
Kat: I’m Kat Miller.
Eric Scull: I’m Eric Scull, and with us today [is] very special guest Ellie Darcey-Alden.
Kat: And just for those of you who don’t know what we’re doing, just a quick recap here: We’re doing a global reread of the Potter series. We’re doing one chapter a week, and we just finished Prisoner of Azkaban. We’re going to start Goblet of Fire next week. We’re really excited.
Laura: It’s super exciting.
Kat: Your favorite book!
Laura: My… yeah, Goblet of Fire… I’ve been excited for Goblet of Fire since we started, so I’m super, super pumped about it, and it’s our first big book also. We had been going through all the small ones, and this is our first real big undertaking.
Caleb: So what we decided to do for today’s show is… we’re not obviously doing a chapter. Like they said, we just finished Prisoner and are about to start Goblet. What we want to do today is – kind of the whole point of our show is – talk about what […] the magic of rereading the Harry Potter series [is] – because obviously, the books have been out for a while, but we obviously keep coming back to LeakyCon, keep going back to the books – and what makes Harry Potter so special that we continue to read them over and over and over again. So I think we can start it off by trying to figure out… how many times have we reread the Harry Potter series? So I’m going to go… I have to think about this, actually, because it’s a high number, but…
Laura: I’ll start. Okay, well, from start to finish, I’ve only reread it three times, but individually, certain books I’ve read way more than that. Deathly Hallows I’ve read six times, Goblet of Fire I’ve read eight times, and now this, doing Alohomora! will be my fourth full reread, but yeah. The one I’ve reread the least is Order of the Pheonix because it’s just such an undertaking.
Kat: Ooh. [laughs]
Laura: I love it, I love it! It’s just an undertaking. By “least,” I mean I reread it three times.
Kat: I think I’ve lost count.
Kat: Three dozen? Four dozen, maybe? I have no idea. [laughs]
Kat: At least.
Caleb: All the way through?
Kat: I reread it at least twice a year.
Eric: I believe you. I mean, I think…
Laura: The whole series? Start to finish?
Eric: Somebody should have told us to just start writing tick marks in all our Harry Potter books.
Eric: Scholastic should have just put “Tick marks here…” and…
Kat: A checklist.
Eric: A checklist, yeah, for how many times you reread the book. They’re infinitely rereadable. But Ellie, you had a very interesting process of rereading recently.
Ellie Darcey-Alden: Yeah. So at the start of February, when I first moved over to Los Angeles, I knew LeakyCon was coming up, and Misti Con was coming up, so I thought, “I’m going to reread the whole set of books,” so I started off doing [Book] 1, then I read [Book] 2, then I read [Book] 3, then I jumped to [Book] 7, then I went back to [Book] 5, then I went back to [Book] 6, and now I’m on [Book] 4.
Ellie: So I don’t know why. I just felt like having a change, I guess.
Eric: Does that reflect sort of your favorite or…?
Ellie: I’m not really sure on my favorite books because they’re all so amazing. But I think, if I had to pick one, it would either be Order of the Phoenix…
Laura: That’s Kat’s.
Ellie: … or Deathly Hallows.
Caleb: Yes. There we go.
Laura: That’s ours. [laughs]
Caleb: Yeah. I think I’ve read through the series probably, all the way through, five times, but Deathly Hallows I have read many, many more times.
Laura: Many, many times.
Kat: You guys are disappointing me with your numbers.
Caleb: I mean, we just can’t hold up to the Ravenclaw here, so… [laughs]
[Audience and Ellie laughs]
Kat: What about all of you? How many times have you reread the series?
Caleb: Who’s got the most? Who’s got more than ten?
Kat: Shout it out.
Audience Member: I can’t count.
Caleb: What’s your numbers?
Kat: Fair enough.
Audience Member: Eight.
Audience Member: I listen to it at work all the time.
Kat: Oh, I wasn’t even thinking about…
Laura: That’s awesome.
Kat and Laura: … the audiobooks.
Eric: I think that counts. I’ve got friends who…
Kat: At least. Okay, add another twelve for me.
Eric: Yeah. Oh…
Kat: At least.
Eric: You’re just being a… we’ll just give you the crown that’s under that table with our guests.
Caleb: There we go.
Audience Member: Various times. Parts of the audiobooks tons of times. I think I learned my English accent from the audiobooks…
Audience Member: … unintelligible my [unintelligible] French accent as well.
Caleb: And what better way to do it?
Caleb: Yeah. In the back.
Audience Member: Last year I read the whole series, from start to finish, in hard-copy braille.
Laura: Oh, wow.
Audience Member: [unintelligible]
Laura: That’s really impressive.
Caleb and Kat: That’s amazing.
Audience Member: But I’ve only read it twice through. And the first time a lot of books were read to me…
Audience Member: … because braille is… at the time when it was first coming out, you couldn’t get the braille, so it was ages afterward.
Kat: And the books are huge, right? The braille copies are huge.
Audience Member: Yes. The Order of the Phoenix is ten volumes.
Kat: Oh my God.
Laura: Oh, wow.
Kat: Go ahead.
Audience Member: Okay, so I read this… okay, going up in order because they’ve been released later on, I’ve read them less times, but I know I’ve read the third book and probably the first at least 30 times.
Kat: Good numbers.
Audience Member: At least 30. Probably more. And I’ve read the fifth book probably 20 times because it’s my favorite one. And I go through… I’ll read from the first to the seventh and then the seventh back down to the first.
Audience Member: Then I’ll read my favorite ones. I’m constantly rereading them in between new books that I read. I want to be a librarian. I kind of like books…
[Audience, Kat, amd Laura laugh]
Kat: Kind of. A little.
Caleb: Power to you.
Laura: I’m very curious as [to] how much actual time, minute-wise, we have spent cumulatively sitting down. If we were to take all the times we’ve sat and did it all in one sitting, theoretically, would it have been a month of our life or something? Just straight. [laughs]
Eric: I wouldn’t ask for any of those minutes back.
[Audience and Laura laugh]
Laura: Yeah. Exactly.
Kat: Me either.
Caleb: And there it is.
Eric: But one thing I don’t quite get – and I could never do this – was read backward, as people are doing. Or read a later book – unless it had just come out, or I just want to reread just one of them – just reading, progressing backward through the series. I couldn’t do it.
Kat: I can’t do it either. I always read them in order.
Caleb and Laura: Yeah.
Eric: We have some hands raised.
Kat: Go ahead.
Audience Member: My best friend read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows first.
Eric: Oh my God. [laughs]
Audience Member: And then started on [Book] 1 and then finished with Deathly Hallows again. I was like, “How do you do that?”
Laura: She spoiled herself on everything.
Kat: I mean, pretty much.
Eric: Well, no, I guess I’m guilty of, once or twice, skipping to one of the last pages of a book. Maybe not specifically Harry Potter.
Caleb: Oh no.
Laura: Oh my God. You’re one of them?
Eric: I do it. I want to tell myself that I won’t do it, and then I get about a 100 pages in, and I’m like, “I want to see where this is going.” Okay, there I go.
Laura: Are you serious?
Laura: Oh my gosh.
Caleb: You’re that fan.
Eric: I skipped – spoiler alert – to Sirius Black’s death.
Eric: I didn’t want to do it. Well, I did want to do it because I did.
[Audience and Kat laughs]
Laura: Because you did.
Eric: But no, I was just kind of browsing toward the back of the book to see if maybe there’s a hidden picture or a table of contents or something in the back…
Laura: Because when is there ever?
Eric: All of a sudden, I found the caps lock Harry that we all know of.
Eric: Of course, that grabs the eye because when he’s screaming at Dumbledore, “SO SIRIUS DESERVED TO DIE, DID HE?” and then I knew.
Laura: Oh my God.
Eric: I did. But it’s my own fault. I don’t… I admit that.
Kat: Did any of us start reading after the movies came out?
Eric: I did.
Caleb: No, definitely not.
Kat: You did?
Kat: After [which] movie?
Eric: After the first movie.
Laura: Oh, wait, I have. I wasn’t even thinking. I read the book before seeing the movie, but there was already two movies out by the time I had seen it just because I was young. But I started reading while Prisoner of Azkaban was in production.
Kat: Do you see the book characters in your head still? Or do you see…?
Laura: It varies – it almost – by how much I liked their portrayal in the films. Like I see certain… a lot of the Weasleys. I see all of the Weasleys, pretty much, as the characters. And Harry and Hermione kind of. But a lot of the more minor characters and the adults, not so much. They’re kind of vague in my head, but I like all of the portrayals, so basically.
Kat: How about you, Caleb?
Caleb: Yeah, I was thinking because Rowling talks about how she still sees Ron as her character, and she doesn’t see Rupert Grint. She sees him as the way she wrote him. And that obviously makes sense; she’s the author. But me, I had a very different idea of Ron also in the beginning, but now when I reread I cannot get Rupert Grint’s features out of my idea of what Ron would look like. So I used to have that other idea of what Ron looked like, but now I can’t get that.
Kat: For me it’s James and Oliver. Because I love them. Don’t get me wrong…
Laura: [laughs] So do I!
Kat: … but they’re so completely different from how their characters are described in the books that I still see…
Laura: See, I…
Kat: I still see my characters when I read Fred and George.
Laura: I disregard the descriptions in the book.
Laura: I’m like, “Nope! Still James and Oliver!”
Caleb: Well, we actually have one of the actors up here, so…
Caleb: So I’m trying to think of what I thought of young Lily Potter before I saw the movie, and I don’t really think I had that much of an idea of her. I guess… I mean, she has a description, but it’s so quick in the book, but you bring her to life so well. I think that it’s just… now you are young Lily Potter so…
Caleb: Yeah. Right? Yeah!
Ellie: Yeah, I kind of agree and disagree with some of you. So sometimes I will picture them in my mind when I read, and I’ll read a line, and I can imagine Hermione saying it, like “Wingardium Leviosa.” I can just imagine her saying it. But then sometimes I read, and then I think that the person who plays the character in the films… they go out of my mind, and I kind of create a new character. So it kind of varies between which character.
Audience Member: Can I actually ask you a question about that real quick?
Kat: Go ahead.
Audience Member: Since you acted with them, do you see their off-screen personality when you’re reading the character at all?
Ellie: I’m not really sure about that one. Hmm…
[Audience and Kat laugh]
Ellie: So when I was working with young Snape – and then I had obviously watched the film and reread the book – I still pictured him in my mind, but I created a new character in my head. So sometimes he will be the character in the book, and I will think of him like that, but sometimes I will create a new character in my head, maybe portrayed somehow differently. But it just depends. I’m not really sure.
Caleb: Yeah, you’ve got a question here?
Audience Member: I’ve got to tell you, I’m crazy about Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter…
Caleb: You’re in the right place.
[Audience and Kat laugh]
Audience Member: What I don’t understand is how other people look at Harry Potter. This one here… we went to Europe [unintelligible]
Kat: Oh, has she?
Eric: She’s shrinking into her chair.
Laura: She’s being singled out right now.
Audience Member: We went to Europe during the last opening. She wanted [unintelligible] Europe because she was going to miss [unintelligible]. So when we got there, we had to buy extra suitcases because [unintelligible] all the books. We didn’t even [unintelligible] all the books. [unintelligible]
Audience Member: You’d rather be here? I understand.
Eric: We have another question right up there.
Audience Member: It’s not so much of a question, just kind of a comment. I’d like to know… I came really late to the books. It was the spring before Deathly Hallows – Part 1 came out that I finally sat down and read through them. I’d just been watching the movies as they came along, so for me, Alan Rickman is always going to be Snape, but when it comes to Ron, I’m actually picturing more the book description than Rupert Grint, which I’m kind of pleased with. But I can’t say I complain about Alan Rickman being my Snape because he’s a really fantastic Snape. I don’t know. Maybe you disagree, but I love him.
Kat: No, I think we all agree.
Audience Member: I love Alan Rickman so much. He’s just so perfect.
Eric: I have a different Snape, actually.
Kat: You do?
Caleb: What do you see?
Eric: I see someone who’s even more vicious than Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Snape, particularly because Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book, and he just really goes crazy on Harry sometimes. The more manic, less brooding background. But I wouldn’t say that any of the actors’ portrayals in the films are bad. I think, especially, people are touching on Rupert Grint not being their Ron, but in the movies his purpose is comic relief, whereas in the books he’s a more fleshed-out character that doesn’t just exist to serve the humor points of the…
Eric: So that’s where I think… what I think, too, determines for me… Sirius Black/Gary Oldman? Underused in the films. My Sirius is completely different in the books because my Sirius is full-bodied and not just those gestures that get portrayed.
Audience Member: Do any of you see the illustrations from the books in your head?
Caleb: Sometimes I still do, yeah.
Laura: See, for me, I was never a fan of the illustrations just because I didn’t… because they did influence it so much. And I didn’t necessarily like the illustrations, but it was what I could see, and that’s… I particularly didn’t like the Snape depiction in the illustrations.
Eric: So Ellie, we’re talking about chapter pictures. Have you seen these? In the American books at the beginning of every chapter there’s a small image that Scholastic used.
Ellie: Oh! With my… I bought a new Goblet of Fire in a bookstore, and that had… at the start of every chapter there’s a little image. And I’m just trying to think. One of them is… one of the images [is] when they’re going off to Hogwarts from The Burrow, and in the book Hedwig hasn’t arrived, yet. In the little picture it shows Harry’s stuff with Hedwig in the cage.
Laura: Throw the book away!
Ellie: I don’t know!
Kat: I don’t think any of us caught that.
Kat: Good catch!
Ellie: Oh, yeah.
Caleb: So one of the things that we notice a lot when we’re doing the show is [that] now we’re obviously older than we were when we first read the series and how that makes a difference because reading them… I mean, no matter how old you are when you read them, you, I think, read them quite a bit differently ten years later, regardless of what that age is. So I want to touch on… how do you feel reading now versus back then? It’s been – what? – ten, fifteen years since we started reading them.
Laura: Fifteen years since Sorcerer’s Stone.
Caleb: How is that different now?
Kat: I was in college when I started reading; I’m the old one. So honestly, not that much has changed for me because I didn’t start when I was nine, ten, or eleven.
Kat: I think they’ve gotten better the older I get.
Laura: Yeah, for me – and I’ve said this on the show before – I’m very jealous. I was really young when I started reading. I was seven. And I’m kind of jealous of the people that were older because even though I was super invested in it, there must have been things I didn’t pick up on and didn’t appreciate as fully like how I did rereading it and becoming obsessed. But I did love growing up with it, but certainly reading it when I was older… you pick up on a lot more deeper things.
Eric: Book 5 was the first release party that I got to go to for the books, and Harry was fifteen, and I was fifteen, so that matched there. But he was quite different in the book; he was very angry and stuff, different than I was feeling, so…
Eric: I don’t know that I ever connected to Harry on an age point. He’s the same age as me. We did kind of grow up together, though. Anybody who started with him young can feel like they grew up reading Potter. Every book he was a year older, and they could go like that. I think the series… the books do a really good job of portraying what the teachers are feeling and the parents and sort of some of their motivations. And that’s important because I’ve found as I reread, I think, more of sort of a caregiving aspect to the young’uns. There'[re] these teachers… I kind of identify more with the professors and their unique sets of challenges than I would necessarily about Harry.
Caleb: That’s actually interesting, you pointing out… because you and I are about the same age, and so we grew up with Harry, but I never thought about that. But I think I feel the same way that even though I was the same age as Harry, I didn’t feel that connection in age. I don’t feel like… I think I grew up with the series but didn’t grow up with Harry. So that’s really interesting. I never thought about it that way.
Laura: I certainly felt a connection with Hermione growing up. She… I was very – I still am – very bookish, and I had the bushy hair and everything, and I connected with her so much. Not so much as the books got older, and I got older but back with Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets… super connected.
Ellie: Well, I was young when I started reading the books. I think a couple of them had already come out before I started reading, and when I read the first one… bear in mind, I was seven years old. But when you’re that young, and you read, you don’t take in everything…
Ellie: … so you’re just reading for reading. You don’t really understand it. So for the couple of the last books, Mum and Dad read with me so that I could get an understanding of the story and everything. But as I reread the books over and over again I kept picking up little bits that I’d missed in the start, which is really good about rereading the books because it keeps the magic there, and you just add more little bits that make it even more exciting, that you’ve missed from the first time.
Kat: Which one’s your favorite to reread?
Ellie: My favorite one to reread would probably be the Order of the Phoenix…
Kat: Me, too.
Ellie: … or the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Caleb and Kat: Mhm.
Ellie: Either one of them. I like those two.
Laura: For me it’s Deathly Hallows.
Caleb and Ellie: Yeah.
Laura: Just because no matter how many times I read it it’s still going to kill me.
Ellie: Yeah. [laughs]
Laura: It’s just emotional torture, but it’s just the best.
Eric: I think what makes it so enriching to reread is that there are so many details, and unlike… I mean, I guess Tolkien’s writing has a lot of details. He put a lot of research and work in just like Jo did. Jo’s writing for me is so much more accessible to the… I can just read it easier, but she still hides these details like Sirius Black getting mentioned in the first chapter of the first book.
Eric: Wow. Rereading it like…
Eric: “Oh my gosh! That’s him! That’s his godfather!” And that just keeps happening, I think, as you’re going along. Even within the book, mentions of Barty Crouch or Ludo Bagman before they’re introduced…
Eric: … things like that [are] really cool and also very intricate, and the threads are woven smartly, I think, of the books.
Caleb: I think that’s a really good thing we can transition to, and then I really want to flip it to the audience because this is a really interesting question, talking about how characters showed up and [how] rereading… that sort of changes. So who our favorite character may have been the first time we read through the series and who it is now as we reread because that has changed a lot for me.
Laura: Same story again. [laughs]
Kat: Go for it.
Caleb: Okay. So my favorite character the first time I read was Tonks. I just loved that character and – even though she wasn’t a main character; she didn’t show up until later – just the way Rowling wrote her was just so enjoyable and fun. But rereading – obviously, with my shirt – McGonagall is by far my favorite character. I think I have learned to appreciate her in her actions and her choices so much rereading the series, and that has been the best part of rereading – especially for the show – for me.
Laura: Yeah. For me, well, Fred and George have been my favorite[s] for forever, but the thing is is that rereading didn’t affect that. But McGonagall was my favorite character growing up. I absolutely loved her – and I still love her; she’s the best – but rereading it, I’ve fallen in love twice as much with Sirius Black. I absolutely just love everything about him, where the first time, you’re… it takes a while to get in the series for him, and also, he’s evil for a book, so…
Caleb: Yeah, remember when we all thought Sirius Black was the worst guy ever? [laughs]
Kat: I think I started out with Luna, only because I was that outcast person, the person [who] was weird and didn’t have a lot of friends. But as I got older, I think Neville is probably my favorite character now. And that has changed probably in the last year, honestly, because I just think he’s amazing. And it really changed after Deathly Hallows.
Kat: I would not have chosen him before then.
Ellie: I’m not really sure because when I first read through the books, there were some characters I really, really liked, and I don’t think I have one favorite character. I really… my three favorites would either have to be Harry, Snape, or Hagrid. And I love Hagrid because he’s just so big and so cuddly.
Ellie: You just want to give him a big hug. But as I read through the books, some of the characters I thought I became closer to, and they became more closer to my favorite. So Luna was one of them that I really, really liked because I’m a bit – like Kat said – like that character. I’m really weird and crazy and always in a daydream.
Ellie: So Luna probably became one of my also-favorites that I really like as well, though I’m not really sure because I like all the characters. It’s really difficult to choose.
Caleb: It is.
Kat: I still love Luna but mostly because of Evanna, so let’s be honest.
Eric: My two have almost consistently been Lupin and Sirius. Part of that comes from Prisoner of Azkaban being my favorite book, but the way they mentor Harry… and even in the following book Sirius has that great line. I think it’s to Ron: “If you want to know the measure of a man look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” I think Jo gave him the best lines. And because he’s there for a short time, it’s even easier to say, “That’s my favorite,” because he’s in, then you love him, and then he’s gone.
Eric: So he didn’t do anything because… Whoops! What I mean about that is I mean, somebody like Snape who’s there for the entire series… you can read him, and he does some truly awful things to Harry, especially early on. And then you get to the end of Book 7, and you see that “oh, he’s loved Lily. He’s this tragic character. He’s a hero, in fact.” And it changes your perspective. You might like him better, and you might say, “Well, now he’s my favorite character,” but when you go back, and you still read the earlier books, some of the things he does are inexcusable.
Eric: And he’s definitely one of the flawed characters, and that’s part of Jo’s brilliant wrting, but at the same time I try and rectify some of the things that he does because I know he was a good charcter in heart, and it’s difficult for me to say that he’s my favorite or anything like that.
Laura: Now kind of opposite this: Were there any character[s] [you were] rooting [for] initally that you loved – maybe when you were younger – but now rereading, especially with Alohomora! going more in depth, you dislike? Now because for… I… really the only person for me for that is Ginny. Ginny used to be my favorite character.
Audience Member: What?
Audience Member: What?
Laura: Ginny used to be my absolute favorite character over everyone, and then reading back I still like her, but I think I looked up to her a lot when I was younger, and now I’m like, “Eh…”
Eric: I like Ginny more now that I’ve… the more I reread…
Kat: Me, too!
Eric: You have to separate the movies. The movies did not…
Laura: I think that’s what’s impacting my opinion.
Eric: But I think – and people, we can talk about shipping and things, where people thought it wound end up relationshipwise – there’s a line. It’s either in Half-Blood Prince or maybe earlier [in] Order of the Phoenix if they… I think they only hook up in Half-Blood Prince, but…
Caleb: They do what?
Eric: She… they get to.. they start talking to each other.
Eric: No, she says to him at one point, “Voldemort had me, too,” and it was.. she’s referring [to] the scene where… well, the whole year…
Kat: That’s in Order.
Eric: … her entire… that’s in Order. I was right. Okay, so she says that to him, and it’s this moment [when] he realizes that he’s not alone in the world. I mean, Ginny was dealing with Lord Voldemort the entire year – Harry’s entire second year, her first year at Hogwarts – and that shaped her, and that affected her in such an important way that [that] really made her, in my mind, his perfect companion. And she is smart; she is great with her Reducto…
Eric: … which is useful because when you got a guy who only uses Expelliarmus, you sometimes need…
Laura: She’s got a little bit more creativity.
Eric: … a more direct approach. And they’re good together. In Half-Blood Prince… one of the reasons that Half-Blood Prince is my second-favorite book is because they’re lying on the shore underneath the beech tree, and she makes these jokes about his tattoo. She just seems to work with him really well. She’s smart and independent, but they’re each other’s company. There’s just nothing better, I think, that’s…
Laura: I think I might take it back just because you’re right. The movies have impacted it a lot.
Eric: [as Ginny] Zip me up, Laura.
Eric: No, no! It’s unfortunate because she’s such a…
Laura: We were talking about this yesterday. Because they didn’t build up their relationship enough in the films, in order for it to make… why they were getting together, they just replaced all of her awesome moments with sexual tension.
Laura: It was just really stupid. I hated that that’s what they did with that.
Caleb: What about you guys? Yeah, right there.
Audience Member: Okay, so I started reading these in ’98 when I was eleven, so I almost grew up with Harry, but there was a gap year and all of that. My first favorite was Seamus just because he couldn’t get anything right.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Laura: Fair enough.
Audience Member: But as I got older, Molly Weasley is the greatest character handsdown because she’s tough, but she’s caring, and she’s just so dynamic, and I hate that they cut her out of the films so much because she is such a large part of Harry Potter.
Laura: Yeah, Harry should… go ahead.
Audience Member: I started reading when I was about five or six…
Audience Member: … so I didn’t really remember a lot of it, and I didn’t get a lot of the minor characters, so my favorite at the beginning was Harry, so [unintelligible], but as I got older I was able to understand and appreciate the minor characters, so for a long time Ginny has been my favorite.
Audience Member: And Harry’s.
Audience Member: Yeah, I think that’s kind of the trend for me when I was younger. And again, the movies affected me more heavily, I think, because that was all I was seeing, but the kids were the ones that I concentrated more on. Now as I reread it’s all the adults. I’m looking at McGonagall, I’m looking at Lupin, I’m looking at Dumbledore, and I’m looking at Sirius, and I’m really focusing in on that, and so that’s how I’m learning to love all these other characters so much more.
Kat: Aimee. This is our transcriber, Aimee, here. She turned sixteen the other day. Round of applause.
Aimee: Well, I started reading the books in kindergarten, and I think back then I read it simply because it was a fun story, and now I’ve read them so many times that every time, my mom is like, “Why are you rereading this again? Like, I get that you enjoy it, but what are you doing?”
[Kat and Laura laugh]
Aimee: I get something new out of it every time. And especially, I think, favorite characters because when I was five years old, my favorite character was Draco Malfoy, and now I absolutely hate him.
Kat: Right, right.
Aimee: I don’t understand how could I think that and even… I started reading them a few weeks ago, and Fred and George were my favorite characters this time through…
Laura: [laughs] Yeah.
Aimee: … and [unintelligible] because that’s what everyone’s trying to figure out: “Who am I?”
Laura: That’s a good point.
Aimee: And then my little sister, when I started reading them to her, it brought me back to just reading them for the stories because that’s all she was getting out of them at that point, and I thought that was really cool, being older but then seeing how [she] took them in.
Laura: And just saying that you said with your mom yelling at you because I face that every time. I reread The Deathly Hallows in secret. I would not let anyone… because my mom would get so mad at me rereading. She would be like, “There'[re] a million books out there, and you’re wasting your time,” and I remember in secret… just under my blanket I’m just secretly reading The Deathly Hallows.
Caleb: The flashlight scene in the movie.
Laura: Exactly, that was me. I changed the slipcover on the jacket and yeah.
Kat: Let’s go over here.
Audience Member: You were responding about characters that you guys liked when you were younger. I started the series really liking Dumbledore, and now that I’m rereading them ten years later, I realized he was so manipulative…
Kat: Oh, yeah.
Audience Member: … so it irritates me. [unintelligible] So I like McGonagall better now because I feel like she’s part of that caring [for Harry], and she wants the best for him.
Caleb: Power to you.
Kat: Yeah. I love your shirt, by the way.
Audience Member: Thank you.
Kat: It says “I believe in Nargles.”
Laura: I see we’ve got an “Is it alive?” shirt back there.
Kat: Oh, yeah?
Laura: From Noah. [laughs]
Kat: Where? Stand up. Who’s wearing it?
Laura: Right? “Is it alive?”
Kat: No, it’s not.
Audience Member: Because it’s not.
Kat: Back there in the hat. You! Yeah.
Audience Member: I started reading when I was six, and Harry was ultimately my favorite character. But as I continued to reread them over the years, I really grew to appreciate Tom Riddle and his entire backstory.
Caleb: Everyone watch out for this guy.
Kat: Is that real?
Audience Member: Yeah, yeah.
Kat: Oh, hardcore.
Laura: What is?
Kat: His Dark Mark.
Laura: Oh, wow.
Caleb: [laughs] We’ll go right here.
Caleb: We’ll go you, you, and then we’ll move on.
Audience Member: It’s interesting. I mean, I started reading Harry Potter as an adult, when my kids were interested, and I wanted to read the books before my kids did. And so I read all of the books as they came out as I gave them to my son, my oldest son. And it’s interesting, looking at the difference in the way an adult sees the characters versus the way my kids saw the characters when they were reading them as kids because as an adult, when I sit down to read the books… I was an avid reader when I was a kid. So when I sat down and started reading the books, my initial comparison was to Lloyd Alexander’s books and going back and comparing these characters in the past that I grew up with, and then when I see my kids read the book, and they read Harry Potter first, and then I encourage them to go back and read some of the old books, and so they’re doing the opposite comparison of those characters. I think it’s fascinating to see the differences with the way the kids see the characters verses the way the adults see the characters. And I’m always a… as a longtime reader I always supported her use of the supporting characters. And that’s why I think my favorite characters have always been Luna and Sirius because [of] the way they’re used throughout the series to support the storyline.
Caleb: You brought up a good thing that we could do a really quick rapid fire [on]. You brought up Lloyd Alexander’s books. Because I want to know if there are other books that you guys have reread. I haven’t reread anything like Harry Potter.
Laura: Not like Harry Potter, yeah.
Caleb: But I would say the series that I reread the most, other then Harry Potter, would be Lord of the Rings.
Kat: Hunger Games for me.
Laura: Back when I was younger, The Series of Unfortunate Events. Not now, but when I was younger I reread that a lot.
Kat: I was way too old for those books.
Laura: I know, I was still… I was ten, but I loved it when I was younger. That’s the only thing that I’ve reread a lot.
Eric: I’m currently through my third complete reread of the Ender books. Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card.
Caleb: God, the movie’s coming out soon.
Eric: I really like that series. Ellie, what…?
Ellie: I’m not sure. When I was younger, I’m – and I still am – a bookworm, so I would read books on my shelf, and I would read them at night, and then when it comes to sorting out my books I would claim that I’ve read them, but Mum and Dad didn’t know how because they didn’t know that I read at night.
Ellie: Under my bed, I would read like this…
Laura: Where to read, that’s the place.
Ellie: … so I reread a lot of those kid books, “kiddie” kind of books. I remember when I was sort of five or six – between those years – I read The Secret Unicorn a lot.
Ellie: The little… there was a seven book thing, and it only was a tiny book. But I read them a lot and a lot of the kid’s books that I reread when I was younger. But I think I read the first Hunger Games twice.
Ellie: I reread that one, so yeah.
Caleb: Another thing that comes up a lot on the show is not just characters we see differently but [also] just overall events or actions people take that we have gained a lot more perspective on. So what are some of the big things that we sort of see differently, or just approach differently, as we reread the series?
Eric: As mentioned, it’s Dumbledore for me.
Kat: Very much.
Eric: Definitely. I mean, the manipulation… and I think that was Jo’s point, especially because the seventh book is spent without him but so much with him, with his autobiography, with Rita Skeeter’s book about how bad he was. But we know even from Harry’s perspective because he’s setting him up to die or be killed. It’s really had to get behind Dumbledore. But then you question – the question is out there deliberately in the text – if he hadn’t taken the steps he did, what would have happened? And wasn’t he, after all, just human like anybody else? You want him to be this super character, but he has his flaws, and I think it was really interesting that Jo chose to humanize this great mentor for Harry in the final book – posthumously.
Kat: Yeah, he’s the character that I love to dislike. I can’t say hate because I still love him. So I struggle with Dumbledore all the time, all the time.
Laura: Yeah. I remember feeling betrayed the first time I read Order of the Phoenix when he reveals everything, and then he was keeping away from him, and I just remember reading it the first time like, “Why, Dumbledore, why?”
Kat: I was sobbing, sobbing. That’s my favorite chapter: “The Lost Prophecy.” Favorite chapter of the whole series.
Laura: And similarly, with Deathly Hallows when all of this was happening, and I kept waiting for it to be like, “Nope, it was all a lie. It was all a lie.” And then when they get to that where it’s like, “No, most of it was true,” it’s super sad.
Caleb: I think, even taking it out of the story, it also shows – and Kat’s shirt, obligatory genius moment of JK Rowling – writing this character that, through the series we read the first time, you can’t help but love Dumbledore. He is the guiding light of the series, but she teaches especially me as a young reader. This is the first series that really made me fall in love with reading, teaching me that these characters that are like idols still have their flaws. That you can’t really assume that they will be good to the end. I think that’s really important for an author with that much influence to show young readers that that’s the real world. I mean, obviously, it’s magic, but that is the real world.
Kat: Wait. Magic’s not the real world?
Caleb: I’m sorry, Kat. It’s not.
Caleb: Not yet.
Eric: We have more comments.
Kat: Right there.
Audience Member: Yeah, I mean, I have fallen in love with Ron, and I do still love Ron, and I appreciate his character development, but I feel like, especially rereading it now that I’m seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, there are some things that he does I can’t believe Hermione can excuse.
Audience Member: I do love Ron but just…
Laura: No, yeah.
Eric: Can you give an example?
Audience Member: Walking out in Deathly Hallows.
Eric: Yeah, it’s…
Audience Member: Maybe that’s… the line from the movie where he says, “Your parents are dead!” Maybe that’s what shifted it too much. Maybe in the books he’s less…
Laura: Yeah, that’s a good thing.
Caleb: It’s hard to come back from that.
Audience Member: I feel like even in the books, that’s just a moment where… I mean, it’s a war, and Harry and Hermione are supposedly best friends, but I feel like that’s the moment that just I can’t ever really get past.
Caleb: Yeah, right here.
Kat: Right here in front.
Caleb: We’ll get you next.
Kat: Oh, sorry. Did you point to someone, too? Sorry. [laughs] Go ahead.
Audience Member: Branching off of the earlier comments about liking Tom Riddle and the overall series, I think coming back and rereading it, stepping away from the black and white morality, had a lot to do with it in the first place, and realizing that with Tom Riddle and Draco, a lot of people failed them. A lot of people looked the other way. And it makes you wonder what would have happened had those things have happened differently. Are they really evil people, or are they people [who] were failed by other people, then making bad choices?
Kat: Draco, no. Tom, yes.
Laura: Yeah, we’ve talked about this a lot, of how J.K. Rowling is just so great at writing great characters of people [who] just aren’t… and I still say my favorite line in the series is Sirius’s of “The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.” I think that’s… it shows everyone has so many flaws, and we get so many flawed characters, like Snape and Dumbledore, and there'[re] very few people [who] are just solidly awesome.
Audience Member: Continuing with the line of Voldemort, as a child I just thought of him as this really horrible person, which he is, but as I’ve grown up, and I can look more in depth at it, on the one hand, I really feel sorry for him, and it’s completely possible because Jo did it so well that you look at him and you say that he started out the same as Harry, and that’s why they’re so similar, and it says that from the books. But it’s their choices that brought them to the points where they are but… so while you feel sorry for him, at the same time you’re like, well, he did make his bed, and he does have to lie in it.
Laura: Yeah. That’s very true.
Caleb: Yeah, back there.
Audience Member: So I think of Sybill Trelawney just because when we first run into her, she’s a failed prophet, but as we get through the series a lot more and keep reading, we find out that she had a lot of true prophecies for some of the little things she said, where sitting down at [a] table [of] thirteen, [the] first person to get up [dies], just those little things that Jo put in there with her and her prophecies.
Eric: Yeah, Trelawney is really interesting because she did have those two moments of great clarity that really matter, and Dumbledore spotted it the first time. He said it might be strategically useful if I keep this woman who made the prophecy about Harry and Voldemort, keep her at my school. And because he showed her that kindness and that hospitality, she was able to be used to play that role later on when she warns Harry of the coming. So I think it’s interesting because she is pretty much a minor character, but she had those graces with real importance, and it just shows that everybody is capable of that. However minor a character, they can play an important role in the ongoing.
Kat: I think my favorite Trelawney moment, just thinking about it, is when she’s walking thorough the hall, and she has the cards, and she pulls the lightning struck tower.
Kat: I think that’s my favorite Trelawney moment.
Laura: I forgot about that.
Eric: You have something…
Audience Member: Woo, woo!
Audience Member: Another one of my favorites from Trelawney is… there’s a moment where they’re in class, and she’s saying, “Harry, you see, is your birthday in the middle of December?”
Audience member: … or something. And it’s like, well, no. Harry’s wasn’t. Voldemort’s was, and well, Harry’s a Horcrux.
Audience Member: So there’s a…
Kat: Hint. Yep.
Caleb: Good point.
Audience Member: I never thought about that!
[Audience, Caleb, and Kat laugh]
Audience member: That was pointed out to me. I did not figure that one out on my own.
Caleb: So I think one thing we can talk about last, and then we can open up to general questions or anything, is “Why is the process of rereading so important and valuable?” And there'[re] a couple of different angles you can look at this. As academics study literature that is time-tested, those pieces of literature get used in schools to teach and things like that, and as Potter becomes a little more aged, it’s read more and more. It could be used for a lot of different reasons. Or just in general, why is it important that we keep going through these books?
Caleb: It’s a deep question, but…
Laura: Yeah. For me it comes down to the characters of just the first time you read through something, you see them not one-dimensional but just in their very service-level descriptions. And the more and more you reread, the more and more you flesh out their decisions and especially going backward, like how Eric was saying with Snape, getting that perspective going backward. Each time you reread it, you learn just more about their perspective, and it just… it helps you just understand human psyche a little bit of just… yeah.
Kat: I think for me, my life is so busy that I enjoy it for the escape. I like sinking into that world, closing my eyes, and then I dream about Harry Potter. Those are the best nights of sleep ever. I love those nights. And I just… I don’t think I’ll ever stop rereading them.
Kat: I really don’t.
Eric: Oh, Ellie?
Ellie: I think when you reread the books, firstly, for me, it’s the enjoyment about it. I just love going back into that world. Like you said, it’s just amazing. But also, the good thing about it is, you pick up – even if it’s just something really, really tiny – something new every time you reread the books, which makes it even more exciting and even more amazing, and it makes magic even more real, so… yeah.
Eric: For me, the story, even if it’s the overarching – the whole story – or even an individual story of a book, the progression of the characters. I feel like I need to hear that story again as I grow old. The story impacts me, and then it’s almost like you need a reminder, or a reminder is welcome, where you’re then brought into this world where these characters… the events play out the same. It’s not like I’m reading to find a difference or that it ends differently or anything like that. I think what it is, though, is that it is the same story and the way it meant to you… because these books mean so much to us, hearing them again and over and over really can’t hurt. It just reminds you of how powerful the imagination can be of J.K. Rowling to have written this, and I think it’s just a testament to good writing and writing in general and fantasy. And I love the fact that these books exist, so I’m going to read them as much as I can because they’re, I think, the… they’re just my prized possessions.
Laura: And I think what you’re saying… it’s interesting what you’re saying that the story’s the exact same thing every time, but you have changed, and that impacts it a lot.
Caleb: Yeah. I think for me it’s… I wonder if… oh, I don’t think she would have, but if Rowling would know… had any idea how expansive the series would become, even when it started to get picked up by publishers because I think most importantly, the reason why it’s so important for the series to so prominent and reread is because there is something in the series for everyone. Growing up reading it, I found so much comfort in the characters, their stories. Just like you, Kat, talking about how you identify with Luna. I think there’s that moment for everyone in this series. If you’re this big of a fan of it, and if you can find yourself in a piece of literature like that, that is a beautiful thing. So I think that is why it’s so important that it’s talked about, and it’s reread, and it’s taught. Things like that.
Eric: For me, it’s really interesting how early on we knew that there were going to be seven books. Jo said that, I believe, fairly early on in the series. Perhaps right from the beginning, possibly, if not just after. But as a writer I’m struggling to write my first piece of work. I would never go into it saying, “I’m going to make seven books.”
Eric: “I’m going to write not just one, not two, not three. I’m going to plan it all out. It’s going to be seven volumes.” I mean, wow. That’s a lot. And that takes a lot of vision, I think, to be able to do it.
Kat: Round of applause for J.K Rowling.
Kat: Because she definitely listens to the show, so she’ll hear that.
[Caleb and Eric laugh]
Laura: She’s also under the table.
[Audience, Caleb, and Ellie laugh]
Kat: So I think we have time for a couple [of] questions?
Eric: Yeah, we have about five minutes.
Kat: Yeah. Over there.
Audience Member: Hi, you mentioned earlier about James not being unintelligible, but how did you [unintelligible]? I was like, “He’s supposed to look like Harry!” and Harry [unintelligible].
Kat: The physical characteristics for me, from book to movie, don’t matter.
Kat: It’s the way that they write them and the way they portray them. Like this little girl gets so much crap about the color of her eyes.
Kat: It’s unbelievable, and that shouldn’t matter.
Audience Member: unintelligible characteristics.
Caleb: Hmm. I think…
Kat: It is, but yeah.
Eric: I think… no, it’s just a movie choice that was made to not make him look…
Eric: … as close to Harry. I think it’s tough to say what Harry would look like when he grew older. Maybe they were… I mean, you can only guess so closely. But there were steps taken by the producers that took the appearances away from book canon. Even the casting of Petunia who’s, I believe, a blonde in the books. The casting was just different, and I don’t know why they went with it, but they did.
Kat: Who hasn’t asked one, yet? In the back? You there.
Audience Member: Just going back to the [unintelligible], as a Harry Potter fan in their fifties, there’s not too many people… my peers, they think I’m strange and childish and everything, but after I read them four or five times, and they’re like, “You’re going to what?” and I’m just, “I’m [unintelligible] LeakyCon.”
Audience Member: And I always have one friend… actually, when reading the first book… and it just… it encouraged me. They’re like, “If you keep doing this over and over again, there must be something.”
Laura: Mhm. That’s how I finally got my mom to do it. Because she was like, “I’m not going to read it.” She doesn’t like reading. She didn’t want to do this. And she was like, “Oh my God. You’ve read it, like, fifty times. Fine. I just want to know what you’re talking about.”
Kat: But really, like, three times.
[Audience and Laura laugh]
Laura: But no, individually!
[Caleb and Eric laugh]
Laura: I’m just not all the way through. God, shaming me. [laughs] I’m sorry.
Kat: Right here in the front.
Audience Member: I just… what she said about learning things as you read, I’ve personally read it nine times, but as I grew up… the entire series in order. But as I get older, then as soon as I started [unintelligible], I started when I was eight, so as I get older, then I connect more to the characters when they’re my age, and I learn more about things that I didn’t really realize before. Like Sirius Black and how he’s mentioned in the first book. I mean, I didn’t really pick up on that or really wonder about that. And then you’re reading back, and you’re like, “What?” [laughs]
Audience Member: As a father, I’ll just say that nine times, and she’s thirteen.
Caleb: That’s impressive. Yeah, let’s clap for that.
Kat: Okay, we have one more. Whoever wants it bad[ly] enough, you have to do something. Jump up or something.
Laura: Oh, God.
Audience Member: Did anybody…? Has anybody noticed that in the movie the Dursleys are so cartoonish, and in the books they’re actually really hilarious?
Kat: I love the Dursleys.
Laura: Do you?
Kat: I do.
Audience Member: In the movies he’s really cartoonish, and he wasn’t really treated as badly in the movie. He just didn’t come off that he was treated very badly.
Audience Member: When you watch the movie.
Kat: We’ll take one more. Michael, right here. Our LupinPatronus. He does our chapter titles on our episodes.
Kat: There he is. Give him some love. Go ahead.
Michael Harle: I just wanted to address that really great question that Caleb brought up about why we keep rereading this. What’s the cultural relevance and to the human race as a whole? And for me, personally, it’s for the connections I made with family and friends and how I choose to live my life. I read… I started reading Harry Potter when I was ten, and it taught me a lot about how I live my life and how I want to conduct myself. For the fandom, I think it’s to discover the new information, especially through Pottermore, to find those hidden layers. And then, I think, for… looking at this from a film perspective – the relevance of the film and the books – there is always a reason that things get written when they do. Things don’t just pop out in pop culture just because. And I think Harry Potter asks questions that will eternally not have answers. They’ll just keep us questioning ourselves, and I think that’s the most important type of material in pop culture. People just think that they can just take in pop culture and think, “Oh, it’s just for fun.” But the best stuff is the stuff that keeps us thinking forever.
Laura: Very eloquently put.
Caleb: All right. Well, that is all the time we have today. Thank you guys so much for coming out.
Laura: Thank you.
Eric: Thank you very much.
Laura: I want to take a picture.
Caleb: And we will definitely be around the rest of LeakyCon. You can come see us at the MuggleNet booth in the vendor room. We have some shirts and bracelets if you want to come snag those.
Kat: Only 30 shirts. We’re not ever printing them again, so if you want them, get them here.
Laura: They’re exclusive.
Caleb: And if you want to come chat, we’ll probably be here the last couple of minutes before we head out. So thanks again. Have a wonderful LeakyCon!
[Show music begins]
Laura: Thank you!
Eric: Open the Dumbledore!
Caleb: Open the Dumbledore.
[Show music continues]