You could probably analyze the series and isolate various elements to recreate the Perfect Literary Storm--a fantasy world full of realistic whimsy, a focus on kids and/or young adults (which opens your audience up to children), some humor, a willingness to go dark, etc.--but I really think the reason the Potter books have succeeded is because Rowling wrote them from her heart and, on some primary level, for herself. She probably needed these books as much or more so than anyone else who's read them. She's mentioned in the spate of interviews this week that her own mother died fairly soon after she began writing the series (at age twenty-four!), and that her own parents are what she'd want to see in a real Mirror of Erised. And there she was on public assistance, writing about a lonely, hungry, neglected, unappreciated boy who wakes up one day to find someone telling him, "You're actually a wizard, and a really good wizard, and we're going to take you away to a place where you'll flourish and excel and make friends and find a family of your own. Here, have some cake." It's not someone in a marketing department sitting down and trying to figure out what kind of wish fulfillment would appeal most to kids; it's someone writing what (I think) she herself needed at that moment. And I think that's what makes so much of the series ring so true--those little love stories I was talking about, many of them parental in nature: that need to be loved, to feel supported, and the feeling that you can now go out and do what you have to do because that heart-hunger has been satisfied. I think Rowling cuts so close to the bone with these issues that people--kids, adults, everyone who loves the books--feel it on a gut level, and I think it comes from a gut level; I think she did anything but sit down and calculate what would touch people. I guess I'm tealdeering on about this because it's a point I've tried to make before: You can't calculate what you're going to write in cold blood and be any good at it. In other words, you can't write romance novels for the money if you secretly hate them. So what I'm saying is, when you sit down to write next time, keep an eye out for the themes and patterns that resurface again and again in your writing, for the things you need to say for your own sake, that you need to have out there for yourself as much as for anyone else. Because, chances are, you're not the only one who needs it. That's what "writing from the heart" is, not that sappy Hallmark shit, and that's what people will respond to.
Uh. Anyway. Potterspam:
Your ''Hallows'' questions, answered!
Radcliffe: My take on ''Deathly Hallows.'' Aww, I knew he'd love playing a death scene.
JKR Gives Original Last Line Containing the Word "Scar" and More In Part Two of "Today Show" Interview.
Audio of J.K. Rowling USA Today Interview Now Online.
"Entertainment Weekly" Special Issue on Harry Potter (scans of the major pages here).
lyn_thorne: "Also, did you see the Bellatrix figurine that Gentle Giant is doing? It's frigging amazing! (About 1/3rd down the page.)" Whoa. I just got pwned by a statue.</p>
going to chambr of sekrets, brb.
Aquafina labels to spell out source - tap water.
'Reefer madness' is real, study says.
Gene therapy patient dies; trial shut down.
‘Last Supper’ theory crashes Web sites.
Report Uncovers Astronauts’ Heavy Alcohol Use; Report Says Astronauts Flew Drunk. This is not even to speak of the laptop that was "lost in space."
Prankster dentist wins tusk case.
Buddha Cat is at peace with the world.
ailaes: "Thought you might enjoy this - Berlin Zoo introduces children's book [and it's all about Knut!!]."
Tons of extra movie news courtesy of Comic-Con, so hold on tight:
Actual Joker photo and hi-res Dark Knight teaser. Caveat: It's basically the actors' voices over a shifting Batlogo, but you do hear Heath Ledger and he sounds awesome. Also: The Dark Knight 's WhySoSerious.com Updated, includes Joker dossier; click the glowing dot on the right side and you can get to the teaser from there as well.
FIVE MINUTE GOLDEN COMPASS PREVIEW SQUEE. Pan! Lots of Pan! Pan speaking! The golden monkey! Serafina! IOREK! I actually started getting chills near the end, although I can't put my finger exactly on why. Also: SDCC 07: The Golden Compass Director Speaks; SDCC 07: Golden Compass Booth Tour (attn: fellow costume hounds: includes a good look at Eva Green's Serafina costume on exhibit).
Comic-Con: ‘Watchmen’ Poster Revealed!; Official Watchmen Site Online!; Comic-Con: ‘Watchmen’ Release Date Announced, Dr. Manhattan Will Be All CG.
From Cloverfield Clues, which I promptly added to my Google Reader: 1-18-08 - Photo #5, 1-08-08 - HIDDEN MESSAGES!, Rob's Friends on MySpace?, Cloverfield Posters - Series of Four, NOT Monstrous! (" 'I wanted something that was just insane and intense. It's almost done shooting and I watch dailies and I'm more excited for them than the trailer, which has had an overwhelming response. We have 6 months before this comes out. We're going to have a whole bunch of things, a whole bunch more.' He said a full trailer, more clips, full posters, and much more will be coming out over the next 6 months, including the name, which he will NOT reveal today").
And from 011808: "Just a heads up - the Slusho site has been updated!" Plus: LJ feeds for the new character MySpaces. Bless.
Comic-Con Lost Panel Tid Bits, including which characters they intend to continue doing stories for (I mean, not exclusively, but--go read it, you'll see. Nothing terribly spoilery, unless you want to go into season four absolutely cold).
The Mist Rolls Into Comic-Con.
SDCC 07: Exclusive: 3:10 to Yuma Interviews; SDCC 07: 3:10 to Yuma Footage.
New Line's Shoot 'Em Up Panel. (ETA: "Clive Owen is a sexy bitch." Pictures.)
Beowulf Writers Talk From Comic-Con.
Neil Gaiman interviewed at Time, gives thoughts on Harry Potter. "Is he about to cross over from the weird world of cult fame to the equally weird but more lucrative world of actual, real-world, mainstream fame? 'Oh, God," says Gaiman. 'I hope not.' "
trailer_spot: Ulrich Mühe, Venice, Posters, Beowulf, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Dragon Wars, Lust Caution, Bourne Ultimatum.
Coming Attractions: We Know What You're Not Seeing This Weekend; Five scathing I Know Who Killed Me reviews. Spoilers at that last link, but not as many as I'd like; this is totally one of those movies I want spoiled to hell and back for me opening weekend so I can laugh at how ludicrous the plot is without ever having to see it.
Stills from Reese and Jake's "Rendition."
New Iron Man Poster.
Depp Bites Into Dark Shadows. "Depp has said in interviews that he has always been obsessed with Dark Shadows and had, as a child, wanted to be Barnabas Collins, the vampire patriarch of the series." Huh. Really. That... kind of explains a good bit.
Susan Sarandon joins the cast of The Lovely Bones.
Has Clint Eastwood retired from acting?
Doh! Simpsons Creator Miffed at VT Choice.
Mars' Dohring Vamps In CBS Series Moonlight.
Posh and Becks to appear on 'The Tudors'? Wait... what? How does that work, exactly? And how could that show ever be fabulous enough for Posh?