Thursday, 16 October 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

Where would you live as a witch/wizard?

I think that being a witch it would make sense to live among wizards or at least as far away from muggles and their sharp eyes as possible. I just can't imagine what it would be like to be cautious all the time, to watch my every move and conceal my magic so as not to break the Statute of Secrecy or bring about something worse. I mean, what about taking my Crup for a walk or having a couple of Nifflers around? Growing pumpkins the size of a garden shed? Playing an occasional game of Quidditch with my friends?

The Burrow

Luna's house

Shell Cottage
At the same time, I've noticed that most of the wizarding houses that we've encountered throughout the series - The Burrow, Shell Cottage, Luna's house, Grimmauld Place, Malfoy Manor - stand in seclusion and isolation from the wizarding community; some of them not far away from muggle villages or else smack in between muggle houses. Of course, in terms of distance from work and other wizarding dwellings and places it doesn't matter, because there are different means of transportation that will get you anywhere you want in a blink of an eye, but I think it would be extremely lonesome in any of such places unless your family was as large as the Weasleys or you had an imagination as rich and vibrant as Luna's. But even Luna is starved for friends!

Malfoy Manor

So, taking it all into consideration, I think I would prefer to live in a wizarding village like Godric's Hollow or Hogsmeade or, at the very least, not far away from one of them, where I wouldn't have to hide my magic and be near other witches and wizards.

Happy Birthday to me))

warm slippers and a bath-towel))

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

Quibbler or Daily Prophet?

I have to say Daily Prophet. After all, it is the major wizarding newspaper in England and "it's good to keep up with what's going on in the wizarding world" (Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter One - Owl Post), even if the source of information can be often biased. But isn't it the case with newspapers and other news sources in general, whether it comes from muggle or wizarding world? It did print true stuff when it wasn't under pressure from the Ministry of Magic to keep things quiet and, thankfully, Rita Skeeter is not the only correspondent working there. Ginny Potter worked there as a Quidditch Correspondent and I greatly enjoyed following her reports on Quidditch World Cup that took place this summer in Patagonian desert - just check out Pottermore - it was great. So, on the whole, I believe I would enjoy getting and reading it. I can't find the quote but I think it was Dumbledore who said something along the lines that Daily Prophet is bound to get something right once in a while. Besides, I just can't imagine taking Quibbler seriously and as much as I love Luna I'm so not into Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. However, I would consider it as an alternative source of information (that it actually became for a while) if Daily Prophet continued to print false reports and turn a blind eye on something as important and life-threatening as the return of You-Know-Who.

Monday, 6 October 2014

How do you go about naming seasons and months in a fantasy novel?

This is something that has been on my mind for as long as I have been working on my fantasy novel and I still haven't figured it out. I'm quite sure that I'm far from being original when I say that I want to go with 'moons' instead of 'months'. I understand (or am I wrong in my assumption?) that a lot of authors who write High Fantasy prefer to go with 'moons' and no wonder. I think that 'moon' sounds much more poetic and mysterious than 'month' and, therefore, serves the purpose of furnishing the fantasy world much better. But there are other questions to consider... Should I have four seasons or two seasons? Should I use the established names for them (winter, spring, summer, autumn) or come up with my own? And what about the names of the months? It doesn't matter as far as my novel goes – my characters don't talk about seasons and months - and I think I make it clear that it's set in spring through description. However, as an author I feel it my duty and obligation to know such things.

Many years ago I actually came up with the list of names of the months/moons for the fantasy book I was working on back then - gradually, after years and years of countless drafts and revision, it transformed into the book I'm currently trying to find an agent for. Also, I've recently discovered the list of names of the months given in Farmers' Almanac I hadn't heard/known about before. How come I hadn't, though?! It was established in 1818! That's my favourite time period as far as novel-writing goes - well, as long as the action doesn't take place in the fantasy world of my own creation, of course! Anyway, it turned out that some of them sound kind of similar to mine, which, I suppose, is hardly surprising, considering that I based my names on certain distinctive characteristics of each month and season. So the question is: should I use the established names or my own? The established ones offer a much broader vision and bigger choice than my own, however, I could work on that. In any case, here are both lists:

Farmers' Almanac
(one version)

The name I came up with
Wolf Moon, Old Moon

White Moon
Snow Moon, Hunger Moon

Stormy Moon
Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sap Moon, Lenten Moon
Floods on the Run Moon
Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon
Sunny Moon
Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Corn Planting Moon
Buds in Bloom Moon
Mead Moon, Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, Thunder Moon
Flower Moon
Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon
Shower Moon
Corn Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon
Harvest Moon
Harvest Moon, Full Corn Moon
Yellow Moon
Hunter's Moon, Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon
Misty Moon
Beaver Moon, Frosty Moon

Rainy Moon
Oak Moon Cold Moon, Long Nights Moon
Cold Moon

I mean, look at all these lovely names! There's enough to choose from without coming up with your own stuff - unless you want to, that is. Then, of course, there is another possibility: to name the moons of the year in honour of female rulers in that fantasy world of mine. But I think I actually tried doing that once and I had to give up in the end, because I found that it was extremely difficult to transform most proper names into the names of the months without them sounding completely ridiculous or awkward.

So what do you do, fellow authors? If you write fantasy that requires name change for seasons and months, how do you go about naming them? Does it even matter in the long run (for readers) what seasons and months are called?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

Judging by your family, would you be Muggle-born, Half-blood or Pureblood?

To quote Seamus Finnigan: "I'm half and half. Me dad's a Muggle. Mam didn't tell him she was a witch 'til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him." Half-blood that's me :))

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

Most cringe inducing scene in the series

There are, of course, more than enough scenes of the kind, considering how long the series is, and a great many that have such an effect on me and that I've always had trouble reading - sometimes even skipping completely. However, in my case they all have one thing in common: they're all connected with Harry's moments of failure or stupidity. Unsurprisingly, Harry's most stupid moments that make me cringe happen in my most/least favourite book (according to the number of things that I love and hate about it) - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

But let's start from the beginning. I can never read without cringing how everyone turns against Harry for the first time in PS - that's when he, Hermione and Neville lose 150 points each for getting caught at night after Harry and Hermione had successfully got rid of Norbert but stupidly enough forgot the Invisibility Cloak on top of the Astronomy Tower and poor Neville found himself caught in the drama, because he wanted to warn Harry about Malfoy. In fact, I could never understand why Harry and Hermione felt so ashamed and disgusted with themselves - I mean, they were trying to do they right thing, weren't they? They were helping Hagrid! But, somehow, they felt that they deserved everybody's contempt and hostility. I could never get that. How easy one can fall from grace... Hogwarts students are extremely fickle in their likes and dislikes when it comes to Harry, aren't they?

Another example of what a cringe inducing scene constitutes for me is when Harry inadvertently reveals himself to be a Parselmouth during the Duelling Club in CoS and becomes the main suspect behind the attacks on cats, ghosts and students and a pariah all over again. Even worse for me is the scene in PoA when Harry loses his first ever Quidditch match to Hufflepuff because of the Dementors, falls off his broom and his ever faithful Nimbus Two Thousand gets smashed by Whomping Willow - this is the part that I used to skip until very recently. I just could not get through it. Harry - lost a match?! No way! Grim defeat indeed! Then Ron turning on Harry in GoF, not believing him (!!!) and leaving him to deal with the backlash without his support when he counted on him so much. Most of OotP. Especially, Harry's trip to the Ministry of Magic and its heart-breaking consequences. Ron yelling and leaving in DH... Awful, awful.

And, finally, two scenes that I absolutely hate and that make me cringe the most, because Harry was so incredibly stupid during both of them!  The first is when Harry decides to spy on Malfoy on Hogwarts Express and gets his nose broken.

'Petrificus Totalus!'

Without warning, Malfoy pointed his wand at Harry, who was instantly paralysed. As though in slow motion, he toppled out of a the luggage rack and fell, with an agonising, floor-shaking crash, at Malfoy's feet, the Invisibility Cloak trapped beneath him, his whole body revealed with his legs still curled absurdly into the cramped kneeling position. He couldn't move a muscle; he could only gaze up at Malfoy, who smiled broadly.

He considered Harry for a moment.

'You didn't hear anything I care about, Potter. But while I've got you here...'

And he  stamped, hard, on Harry's face. Harry felt his nose break; blood spurted everywhere.

'That's from my father. Now, let's see...'

Malfoy dragged the Cloak out from under Harry's immobilised body and threw it over him.

'I don't reckon they'll find you till the train's back in London,' he said quietly. 'See you around, Potter... or not.'

And taking care to tread on Harry's fingers, Malfoy left the compartment.

Honestly, Harry!

And the second - so much worse and thus its cringe inducing factor so much higher - when he uses Snape's Sectumsempra spell on Malfoy later on in the book, almost killing him, and Moaning Myrtle screaming murder at the top of her voice. "Harry, Harry, Harry..." as Gilderoy Lockhart would have said, shaking his head and showing all of his blindingly white teeth. "How in the name of Merlin's pants could you have been so utterly stupid?! You could have bloody well killed him, you complete idiot!" It makes me cringe every single time I brave the part and actually read it. 

'SECTUMSEMPRA!' bellowed Harry from the floor, waving his wand wildly.

Blood spurted from Malfoy's face and chest as though he had been slashed with an invisible sword. He staggered backwards and collapsed on to the waterlogged floor with a great splash, his wand falling from his limp hand.

'No - ' gasped Harry.

Slipping and staggering, Harry got to his feet and plunged towards Malfoy, whose face was now shining scarlet, his white hands scrabbling at his blood-soaked chest.

'No - I didn't - '

Harry did not know what he was saying; he fell to his knees beside Malfoy, who was shaking uncontrollably in a pool of his own blood. Moaning Myrtle let out a deafening scream.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

Best "Dumbledore Moment"

I once again turn to HBP and as I do so I realize that the sixth book has a lot of things that make it my favourite book as well as a great many things that make it my least favourite book in the series, some of which I mentioned in my last week's post and will, no doubt, mention in the next week's post too. Of course, Dumbledore, being my second favourite character in the series after Harry, has a lot of excellent scenes throughout the books that I enjoy reading and rereading, but I'm going to go with the one that takes place in the beginning of HBP - Chapter Three "Will and Won't" - when Dumbledore arrives to take Harry to the Burrow and has a little chat with the Dursleys. In my opinion this part is a real gem and here are some of my all-time favourite Dumbledore moments and quotes: 

There in the doorway stood a tall, thin man with waist-length silver hair and beard.  Half-moon spectacles were perched on his crooked nose and he was wearing a long black travelling cloak and a pointed hat.

'Judging by your look of stunned disbelief, Harry did not warn you that I was coming," said Dumbledore pleasantly. "However, let us assume that you have invited me warmly into your house. It is unwise to linger overlong on doorsteps in these troubled times.'

He stepped smartly over the threshold and closed the front door behind him.

'It is a long time since my last visit,' said Dumbledore, peering down his crooked nose at Uncle Vernon. 'I must say, your agapanthuses are flourishing.'

'Ah, good evening, Harry,' said Dumbledore, looking up at him through his half-moon glasses with a most satisfied expression. 'Excellent, excellent.' These words seemed to rouse Uncle Vernon. It was clear that as far as he was concerned, any man who could look at Harry and say 'excellent' was a man with whom he could never see eye to eye.

He [Dumbledore] drew his wand so rapidly that Harry barely saw it; with a casual flick, the sofa zoomed forwards and knocked the knees out from under all three of the Dursleys so that they collapsed upon it in a heap. Another flick of the wand and the sofa zoomed back to its original position.

'We may as well be comfortable,' said Dumbledore pleasantly.

'I would assume that you were going to offer me refreshment,' Dumbledore said to Uncle Vernon, 'but the evidence so far suggests that that would be optimistic to the point of foolishness.'

A third twitch of the wand and a dusty bottle and five glasses appeared in midair. The bottle tipped and poured a generous measure of honey-coloured liquid into each of the glasses, which then floated to each person in the room.

'Madam Rosmerta's finest, oak-matured mead,' said Dumbledore, raising his glass to Harry, who caught hold of his own and sipped. He had never tasted anything like it before, but enjoyed it immensely. The Dursleys, after quick, scared looks at each other, tried to ignore their glasses completely, a difficult feat, as they were nudging them gently on the sides of their heads. Harry could not suppress a suspicion that Dumbledore was rather enjoying himself.

Dumbledore paused, and although his voice remained light and calm, and he gave no obvious sign of anger, Harry felt a kind of chill emanating from him and noticed that the Dursleyes drew very slightly closer together.

'You did not do as I asked. You have never treated Harry as a son. He has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands. The best that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon the unfortunate boy sitting between you.'

Both Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon looked around instinctively, as though expecting to see someone other than Dudley squeezed between them.

'And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.'

Ah! I just love this chapter. It has both the humour and the serious and it's so Dumbledore!