Friday, January 9, 2015

On Harry Potter

I have been intending to write a post about Harry Potter for a while now, but I never could find the rights words. Everything either seemed too "in your face" or too passive. Well, I think I have remedied the situation by realizing that my family has a rather unique age situation at the moment.

You see, I am currently 17 years old and a senior in high school. My sister, codenamed Merry for this blog, is 13 and in middle school. My other sister, codenamed Pippin, is 10 and in elementary school. While our different ages sometimes lend themselves to arguments, it also leads to very interesting takes and perspectives.

I read the seven Harry Potter books over the summer. Merry read them after me. And then I read them out loud to Pippin so she wouldn't feel left out and I could lessen some of the more violent scenes (Merry listened while I read them out loud).

So all that to say, instead of giving just my opinion on Harry Potter, I decided to interview Merry and Pippin so you could have all three of our opinions! Wasn't that nice of me? >:)

Oh yeah, and I interviewed them SEPARATELY. I was surprised at how similar some of their answers were.

Also, there are SPOILERS ahead.

Kaycee = Red

Merry = Purple

Pippin = Green

And just so my fellow Harry Potter fans can get a feel for our personalities...

What House would you be Sorted into?

Kaycee: Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart! *holds aloft imaginary sword*

Merry: Hufflepuff! :)

Pippin: I'd be in Slytherin and I'm proud of it! Being a Slytherin just makes me fabulous. If I were in something like Gryffindor, I would not be as fabulous.

Which character do you think you are most like?

Kaycee: James Potter. I get his sense of justice, his disregard for rules that don't make sense, and *sighs* the feeling that you have to punish/bully those who are seen as evil. I struggle with being judgmental.

Merry: Don't call me Nymphadora! XD

Pippin: Harry. We have the same Myers-Briggs type.

Which character's voice do you think Kaycee did the best?

Merry: Kreacher. >:) But they were all really good!

Pippin: Ron. Or Hermione.

Kaycee: Harry's voice was the best. *cheeky grin* (I used my normal voice for Harry)

Now on to the interview!

What, in your own words, is Harry Potter about?

Merry: Harry Potter is about a boy who was chosen to be more than what he wanted to be.

Pippin: It's about defeating Voldemort and stuff. Horcruxes. That sorta thing. When you think about it, the horcruxes are actually the main thing throughout all of the books.

Kaycee: It is a seven book series following the pre-teen and teenage years of Harry Potter and the adventures therein.

Why do you think Harry Potter is so popular?

by Viria- DeviantArt

Pippin: Cuz of how awesome it is.

Merry: I think it is popular because it is such an amazing story. It is probably the best story I have ever read, and I'm sure many others feel the same way about it.

Kaycee: I think part of the reason I delayed in reading Harry Potter was because I was positive it could not live up to the hype, as most popular novels cannot. I was wrong. Harry Potter is one of the deepest, most fun, most well-thought out, most exciting novels I have ever read. It deserves every bit of the fame it has acquired. I believe that is why it is phenomenally more popular than most books. It actually deserves it.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Dumbledore obviously has no favorites. :P
Pippin: Draco Malfoy because he may be a jerk but he knew he had to be a Death Eater because his dad was one. He didn't have a choice. But he only did what Voldemort told him to do because he loved his family. He was trying to save them.

Merry: My favorite character is Ron. I like him because he is relateable and not-perfect. He struggles through things, he struggles through envy and jealousy, yet he always works to overcome that. Plus, he's just adorable.

Kaycee: Being a writer, my favorite character is Severus Snape. I was instantly drawn to his character the moment he appeared in the first book, hating Harry for no apparent reason. As the series progressed, I enjoyed reading his scenes more and more. I did not necessarily like him, but I loved his character. And J.K. Rowling ended his tale so heart-breakingly, and so perfectly, that I am still astounded. However, if I weren't a writer, my favorite would probably be Hermione. Being a writer makes things complicated. You like complex characters instead of good characters.

Which book is your favorite and why?

Pippin: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was the most interesting to me. It explained a lot.

Merry: My favorite book in the series is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I like how it gives Draco Malfoy a character, how he's not just the school bully anymore. I don't really know, it was just interesting. It was different from the others, I mean, Voldemort's not really in it, but he's still a huge deal... if that makes any sense. It was just fun for me.

Kaycee: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite, though I enjoyed the entire series. PoA had the best elements from the other novels all in one book. The climax had the excitement and the intensity of the Deathly Hallows, without the camping build-up. It had the mystery of the Half-Blood Prince without the heartbreak. None of the angst present in Order of the Phoenix or Goblet of Fire made an appearance. It had less plot-holes than the Chamber of Secrets, and it was more intense than the Sorcerer's Stone.

Which movie is your favorite and why?

Pippin: The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Cuz it was epic.

Merry: My favorite movie is Deathly Hallows Part 2. It was just epic, for one thing. I like that Ron is not an idiot at all in it. I thought it was a really good ending.

Kaycee: Prisoner of Azkaban. While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the films, I feel like the director of PoA, Alfonso Cuaron, truly captured the feel of the Harry Potter novels, while also staying true to the plot.

What was your favorite part of Harry Potter and why?

Pippin: It was all really good. I liked the part where Hermione slapped Draco. That was awesome. And I liked the part where Bellatrix DIES!

Merry: I don't know if I can pick a favorite exactly. I just really enjoyed feeling that you were there in the books. You feel like you're having the adventure with Harry.

Kaycee: Right after finishing the Sorcerer's Stone, I remember setting the book down and feeling intensely relieved and happy. It was so refreshing to find a novel, a popular novel, that managed to surprise me. Not through the plot (I guessed the ending of SS, I'm proud to say, though that's the only climax I guessed correctly), but through the writing. That was the best part of reading Harry Potter.

What have you learned from the Harry Potter novels?

Pippin: Being in Slytherin doesn't make you evil. Just because someone might be mean it doesn't mean they're evil, and just because someone is nice it does not mean they are good.

Merry: You can't do everything on your own. You need help from others, and you need to accept that you need help from others. You will always have more than one choice in any situation. There are always choices.

Kaycee: Never, ever, take the word of someone who has neither researched nor read what he or she speaks of. Always do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

And now we're getting into it...

How do you feel towards the magic in Harry Potter?

Pippin: It's not bad because there is good and bad magic in Harry Potter. There is Defense Against the Dark Arts and then there is the Dark Arts, It's like in The Little Mermaid. Ursula does bad magic, while Triton does good magic.

Merry: I know that practicing magic in the real world is bad. But in a fantasy world, there can be magic because it doesn't have to come from Satan. In the book there is good and bad magic, and the book is very clear on what is good and what is bad.

Kaycee: I find this to be the biggest complaint brought up against Harry Potter. It's shocking how many people do not take the time to even research this, so allow me to tell you a thing. The magic in Harry Potter is, first of all, genetic. Either you are magical or you are not. There is nothing religious or spiritual involved in the magic. Second, Hogwarts is not technically a school to "learn" magic, it is a school to "harness" magic. The students learn how to safely utilize their magic so that they won't accidentally hurt anyone. The wands allow the wizards to focus their magic. The spells are Latin based words that are a bit like mental stepping stones in helping the wizard control his or her magic. They are not prayers. There are no seances or Wicca or Satan worshiping in Harry Potter. The magic is genetic.

So I feel the same way towards it as I do a person's hair color. It doesn't bother me in the least, as it shouldn't.

Why do you think so many Christians are wary of the Harry Potter novels?

Pippin: Because they think the magic is bad. But it's not bad. They are not worshiping Satan or dancing around cauldrons or anything. It's a lot like the powers in Frozen. Elsa had her magic inside her. It's a lot like the magic in Disney movies or in Lord of the Rings.

Merry: I think some Christians don't like it because they make things up about it, and they convince themselves it's true. They make up that there are real spells or witchcraft in the novel, then believe it. I don't think they like the idea of magic, even fantasy magic, at all.

Kaycee: I love being a Christian. I love that Christ has given me grace. I love that he has given everyone grace and freedom. Through Christ, we are free from worry, from judgement, and from death. The love that He has shown me, even though I am a horribly judgmental, opinionated, stubborn, sinful person, compels me to be better. It makes me want to be like Him.

It's sad, then, that Christians are notoriously judgmental, harsh, condescending, self-righteous control-freaks.

I think it is fear that keeps Christians from researching and prayerfully considering aspects of our society. Christians are so terrified of tainting themselves or their children that when anything unknown or foreign comes into their narrow-minded view, they squeal, leap behind their barricade of rules and order, shove their children beneath stifling Law, and screech hatred at the world.

We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. That means we do not get to seclude ourselves in a Christian bubble. We are to be witnesses, even unto the ends of the world. We cannot only read books labeled 'Christian'. We need to understand what the world loves, and how we can witness from that.

Harry Potter is a good book with many worthy and moral themes that I completely agree with. Not all of the themes, but most of them. It is also clean. There is no inappropriate romance, no excessive cussing, no vomit-inducing gore. All in all, I'm impressed that a book with such conservative themes has become as popular as it has. It is a safe and easy way to create a witnessing tool for those who do not know Christ. Compare Harry's story to Jesus'. Compare Dumbledore's faults with God's perfections. If even Severus Snape can become redeemable in the eyes of a fanbase, how much more can God redeem us. The possibilities are endless.

And yet, many Christians hate Harry Potter because they hate anything that is hard. They don't want to challenge their faith. Personally I believe that if your faith can be taken down by a few fictional novels written for middle-schoolers, your faith, and your god, is weak indeed.

Am I encouraging Christians to read books like, oh, Fifty Shades of Grey? Absolutely not. Am I encouraging all Christians to read Harry Potter? No. Like I said, I read the books out loud to Pippin so I could skim some of the violence for her. Just please, attempt to do some research before you make yourself, and Christians everywhere, look so utterly stupid! Research and pray before reading a book you are unsure about. God will give you the answer, either through the research or He will let you know in your heart or through Scripture. If you don't feel God wants you to read Harry Potter, then don't read it! But do not condemn those who do, especially without researching it.

All in all, I think some Christians are wary of Harry Potter because it is a "worldly" book that has gotten famous enough to actually register on their static-filled radars. It has interrupted their regular scheduled programming, and now they are screeching their complaints. Complaints that sound a bit like a soft "hem hem" with a "I WILL HAVE ORDER!" *wink wink amiright?*

Aaand there you go! My, and my sisters', review of the Harry Potter novels. I'm reading Lord of the Rings aloud to them now. I'm looking forward to that interview! You'll probably get much less of my angst. Unless the subject of she-who-must-not-be-named comes up (*vomits* *coughs* Tauriel), then I can make no promises. But I really don't see how the subject will come up seeing as she's NOT IN THE BOOKS!

Wow. I am just really angsty today. I mean, I was ranting about Harry Potter one minute and then I turned it into Tauriel. Geez. I think I'm hungry. Yeah, that must be it. I need a sandwich. Bye-bye. I leave to eat the sandwich.

On Monday, I am will be posting what I have learned about writing sequels. :)

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Writing and College and Movies and Life and Excuses!

I have a mental image in my mind of myself in a pointed hat trundling up a path on a wagon, and you are all standing there with your arms crossed. You glare at me for a moment, then in an affected arrogant tone, you say "You're late."

My reply: "A teenager is never late. Nor is she... oh... hehe... he...erm..." *flees*

I am sorry for my long absence. It seems I not only underestimated college classes, but I also overestimated my resolve to post more often. The last semester was insane. But you do not want to hear my excuses! Please accept my apology, and rest assured that I will do better. I think I've got this college thing figured out. 

Oh! Speaking of college! I was accepted into my first choice of college- NC State! I am incredibly excited about starting in August. I've been wearing lots of red and black recently. 

As far as my writing goes, I entered my Beauty and the Beast short story into Rooglewood's contest. I'm pretty nervous. I do wish mine would be selected, but if it is not, I'm sure the Five Enchanted Roses collection will be amazing. I can't wait for it to come out!

Hail Frost is now my primary focus. I feel like I owe all of you an in-depth update, so here it is! 

I wrote Hail Frost two and a half years ago, when I was fifteen. At that point, I had intended the Leverage Series to be a seven book series. Since then I have now realized that is a terrible idea. Not only would it be wrong for the story, but it also would be wrong with me. I have many, many different story ideas, and I don't want to write seven Leverage books. I cut it down from a seven book series to a trilogy. I completely changed nearly everything about the story after Ember Flame, creating the need to completely rewrite both Hail Frost and what was formerly called Flake Frost (It now has a new name). 

The story is much better now. Much more concise, much more exciting, and far more interesting. I am excited to share it with all of you, but that is the reason it was not published in 2014 as I had truly hoped it would be. Now, I'm hoping for May-July 2015. 

On a more fun note, I went to see Disney's 'Into the Woods' today. It was completely excellent! I loved it! I intend to write a review on it soon. 

I am considering going to see Annie. I'm not sure yet. Many reviewers did not like it, but I suspect many of them to be fans of the original Annie. Personally, I never liked any of the other Annie movies, and the trailers for the new one caught my attention, especially this portrayal of Annie. She seems so much more real and so much less obnoxious. I don't know. I will see it, but I don't know if I will see it in theaters or not. 

I will not be seeing The Hobbit 3 in theaters. I will make myself watch it though, once it comes out. After all, I can't write a review unless I see it. >:)

Ahem. My angst aside, I have some pretty fun blog posts coming up! Oh, and I am also starting this new deal where I tell you what my next blog post is going to be AND when it will be coming out. Accountability, eh? 

On Friday I will share an interview I conducted with my two sisters in which we discussed the different aspects of the Harry Potter series. There will be spoilers because Pippin (10) has lots of opinions. That trait totally does not run in my family. And I totally did not get that gene. Cough.

Anyway, I am very happy to be back! Next time I disappear, feel free to yell at me. I'l crawl back from whatever cave of textbooks I have hidden myself inside and post! Thanks for reading. I love y'all! *hugs*