Transcript #259

MuggleCast 259 Transcript

Show Intro

[“Hedwig’s Theme” plays]

Andrew: Because we finished reading The Casual Vacancy – at least one of us did – this is MuggleCast Episode 259 for October 28th, 2012.

[Show music begins]

Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 259. Eric, Selina, Micah, and I are all here this week. Hello gentlemen and lady.

Selina: Hello.

Eric: Hello.

Andrew: Fair lady.

Micah: Hello.

Eric: This is so odd…

Selina: I know. [laughs]

Eric: …seeing you, Andrew, in your Google headband and monocle.

Andrew: Yeah, we’re doing a Google Hangout chat to talk. It’s fun.

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: I like it.

Micah: It’s interesting, we’re all dressed up for Halloween.

[Selina laughs]

Micah: I’m not… except for Selina. I’m not quite sure what she is.

Andrew: I don’t even see Selina.

Selina: I know.

Eric: Selina is a black hole.

Selina: Well, mine was just a green screen, so I turned it off because that was weird.

Andrew: Oh.

Selina: Look, I’m just green.

Andrew: Maybe your camera is just broken.

Selina: Maybe. So, I was like whatever. [laughs]

Andrew: Eric, could you get closer to your mic? You’re still low compared to everybody else.

Eric: Sorry, I have to…

Andrew: That’s much better.

Eric: I pretty much have to hold the mic like this.

Andrew: Oh.

Eric: What do you have? You have like a mechanical arm.

Andrew: Yeah.

Eric: Dude, I’m just going to get one of those.

Andrew: Yeah, you should.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: So, we have some news to catch up on and we also are going to talk about The Casual Vacancy. A couple of people have finished it. Not everybody, however.

Eric: Yeah.

Selina: Nope. [laughs]

Andrew: [laughs] And we have some emails to… wait, did you not finish it, Selina?

Selina: No. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh no.

Eric: Whoa.

Micah: Do you know what happens though?

Eric: You were the closest!

Selina: No. [laughs]

Micah: Wow.

Andrew: Yeah, you were the closest. What happened?

Micah: So…

Selina: I didn’t read anything. [laughs]

Eric: The ball has been dropped.

Andrew: So, it all comes down to Micah. [laughs] The MuggleCast review of The Casual Vacancy is actually the Micah review of The Casual Vacancy.

Eric: Wow.

Selina: Yay.

Micah: All right.

Andrew: So, we’ll talk about that in a little bit, but first the news. Micah, what is happening in the world of Harry Potter this month?

News: JK Rowling in New York City

Micah: Well, it’s really the world of JK Rowling, [laughs] not the world of Harry Potter

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: …because she’s been out on her promotional tour for The Casual Vacancy and she made a stop in New York City a couple of weeks ago. And some of us were there.

Andrew: Yeah, how was that?

Micah: It was good. It’s always good to kind of see everybody get together, minus a few obviously – Andrew and Selina, we didn’t see you there – but it was kind of like a mini reunion…

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: …of sorts. It was kind of like Chicago all over again, but with a few less people. And it was fun. Not to be too critical of the person doing the interviewing, but I didn’t find her that engaging, and I’m forgetting her name right now but she really… she seemed to be way more of a fan than a professional, and so… I mean, I can understand that being in the presence of JK Rowling and being responsible for interviewing her, but I really felt like it was more about her [laughs] and less about JK Rowling, and she talked way too much and JK Rowling didn’t talk quite enough.

Eric: Well, authors tend to have a shorthand that they talk to each other in sometimes because this…

Micah: Like a pimp hand?

Eric: No, a shorthand. [laughs] A pimp hand. No, it’s a vernacular, it’s vocab. So, they talk to you… so, she was asking… I think her name was Ann and she was an author and she was asking Jo about her creative process and things like that, and so some of the questions she would ask I found that I was very interested in because I like to look into writing and I found those questions interesting. But there was… I was uncomfortable at certain times when she was just talking about her own writing and her own work, and here I am wanting to learn more about JK Rowling. So, if they had a time limit – and they did – I feel like it could have been better used to ask even more questions of JK Rowling because getting your book signed… that was not the time to ask Jo a question. If you wanted to have your question asked, it needed to be done… submitted in the weeks prior. And the questions that… well, some of the questions that Jo was being asked during the event were submitted, but on the whole – and they even joked about this – she had a stack of cards with everybody’s questions on it and really probably only got to about five of them that night, out of fifteen or twenty it looked like.

Micah: Right.

Andrew: I think it’s important, though, to have somebody who is really excited about being in the presence of JK Rowling though.

Eric: That’s true.

Andrew: You know?

Eric: That’s true because she, in a way, then represented all of us who were…

Andrew: Yeah.

Eric: …just as excited.

Andrew: Definitely.

Micah: Yeah, but I think the other part of it, though… you have to remember that the people there paid to see JK Rowling.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: They didn’t pay to see Ann Patchett, that was her name.

Andrew: They only paid thirty-five bucks, though. [laughs]

Micah: I know, but how many opportunities do you get to see JK Rowling and to listen to her talk? I thought overall it was great, though. She read from a passage in The Casual Vacancy and really that part that Eric talked about, that Q&A…

[Drum roll plays]

Micah: …was very, very short, from the fans themselves.

Eric: Yeah. Yeah, that definitely was. And even the reading. She did a reading…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But I found the whole evening was kind of short. We ended up waiting quite a while afterwards to get our stuff signed, but…

Micah: The hour deadline… I say deadline, but that’s kind of what it was like. They stuck to that hour time frame very, very strictly. It literally ended right at nine o’clock and they moved it over to the signing portion.

Andrew: And that’s obviously because JK Rowling had a lot of books to sign, I’m sure.

Eric: Two thousand, yes.

Micah: Just a few.

Eric: A thousand more than she was even going to and I’m so glad that she still decided to do that for everybody, but…

Andrew: So…

Selina: Did she sign everybody’s books?

Eric: Yeah, she signed every one.

Selina: Oh, man.

Eric: And not only that, everybody got a new copy of the book because there’s no way to facilitate “bring your own Casual Vacancy,” whatever. They had… we all got a brand new book and it was already… the flap was already in the page so that you just open it up and it was right to the page that Jo would sign, which is the fifth or sixth page.

Selina: Wow.

Andrew: So, Eric, what did you say to Jo?

Eric: So… [laughs]

Micah: Uh-oh.

Eric: I’m laughing because…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: …I asked Micah this question afterwards. No, no, no, I asked Micah… I’m going to… I don’t want ruin this, I don’t want to spoil this for Micah, but I asked him afterwards. I was like, “So, Micah, what did you say to Jo?” and he says, “Uhhh, you know, nothing.”

[Andrew and Selina laugh]

Eric: And I was like, “What do you mean?” and he was like, “Oh, you know, I may have said thank you afterwards.”

Micah: I did say thank you.

Andrew: Were you speechless, Micah?

Micah: No, it goes by very, very quickly and what else are you going to say? I said thank you and… she actually fumbled with the book when she was giving it back to me, so…

Andrew: She was nervous to meet you.

Eric: Whoa, you had that effect on her.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Yeah. [laughs]

Andrew: But… well, Eric, what did you say?

Eric: Yeah, I said… I had a script, I had a thing that I played with while I was waiting in line. I knew that we’d only have three to five seconds.

Andrew: Right.

Eric: So, I came up with this speech and I didn’t introduce myself. Several other people from MuggleNet were like, “Hey, I’m so and so from MuggleNet,” and she was like, “I love MuggleNet!” and stuff. I didn’t waste that time. I basically said… what did I say? “Thank you for continuing to put pen to paper. You have a wonderful voice,” – meaning writing voice – and, “I love your simile and metaphor.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: And she said thank you.

Selina: Awww.

Eric: That was it. That was what I did. And as she was signing the book… and then I got pushed to leave, so that was it.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But that was really… that was what I was looking forward to the most out of this event. We can criticize the…

Andrew: Yeah, definitely.

Eric: …question and answer, or whatever, but actually just being able to thank her in person – there’s the eye contact, that kind of thing – for everything that happened with Harry Potter. And it wasn’t a Harry Potter event. People were not allowed to bring anything Harry Potter-wise into the line. Nothing at all. But still, I wanted to thank her in person for that impact. So, this was a good opportunity for that and I’d say it was well worth the trip.

Andrew: I did watch the video, the first fifty minutes of the event, so I got a good sense of that interviewer and the atmosphere and the audience. And it seemed like a complete… everybody there was a huge Harry Potter fan. I don’t think anybody there has never read Harry Potter or…

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, they were hardcore JK Rowling fans. So… well, it seems like everybody had a good time. I had a couple of other friends who went, and they said it was a great time as well. I know when…

Micah: Well, afterwards was even better.

Andrew: Why?

Micah: We went to this bar and did these Harry Potter shots.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: I think we’re old enough to say that at this point on the podcast.

Eric: Did you just say that afterwards was better than the JK Rowling event?

Andrew: [laughs] Because alcohol was involved.

Eric: I’m pretty sure that’s what you just said, Micah. We are adults.

Andrew: I saw photos from that, the place that was doing the Harry Potter Fireball Whiskey shots or… what was that? They were on fire! The shots were on fire!

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: They were on fire.

Eric: And…

Andrew: And the bartender had a Harry Potter scarf, and… good stuff.

Eric: There were incantations. He gave us a scarf, and a hat, and a wand, and we were supposed to… what is this place called? Do you remember, Micah?

Micah: It’s called the Barcelona Bar.

Eric: Barcelona Bar in New York City. And this… you wouldn’t be able to… it’s hard to find from the outside because there’s currently scaffolding on the building, but Micah’s friend, Nicole… not Danielle, right?

Micah: Not Danielle. [laughs]

Eric: Not Danielle. Nicole…

Micah: Eric called her Danielle the whole time.

Eric: …knew about this. She didn’t even say anything. Nice girl, right?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Didn’t even say that I had her name wrong the whole time, but… no, so they have these specialty shots from all different literature and movies and pop culture and stuff, and the Harry Potter shot involves them literally handing you these props, asking you to cast a spell, and then he lights them on fire, these… the more the merrier is just… so we had nine, and he lights them on fire and he’s shouting some kind of… it was kind of adult what he was saying, weird rambling crap about Harry and his trials at Hogwarts, but then the fire just keeps going and going and going and going and eventually he blows it out and you’ve got this very hot, cinnamon-y, kind of apple shot to drink.

Andrew: That’s awesome.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: Well, good stuff. Glad that all worked out. Did they have a… but they knew ahead of time you were coming, right? The Harry Potter

Micah: No.

Andrew: What?

Eric: No, they just regularly offer… and I wonder if I took any pictures of the blackboard, but it’s like a chalkboard and they have all the list of all their different shots. There’s an Indiana Jones shot…

Andrew: Oh, wow. This place sounds awesome.

Micah: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah, and they just do different things. Well, that’s the thing, is the shots, I feel, really saved this place…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: …for… otherwise…

Micah: Well, it’s a hole in the wall. That’s what he’s trying to say.

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: And that’s what their moneymaker is, is that they do themed shots.

News: JK Rowling’s Future Writing Projects and Pottermore

Andrew: Oh, okay. Cool. So, there’s been lots of interviews about The Casual Vacancy and, of course, most of them have involved Harry Potter. I got to say, a lot of these interviews were very repetitive. [laughs] I’ve been getting very bored with each new one that comes out.

Eric: I feel bad for JK Rowling. [laughs]

Andrew: I know! And she has to answer every time like it’s some big revelation that she’s saying. One of the questions was, though, what will be her next book? And she does say that it is likely to be a children’s book. She hasn’t committed to it yet, but she has two children’s books and one other adult book I think she has pretty much written at this point. And one of them, for six to seven year olds, is the one she believes is going to be her next book that’s released.

Selina: I’m so relieved. [laughs] I don’t think I can handle all that grown-up stuff.

Eric: Oh, really?

Andrew: But are we to be… as adults now, are we to be even excited about a book for six or seven year olds? It’s just going to be some children’s picture book, right?

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: There’s no way that I’m going to get into this next book of hers. I can tell already that it’s just going to be… it’s going to be a great book, I’m sure, but it’s not for my age type.

Andrew: Of course.

Eric: I can already see myself going, “I’m not…”

Micah: Yeah, but you’ll collect it at the end of the day. You’re going to go out and buy it, right?

Eric: I really don’t know.

Andrew: I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll buy it.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: I’ll definitely go to the bookstore and read it, but…

Selina: I’ll buy it.

Micah: Selina is going to buy it.

[Andrew laughs]

Selina: Yeah, I’m going to buy it [laughs] just to… no, I think that it’s going to be really interesting because I think where Jo really went out of her way this time to show that this was not Harry Potter and she was writing for adults in this really real story. I feel like now she’s going to be writing for children. She’s going to… she’s proven herself, you know? She’s going to go write something, I don’t know, fantastical in some way? At least that’s my hope. And while it might be for a lot smaller children, I think I’ll still really enjoy it. Maybe that’s just more about me, though. [laughs]

Andrew: No, yeah, it will definitely be a fun book, I would think, and something whimsical. I would have no reason to buy it, really. I mean, we’re entering this era now where it’s like, do I buy every JK Rowling book no matter what? Or what do I do? Do Stephen King fans…

Selina: Right.

Andrew: …buy every single Stephen King book?

Selina: I think they do, actually. [laughs] But…

Eric: He’s written like fifty of them, though.

Andrew: But that’s probably because they’re all for adults.

Eric: Yeah.

Selina: I guess that’s kind of the thing, is that did The Casual Vacancy prove to you that you are, in fact, a JK Rowling fan, or are you just going to accept that you’re – quote, unquote – just a Harry Potter fan? That’s the difference.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. Anything else…

Micah: That’s a good point.

Andrew: …that she has said recently that’s been of interest in interviews?

Eric: She had a few interesting things to say about The Casual Vacancy, like specifics about The Casual Vacancy, during that interview at the Koch Center. But otherwise, in interviews I think it’s been kind of, like you said before, repetitive. Nothing terribly new and interesting about that.

Micah: Yeah, there is one Potter comment about wishing that she could still speak with Dumbledore, but I feel like that’s something that she’s said before in the past.

Eric: She has.

Andrew: Mhm.

Micah: So…

Eric: And I’m like if anybody can speak to Dumbledore still, it’s JK Rowling.

[Eric and Selina laugh]

Eric: She could… I don’t know why that’s a complaint because she could just write a paragraph where she talks to him, or a page or two, but…

Micah: Now, we know that she hasn’t ruled Potter out in the future if something does come up, but do you guys think we will see another Potter novel, whether it be ten years from now, fifteen years from now? I don’t understand how she could have that much knowledge in her head and not want to go ahead and put it down on paper again if there is a good story that she can write.

Eric: I think what’s in her head are the bits and pieces, the fragments of stuff, like stuff that never made it into the first book because it’s not relevant. I think what she means when she said she still walks in and out of the walls of Hogwarts, and if there were a good story that came upon her as being worth telling she would tell it. I think what that means is she needs another central character because she’s done with Harry. So, where in the timeline and where in that world is there another kind of story that’s equally interesting, or that’s going to appeal to her in the same way that Harry’s hero’s journey over the course of seven years at Hogwarts arrested her and got her to tell it. So, I think that’s what it is. What she’s looking for is another character to follow, or another journey that…

Selina: Albus Severus.

Eric: Yeah, Albus Severus. It could be Harry’s direct kid or it could be somewhere else in the world at another school or maybe at an orphanage, [laughs] maybe at a senate seat of a high council.

Selina: Oh God. [laughs]

Eric: More political. It could be a more political book, it could be a vastly different book than Harry Potter but in his world, is what I…

Selina: That’s kind of true, and I never really thought about that because I always assumed if she was going to go back to Potter, she would either write about Harry’s children or Harry’s parents or the founders of Hogwarts. I never really assumed she would go anywhere else, but you’re absolutely right. She could write about Beauxbatons or something, we have no idea.

Andrew: She has said that Harry’s story is finished, so…

Selina: Right.

Eric: Yeah, so…

Andrew: We’ll never see more with Harry as the lead character. I do think if she does return to Harry Potter, it will be a while from now because she has said in these interviews that she has multiple books prepared in the pipeline and it seems like none of those are Harry Potter.

Eric: That’s true, although there is Pottermore, and I did want to ask you guys if you’ve continued or finished Chamber of Secrets on Pottermore yet because quite a bit of the book is available now, isn’t it?

Andrew: Yes. Yeah, I mean, I’ve been through it. We’re going to get the final Chamber of Secrets chapters this upcoming week.

Eric: Okay. The reason I ask is because I wondered about the new content that she continues to release on there. At least, for now, that seems to be the only place where we’re going to get Harry Potter content from Jo, though.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Eric: Summarizing those interviews that she said.

Andrew: It feels like an encyclopedia is very unlikely in the near future. I think Pottermore has to be completely finished before we can even start considering the idea of an encyclopedia happening.

Micah: Yeah, I agree. And I think, from what I remember going through, I know when the next set of chapters was released for Chamber of Secrets, I did start the process of going through and looking at the new information, but I don’t think I made it all the way through, so I’m not up to this next set of chapters that are going to be released in the upcoming week. But… and again, nothing kind of stood out to me, Andrew. I don’t know if it did to you, about those chapters. There’s no really big information that I can remember.

Andrew: No. Let me look through my notes. There was… they had… there was a new piece on King’s Cross Station, there was a new piece on purebloods, new piece on Peeves, new piece on Hogwarts ghosts, and new piece on Draco Malfoy. So, there were five new sections of writing from JK Rowling, which was cool. This next one is believed to have information on the Sword of Gryffindor, the Chamber of Secrets, and ghosts. Just in time for Halloween, appropriately enough.

Eric: Well, I’d like to know more on the Chamber of Secrets for sure.

Andrew: Well, if you can’t…

Micah: Well, follow the spiders.

Andrew: If you can’t wait, lucky for you, there is this… I’ve learned in the past week there is this Pottermore hacker…

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: …and he got into the new Pottermore stuff early. And this guy is legit because he’s done it before. The content that he unearthed before is real.

Eric: Wow.

Andrew: His name is SnitchSpirit. He games the system to get all these extra points and stuff. It’s crazy. So, I have a link there in the show notes and it goes to a Google Doc. We didn’t publish it on Hypable because I didn’t need Pottermore knocking and being like, [in a stern voice] “Take that down, that’s illegal.”

Eric: Yeah, yeah.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: But it’s still up on Google Docs, and we won’t read it yet. We should get back to going through some of this new content.

Eric: Sure.

Andrew: Because I… there’s a boatload of stuff. I mean, the Chamber of Secrets and the Sword of Gryffindor entries are pretty long. I imagine the ghosts entry is pretty long as well. And as you guys recall, in Halloween years past here on MuggleCast, we’ve done ghost-themed episodes.

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: And actually, we’re all dressed up for this Halloween episode. It’s just that nobody can see us.

Selina: [laughs] It’s so cool!

[Andrew laughs]

Selina: I wish I could do it, too.

Andrew: We should take a… somebody can take another picture if you want, with the bigger screen.

Eric: Selina, you should still add some effects. See if you still can add some, like, facial hair to your green screen.

Andrew: I don’t think it will work, though, because Micah’s didn’t turn on until his full face was in the camera.

Selina: When I tried doing it before, I just started a drumroll by accident…

[Everyone laughs]

Selina: …which I’m sorry about.

Eric: If you… go to props. I think it just places a prop right in the middle no matter where you are.

Selina: Oh yeah, I see it.

Eric: With the birthday cake? Click it, see if… does that work?

Micah: But… and I don’t like saying this, but as it relates to Pottermore…

Selina: Yay!

Micah: …I’ve just… I’ve lost interest.

Andrew: In Pottermore?

Micah: Yeah, and I just don’t find myself running to the computer maybe as I did at the beginning to see what new information she’s going to put out there. It’s just…

Andrew: Really?

Micah: It’s not that exciting.

Eric: Well, that’s a personal choice. It’s your personal journey through Pottermore. I think what turned me off about the Chamber of Secrets was that they’re only releasing four chapters at a time, instead of doing a full book like they did with the first book.

Selina: Yeah.

Micah: Right.

Eric: So there’s that. But I know for a fact that one day when I’m feeling the Harry Potter vibe, I’m going to go in and read it all. I will do it. I’m not going to say that somehow they’re failing at interesting me. It’s my own personal thing. I’ve got plenty of things going on in my real life: joined a gym, trying to finish Casual Vacancy, all this other stuff.

Selina: [laughs] It’s a tough job.

Eric: It’s not ready for… I’m not ready for Pottermore yet. I’m going to let it in and I’m going to read it all, but probably only after all of it is released. Three chapters at a time thing is killing me.

Selina: For me I feel like it was so important while the show… while the series was still going on, it was so important for me to learn every tiny little detail. But now, I’m kind of with Micah in that I’m not so excited for every little piece of information, but I still really want to know about the characters. I still really want to know more about the backstories of all these people like McGonagall and everything, but things like how ghosts work and stuff kind of feels irrelevant to me now because we don’t need to use it for anything.

Eric: Yeah, because there’s not going to be a new story necessarily…

Selina: Right.

Eric: …where the ghosts… everything the ghosts were ever going to do in a Harry Potter book has already happened.

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: So, I guess that’s what you mean.

Selina: Yes, that’s what I mean.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: I think they have to release the chapters in these batches of three or four at a time because that’s how people… that’s when their traffic spikes. And the Pottermore CEO said that. They’re trying to combat that right now, find out ways… figure out ways to get people coming back on a regular basis because they admitted that the traffic spikes when there are new chapters released, and rightfully so. I mean, imagine how much longer we would… okay, let’s say they release a whole book, you tear through it in like half an hour…

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: Forty-five minutes, and then you’re done for six months. See you later! [laughs]

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: Right, they have to stagger it. That’s the whole point, I agree.

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: And I like how they’ve taken a completely different approach. If you look at their marketing campaign, it’s changed a little bit. Now they’re trying to get people excited all over again with the whole “Follow the spiders.”

Andrew: Yeah, tell us about that. So, in all seriousness, did Pottermore… did they reach out to MuggleNet, like, “Hey, put these ads on your site”?

Micah: Yeah, pretty much. [laughs] That’s what they said. They said, “We’re kind of really trying to gear up and get people excited about the final chapters of Chamber of Secrets,” and I think that they’re going to probably look to do more of that, even, moving forward, because it gives something extra. It’s something that people can kind of reflect on at the same time, too, because maybe you remember it from the movies or you remember it from reading the books, and it’s a cool concept. Follow the spiders, see what happens.

Andrew: Definitely.

Micah: So…

Eric: [as Ron] “Why couldn’t it be follow the butterflies?”

Selina: Awww. [laughs]

Micah: I knew he was going to do that. I was waiting for somebody, and I figured Eric would do it.

Andrew: What else is in the news, Micah?

MuggleCast 259 Transcript (continued)

News: Harry Potter: The Exhibition Returns to NYC

Micah: Well, we talked…

Andrew: We’ll get back to Casual Vacancy in a bit.

Micah: Yeah, we talked about this a little bit – maybe it was the last episode – that Harry Potter: The Exhibition is returning to New York City after spending much time abroad – or maybe not much time abroad, depending on how you look at it – and it’s going to be here the… when is November 3rd? This week it returns. This Saturday, I want to say?

Andrew: Yeah.

Eric: Nice.

Micah: To Discovery Times Square, and…

Andrew: Just in time for Election Day.

Micah: Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what they were looking to line it up with. [laughs]

Andrew: No, for the holidays, actually.

Micah: For the holidays, and they have mentioned that there will be props from both Deathly Hallows movies, which there may not have been the first time around. Possibly from Part 1, but definitely there was nothing from Part 2. And they’re also going to look to do a couple of holiday themed areas in the exhibition, so…

Andrew: Oh.

Micah: …it should be fun.

Andrew: So, are you going to go again? You’ve been before, are you going to go again?

Micah: Yeah, I think I’ll go again just to see the new props, and the holiday stuff sounds cool.

Andrew: I haven’t been yet. Maybe I’ll have to go with you. Can we go on a date?

Micah: Yeah, sure.

Andrew: Yes!

Micah: Are you going to be back for the holiday season?

Andrew: Well, yeah, of course. [laughs] Yeah.

Micah: Are you going to visit the family?

Andrew: Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah.

Eric: Oh man.

Micah: Can your sister come?

[Everyone laughs]

Selina: Oh my God.

Eric: This is just getting wildly off topic.

Andrew: No, but I…

Micah: And the rest of your family, of course.

Andrew: Right, of course. I haven’t been to the exhibition yet, so I’m interested in going to it. I was just curious if it…

Eric: I’m surprised you haven’t been.

Andrew: I’m just… well, it’s never been where I’ve been, you know what I mean? It was probably in New York while I was there, but I never… it was in New York while I was there but I was just like, “Yeah, whatever.” But this time I won’t take it for granted. I was just curious, Micah, as someone who has been before because I’m sure there are people listening who may ponder going again.

Micah: Yeah, I’m interested to know…

Andrew: How much?

Micah: …what the price tag on it is.

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: Yeah, I haven’t taken a look. I know tickets are on sale already, but if you remember, the last time that this opened there was a huge DVD release and they…

Andrew: Right.

Micah: …kind of blew the whole thing out with the red carpet. The DVD was for… was it Deathly Hallows: Part 1, maybe, at that time?

Andrew: Yeah, it was Part 1. Mhm.

Micah: And it just happened to coincide with the opening of the exhibition in New York, so it was a really big, big event with a lot of the actors and actresses from the series.

News: Harry Potter Stopped Andy Murray from Reading

Andrew: I’ll do the last news story of the day because I wrote about it. Tennis star Andy Murray – I just wanted to bring this up because this is too funny to me – he was asked recently about his reading habits, and he blamed his lack of reading on Harry Potter. He said, “I don’t read books. I mean, I go on the Internet a lot and I read stuff online, but I don’t read books. I haven’t read a book since I was about fourteen, fifteen. I got halfway through the third Harry Potter book. It was the first one that was really, really big. It was like 600 pages. I stopped around 200. I haven’t read a book since then.”

[Andrew and Selina laugh]

Micah: Wow.

Eric: Yeah.

Selina: Well… [laughs]

Andrew: First of all, I think he was talking about Goblet of Fire, but nonetheless, how pathetic is this? [laughs]

Eric: This is bad. This is like… you know that phrase, “You can’t turn everybody”? This is just… this is one of those things. And he’s blaming the length of a Harry Potter book…

Andrew: I know.

Eric: …for his not reading? I’m sorry…

Andrew: That’s the best part. [laughs]

Eric: Well, the length? No, I’m saying there are much longer books out there – like Song of Ice and Fire, for instance – that I think are far more capable of turning people off reading due to their length. But yeah, Harry Potter is not a difficult read. Even if it’s… the only one that I ever found hard to get through was the fifth one, and that’s only just because there’s so much and I was rushing myself to do it in a short amount of time. I don’t know, this substance… I don’t get him.

Andrew: That’s an interesting…

[Random sound plays]

Andrew: Oops, sorry.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: That’s an interesting question. Has anybody… Eric, why was number five so hard to get through? Just the length? What…

Selina: I loved the fifth one.

Andrew: Just the material, were you saying?

Eric: There were… in terms of pacing. Like “4.” There’s never a dull moment, I don’t think so, in Goblet of Fire. In Order of the Phoenix I think there are several moments, and as a reader you disagree with Harry, so it’s a lot slower to actually go through and enjoy and read. But no, I never would have stopped. I was still interested in the end the whole time, and of course it’s a middle book, so she had to close old holes and open up new plots and stuff, so it was very technical. It was like this is the book where you kind of have to do everything to set it up for the future books. So, it was very boring to read as a result, as opposed to being the exciting story that… for most of the book, Harry is really moody.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Voldemort, we don’t know… he’s back, but we don’t know what he’s up to, so…

Selina: Oh, this is too much… Once Upon a Time, I was going to call this. [laughs] There’s too much Order of the Phoenix hate. I love that book.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s my favorite.

Selina: Mine, too. Yay!

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I like the movie, to be honest. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that.

Selina: I did, too. I thought it was a good distillation.

Andrew: I did not like the movie. Least favorite movie.

Selina: Aww.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I think it was a needed distillation.

Andrew: Micah or Selina, did you have any trouble getting through a Harry Potter book ever?

Selina: No. [laughs] I’m going to say no. I was trying to think of one, but I was like, no.

Micah: I don’t think so, no.

Andrew: It’s hard for me to remember.

Micah: Here’s the thing, though. Having seen the movies first… well, I was going to say having seen the movies first, sometimes you try and rush through a book and want to just get it over with because you technically already know what happens. But I think in parts they are so different that you did learn more information.

Selina: Yeah.

Micah: In a way, I’m kind of comparing it…

Selina: Books are so much better.

Micah: Yeah, I’m kind of comparing it to the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones.

Selina: Yeah. [laughs]

Micah: I was rushing to get through that book. I couldn’t wait for it to end…

Selina: I think it’s exactly the same.

Micah: Because it’s exactly the same, exactly. So… but with Potter, no, I liked reading it. And I read I think it was the first five books in one summer before the next year Half-Blood Prince came out, so… nah, my answer is no.

Selina: Yeah, the only one that I did find I struggled to get through was the final one, but that was only because I didn’t want it to end, you know?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Right.

Selina: [laughs] That’s really why. People kept dying and I was like, “I don’t want to read anymore if people are going to die!”

Andrew: Right, yeah. Harry Potter fan problems.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: Don’t want it to end. Yeah, I know what you mean. I’ve suffered that. I think probably with Deathly Hallows I guess, yeah. But yeah, I can’t think of any book that’s particularly been difficult in terms of Harry Potter for me to get through. Okay, so I think…

Eric: Nothing like the wall I hit when I started reading Casual Vacancy.

Main Discussion: The Casual Vacancy

Andrew: [laughs] So, I think that’s it for Harry Potter news unless there’s anything else anybody want to bring up?

Micah: No. Let’s talk about The Casual Vacancy.

Andrew: Let’s talk about Casual Vacancy. Let me… I’ll start the conversation by explaining why I haven’t finished Casual Vacancy yet. I have decided I’m not going to finish the book.

Selina: [gasps] Dun, dun, dun!

Eric: What? Like ever? Ever, ever, ever?

Andrew: Ever. Ever. It’s on my bookshelf. I like having it there, it looks good. But I don’t understand why… I just… I realized a week or two ago that I shouldn’t be forcing myself to read a book I’m just not interested in. Why should I sit here and force myself to read this when I want to read other books? I’m reading Divergent by Veronica Roth right now, by the way.

Eric: Oh, okay.

Selina: Plug.

Andrew: But I just don’t understand why I would want to continue reading this. I’m not going to force myself to read a book just because it’s JK Rowling. I’m not going to convince myself I like it when I really don’t. And this is just my opinion. People enjoyed the book, and I’m glad they did. This is just my view of it.

[Cricket sounds play]

Eric: I agree you shouldn’t force yourself.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Did you have…

Selina: [laughs] Sorry.

Andrew: Good use of sound effects, Selina.

Selina: That was me! [laughs]

Eric: Oh, God.

Micah: What did you say, Eric?

Selina: I’m sorry.

Eric: Yeah, I agree that you shouldn’t force yourself to finish a book that you don’t want to finish, and…

[Prolonged silence]

Selina: Uh-oh.

Andrew: Did he drop?

Selina: Yeah.

Andrew: He dropped. [laughs]

Micah: He froze.

Selina: Well, that’s fun with video. [laughs]

Andrew: So, Selina, why haven’t you finished the book?

Selina: No, I… Oh, God. I feel kind of the same way as you, even though I am going to finish it. But after our discussion last week, I actually left it feeling a lot more positive about the book. You know what I mean? I actually… we were discussing all of the things that I initially thought, “Ugh, this is…”

[Cricket sounds play]

Selina: [laughs] That’s not me this time. That I originally thought were a problem actually wasn’t a problem. It’s just a different book than Harry Potter, which… and a different book than I was expecting. I was expecting a thriller and it wasn’t a thriller. But then I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to finish it!” And then I just didn’t. [laughs] And then it became a thing where every time I sat down to finish it, the idea of it just made me so depressed because it made me depressed reading it the first time around. But it’s so stupid because I’ve got like sixty pages left. I am going to finish it. It just became a thing where it felt really negative and I didn’t want to go into it feeling down, you know what I mean?

Andrew: Mhm. But you do plan on finishing it.

Selina: I do.

Andrew: Okay. Eric, what was the second half of what you said? You froze up.

Eric: Oh, I… yeah. No, I plan on finishing it as well even though I haven’t. I feel like I need to validate the time I already spent on the book.

Andrew: Yeah.

Selina: Right.

Eric: Not that it’s that terrible, either. I know by now… look, it’s a completely different book than what I was expecting and it’s not the type of book I would normally read. It’s going to be depressing, it’s going to upset me, reading it and hearing about nothing positive happening to the characters. Look, I like happy endings. That’s the bottom line. I know this book is not going to have one, but I feel like… again, doing this show, I feel like I need to because I read all of the Harry Potter books, I do feel like I need to read her next book. I feel compelled to understand her; I feel like it will help me to understand her better as an author, and also other stuff, where I just feel like I should and I have to finish it. But also I want to, so there’s that.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s fair.

Eric: I’m saying… good for you. Good for you for saying, “I’m not going to force myself to finish it.” Don’t, that’s fine.

Andrew: But you bring up a good point, too. I did read a couple of major spoilers about The Casual Vacancy, so I do know how [laughs] it ends. Now, Micah, what did you think of the book, as the brave soul who conquered it?

Micah: [laughs] Yeah, it was easy for me because I spend a lot of time going back and forth from the city, so I do have the ability to read it on the train casually, no pun intended. And I did feel it pick up as the book went along, and that was kind of one of the criticisms I feel like we got from people who had finished the book in a short period of time and were listening to our show, and they said, “Well, you guys have only read about a hundred pages. Is it really fair to do a review? Is it really fair to criticize the book overall?” And I actually liked it, at the end of the day. It’s very dark. There’s a lot of depressing things that happen along the way. There are some funny moments, too, but I don’t know what else to say other than I thought it was a really well-written book. I won’t call it a good book. It’s certainly something that you shouldn’t walk away feeling good about. I know JK Rowling said that she’d be shocked if people didn’t cry at the end.

Selina: Right.

Micah: I didn’t cry, but…

Selina: She would be shocked!

Micah: Yeah, I could certainly see why people would.

Andrew: Mhm.

Micah: It is a very sad ending to the book.

Andrew: Yeah, I think Jo was expecting you to get really connected to her characters. That’s why you would cry, I think. So, it…

Selina: See… sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I was just going to say I think that is the thing that I’ve seen people have issue with, with this book. It’s not that it’s not well written, or that it’s not an engaging story, it’s that… I’ve had people respond to me on Twitter saying that basically it feels like they’re reading about a bunch of Dursleys. You know what I mean? [laughs] That’s what… and I totally see that. Once they said it, I was like, “Yes! That’s what it is. Most of these characters feel like Dursleys.” And maybe it is because it’s JK Rowling and we have been pre-taught that we’re not supposed to care about Dursleys. I don’t know what it is, but I found it really difficult to care about most of these characters.

Eric: There’s no hero among them.

Selina: Right.

Eric: Or the hero is… no, there’s no flawless hero. The hero among them is flawed, and it’s all this very big gray area. It’s not good versus evil, it’s evil versus slightly less evil, or a different kind of badness.

Selina: And there is Krystal, and she’s great, and I care about Krystal, but… and I care about some of the others as well, but it’s just… I don’t know. Yeah, sorry.

Micah: Yeah, I think the main hero, if you could even call him that, is not even in the story for the most part, and that’s Barry. He dies right at the start. And not to say that he was flawless, but he’s probably the closest to anything resembling a hero in the story, though I think Krystal is brought up. JK Rowling mentioned her, as she did mention Sukhvinder, if I’m saying that the right way…

Eric: Yeah.

Selina: Sukhvinder, yeah.

Micah: …because of how she acts at the end of the story, without giving anything away. But we lose that heroic-type figure within the first several pages of the book, and we learn later on that really, he was flawed because he neglected his family to really get behind this whole campaign as it related to… what’s the area called again?

Eric: The Fields.

Micah: The Fields, yeah.

Eric: But he was a champion for good, in general. He saw the best in these students no matter what their class was, and things like that. He was a good guy, and he seems to be one of the only good guys that there were in that town, which is a shame for that town. But ultimately, if I’m asking myself, “Well, what kind of book do I want to read today?” it’s not going to be about these kinds of characters. I think that JK Rowling’s book is more realistic than I would prefer, even, although it does take something, some skill, considerable skill, to take what is in the world, the difficult subjects to talk about, and actually make a book about them. But I realized when reading this that I very clearly prefer more fun, hobby…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: …less serious work. I really do. I need to be entertained. I can’t be gripped in this way by this type of medium.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah, I don’t know.

Micah: Yeah, it’s very dark. And it’s a different kind of dark, I think, than Harry Potter, at certain points. And that’s not to say that there aren’t some kind of crossovers between the two books, but I really just feel like this is definitely an adult novel in every sense of the word, and if you go into it thinking that you’re going to get anything resembling Hogwarts or Harry, Ron, and Hermione, it’s just not going to be the case. And it shouldn’t be. That shouldn’t be the anticipation going in because this is a completely different book and a completely different set of circumstances and different characters.

Selina: Right.

Micah: And there’s no magic. At all.

Selina: It was a character study. A really long, drawn-out character study about how Barry and his death affected the lives of people. Normal people who were living normal lives, tragic lives. And that is great, but some people, especially people who are fans of stuff like Harry Potter, might not want to read something like that, and I think that’s fair enough.

Eric: Well, one of the reasons that I said to JK Rowling, “I love your simile and metaphor,” is because honestly, the metaphors in this book – or actually, more particularly the similes – are what get me through it. She talks about Samantha sliding into a landslide of pleasant drunkenness and stuff, and while I was reading that I was laughing because I’m like, “Oh, that’s a funny way of saying that.” That’s what was getting me through the book at certain points, were these words that JKR was using to describe what was actually happening. So, that for me was the uplifting… was the only humor in the book, really, is in the narration and the kinds of ways that the narrator views these characters as being contradictory or whatever.

Andrew: So, Micah, if somebody comes up to you and you talk about JK Rowling and Harry Potter or whatnot, do you recommend The Casual Vacancy to somebody? Would you recommend it to anybody? And if so, who? What type of person…

Micah: Have they read Potter?

Andrew: Yeah, let’s say they’ve read…

Micah: Are you saying a Potter fan comes up?

Andrew: Let’s say they’ve read Harry Potter, maybe they’re not a huge Harry Potter fan, they’re a casual… they’ve read the books. I mean, who would you recommend this book to? That’s the question I’m asking.

Micah: That’s a tough question…

Selina: Yeah.

Micah: …because I don’t know necessarily who this type of writing appeals to, and who this… these themes kind of appeal to on a larger sense. Because I don’t think it’s a book… and I said on the last show and I still believe in having finished it, it’s not a book that I would have picked up just off the shelf.

Andrew: Mhm.

Micah: So, that’s what makes it hard for me to recommend it to any one person who likes a certain type of literature. This is kind of very real. You get a real sense of these characters and who they are because you see them behind closed doors and you see inside their minds on a regular basis, and you know who they are and the raw individual of who they are and how they operate. And I think it’s just a larger depiction of society as a whole and how everybody has issues that they deal with, and these are just very real descriptions of people, and that’s not always that fun to read, in my opinion.

Andrew: Yeah.

Selina: This is actually the type of story that I could see going on a curriculum…

Micah: Yeah.

Selina: …of some sort. You know what I mean? It reminds me a lot of… in Danish schools we read a lot of social commentary, kitchen sink stuff, like The Bell Jar or some book about a boy who lived in the ’50s and had a fish, and then you read all about this fish, and then the fish dies, and then the book ends, and you’re like, “Okay, [laughs] what did I just read?” That’s the type of story that it is, which is just teaching you about regular life, regular people going through regular… it’s kind of teaching you about human emotion.

Micah: Yeah. And it’s… whether you’re talking about Andrew’s father – not your dad, Andrew…

Andrew: Oh.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: …who’s just a complete and utter brutalizer. He beats his children, he beats his wife, and then you switch over to… is it the Mollisons who he has this really… is it the Mollisons? Who’s… and this is part of the problem too, I think, is I can never get all the characters lined up in a row, with the exception of a few. The one who goes through these really… it’s Fats’ father.

Eric: That’s Cubby. Cubby Wall.

Micah: Cubby, yeah, who goes through these moments of pure anxiety, and these are real things that people deal with, whether you’re talking about domestic violence or you’re talking about anxiety and fears, and things like that. You kind of strip everything away from these characters, with the exception of when you see them out in the delicatessen, or you see them out at some sort of event that’s taking place throughout the little town that we’re in.

Eric: Well, interestingly if this book were to be assigned reading, like in a curriculum, like Selina said, the topic was touched on in New York at the Koch Center when JK Rowling was asked to really prescribe an age limit to her book about what age she feels Casual Vacancy is appropriate for, and the result was… and Jo is the last person to say, “You need to be this age to read this book,” but she feels that it’s right around… the correct age of maturity to deal with the older and admittedly adult issues of this book was about 15 or 16, she said. A 15- or 16-year-old girl could possibly be able to handle this book. So, we’re looking at… if it’s in the US schools, junior/senior year of high school this would be a book that Jo feels would be the right age to have that book be read. And we’ve got an email about that, actually, about a listener who we’ll read in just a couple of minutes, but she’s a little younger. And I know that Keith Hawk, for instance, from MuggleNet, his daughter went to the JK Rowling event for Casual Vacancy. She has a signed copy of it, but he is not allowing her to read it for several years as a parenting issue, and I completely, actually support that. She understands that, too, that it’s a little adult for her at this point. So, I find that interesting that there were people in attendance that were too young for it, that their parents were… are still not going to let them read it, and JKR herself recommends an older age group for this book.

Micah: Right. Well, I agree with that, and I think, when you look at the themes, that’s a reason why. And it’s not to say that they won’t understand them, necessarily, but I think to be exposed to them at that age is certainly questionable. So, there’s a lot of dark stuff that happens in this book.

Muggle Mail: The Casual Vacancy Feedback

Andrew: Well, let’s get to the emails now. This is from Rebecca, 32, of Missouri, and she writes:

“I think it’s wrong to assume that most of the readers of ‘Harry Potter’ would not be interested in this new novel. I’ve always been a big reader and was 19 or 20 before I read the first ‘Harry Potter’ book. Until then, I was never a fan of anything fantasy. In fact, I first discounted it because it was fantasy. I think people need to give the new book a chance. I feel like the book was clearly not going to be anything like ‘Harry Potter’ and to expect such was wrong on the part of the readers. It can’t be compared to ‘HP’ on any level. The only similarity is the author.”

Did anybody say it was going to be… I don’t know if anybody was like, “Oh, it’s going to be similar to Harry Potter.”

Selina: No. I don’t think… the only thing I thought… I made an assumption about this book. I thought it was going to be a mystery novel.

Andrew: Mhm.

Selina: And, of course, maybe I shouldn’t have done that, but it was hard not to when there was no information released about the book at all before it was released, you know?

Andrew: Yeah.

Eric: I think we could guess that it wasn’t going to be anything like Harry Potter, but I at least thought it would be uplifting, and it wasn’t.

Selina: Right.

Eric: So, there’s that, and that is my response to this email, is…

Andrew: That’s fair.

Eric: …look, whoever is… the reader… the writer of this email said she’s always been a big reader. That’s great. I haven’t been. HP was the reason I started reading and was the reason I actually appreciate any book. It ties back to Harry Potter, and one of those reasons is that Harry Potter is very uplifting. This book, I see it as a crafty depiction of real-world reality and real villains and the variety of bad people in the world, but it’s not for a minute something that I think that I would prescribe to another Harry Potter fan simply because the Harry Potter books are so uplifting and rewarding, and this book is not. So, that’s why I wouldn’t recommend it to a Harry Potter fan because it doesn’t give me the same warm feeling that those books do. And that has nothing to do with fantasy. It has everything to do with the type of characters.

Micah: Yeah, and I think the inclination though, coming in, is to compare Potter to it, whether it’s fair or not, and that’s just the way that things were going to go – primarily, I think, with the media because they love to do that kind of thing. And when you create what can arguably be called the most successful book series of all time – at least of this generation; there’s nothing else close – and then you write another book, it’s going to be compared, and that’s the way that it goes.

Andrew: Next email is from Ally K, 31, of South Australia.

“I had not read much of ‘The Casual Vacancy’ when I listened to Podcast 258 because I also had been finding it difficult to get into, and following all the characters was confusing. I started to feel that perhaps I would actually not enjoy this book at all. How wrong I was! I have now just finished and I need to talk about it so badly. Oh my God, what a story. Very grim, very raw, but unfortunately very real. I have been utterly touched by the lives of yet another set of Rowling’s characters. If you have not finished it yet, I urge you to keep on. It gets better as you continue along. Having said that, the story is so very depressing that I do not feel any need whatsoever for a sequel story. As a little side note, I kept thinking of Frank McCourt’s ‘Angela’s Ashes’ as I was reading it, and felt it had a similar tone and similar issues. Love the podcast! Keep up the good work.”

So yeah, I mean, I guess the best part about this book is that it is real, and that’s why it is such a great story because real stories don’t always end in happiness like Harry Potter did, to some extent.

Eric: Right.

Andrew: So, could you argue in that case that the book is good in that it is real? Jo doesn’t…

Selina: Sure.

Andrew: …cut edges to…

Selina: Sure.

Andrew: …cut corners to make a happy ending. You know what I mean?

Selina: I think it definitely… that makes it a really unique, raw piece of social commentary, but there’s a difference between a book being good and someone enjoying it. Does that make sense?

Andrew: Yeah, definitely. Next email is from Katarina, 23, of Salt Lake City.

“Hey MuggleCasters, it was great hearing about ‘The Casual Vacancy’ this episode. Just curious what your thoughts are if JKR had written and released ‘Casual Vacancy’ before the ‘Harry Potter’ series. Would our image of her be different?”

Eric: Yes.

Selina: Probably.

Andrew: First of all, we wouldn’t know… yeah, that’s an interesting question because The Casual Vacancy… I guess we would all have tried to read The Casual Vacancy after reading Harry Potter, right?

Selina: We would probably have assumed that, in Harry Potter, it was going to get a lot more realistic, there were going to be a lot more… like Harry and the Dursleys, there were going to be a lot more hard-cutting truths about what actually went on there, you know? The kind of abuse that were… some people are assuming that he went through, and that I think Jo has even said that he went through, and I think as the characters grew older we probably would have expected to see more… not rated stuff, that’s not the right way of putting it. You know what I mean, though? Just a bit less for children.

Micah: I don’t think The Casual Vacancy gets written without Harry Potter, meaning that I don’t think this book ever would have been written by itself, by JK Rowling, because I never… it’d be very hard for it to gain traction, and I think…

Selina: That’s a good point.

Eric: Well, she wasn’t looking for traction when she wrote Harry Potter, though, either.

Micah: Yeah, but this doesn’t have mass appeal, in my opinion.

Eric: Oh, okay.

Micah: Whereas Harry Potter does, and did. She talked a little bit about this during the event at Lincoln Centre and talked about how she has continued to use publishers as opposed to just self-publishing because she could have really self-published this book if she chose to. She wouldn’t have had that luxury if this was her first novel, and I just can’t see this having the same level of success and allowing the door to open for Harry Potter. I think Harry Potter opened the door for this book to be made.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I can’t imagine how this book would have sold if it didn’t have JK Rowling’s name on it. It’s an interesting question. It’s something that I would definitely want to know the answer to, but we will never know. Next email is from Jacqueline, 19, of New Hampshire:

“Hi, I’m a long-time listener so first, thank you for all your hard work you put into the podcast. I’m one of those people who’d probably have picked up ‘The Casual Vacancy’ without…”

[laughs] Speaking of the subject.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: [continues]

“…JK Rowling’s name attached. I like the subject of class warfare, I’m interested in politics, and I love character-driven stories. I was a bit disappointed you didn’t feel the same. That’s not why I’m writing, though. You spoke on the subject of how centric the novel was to areas in Britain, and how Americans would gain more insight from it than Europeans. I have to disagree. I live in statistically one of the richest states. However, I probably live in one of the smallest, most poverty-stricken towns within that state, though seemingly picturesque. Pagford and the Fields constantly reminded me of my town, with the neighboring, more affluent towns being Yarvil. Perhaps this is why I found the book so relatable. I went to school with Krystal Weedons and my best friend’s dad is Simon Price. One of ‘The Casual Vacancy”s greatest strengths, in my opinion, is its complete honesty and portrayal of reality. This reality of poverty and drug abuse and absent parenting, et cetera, isn’t confined to any region, county, or place.”

Eric: Okay, I can see that.

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: So, Jacqueline is then the perfect example of the person you would recommend this book to. [laughs]

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.

Micah: Based on the fact that she says she likes these types of novels…

Andrew: Class warfare.

Micah: Right. And yeah, I agree with her. I think that one of the things that stands out for this particular book is its portrayal of reality, and how honest it really is. It really strips people down and shows who they are at their very core.

Eric: I can see that if you knew somebody, or lived in a town that was like Pagford, and you knew people like this… and I’m sure we all actually know somebody like at least one of these characters, to be honest.

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: But I can see how that would help you to either get through the issue… to not feel so alone, that somebody else gets it, because there are quite a lot of unsavory people in this book, and knowing that somebody can lay them bare and strip their secrets out for other people to read about is actually quite comforting.

Selina: Right.

Eric: That we’re all human in our own very, very deeply flawed way. So, there’s that.

Selina: Yeah, that’s a good point.

Eric: I’ll take the next email from Lily. This is the girl who wrote in about her age. She’s 12 from Australia. She says:

“Dear MuggleCast, I am a new ‘Harry Potter’ fan as I am only 12. Now that JK Rowling has released ‘The Casual Vacancy’, I cannot read it because my parents said I was too young. She…”

Meaning JK Rowling.

“…always said she wanted to get children reading, so why do you think that she wrote a book for adults? Thank you. Love the show. Lily.”

So, I think there’s a very quick misunderstanding here, where I think she already did get children reading with the Harry Potter books. And I don’t think that her only goal ever, being an author, was to just get children reading. That was a very fortunate side effect for her previous work. But I think ultimately JK Rowling’s goal, as an author, is the same as any author which is to write, and anything, and really exercise and say things that are important and whatever message that happens to strike you at the time.

Andrew: And also, I think JK Rowling cannot write for children forever. She wants to… she has the freedom now to write for whoever she wants. So, that’s the simple answer, Lily. I’m sure, in time, you may understand it a little bit more. But don’t worry, it’s not because… she doesn’t hate you or she’s changed her mind or anything. She just wants to write a novel for adults…

Selina: Yeah.

Andrew: …just like we now do podcasts for different audiences.

Selina: And I think there are other cases… Lily, you’re 12 now. When we started reading Harry Potter, we were 12. You know what I mean? We… JK Rowling probably wants to write for an audience that has grown… that were Harry Potter fans when they were young adults and now are adults.

Andrew: I started reading Harry Potter last year.

[Eric laughs]

Selina: Right. [laughs] Well, you’re doing a good job of hiding it.

Eric: You’ve faked it pretty well for six years there, Andrew.

Selina: Right. I believed it.

Andrew: Thank you. Thanks guys.

Micah: All right, and the last email from Francesca who is, quote, “Your mom’s age.”

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: And she’s from Italy, and she says:

“Hi guys, I had the luck to get tickets to see JKR’s first presentation of her new book at the Queen’s Hall in the UK on September 27th. As usual, wherever she is, the place was just overflowing with her fans. JKR was great to see in person, and what a great person she is. She presented her book and explained why she decided to complete this different type of storytelling. I got the impression that she is still dealing with the death of her mom and issues of her own childhood. The book needs to be read as it is without thinking of the ‘Harry Potter’ world. I am enjoying it. We will probably never again get anything similar to ‘HP’ from her. Leaky was there and was so hoping to have seen you guys from MuggleNet. It would have made the entire evening complete. Thanks again for the podcast. I’ve been following you guys from day one and travel with your podcast whenever I’m on the road. Thanks for the hours of listening pleasure. Francesca.”

Andrew: Cool. Well, I’m glad to hear it was a good time over there in London. JK Rowling did a Harry Potter event at Queen Elizabeth Hall years ago, so kind of cool that she got to go there again for a different book.

Eric: Yeah.

MuggleCast 259 Transcript (continued)

Listener Tweets: The Casual Vacancy Feedback

Andrew: Okay, let’s get through these tweets real quick. More questions about The Casual Vacancy. This is from Energezer:

“If Jo wrote a sequel to ‘The Casual Vacancy’, I know there won’t be, but would you read it?”

My answer is no!

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Wow.

Andrew: Well, I haven’t read the first one, so of course I’m not going to read the sequel.

Eric: Yeah, yeah, I guess that’s fair.

Andrew: Micah, would you read a Casual Vacancy sequel, as the person who finished it?

Micah: Umm…

Selina: What would that even be called? The Casual Occupancy?

Eric: Ooh.

Micah: There you go. Write your own, Selina.

Selina: There you go. [laughs] I’ll write it. Fan fiction.

Andrew: What if Barry comes back from the dead?

Selina: [gasps] See, then… that I would read.

Micah: Well, if you read the book, actually, he kind of does.

Andrew: No, shut up.

Eric: Whoa.

Selina: Spoiler. [laughs]

Micah: Right, Selina?

Eric: Andrew…

Selina: Yes.

Micah: That’s not spoiling it.

Eric: Andrew, the ones we love never truly leave us.

Andrew: Oh, what is this?

Selina: Aww.

Andrew: [unintelligible] or something?

Micah: Would I read the sequel? Yeah, I probably would.

Eric: Really?

Micah: Yeah.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: PottermoreNews7, a good source for Pottermore news, by the way:

“Not related to ‘The Casual Vacancy’, but when do you think JK Rowling will publish her next novel?”

My guess is some time next year, late next year.

Selina: I’m going to say 2014.

Andrew: Ooh. Yeah, but think about it…

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: …the children’s book, it will be shorter, so it won’t be too much harder to get edited and whatnot.

Selina: That’s true, but… and you might be right. She might do it, especially if it’s a children’s book. She might want it out in time for the holidays next year.

Andrew: The holidays, yeah.

Selina: Yeah. But in some ways, after The Casual Vacancy, if she has publicists… if I was a publicist, I might tell her to hold off a bit, you know what I mean? Because it’s going to be so different from that. But yeah, I can see what you mean. It might come out next year.

Andrew: Any other guesses?

Micah: No. I agree, Andrew. Probably some time next year. If she’s already got it done… but probably not until later, later on in the year.

Selina: Hmm.

Andrew: Next is from mr_lucien:

“JK Rowling managed to transfer my sympathies from the Mollisons to the Weedons within 100 pages. This novel is incredible!”

Eric: Yeah, there are certainly strong forces at play in the book that stir emotion within the reader, and I think at that, it is very strong. So, there is that. And I’ve had those moments, too, where I think that moments… things that happen in the book are, on the whole, pretty cool. But it doesn’t change how I overall feel about the book.

Andrew: Sean Aminali says:

“Words cannot even begin to express how much I hated ‘Casual Vacancy’. ‘Harry Potter’ fans, be honest with yourselves. This book was rubbish.”

Eric: I don’t think it’s fair to call that rubbish.

Andrew: Well, I don’t think it’s…

Selina: No.

Andrew: …fair to call it rubbish for everybody. Like, you can’t make a blanket statement saying, oh, this book… I don’t like this book so everybody else won’t like it either.

Eric: No.

Selina: No, I agree.

Andrew: Sage McKay says:

“What are your favorite storylines? Mine are the ones involving the teens.”

When I was reading it, I didn’t enjoy the teens. How about you guys?

Eric: You said you didn’t?

Selina: Really?

Andrew: Did. Did enjoy the teens.

Eric: Oh, did. Okay.

Selina: Oh, right. I enjoyed Krystal’s story, obviously, and Sukhvinder… I guess “enjoyed” is a strange way to put it [laughs] but I preferred reading Sukhvinder and Krystal, and also… what is Sukhvinder’s mother’s name? Parminder?

Eric: Parminder.

Selina: Parminder. I enjoyed reading about her as well.

Eric: I liked Parminder who’s closest to Barry, obviously.

Selina: Right.

Eric: And Samantha, I really enjoy.

Selina: Really?

Eric: Flaws and all.

Selina: Well, she was great. I guess she was really well written, but… ooh. [laughs]

Eric: She was sardonic.

Selina: Right.

Eric: It was really enjoyable for me to read.

Micah: Yeah, I pretty much agree. I liked the teen storylines. Poor Andrew trying to get with… is it Gaia?

Selina: Gaia.

Micah: The whole time, and his pursuit there. Fats was an interesting character, too. He was kind of the comic relief throughout most of the story. But I found the adults… they were just too boring at points.

Selina: Yeah, I guess you’re right because they are mostly… I guess the real interesting… is that too spoilerish to say? Cut it out if it is. But the real interesting thing about The Casual Vacancy is how even though it’s a book for adults, it’s ultimately the children who drive the story forward.

Eric: That’s exactly what…

Selina: You know what I mean?

[Eric laughs]

Selina: So… huh?

Micah: That’s true. Yeah, you’re right.

Eric: A friend of mine said that.

Selina: Right, but it’s true, so I feel like that’s probably why the adults… they only really react to what the children are doing, which is probably why the children, or the teenagers, are more interesting to read about.

Eric: Hmm.

Andrew: Geoffrey Hutton says:

“Do you guys think that JK could have made ‘Casual Vacancy’ better by toning down the language/sex a little?”


Selina: Hmm.

Micah: I don’t think that it’s really relevant…

Andrew: Definitely.

Micah: …in the larger picture. It’s there because it’s part of life, and what did she say at the event at Lincoln Center? That the difference between the sex in this book and 50 Shades of Grey is that…

Andrew: It’s porn.

Eric: Nobody here enjoys it. [laughs]

Micah: Nobody in this book enjoys it, yeah. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: So, yeah. It’s just… the language, I mean…

Andrew: It is what it is.

Micah: But you know what? That’s how people talk!

Eric: Yeah!

Micah: I mean, go out and listen to any conversation on the street or in a restaurant, or even when you’re at home or you’re out with your friends, that’s the way people talk.

Eric: Yeah, you can never make a book better by neutering the characters. You know?

Micah: Or can you?

Eric: Or can you?

[Micah and Selina laugh]

Andrew: Lynn writes:

“Where you guys at all surprised Sukhvinder ended up being one of the heroes of the story?”

Don’t spoil it too much.

Eric: Yeah, if that happens…

Micah: But you’re not going to read it, Andrew.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Andrew: No, I’m saying for the listeners.

Micah: Oh, okay.

Eric: Well, don’t spoil it for me either. If that does happen, I’m very pleased and that might be the closest thing to an uplifting story in the book, I’m guessing.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: Because she is in a very, very bad situation where I am in the book.

Micah: Yeah, I wasn’t surprised necessarily. I thought it was really well written, that part.

Andrew: And Yuval writes:

“Do you agree that even though the book was hard to get into in the first 200 pages, the next 300 were absolutely fantastic?”

Eric: I’ll get back to you, Yuval.

Micah: I don’t know if “fantastic” is the word I would use. Would you, Selina?

Andrew: Did it pick up? Did it get better?

Micah: Yeah, like I said earlier, it definitely picks up – to me, anyway – it moved a little bit faster than the character introduction at the beginning. Again, it’s very well written, but it’s very, very dark.

Selina: Yeah.

Micah: So, I don’t know if “fantastic” [laughs] is the word I would use to describe the last 300 pages.

[Andrew laughs]

Selina: No, I agree with you. I don’t think… people kept saying it was getting better, and maybe I was just reading it with the thought of “Oh, surely it gets better.” [laughs] I think… as Micah said, I can only say the same thing. This is a very well written book. This is a very carefully, geniously constructed piece of literature. But I would not use the word “fantastic” to describe it.

Show Close

Andrew: Well, I think that wraps up MuggleCast Episode 259. We have a quick plug here. Somebody…

Micah: Yes.

Andrew: Tell us about this plug. What is this plug?

Micah: Well, there is this fan group up at York University – which I believe is in Canada – and they had written in to us. They have a group there called “The Ministry of Magic” and they just wanted to let other Potter fans in the area know that they do have this group and that they have four main sections: a general Harry Potter fan group, a Nerdfighter section, an actual Quidditch team, and an official HPA chapter – Harry Potter Alliance chapter. So, if you’re in that area, just check it out. I think there’s a lot of these throughout the country, throughout the world…

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: …that develop at colleges, universities, even high schools. So, be sure to take a look in your area and see if there are these types of groups for you to take advantage of.

Andrew: Speaking of that, actually, there’s going to be a fun event happening in SoCal this upcoming weekend: Harry Potter Bowling Night. [laughs]

Eric: Oh.

Micah: Are you going? You should go.

Andrew: Yeah, I’m going. Of course.

[A long, dramatic sound plays]

Eric: You’ve got to go.

Andrew: In Torrance, California. Wow, complete with cool sound effects.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: Let me bring up the little event here. “November 3rd, 8 PM. The Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army who brought you Harry Potter Skate Night [are] putting on the first ever Harry Potter Bowling Night…”

Selina: That’s so cute. [laughs]

Andrew: “…at PV Bowl in Torrance, California. Enjoy a night of well mannered family friendly bowling frivolity along with Harry Potter music, costume contest -” and get this, the best part; this is the reason I’m going – “Butterbeer, and for wizards 21 years and older, Harry Potter themed cocktails.” Sold! I am sold!

Eric: Wow.

Andrew: Harry Potter drinks? Get at me. So… [laughs]

Eric: Bowling and cocktails.

Andrew: Yeah.

Eric: Just don’t forget to kill the spare.

[Everyone fake laughs]

Micah: Nice, that was good.

Andrew: So, it’s $11 and includes shoes and one game of bowling. Obviously, the drinks and the other stuff may be extra. One game of bowling? That’s nothing.

Eric: Yeah, that’s…

Andrew: They should give you more games. But anyway, be there or be a Muggle. If you’re on Facebook, you can search “Harry Potter Bowling Night.” 129 people RSVP’d.

Eric: What?!

Andrew: So, that means half will go.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: So, about 70. It will probably be pretty big. I mean, they’re renting out the whole bowling alley, so it should be fun.

Eric: Cool.

Andrew: And of course the MuggleCast website, From there you can follow us on Twitter,, like us on Facebook,, the fan Tumblr,, and of course you can use the MuggleCast website to contact us via email, of course we take your tweets, all these things. Should we plug another podcast? Of course we have Game of Owns, the Game of Thrones podcast.

Selina: Yay!

Andrew: Now three times a week! Woo!

Eric: Woo!

Andrew: Look out!

Micah: Oh, yeah.

[Andrew and Selina laugh]

Eric: Yeah.

Selina: You could get more of that! [laughs]

Micah: And we have a very special week coming up soon that we’ll be promoting a little bit more on our Game of Owns’s assets…

Andrew: Oh, yeah!

Micah: …but we’re officially coining it… isn’t it Hodor Week?

Eric: Hodor Week!

Selina: Hodor Week!

Eric: [as Hodor] Hodorrrrr…

Micah: We’re going to be joined by Kristian Nairn, I think… is that the right way to pronounce his name?

Selina: Nairn?

Micah: Nairn? Narn?

Selina: He’ll tell us.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: He’ll tell us. We have trouble pronouncing things on that show anyway, so we’ll just add it to the list.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: I’m glad I’m not alone.

Micah: But he’ll be joining us for our three weekly episodes and we look forward to that. We hope our listeners do as well.

Andrew: If you’re a fan of fantasy, which I imagine you are, maybe you like Once Upon a Time, the show on ABC. Selina does a show, Onceable, on Hypable.

Selina: Yeah!

Andrew: Onceable, Hypable. [laughs]

Selina: Yeah, see what we did there?

Andrew: Yeah. And you release a new episode after every new episode of Once Upon a Time to discuss it.

Selina: Mhm.

Andrew: Good stuff.

Eric: Is it true that they have Captain Hook on that show now?

Selina: It is true.

Eric: Oh.

Selina: Speaking of Captain Hook, Eric are you wearing eyeliner?

Eric: Uhhh… [laughs] yes.

[Selina laughs]

Eric: Because I was the Joker last night…

Selina: Right.

Eric: …and that required a little bit of eyeliner, and I still haven’t figured out quite to get it off.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: We’ll have to do… next time we have a reason to do a live MuggleCast, we’ll have to use Google Hangout and record it because you can record the video.

Eric: This is quite fun, actually.

Andrew: It is fun.

Eric: I have enjoyed seeing Micah in his scuba gear and devil horns, and you and your crown and curly-q mustaches…

Selina: Oh no, this is fun.

Eric: …and Selina’s…

Micah: Birthday cake.

Andrew: Just for the cake.

Eric: Selina’s one-candle cake.

[Micah laughs]

Selina: I know, I’m going to have to find a computer that works.

Micah: It is cool because normally we never see each other when we record, unless it’s a live show.

Andrew: I do prefer it that way, but…

Micah: Yeah.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: …I just wanted to try this. We’ll never do this again. No, I’m kidding. This is actually a great way to do it.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: It is.

Andrew: So, thanks everybody for listening. We’ll see you next time for the big 2-6-0. Goodbye!

Eric: 2-6-0.

Selina: Bye!

Micah: Bye!