Harry Potter and the power of love

Whether you like it or not, whether you think the whole thing is uber-hype or really as good as the hype would have you believe, you can’t ignore the Harry Potter phenomenon. J K Rowling’s success as an author and merchandiser are beyond doubt. Whether you think she’s any good or not, selling three hundred and fifty million books is success by anyone’s standards.

J K Rowling
Joanne Kathleen Rowling, Potter-meister

And so we enter the month of July and the countdown begins. The seventh and final Harry Potter installment is released in three weeks. Little children (and grown adults for that matter) are dusting off their wands and wizard robes once more, preparing to stand in line for their copy of, arguably, the most anticipated book of this century so far.

The internet abounds with theories of what will happen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Rowling has already said that two major characters will die in this last book, but she’s being cagey about who those two are. Of course, Harry dying is foremost in many people’s minds and, given the nature of the story so far and the mythical hero archetype that Harry Potter is, this would be a likely outcome. But will she dare? Will the great Harry Potter Merchandising Machine grind to an ignominious halt if Harry carks? Or will he rise to an even greater, almost divine status and rule forever as the Half-Muggle Merchandise Messiah?

Only time will tell. A very interesting article in this weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald by Sophie Gee is well worth a look. Sophie Gee is assistant professor of English at Princeton University. She presents some thought-provoking hypotheses and even admits her position on the biggest question on everyone’s mind – is Severus Snape a good guy or a bad guy? Or what, exactly? Does even he know?

On the greater theme throughout the books, Gee suggests:

The battle between Harry and Voldemort pits the power of love against the fear of death. Which will prove the stronger? If, as we hope, Harry is the victor and the fear of death is vanquished, what will be left to keep Harry alive?

You can read the whole article here.

It’s nepotism, Jim

This is completely unrelated to words, but a bit of nepotism never goes astray. My wife, Halinka, the excellent artist whose webpage you can find in the links section on the left, had an exhibition open last night at MOP Projects.

It was a great turn-out and her show looked awesome. Of course, I would say that. But it’s true. If you’re in the area, see if you can get along and see the show before it comes down on July 15th.

MOP Projects Shop 2, 27 – 39 Abercrombie Street, Chippendale NSW 2008.

The show will run from 28/6/07 to 15/7/07, open Thursday to Saturday 1 – 6pm and Sunday & Monday 1 – 5pm.

The opening:
MOP Opening

MOP Opening

A couple of examples of Halinka’s oil paintings:

Cobham Avenue

The Bridge

Parramatta River

Patting myself on the back

Well, I made a promise to myself and I made it a public promise here on this blog too. I said I wanted to have a finished first draft of the sequel novel to RealmShift by the end of June. Just call me Mr Deadline. I wrapped up the first draft today, two days early. There are few feelings to compare with completing a novel, knowing that the story you wanted to tell is done.

Obviously there’s still a lot of work to do. I need to re-draft and edit almost right away. There are things that need tidying up, new scenes to add in, other scenes to rewrite or revamp to fit into the whole thing more comfortably. Then it needs to go out to proof-readers and editors. The first draft is really only the beginning, but it’s also the biggest hurdle to jump.

So I’m on track and hopefully the book will be out by the end of the year.

Horror or dark fiction, the debate continues

Some time ago I tried to wrap up just what dark fantasy actually was. Seeing as that is how my writing is most often classified, I wanted to try to answer the question that forever arose: What’s the difference between dark fantasy and horror? You can use the Search box on the right to find the original post I’m referring to.

Well, adding further explanation to the debate, I recently read an online interview with Angela Challis, one half of Brimstone Press, Australia’s premier independent publisher of dark fantasy. She was asked:

“Let’s get the tough one out of the way early: dark fiction or horror?”

Her reply was interesting:

Tough? Naaah! Not at all. I’m actually at a loss as to why the banner title is even deliberated. It seems clear to me that Dark Fiction is the catch all phrase, and Horror is a sub-set representing the extreme reader-recoil end of the Dark Fiction spectrum (marking the extreme lighter end with sword-wielding trolls having a bad day).

The term ‘horror’ is far more rigid than ‘dark fiction’.

Horror suggests the reader should expect to be left with an overwhelming feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting — i.e. something horrific. Given this conventional definition of horror, for me, it doesn’t exist within fiction. Any events likely to provoke this type of reaction from me can only be found within the constraints of non-fiction.

Dark Fiction, on the other hand, rarely evokes a preconceived expectation as it doesn’t suggest the intensity of the ‘scare’ factor of the story. A story of a locust plague may not be considered horror by one reader, but will evoke extreme recoil from a reader suffering with entomophobia. Although the first reader may not consider the story to be horrific, I believe very few people would deny that this type of story has the potential to provoke a wide range of reactions from reader to reader depending on the intensity of their aversion to the subject matter.

Simply put, the term Dark Fiction is sympathetic to the gamut of subjective opinions, whereas Horror is far more restrictive in its definition.

Not a bad stab at the definitions there. You can read the whole interview here.

The Word movie tip of the week

If any of you fantasy fans enjoy a good fairy tale, do I have a tip for you. By “a good fairy tale” I’m not talking about some Disney bulldust with singing teapots and happy rodents. I mean real, dark, menacing fairy tales, just like proper fairy tales should be.

Pan’s Labyrinth has just been released on DVD. If you missed it at the movies, rent or buy the DVD and make up for it. It’s an awesome movie, brilliantly played and brilliantly shot with a fantastic story that’s really quite twisted.

Pan’s Labyrinth

You can learn all about it from web searches.