fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: Are Wizards Immune to Hypothermia?

Anyone who has read the “Harry Potter” books and/or have seen the films must notice the lack of safety in the wizarding world. From the forbidden forest and deadly creatures at Hogwarts to Quidditch, wizards and witches seem to care little about safety.

That includes going into the water in cold weather. A good example is in “The Goblet of Fire”, when the Tri-Wizard champions have to compete in the black lake and each save one individual. However, they do it in February, where the weather freezes.

Although the novel doesn’t specify the champions’ outfits (I’m pretty sure, according to what I remember), in the movie, they wore summer attire, while everyone else wore winter gear. Fleur wore just a bathing suit, while the boys had knee-length shorts and tank tops. How were they not cold?

You’d think they would have worn long-sleeved wet suits, or did something to get the champions warmer. Do charms that prevent hypothermia exist in the “Harry Potter” universe? If so, does the black lake at Hogwarts have them?

Even if the answer to both questions is yes, there couldn’t have been any in that pond Harry jumped into in “The Deathly Hallows”, after stripping himself. After he leaped into the water, he didn’t seem to suffer one bit.

Lots of people point out that if there is a potion to regrow bones, there should be a spell or something to fix Harry’s eyesight. That way, he wouldn’t need glasses. So, could magic keep magicians from freezing and experiencing hypothermia?

Writing

Why I Chose to Write Fantasy

Image from Pixabay

I have always enjoyed fantasy more than most other genres. I read the entire “Harry Potter” series in my early teens. In fact, at that time, it was the only thing I would read for pleasure.

I have always been attracted to magic, fantastical elements, and supernatural ideas, for as long as I can remember. I am a highly imaginative person who likes to create and brainstorm.

The idea of my book’s main character dates back to when I was in elementary school. Then she returned to my mind in my adolescence and I developed everything about her from there.

One thing about fantasy is that you can have more freedom with your stories since there is worldbuilding involved as well as other enchanted elements. Of course, the literary devices should still be believable and make sense.

When I first published the sequel of my “Magical Missions” series in 2016 as “Wizardry Goes Wild,” there were still a lot of flaws, including with credibility. One struggle involved having my characters react to magic in a believable way. 

After pulling the original edition from the market and fixing the issues, I decided on a change. Instead of trying to get the characters to react to extreme situations more credibly, since I still had trouble with it, I made certain situations milder, as long as they didn’t need to be severe. For example, there is a scene with a magical robotic bee. But that was originally a fake shark that functioned like a real one.

Basically, I just love fantasy and being very creative, which is why I like to write in that genre. I probably wouldn’t try horror or science-fiction, though. Horror scares me and science involves more research as well as math. Yet, with fantasy, I have more freedom along with fun.

fiction

How Magic Shapes My Characters

What is fantasy without magic? My “Magical Missions” does not differ from that.

However, the magic laws and culture do stand out from other fantasy books. One is that they are set in modern-day America, and the other is that wizards have their own enchanted technology far more advanced than the regular kind. 

How does this shape my characters? The protagonist, Alyssa, has grown up not believing in magic… until the start of book 1, “The Frights of Fiji.” Of course, she reacts with surprise as do the other characters. Or they don’t believe her. Those that do witness wizardry are either amazed or scared.

In the sequel, “A Curse of Mayhem,” Alyssa has already gotten used to magic, even though it hasn’t interfered with her life for the past 6 months. Unlike then, though, she is performing it against her will and longs to remove it. Of course, it involves lots of complications.

While Alyssa’s friends stand by her as does her guardian, most of the characters fear and misunderstand her, especially her school principal. He sees her sorcery as threatening and dangerous. Therefore, he gives her detention several times. Alyssa also ends up at risk for expulsion. Of course, I won’t spoil anything.

Wizards and non-magical people (there is no specific term for them) share the same world, although magicians hide their supernatural culture and skills differently. They will either blend their buildings in with security charms, put invisibility shields around them, or disguise things around ordinary people.

I do explain on my website how wizards hide their secret world. But this is how magic shapes my characters.

You can also buy Book 2 here and Book 1 here.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: Are Godparent Roles Different for Wizards?

We’ve heard of godparents in the “Harry Potter” series. One obvious example is Sirius Black being Harry’s godfather, who spent much of his time in Azkaban. Harry is also named Remus’s son, Teddy’s, godfather. Ron and Hermione are godparents to Harry’s oldest son, James, in the seventh book’s epilogue, as well as his aunt and uncle, of course.

But they seem to serve more as mentors or other helpful adult figures rather than religious sponsors, which is what godparents really are in real life. It’s actually a common misconception for godparents to be guardians in the events something happens to their godchildren’s parents, although parents can still grant them legal withstanding. It’s rare, though, and rarer for kids to live with their godparents. Maybe that common misconception can be true if something happens to the parents, yet the kids are over 18, but don’t have enough money or jobs to support themselves financially. They could probably stay with their godparents, and the godparents can likely even take them in if they apply for their overage godchildren to be tenants (or whatever it is) and that gets approved. I’m not sure how that whole process works.

Anyway, religion does not play a huge role in “Harry Potter.” Yes, wizards and witches celebrate Christmas and Easter. J.K. Rowling has also revealed that there are Jewish magicians, such as Anthony Goldstein. I also read that Harry was baptized, so his parents must have been religious to some extent. However, not once has Sirius guided Harry through his faith. Maybe Azkaban and Sirius having to hide and even losing his life contributed. We also don’t hear a lot about Harry’s relation to Teddy Lupin and so forth. Lily and James did designate Sirius as Harry’s guardian, which could be why he was able to sign Harry’s Hogsmeade permission slip in the third installment. But I think Teddy’s grandparents were the designated guardians for him.

Someone on Quora asked why religion doesn’t receive much attention in “Harry Potter,” and somebody from the UK answered by stating that people there don’t usually discuss religion. Many places actually forbid talking about religion here in the US.  But my guess is that J.K. Rowling may have changed the godparent roles for wizards and made them more of other reliable adult figures for children instead of religious sponsors. Either for plot convenience or to avoid sounding too insensitive. What do you think?

fiction

Holy Cricket! These Details in “Harry Potter” Surprised Me!

I’ve enjoyed the “Harry Potter” series for many years. Although I’ve read all the books and seen the movies, I still like learning more about the franchise. In fact, that is pretty much routine for me.

Anyway, along with gaining more knowledge on J.K. Rowling’s fictional world, there comes some shocking facts either revealed at some point or that I didn’t notice until later. So, without further ado, let me begin.

1: The “Missing Day” in “The Sorcerer’s Stone”

I don’t mean the movie scene, where Hagrid drops off Harry at King’s Cross, apparently the day after his birthday (or more than a month may have passed and Harry just wore the same clothes again). In the book (I’m not sure about the film adaptation), it is revealed that Lily and James Potter died on Halloween night, but Hagrid does not deliver Baby Harry to the Dursleys until the evening of November 1st. This is known as the “missing day” or “missing 24 hours”. I did not notice this until a few years ago, when someone stated it in a YouTube comment. Before that, I had thought Hagrid had taken Harry straight to the Dursleys within hours of leaving his parents’ home within the same night (and encountering Sirius Black, whom he had to deny legal custody to for Harry, under Dumbledore’s orders). But when I first read that statement, I was surprised. Hagrid had to watch Baby Harry for a whole day? Darsh! Hopefully, someone else took care of certain things for the infant.

Anyway, many fans have come up with their own theories on what could have happened during that missing day. I’ve read so many different ideas. One person guessed that J.K. Rowling might have made a little typo. She could have, but then wouldn’t she have admitted it?

2: The revelation on how wizards used to “go to the bathroom”

After the “Harry Potter” series concluded, J.K. Rowling revealed more tidbits about her books, including ones that were better left unsaid. I believe that in 2019, she revealed that before muggles invented plumbing, wizards and witches would relieve themselves where they stood and then magically vanish their waste. Ewww! Gross! Why did we need to know that?

3: When Professor McGonagall made an appearance in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” years before she should have been born

What’s even more bizarre was that she was already teaching at Hogwarts in the 1910’s and 20’s and looked to be in her late 20’s or early 30’s. But she was not supposed to be born until 1935. She even stated how many years she taught in “The Order of the Phoenix”, which takes place in the mid-1990’s. I forget what that number was, but she most definitely should not have existed in the events of “Fantastic Beasts”, which is the 1920’s.

Some people have assumed that that could have been a different Professor McGonagall. But the script reveals that it’s the same person Harry meets many decades later. Unless McGonagall has lied about her age this whole time, or somehow went back in time and used the time-turner (which has lots of rules), this should not have occurred. And no, J.K. Rowling’s excuse for not being strong at math isn’t valid. This isn’t calculous here—it’s grade-school level math. But “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” did have a lot of plot holes, even with J.K. Rowling involved.

So, there you have it.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: How Could Almost Every Sixth-Year in “The Half-Blood Prince” Turn 17 by April, When the Cutoff Wasn’t for Several Months?

Everyone who is familiar with “Harry Potter” knows that a young wizard or witch can start Hogwarts when he or she is 11 and is expected to attend 7 years there. That means that by the time a student reaches his or her 6th year, he or she will turn 17 either during the school year or summer.

However, when Harry is a 6th year in “The Half-Blood Prince”, many of his classmates turn 17 by April, and only a few remain 16 by then. Sounds crazy, huh? Only Harry, Ernie, and Draco (as well as Neville, who wasn’t in that scene for some reason), remain under 17 by April, and therefore, have to stay behind while the others in their year can take their apparition tests.

I remember how shocked I’d felt when I’d read that scene, at age 13. Even then, that felt very odd and unbelievable to me. I recall thinking, That’s supposed to mean every other student’s birthdays are close together? No other 6th-years who aren’t 17? That can’t be. I’d also come up with my own theory where maybe there were students with birthdays between April and August in Harry’s year, but were all expelled during the previous years.

But it was not until recent times when I discovered that Harry’s year is quite small. A lot of fans guess that fewer babies were born in the magical world during the late 70’s and early 80’s, when Harry’s peers entered the world, because of the dark times and first wizarding war. Maybe it became worse by the spring. I don’t know.

Another thing that I learned recently is that the cutoff for Hogwarts is August 31st, not September 1st. People on Quora said that if a child turns 11 on September 1st, he or she has to wait another year before he or she can start Hogwarts. Crazy, right? It would make more sense if a child who turns 11 on September 1st could start Hogwarts that day. I mean, that does technically count as being 11. If it’s your birthday, you are your next age. For example, if you turn 18 on Election Day in the US, you can vote. It’s if you turn 18 after when you have to wait.

However, in the UK, cutoffs in August are typical and standard. If there are schools in Britain that start in August, then a cutoff of August 31st makes sense. But for those that start after that, a cutoff no later than the first day of school, would be more rational. In New York, it’s usually the opposite. The cutoffs are often in December. I was born November 22nd, 1993, but graduated high school in 2011. So that meant I turned 5 a couple of months after starting kindergarten. I used to hate being the youngest in my grade and would say, “I’m too young for this grade. I belong in the grade below me.” That would have been true for me if I lived in many other states where the cutoffs are before my birthday, like in September. It’s rare for American school’s cutoffs to be earlier than September, though.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten to learn these things, maybe it makes sense for almost every 6th-year in HBP to turn 17 prior to mid-April.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: What Happened to Lily and James’ Bodies Between Their Deaths and Burials?

Every “Harry Potter” fan or even pretty much anyone in the general public should know that Harry lost his parents as a baby thanks to Voldemort, and had to grow up with his abusive aunt and uncle. For those who really enjoy the series, Harry discovered his parents’ graves in the 7th installment. But who buried them? When? And why was there no funeral for them?

Shortly after his parents were killed, Harry is rescued from the house by Hagrid as quickly as possible. But the two don’t arrive at the Dursleys for another day, for some reason. This is commonly known as the “missing day”, which I didn’t know about until maybe a few years ago. But I will discuss the missing 24 hours in another post.

Here, I am just going to talk about what could have happened to James and Lily’s corpses after they perished. This will exclude events like Pettigrew’s betrayal and turning into a rat as well as Sirius getting locked up in Azkaban.

I learned that James’s parents had him quite old. They lived to see him marry, but not meet their grandson. Lily’s mom and dad also passed on, I think, and her sister, Petunia, was her only living family member. That is why Harry has to live with her until he comes of age. If he lives with a blood relative of his mom, Voldemort can’t go near him.

Anyway, it could not have been Petunia who buried Lily and James. She despised both of them.

Could ministry officials have buried the couple? Possibly, and maybe as soon as Harry was out of that area. Also, did Lily and James not have a funeral because there was no family member to arrange it, despite their wealth? Couldn’t Remus Lupin have planned it, even though he was just James’s friend?

I don’t know if people can plan and pay for events for those not related to them, whether they can get paid back or not. I am not sure how it works for wizards in the ” Harry Potter” series, either. I guess that will remain a mystery, as will who buried James and Lily and how soon.

movie

I’m Spelling Out This Evaluation of “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

Warning: contains spoilers***

There are so many aspects of this film that stand out to me. It begins where a boy named Thackary is looking for his younger sister, Emily. He finds her being cursed by three witches, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah. They turn Thackary into an immortal black cat, but are then executed by the community shortly after. Three hundred years have passed (which surprised me) and the focus is now on a teenage boy, named Max, in his history class at school. The Halloween adventure begins.

I found Max to be very believable, especially since he moved to a new town from Los Angeles and really missed his old home. The bullies who picked on him made me feel even more sorry for him. However, at some point, the bullies were in danger, and Max wouldn’t save them, which was irresponsible. Just because someone is not nice to you, that doesn’t mean you can leave them in peril.

That being said, Max was a good guy. Although he resisted taking his eight-year-old sister, Dani, out to trick-or-treat at first, and she even screamed about it at some point (which was also irresponsible and could have misled her parents into thinking she was getting hurt), he did it and showed loving care with her as the movie progressed. He also dressed as a “rapper.”

Speaking of loving care, it was so sweet how Dani developed strong feelings for Thackary in his cat form. She even held him while sleeping and fed him cat food. During the part where the curse got broken and the witches perished, unfortunately, Thackary passed on, too, and his last sound was a meow. However, he returned to Dani in his human form as a ghost and comforted her until he was reunited with his sister, who also came back as a spirit. This happened at the very end, and I was expecting Max, Dani, and Max’s love interest, Allison, to get in trouble with their parents eventually. Instead, the adults are partying somewhere, unaware of what the kids did to save the day.

Earlier, though, after the witches have been revived and are performing at the Halloween bash Max and Dani’s parents attend, Max, Allison, and Dani try to tell them that the witches have been resurrected and are dangerous. But the mom and dad won’t believe them, which I didn’t expect. In fact, everybody found the children crazy when they attempted to warn them about the witches. Even a bus driver acted casually with the sorceresses when encountering them.

Even though this is just a movie, I found it odd that the witches were able to function okay in modern times after being dead for centuries. They should have been confused like crazy. Another flaw is how they broke into Max’s school and no one caught them. Yes, it was 1993, when school security was likely more relaxed. But shouldn’t there have been surveillance cameras or even a guard?

When Max, Allison, and Dani celebrated the witches’ “deaths”, I figured that it was the midpoint and knew that they hadn’t really been defeated. This was based on how I studied story structure for years and past movie-viewing experiences.

A couple of moments that also shocked me were when Max was willing to sacrifice himself for Dani when the witches tried to jinx her with a potion and a clueless zombie who had no idea what to do. I have to admit, the zombie who didn’t know much felt more credible to me. It also satisfied me since it was a way to stray away from the traditional approach for zombies, where they’re scary and try to eat peoples’ brains.

I would rate “Hocus Pocus” 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Interview with Author, Tara Gilboy

As someone who enjoyed her book, “Unwritten,” I am interviewing the author, Tara Gilboy. See the questions and answers below and enjoy!

What do you find the most enjoyable about writing?

I think for me, brainstorming and coming up with new story ideas is always the best part of writing. I love looking at the world as a potential source of story ideas, and I love doing research on them. Of course, after that, the hard work sets in, as I then have to develop the plot and characters in those ideas. But I am always happiest when I am imagining new worlds and possibilities.

What genres do you like to read in now?

I am a very wide reader: I read in pretty much every genre! Right now, since it’s fall and getting to be Halloween time, I have been reading a lot of scary stories, but I also am a huge fan of historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, nonfiction, you name it. I do tend to read a lot of middle grade and young adult books more so than adult novels, partly because that is what I like to write, and partly because I love the way they focus on good, old-fashioned storytelling.

Who is your favorite character in your book?

It is so hard to pick just one! Gracie, my protagonist, is of course my special favorite, but I loved writing Cassandra because she is just so complicated and evil! And Gertrude Winters and I have a lot in common, so I have a special place for her too. And then Walter, of course…. I love them all!

Who is your favorite fictional character in general?

I think if I had to pick just one, I would say Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. When I was a kid, I was always happiest reading, so I think I am drawn to her because she reminds me of myself when I was younger.

Where do you get your ideas?

I wish I knew the answer to this! Ideas come to me all the time. Sometimes I’ll get an idea from something I read or from people I know. If I am searching for ideas, I will often visit a place like a museum or art gallery, because I always leave feeling inspired. The trouble for me is not finding ideas; it is selecting the right idea, the one I am excited enough about that I am willing to commit to it long-term. I often start stories and then put them aside halfway through because I lose interest in them. But I would say that my number one source for ideas is reading. Reading other books by writers I love always inspires me and makes me want to write. 

What other genres would you ever want to write in?

I have always wanted to write historical fiction, and in fact, I have probably started and stopped nearly a dozen historical fiction projects in the last few years alone. I love to read historical fiction and so have always wanted to write it, but somehow I always find myself either stalling or getting bogged down in the research. I feel confident, though, that I will finish one of these historical projects eventually! I also have an idea for a true crime story that I would like to work on, so I have been doing research on writing true crime narratives lately as well.

What was your favorite book as a child?

It is tough to pick just one! I was obsessed with both Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess

What types of scenes do you enjoy writing most?

My favorite kinds of scenes are ones that make me laugh. Sometimes the scene itself isn’t even funny, but I find myself laughing because I am so taken aback by what a character just said or did. I like writing scenes where the characters surprise me and go in a direction I hadn’t expected when I first sat down to write. Those are usually scenes with a lot of emotional intensity.

What did you struggle most with when writing your book?

I think in my first book, Unwritten, I struggled most with making the “rules” of my magical world clear. The concept I had undertaken, writing of a girl who is a character in a story, ended up being a lot more complex (and potentially confusing to readers) than I had anticipated when I started. I was really lucky to have a great workshop group and critique partners who helped me along the way. I also always really struggle with plot and structure. I find that plotting gets easier, though, once I have my character’s main goal or drive figured out. Until I know what my main character wants, I don’t really have a story.

What character can you relate to most?

I think I relate to Gertrude Winters the most, perhaps because we both share a love of writing. And in Rewritten, Gertrude is struggling with a nasty case of writer’s block, something I can definitely relate to!

Are there unique details you pick up on in fiction, either visual or written?

It depends on what and why I am reading. Reading is my absolute favorite thing in the world, and so I try to just let myself sink into the story. I don’t want to always be looking “behind the scenes” at the way a story is constructed. That said, after I’ve read a book I love once or twice, I will often go back to it and look at what specifically makes it work so well. And when I am struggling with something in my own writing, I often look at books or scenes that are similar to mine to see what strategies the author used to handle various issues that came up. For example, when I needed to write a scene about a fire, I read a lot of different books with fire scenes (for example, the fire scene in Jane Eyre, where Jane puts out a fire in Mr. Rochester’s bedroom) to see how other authors had handled it.

Do you ever notice elements in fiction that others don’t?

I think so, but then again, many of my students and friends notice things in fiction that I don’t too. I tend to look a lot at plot and structure when I am reading, and I have some wonderful friends who are always reminding me of the beauty of language and lyrical prose. I think we all look at slightly different things as readers and writers, and so we always learn from each other.

What is your writing pet peeve?

My biggest writing pet peeve is writers who show off at the expense of the story. It is something I used to struggle with when I first started writing, and I had to train myself not to do it. The plot and characters come first and foremost: writers can’t be afraid to cut paragraphs and scenes, even if they love the language, if they don’t contribute to the overall story. Also for some odd reason I dislike the word “myriad.” I’m not sure why, but it’s always been a pet peeve of mine.

Thank you so much for having me!

Writing

Behold…Some Useful Tips for Worldbuilding in Writing

Image from Pixabay

Do you currently write or want to write speculative fiction stories? Yes to either? Then let’s get rolling.

But before that, if you don’t know what speculative fiction is, it’s science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. For you, horror fans out there, unfortunately, I am not fond of it. Therefore, I don’t know much about creating horror fiction. However, these worldbuilding tips I am about to provide can apply to all speculative fiction genres. So, without further ado, here are some helpful tips for worldbuilding.

1: Be original as much as possible, but also incorporate believability

The second part of that tip is, perhaps, the most important. If you write any genre of fiction, everything should be believable. Of course, you can still have unrealistic elements, like magic, if you’re writing fantasy. But even then, there has to be limits on what things can and can’t do. And your characters should handle the situations the way real people would.

As for originality, it should sound like it comes from you. It’s still okay to use existing elements, like aliens, elves, and so on, depending on your story and intentions. However, a good number of people are tired of certain types of characters, archetypes, and tropes. That is when they’re considered cliches. When I developed the fantastical elements in my books, I actually made up pretty much all the enchanted creatures. The only types I used that were already existing were wizards and a skeleton. Obviously, all the characters are my own creations. But I think you should get the idea at this point.

2: Have limits on unrealistic elements

If you’re writing fantasy, for example, have limits on what wizardry can and cannot do. If you can’t fit them all or even any in a section of your work, then say, at the very least, that there are limits. Otherwise, readers will make their own assumptions about the magic laws in your story, including that there are few to no limits. This actually happened to me with a couple of editors. One thought the only limits in my book’s world were the ones I mentioned. Another thought that there were none at all and obsessed over it during several pages of when I introduced magic laws into my first book, just because the possibilities happened to be relevant. But that is not true at all. I even told that editor that there were lots of limits. They just were not relevant at that point. Then they said that I didn’t need to mention the limits up front, and they thanked me.

It is pretty annoying for readers to make their own assumptions over things not specified, especially since they don’t own the stories. In fact, I think it’s kind of dishonest. I don’t think they should do that at all. Sadly, people do things they shouldn’t do, and very often. But no one’s perfect. So, when you develop your speculative fiction world, remember to state that there are limits.

3: Be creative

As a writer, you should have a creative mindset. Yes, there will be times when you experience writer’s block. But when you don’t, you can use as much as your imagination as possible as long as you consider the above tips. Also, think about your own passions and if you can incorporate them into your work.

For example, I love fantasy, but I also love modern technology and life. So, I combined both elements in my books, where wizards use enchanted technology. Of course, I make it believable and give it limits.

So, there you have it. If you’re a novice or beginner in these genres or writing, give yourself some time. These tips will take years for you to execute well. But you will get there as long as you practice as frequently as possible.

If you’ve been writing great content for years, then you might already know these. But it wouldn’t hurt to expand your horizon.