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Archive for the ‘John Granger’ Category

Here’s my report on Infinitus 2010, the largest convention in the history of the Harry Potter fandom. It was held July 15-18 at the beautiful Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.¬†This report is an account of my personal experience there and is by no means all-encompassing. There were about nine academic programming tracks happening simultaneously, and it would therefore be impossible for me to experience all that this convention had to offer without a time-turner! ūüėČ

Thursday, July 15, 2010

1:30 p.m. I attended the Welcoming Feast, where it was announced that 1,700 fans had gone through registration thus far, and that number would probably increase by tomorrow.

3:00 p.m. After browsing the Common Room, Art Gallery, and Vendor’s Room, I returned to the Common Room for the Marauder’s Meet-Up, which featured a lively discussion of the canon and fanon lives of Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, James Potter, Lily Evans, and Severus Snape. Just before the¬†Marauder’s discussion¬†I finally met one of my favorite bloggers in person, Hanako M. Ricks (“hmrpotter”).¬†Please¬†read my blogroll for links to her “Confessions of a Grown-up Fangirl” and “Hollywood News” Harry Potter blogs. Hanako is awesome!

4:00 p.m. I went to a great presentation by author Connie Neal entitled “How the Muggle Media Mishandles Harry Potter,” in which Connie gave examples of all of the Rita Skeeter-worthy articles that were published about J. K. Rowling after the Harry Potter author had a bit of a wardrobe mishap. Rather than focusing on what Rowling had to say about the Harry Potter series’ Christian imagery, the muggle media¬†tried to create a scandal by publishing¬†sensationalist articles about Rowling accompanied by embarassing photographs. Connie Neal is the author of What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? (2001), The Gospel According to Harry Potter (2002/2008), and Wizards, Wardrobes, and Wookies (2007).

5:00 p.m. I enjoyed conversing with Connie Neal, Logospilgrim, and David Gras¬†after¬†Connie’s presentation ended. Connie autographed my program. (I have all of her Harry Potter books, but didn’t have them with me.) It was so nice to finally meet Logospilgrim in person. She is a very sweet person, and soft-spoken, as I imagined she would be. The Quiet Professor has written a few books about Orthodox Christianity and Severus Snape, which you can read about on her site at¬†www.logospilgrim.com. Fellow presenter David Gras is also a Christian Harry Potter fan. I met him and his wife for the first time at Portus 2008, and it was really nice seeing them again.

6:00 p.m. Valerie Frankel¬†was signing copies of her Harry Potter parody novel, Henry Potty and the Pet Rock,¬†at the Craft Faire. (See www.HarryPotterParody.com for more about Valerie Frankel’s parody books.) She graciously offered to share her author table with me, and I was glad to accept her offer because my official book signing time was scheduled¬†on the last day of formal¬†programming, opposite the presentation of A Very Potter Sequel. (I knew that most of the Infinitus attendees would be viewing that. It’s incredibly popular.) Anyway, I enjoyed sitting at the Craft Faire with Valerie. The best part was when Percy Weasley himself,¬†Chris Rankin, walked in unannounced and hung out with the fans. He even autographed my Infinitus program! ūüôā The wizard rock concert was going on during all this, so I missed most of it. However I did take a break to visit the wrock merchandise tables to buy a few CDs, including “Muggle Relations” by The Ministry of Magic, “BMiN/E” by ALL CAPS, which includes a great Ron/Hermione song (“Lumos Flies”), and the Remus Lupins dropcard EP, ALL ACCESS: The Next Great Adventure. I really like “Don’t Let the Muggles Get You Down” on that EP.

Friday, July, 16, 2010

9:00 a.m. I browsed the Vendor’s Room, Fandom Museum, and Common Room again. I¬†usually¬†make a daily visit to the Common Room to check the notice boards and to pick up fliers, business cards, etc. from the freebie table. I also put business cards and bookmarks on the freebie table each day to promote my book as well as that of some of my author friends who were not able to attend Infinitus, such as J. W. Braun and M. B. Weston.

10:30 a.m. I attended John Granger’s fascinating lecture “The Seven Literary Keys to Unlocking Harry Potter,” which covered such topics as literary alchemy, story setting, postmodern themes, the hero’s journey, allegorical satire, Christian symbolism, and narrative misdirection. John’s presentation was great, as always. ūüôā¬†Visit his blog at www.hogwartsprofessor.com to read his Infinitus convention report when you have the chance.

I had lunch with my Mom at Emeril’s today. The menu offered “Sorcerer’s Starters,” “Magical Main Courses” (I had the Dragon Burger, lol!), and “Potions.” My potion of choice was sweet tea.

2:30 p.m.¬†I attended another wonderful John Granger presentation, “The Historical Hidden Key to Harry Potter: Why Witches and Wizards Went Underground After the English Civil War.” After the presentation, I bought a copy of the Potter Pundits book Harry Potter Smart Talk, which John autographed for me.

4:30 p.m.¬† I went to Logospilgrim’s talk, “Severus Snape, Jedi Master,” which combined two of my geeky obsessions, Harry Potter and Star Wars. ūüôā

After supper I attended one of the most ambitious fandom projects I’ve ever seen, Lena Gabrielle’s Deathly Hallows musical, The Final Battle. Lena is quite a talented composer, and if you didn’t get to see this epic musical at Infinitus, look for it on YouTube in August. The CD “Love Will Prevail: Songs from the Final Battle” is quite good, especially Lena’s duet with Christian Caldeira of Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls. On the CD, Lena sings the part of Lily and Christian sings¬†the part of¬†Severus Snape on “The Prince’s Tale.” It is really beautiful and sung¬†with so much emotion.¬†Bravo! In the staged musical there were some really awesome moments that got huge cheers from the audience, such as Neville¬†telling off¬†Voldemort (and killing Nagini) and all of the awesome Ron/Hermione kisses. (Yes, there were kisses, plural.) I loved Ron and Hermione’s love duet “Never Letting You Go,” especially when Harry interrupts the song with “Oi! There’s a war going on here!”¬†That bit was hilarious.¬†Bellatrix brought the house down with a chorus of singing and dancing¬†dark wizards on¬†“Death Eaters Rejoice!” It was also great fun to see the Leaky Cauldron’s Melissa Anelli as Augusta Longbottom and John Noe as John Dawlish. Their fight scene got a huge laugh from the audience.¬†John Noe also played the part of Percy Weasley. No pressure with Chris Rankin in attendance, right John?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

10:00 a.m. I went to hear David Gras’ presentation “Harry Potter: A Symbol of the Infinite Power of Courage and Love” which¬†included a great group discussion session. David also mentioned some of the similarities between Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins, which is a topic that is of great interest to me. I wrote quite a lot about that in my book, The Lord of the Hallows, and¬†I appreciated David’s comparison of both¬†Harry and Frodo’s sufferings to the¬†story of Christ’s Passion.

11:00 a.m. Connie Neal’s “Holidays in the Harry Potter Books: the Significance of Halloween, Christmas, and Easter” was really outstanding. She gave numerous examples of Biblical allusions in all seven Harry Potter books,¬†with emphasis on the stories of Christmas and Easter. I really loved this presentation.

1:30 p.m. I was in the audience for “The Potter Pundits Live Onstage at Infinitus” featuring Travis Prinzi, John Granger, and James W. Thomas. I had met both Travis and James at Portus two years ago, and it was great seeing them again. (I met John Granger for the first time at Azkatraz last year.) Great news! Travis Prinzi is currently editing his second Hog’s Head¬†Conversations book, James W. Thomas is writing his second book on Harry Potter entitled Rowling Revisited, and John Granger said he’s updating Unlocking Harry Potter. The Potter Pundits were awesome, as always.

4:00 p.m. I heard most of Travis Prinzi’s excellent “Severus Snape is a Fiery Snake,” much of which¬†I was familiar with from reading Travis’s wonderful book,¬†Harry Potter & Imagination.¬†I was sorry that I had to leave a few minutes before it was over to get ready for the final presentation….

5:00 p.m. This was the last hour of formal programming. “Sneaking Past the Watchful Dragons: Christian Symbolism and Themes in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia” was presented by Denise Roper. (That’s me!) Yeah, I had to follow Connie Neal, Logospilgrim,¬†John Granger, David Gras, James Thomas, and Travis Prinzi. No sweat, right? ūüėČ The presentation actually went rather well.¬†From the Infinitus program book: “Both J. K. Rowling and C. S. Lewis have been recognized as great Christian authors of fantasy literature. In this presentation, the themes of Good vs. Evil, the Immortality of the Soul, Self-Sacrificial Love, Death, Resurrection, and Making the Choice to Believe are examined in the light of both authors’ profession of the Christian faith. the influence of the Narnian books on Harry’s adventures will be discussed in detail, including the symbolism of the lion, serpent, eagle, raven, badger, unicorn, stag, phoenix, centaur, dog, werewolf, and much more.” Whew! I covered as much of that as I could in an hour. This was followed by a book signing in the vendor’s room. Travis’s last presentation as well as my lecture and book signing were scheduled opposite the musical A Very Potter Sequel, which was a huge hit at Infinitus. I was happy that Travis and I actually had an audience for our presentations in spite of the fact that we had to compete with such a huge fandom event.¬†After supper I realized that I missed all of AVPS and would have to watch it later on YouTube. Oh well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

7:00 a.m. I went to Mass at the Church of the Holy Family in Orlando.

9:00 a.m. I visited briefly with Travis Prinzi, and then later, Connie Neal.

9:30 a.m. I went to the “Weasley Is Our King!” meet-up that Hanako invited me to attend. It was fun to talk about Ron and all of the other Weasleys at this last event before the leaving feast.

10:30 a.m. brunch/leaving feast.

11:00 a.m. Parselmouths wrock concert. After the feast, I had time to visit with David Gras, Erin Pyne (of the wrock band House of Black & also an author of books about the Harry Potter fandom), Logospilgrim, and many others. I talked with Kristina Horner of the Parselmouths, then later Luke Conard of Ministry of Magic. I just wanted to tell¬†Kristina and Luke¬†how much I enjoy their band, ALL CAPS. I’m also a huge Ministry of Magic fan. I also spoke briefly with Alex Carpenter of The Remus Lupins (another wrock band that I enjoy), and he invited me to their (then) upcoming concert in New Orleans. Jason Munday of Ministry of Magic was with him; he has a solo act called Skyway Flyer, which is quite good. Since Skyway Flyer would be opening for the Remus Lupins on tour, that was a wrock concert that I knew I would want to see. I’ll write another blog post later about the wrock concerts I attended in New Orleans after Infinitus.

My Mom and I along with many other Infinitus attendees spent the afternoon at Universal’s Islands of Adventure Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, a spectacular ending to a spectacular event. Well done, Infinitus!

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The Infinitus 2010 Formal Programming Schedule has been posted at www.infinitus2010.org. Here are just a few of the presentations that I hope to attend:

Thursday, July 15

4:00 Our Own Rita Skeeter: Muggle Media Mishandles HP (Connie Neal)

Friday, July 16

9:00 Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-grade Alchemist? (Deborah Hunt)

10:30 The Seven Literary Keys to Unlocking Harry Potter (John Granger)

2:30 The Histroical Hidden Key to Harry Potter (John Granger)

3:30 Sacrificing to Save: Love, Loss, and Redemption for Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore (Emily Honey)

4:30 Severus Snape, Jedi Master (Logospilgrim)

Saturday, July 17

10:00 Harry Potter: A Symbol of the Infinite Power of Courage and Love (David Gras)

11:00 Significance of Holidays in HP: Halloween, Christmas, and Easter (Connie Neal)

1:30 The Potter Pundits (Travis Prinzi, James Thomas, and John Granger)

4:00 Severus Snape is a Fiery Snake: How a Slytherin Became the Bravest Hero (Travis Prinzi)

5:00 Sneaking Past the Watchful Dragons: Christian Themes in Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia (Denise Roper)

My presentataion is scheduled during the very last hour of the last day of formal programming.¬†I don’t know yet when my book signings for The Lord of the Hallows will be, but if you want to buy a copy, please visit www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows or visit the sidebar to get information on how to obtain a signed copy from me.

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If you have read Melissa Anelli’s book, Harry, A History and you think you know all of the insider information that J. K. Rowling has revealed to the webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron, you’re in for a surprise. Melissa’s website has a section called “Vault 27” in which she has released previously unpublished interviews with J. K. Rowling. In one such interview Rowling revealed the working title of the seventh Harry Potter novel:

MA: One of them was the Hallows of Hogwarts.

JKR: Yeah, well, all those titles were mine.

MA: You just sent a list –

JKR: Yeah, I sent them a list of plausible titles, including the real one. Hallows of Hogwarts for years was going to be the title of the seventh, and it was wrong, just wrong.

MA: They aren’t all of Hogwarts.

JKR: Exactly. It changed completely, so Deathly Hallows was definitely the right way to go. I like the title of Deathly Hallows.

¬†In The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, I explained that the term hallows can refer to the shrines or relics of saints. Book seven is esentially a quest novel involving a search for relics.

¬†The numerous parallels between the Grail Hallows of Arthurian legend and Rowling’s Deathly Hallows are discussed¬†in detail in my book. Of particular interest are the Grail Hallows described in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Medieval romance Parzival. This romance involves a quest for a Grail Stone or¬†“phoenix stone”¬†which is a¬†certain type of ¬†“stone of resurrection,” a term which alludes to the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone.¬†¬†The Parsival legend also mentions another Grail Hallow– an¬†object of great power–the Holy Lance that pierced Christ’s side, mentioned in John 19:34. In legend it would be¬†renamed “The Spear of Destiny.” The Grail Stone and the Spear of Destiny, of course, have Wizarding World counterparts in the Resurrection Stone and the Wand of Destiny.

Melissa Anelli has given us an intriguing list of fake titles for the seventh Harry Potter book. Just insert “Harry Potter and the” in front of each one:

Heart of Ravenclaw
Deathly Hallows
Deadly Veil
Demon’s Sword
Quest of the Serpent
Grey Lady
Heir of Gryffindor
Lost Sceptre
Broken Wand
Gryffindor Quest
Peverell Quest
Wand of Gryffindor
Ring of Destiny
Elder Wand
Revenge of Dumbledore
March of the Death Eaters
Return of the Dark Lord
Curse of Nagini
Last Prophecy
Hallows of Hogwarts
Mudblood Revolt
Seventh Horcrux
Wand of Grindelwald
Final Curse

¬†Another fascinating excerpt revealed more of Rowling’s thoughts about the conflict between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, especially with regards to the symbolic Christian interpretation of the novels that¬†I have proposed.¬†¬†

JKR: Well, it’s the old fallen angel idea in some ways, isn’t it? It’s God and Lucifer.
MA: I wanted to ask you about that, because Grindelwald resembles – the golden curls, the first person I thought of was Lucifer.
 
When reading this,¬†keep in mind that in 2002 John Granger proposed a symbolic interpretation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in which Dumbledore is “God the Father,” Fawkes the Phoenix is “Christ,” and Phoenix Song is the “Holy Spirit.” (The Hidden Key to Harry Potter page 198)
 
For more from Melissa Anelli and J. K. Rowling, please visit http://www.harryahistory.com/vault27.html.
 

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¬† Here’s yet another positive review of The Lord of the Hallows from goodreads.com. A. T. Ross wrote:

A. T.‘s review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

bookshelves: literary-study

status: Read from April 08 to 10, 2010

 

This little book proved to be a wonderful introduction to some of the Christian themes and symbols in the Potter novels. There is a danger in being friends with John Granger, and that is in assuming that all the symbolism in the Potter books have already been discovered, and one of my chief criteria for a book examining the Harry Potter series is that it add something new to our collective knowledge of them. This book met and surpassed that criteria. If you’ve read Granger, there will be some overlap, but not a whole lot and there is a lot of great stuff here that hadn’t even occurred to me. I thought I knew most of what there was to know about name origins, but Roper’s explanation of Dumbledore’s name (for instance) was simply fantastic. Her use of Medieval bestiaries and tapestries, not to mention her interpretation of Horcruxes and Rowling’s clear use of Arthurian legend, just made the book that much better.

There were only two flaws to the book. The first flaw was that as you read and come to a brilliant insight, a hundred more examples of what she is talking about spring into your mind. For instance, in the chapter on the belief in God in Harry Potter, she makes a valid point, but I would have wanted mention of other instances, such as all the instances of characters, specifically Harry, praying. And there is a fantastic moment in HBP (p. 271) when young Voldemort is mock praying, only he is worshiping himself.

The only other flaw is that the book is only 109 pages, and that I didn’t want it to end that soon.

My response to A. T. Ross:

Thank you for the positive review. I really loved what you wrote about my book. As for the chapter on belief in God in Harry Potter, an author named Nancy Solon Villaluz has written about every instance of a character “praying” in the series, so I didn’t want to write about what she has already described in her book, “Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons?” And with regards to John Granger, I’m a HUGE fan of his work. When I read his first book on Harry Potter several years ago, I began keeping a journal of my own interpretations of the symbolism in the series, predictions about what would happen in the final three books, and a lot of detailed research notes. I didn’t plan on writing a book though. A week after Deathly Hallows was released I was asked to fill in as a guest lecturer at a local SF/F convention at the last minute. I used my notes to put together a one-hour lecture that was received with cheers, a few tears, and a standing ovation from an audience of about 200 fans. “You should write a book,” was what I heard for the rest of the day, so I started writing one. ūüôā

I have actually written a lot more on Rowling and C. S. Lewis since The Lord of the Hallows was published. I’ll be presenting my paper on Harry Potter and Narnia at the Infinitus 2010 Harry Potter Symposium in Orlando.

I’m glad that you enjoyed the book. Thank you so much for your kind words.

Denise Roper

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This is my interview with Melissa Sleeman of ImagiCon, a convention that takes place in Birmingham, AL the weekend of May 22, 2010.

How did you first become interested or introduced to the worlds of The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter?

 
I have been a fan of the The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings ever since I first read those books¬†in my childhood and adolescent years.¬†Throughout my years of reading,¬†these books have set the standard in fantasy literature as far as I’m concerned, with very few series coming close to their level of quality. ¬†It wasn’t until I re-read the novels of Lewis and Tolkien¬†as an adult, however, that I fully appreciated the religious symbolism in them.
 
I wasn’t going to read the Harry Potter series at first, thinking they were mere children’s books and probably not very serious ones at that. Then I saw the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the theater in 2001, fell in love with the three lead characters,¬†and then immediately wanted to read the rest of the series to find out what else happened to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I bought all of the Harry Potter books that were available at that time–the first four had been published–and devoured them in less than a week. I re-read them as soon as I got to the end of the fourth one. I was hooked.
 
I also noticed that Lewis and Rowling used a lot of the same sorts of mythological creatures in the creation of¬†their¬†imaginary worlds. Many of¬†Lewis’s and Rowling’s fantastic beasts¬†have symbolic significance in the history of Christian art in literature. I also noticed that Rowling was subtly hinting at some of the same profound religious themes¬†that are found in¬†the fiction of both Lewis and Tolkien. I was eager to see if my theories about her were correct. The publication of the next two volumes of the Harry Potter series revealed further evidence that I might be correct in my assumption that Rowling is a Christian fantasy writer in the tradition of Lewis and Tolkien. The final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as I had anticipated, was revealed to be a story about self-sacrificial love overcoming death. Rowling was even bold enough to include two direct Biblical quotations in her narrative. Not even Tolkien and Lewis made their intentions that obvious! I was delighted when I read the seventh installment of the Harry Potter series.
 
What inspired you to look at the symbolism?
Before the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I read a book called The Hidden Key to Harry Potter by John Granger. He was one of the first Christian authors to write a book defending the Harry Potter series from the Christian critics who would see the series banned or even burned so that children couldn’t read it. Granger’s theories are absolutely brilliant. I believe he was the first author to compare Rowling with C. S. Lewis, and he had me convinced that my own theories were likely very valid ones. I started to do my own research at that point and¬†began to keep notebooks of my findings and¬†the theories that sprang from them. One rare book on Christian symbolism that I managed to track down was The Bestiary of Christ by Louis Charbonneau-Lassay. This book has a wealth of information on the symbolic significance of the lion, unicorn, stag, phoenix, and the weasel,¬†which definitely influenced my interpretation of the Potter books.

I read that you’re a member of the Mythopoeic Society.¬† It sounds mysterious.¬† Is there anything you can tell the readers about it?¬† Has the Society influenced your writing or did you write your book before you joined.

The Mythopoeic Society is a group of scholars and fans dedicated to the study of the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and their friend Charles Williams. All three were Christian writers of fantastic fiction, and all three were members of the famous Oxford-based literary club known as¬†the Inklings. I discovered Mythlore, the journal of the Mythopoeic Society, while attending Louisiana State University as an undergraduate in the late 1980’s. I became a subscriber to the journal and a member of the society many years later though. But for decades¬†I have been aware that the Inklings’ fiction is considered serious literature¬†in many university literary circles. Mythlore features some very fine scholarly writing on my favorite authors’ works, and I think I did consciously try to emulate the tone¬†used by¬†that journal’s contributors when I wrote The Lord of the Hallows.
 
Also note that articles on J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have been featured in Mythlore in recent years. After the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I was thrilled to learn that Rowling¬†had been¬†honored with the prestigious Mythopoeic Society Award. It seems that I’m not the only person who thinks Rowling is a modern-day Inkling!
 
As a panelist in the Harry Potter: Whomping Willows Track, what can the attendees look forward to hearing?
I’ve got two power point lecture presentations ready for the convention. One is called “Sneaking Past the Watchful Dragons: Christian Themes in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia.” The other is “The Lord of the Hallows: J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling as Sub-creators of Christian Myth.”

Do you encourage questions at your panels?

Yes! I love listening to what other Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling fans have to say. People come up with some really interesting theories.

Is the panel just for Christians or does the symbolism go beyond those boundaries?

The panels¬†are for everyone. The first time¬†I did a lecture on Harry Potter was back in 2007 at a science fiction and fantasy convention in Baton Rouge called Babel Con. The presentation was so well-received that many of the attendees–Christian, non-Christian, agnostic, and even athiest acquaintances of mine–were saying they thought it was fascinating and afterwards they were all saying to me, “You should write a book!” And so I did. ūüôā

Are the following sites the only places to get your books? www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows, www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com

Those are all good places to buy the book. Autographed copies are available from http://stores.alibris.com/SilverUnicornBooks as well. Fans can certainly bring their copies of the book to me at the convention if they want me to sign a personalized message for them.
 
What are your hopes that people will come away with, from your book and from your panel?
I hope that my theories will encourage readers to look beyond the surface layer of meaning of any fantasy or science fiction text that they may encounter and search for the deeper meaning of the stories which they love. For me personally, it’s not enough to be a fan of a book or movie, I want to know why I’m a fan of a particular series. What moral or theological significance does the work have and how does it resonate with my personal beliefs? Ask yourself, “Does membership in this particular fandom enrich my life? Does it make me a better person?” I believe that the really great stories have the power to change people,¬†transform society, even change the world. Young people especially need stories about good and evil, the moral choices we must make in our lives, and the consequences of those choices.

Do you have a Web site for more information about you and the book?

Please visit the publisher’s site at www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows for a synopsis of the book, and also visit my author blog at https://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com¬†for more information about my writng, convention appearances, and upcoming book signings.

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I did my first book signings for The Lord of the Hallows at AZKATRAZ 2009 in San Francisco this past July. When I arrived at the convention, I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that I would be doing a couple of author readings in addition to my regularly scheduled presentation as  part of the formal programming. The authors I met at the convention included Melissa Anelli (author of Harry, A History and webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron fansite), John Granger (the Hogwarts Professor himself!), Travis Prinzi (author of Harry Potter & Imagination), Valerie Frankel (author of two Harry Potter parodies), and Dr. James Thomas (author of Re-Potting Harry Potter). Meeting John Granger was fantastic  because I am a huge fan of his work, and I was truly flattered that Travis Prinzi, Valerie Frankel, and Dr. James Thomas bought my book. The presentations and the signings were a great success. I want to thank all of the fans who bought my book and gave me such positive feedback.

I am known as PhoenixWeasley at MyLeaky, the social networking site for Harry Potter fans over at www.the-leaky-cauldron.org. Here are some of the positive comments I have received from the Harry Potter fans at MyLeaky who have read the book:

“Greetings, Phoenix. I got your book today and have started reading it. It is very scholarly and very interesting. Well done!!!”–from FrescaROAR

“I am now reading the book and¬†I love it. There are a lot of things that I hadn’t picked up on or hadn’t fully understood [about the Harry Potter series]… And, it is so cool to have such an interesting, in-depth positive look at Harry Potter… I love this book. :)”–from Moose_Star¬†

“I’d love to someday see a second edition, more set up as a textbook, or a trade book, with full academic citation…Thanks for this, Phoenix Weasley!!!”–from JohannMdlAmerica

“I just finished reading your book–delightful. Broad in coverage yet concise. Thanks.”–from wordsaremagic

With regards to the quotations from 1 Corinthians 15:26 and Matthew 6:21 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: “There has been a lot of debate by literary scholars about what these two passages mean in the context of Deathly Hallows. If you want to follow up on that, I recommend two books, The Lord of the Hallows by Denise Roper and How Harry Cast His Spell by John Granger.”–another quote from wordsaremagic.

These comments really made my day! I would like to sincerely thank  all of the fans at MyLeaky who have shown so much support for my efforts as a writer.

I have a number of book signings coming up in my home state of Louisiana. Here’s what I have scheduled so far:

Saturday, September 12, 2009, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.¬†at “Art After Dark,” located at the Whitney Bank building in downtown Houma.

Saturday, September 26, 2009, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Cherry Books, located at 1054 Canal Boulevard in Thibodaux.

Saturday, November 28, 2009, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at The Little Flower Bookstore, located at 674 Range Avenue in Denham Springs.

I will update this blog with additional book signing information as I receive it. On Wednesday September 9, 2009, the Houma Daily Courier and Thibodaux Daily Comet¬†published a feature article on my book.¬†I’d like to thank Laura McKnight for interviewing me. She did a great job! ūüôā

Of course, many of the people reading this blog are not able to attend the book signings. The Lord of the Hallows is always available at www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows if you wish to purchase it online.

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Welcome to my blog.¬†My name is¬†Denise M. Roper, and I am the author of the soon-to-be-published book, The¬† Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s¬†Harry Potter.¬†This book was written as a result of my involvement in Harry Potter fandom. I have been a fan of the series since 2001 when I saw the first film in the theater.¬†¬†Immediately after seeing the film,¬†I¬†bought all of the Harry Potter books that had been published at that time. I read and re-read them in eager anticipation of the next book or film release. Websites such as The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet were essential sources of news and information about each new installment in Harry’s ongoing adventures.

Prior to becoming a Potter fan, I was (and still am) a fan of George Lucas’s¬†Star Wars films, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. As a college student, I also read nearly every book about King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the quest for the Holy Grail that I could find.¬†In my youth,¬†I loved these heroic sagas for the adventure, excitement, plot, and characters. It was only after re-watching the original Star Wars films and re-reading Tolkien and Lewis as an adult that I became conscious of the religious elements in these three series. I read nearly every book and article I could find on Tolkien and Lewis–biographies, literary criticism, essay collections, and articles–and saw that perhaps my great love for Narnia and Middle-earth was due in part to the fact that their authors shared my Christian world view. When I became a Harry Potter fan, I strongly suspected that Rowling was following along the path that Tolkien and Lewis had walked before her. I began to see a great deal of religious symbolism in the books, but kept my theories to myself in various notebooks and journals, thinking I was alone in interpreting the books that way. I was wrong.

In 2002, I discovered What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? and The Gospel According to Harry Potter by Connie Neal, and John Killinger’s God, the Devil, and Harry Potter during the time of the intense debate amongst Christians in America over the boy wizard’s adventures.¬†I read John Granger’s The Hidden Key to Harry Potter in March 2003, the same year that the novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released. Mr. Granger’s fascinating¬†book explained the Christian and alchemical symbolism found in the Harry Potter series, and it served as¬†the catalyst for the chain reaction that followed.

As a devoted¬†science fiction and fantasy fan, I have enjoyed attending conventions and meeting other fans online.¬†While visiting various Harry Potter fandom websites, I discovered that there were Harry Potter-themed¬†¬†symposiums. I live in South Louisiana and never expected that such an event¬†would be hosted in my home state.¬†On May 17-21,¬†2007, Phoenix Rising was held in New Orleans, LA. I went to it and was absolutely gobsmacked by the number of people in attendance, the costuming, the quality of the programming, and the media coverage,¬†(which,¬†I later found out, included ¬†MTV News). I was present in the audience for Borders’ legendary “Great Snape Debate,” and I wore my “Good Snape” badge with pride. The most enjoyable part of the event for me was, of course, the academic programming. I was delighted to see college professors from around the United States present their research papers on The Boy Who Lived. I thought that I might like to be a presenter at¬†a Harry Potter symposium someday.¬†Before leaving New Orleans I had picked up a postcard with the dates of the Portus 2008 Harry Potter symposium in Dallas, Texas and made plans to attend that event.

The final novel of J. K. Rowling’s seven part series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,¬†was released¬†in July 2007.¬†¬†The Godric’s Hollow chapter sent me running to grab my Bible. I immediately recognized the two scripture quotations that were inscribed on the Dumbledore and Potter family tombstones, and had to check in my Bible for the exact chapter and verse. Aha! Matthew 6:21 and 1 Corinthians 15:26 were added to my ever-expanding¬†collection of notes.

Later in¬†the summer of 2007, I was involved with the second annual Babel Con science fiction and fantasy convention in Baton Rouge, LA. About five days before the event, one of the convention’s board members contacted me about a cancellation that had occurred. He had an hour of time to fill and wanted to know if I could give a talk on the new Harry Potter book. My answer was a definite yes, and I then began to write a speech, sometimes referring to my notes, but mostly relying on my Bible, my collection of art books and Medieval bestiary texts, and the Harry Potter books themselves. The result was a first draft of a paper called “Unlocking the Secrets of the Hallows: A Key to Understanding Christian Symbolism in Harry Potter,” which eventually became my presentation at Portus 2008¬† in Dallas. I got a standing ovation at the conclusion of my lecture in Baton Rouge, and was told my many of the attendees, “Denise, you should write a book.” In Dallas the following summer, I got the same reaction from a different audience, and so with that encouragement, I continued to write.

I¬†began writing¬†another paper on common themes in Rowling’s Harry Potter¬†and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, with the intention of presenting it at Azkatraz 2009 in San Francisco. I submitted it, and to my great joy, it was accepted. The research I did for these¬†two papers became the foundation for The Lord of the Hallows, which will (hopefully) be released this summer.

I am an instrumental music teacher by profession, with two music degrees from Louisiana State University. The world of writing and publishing is new to me, but I have summoned up my Gryffindor courage to take on this new and exciting challenge.

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