You may have noticed that around here, we have, well, sort of a thing for wizarding school and magic. So you won’t be surprised to learn that we LOVED author Rainbow Rowell’s latest book, Carry On (okay, we love all of her books, but this one is about WIZARDS and WIZARD SCHOOL and ROMANCE). Not only did we love the book, we were also lucky enough to attend the book’s launch in New York City at the Powerhouse Arena!
Die hard fans showed up over 2.5 hours before the event was set to start just to guarantee good seats!
And why not? It’s not like there wasn’t anything to do during that time…
Although it was hard to stay focused when event staff were setting up for such an amazing celebration:
Before too long, it was time for the event to begin! Joining Rainbow in conversation was author Lev Grossman, best-selling author of the awesome Magicians series (soon to be a television series on Syfy!). Their conversation was lively and informative, covering everything from Rainbow’s early work as a journalist to whether or not the new Star Wars is going to be any good (maybe?), but, of course, we were all really here to hear all about the new book! And, given that Carry On is a “Chosen One” narrative following Simon Snow in his eighth year at Watford School of Magicks after having been locked in a dangerous struggle with an evil power ever since his first year, it’s no surprise that Harry Potter was a frequent topic of conversation (which is always fine by us!).
Here are just a few snippets of their conversation:
Lev: Did you read the first Harry Potter when it came out?
Rainbow: Yes. I made my whole adult book club read it. Because I was a journalist, and I would read the Wires, and they were like, “All of England is [so excited] about this book. And I was like, “Great, let’s read it!” I remember going to the Walden books in the mall to buy it. I was there. I was just there…I did not have a computer in my house…We were like, “We have computers at work, we don’t need computer at home. But we weren’t allowed to use the internet at work. So it was kind of just me and Harry. Me, Harry, and the Entertainment Wire.
Lev: Did you write fan fiction [about Harry Potter]?
Rainbow: Then, no. I did not write it immediately. Fan fiction was something I had done as a youth, on my own, and it wasn’t fan fiction then because there was no internet anywhere. It was just like, “Please don’t find this Mom.” So I didn’t write fan fiction initially. Then, after the last film…I got to the end of the books fine, because there were still so many movies, and they were making like three for every book, so every year at Christmas I was always going to have a new Harry Potter…And then…I walked out of that movie and panicked in the lobby…I actually googled “best Harry Potter fan fiction” on my phone in the car.
Also, I had an argument in the movie theater with my friend about Harry, and I was like, “I really think Harry’s gay. I really have always felt this way. I thought I was the only person who thought this ever. I just really feel like he’s got the best relationship with – I mean he spends more time talking about Draco than anybody.” And [my friend’s] like, “You know the internet agrees with you.” I typed in “Harry Draco” and was like “Ahh! The internet is good and wise.”
Lev: Harry. Simon. Compare and Contrast.
Rainbow: Well. I think that in the book I definitely am pushing your Harry Potter buttons. Because first of all they’re easy to find. Like, I didn’t really write this book for people who haven’t read Harry Potter. I’m assuming that people who are gonna read this book have read Harry Potter. I’m assuming you’ve at least seen Twilight. I think you probably know about Buffy. I’m hoping you’ve watched Star Wars. It would help me thematically if you’ve read some of the Bible. I know you know about Superman. I did walk into this really feeling like I’m only writing this for these people. And everyone who reads this book (who I care about) will have all of these references and they will already know enough. That’s the target. I want people to start the book and be like, “Well, It’s the most powerful magician who’s ever lived and he’s on a train to magic school. And he has to save the world. I want you, the reader, to be like, “I know who this is. This is – YES.” And then I’m gonna be like, “No. You know nothing.”
Lev: There is this wonderful interesting dynamic whenever someone writes a book like this that plays off another book because there is this wonderful, loving homage and yet it’s also a little bit like…let’s pull off the rug and let’s look what’s underneath…Is there an element of critique in there? Or satire of Harry Potter?
Rainbow: I think Harry Potter specifically, of course. I think that Harry Potter is a book written primarily…it’s mostly for children…Like absolutely you can love it as an adult. But when I’m reading it to my kids, I don’t feel like, “Oh, this is more for me than you.” I feel like it’s for them and it is there for my oldest son especially in a way that few other things are. I feel like it’s kind of a moral guiding light, like a star, for him to figure out his feelings. Like when we would read Harry Potter together – we had to stop because it got too scary – but we got to book four together, and we would have very very intense conversations when we were done. We would talk as much as we would read. So I think Harry Potter is really important in the way that children’s books can be.
But I read it as an adult, and when you read a children’s book as an adult I feel like you are interrogating it in a totally different way. So I was kind of like, “Why doesn’t every single adult who walks in here hug Harry?” and “Why is no one touching him?”. Nobody touches Harry ever! Who is his family? Does he have family? Is Dumbledore his family?…Dumbledore is sacrificing him. That’s good. I’m glad he’s doing that because you know, saving the world, but in the meantime can someone hug him? [T]he epilogue was completely not fulfilling for me as a 38 year old. Why isn’t this all about their therapy? Like I don’t care what he does for a living or who he gets married to, I just look at that and think, “Well that’s a trainwreck.” Unless he’s gotten SO MUCH therapy…So I think yes, as I’m writing I’m taking [Harry Potter] apart because I love it so much.
Trust me when I say there were SO MANY OTHER interesting things covered – but, alas, I can only write so fast and remember so much. I highly recommend attending any event featuring either of these magnificent authors if you ever get the chance. After an audience Q & A, there was only one more thing left – the signing!
All in all, it was a wonderful evening celebrating an amazing book. We recommend all Harry Potter fans get a copy as soon as they are able! Thank you to all the Powerhouse Arena and Griffin Teen for working so hard to make the evening a success!