Book Talk 5: Harry Potter and Baby’s First Fandom


Episode Transcript
Rachel:0:00Let’s talk about books.

Sarah:0:09Good morning.

Rachel:0:10Good morning. You ready to talk about some books?

Sarah:0:12Well, no, because first we’re going to talk about a movie.

Rachel:0:16Okay. A book slash a movie.

Sarah:0:19Yes. So since our last episode, Crazy Rich Asians came out.

Rachel:0:23Yes. And I just finished the book, so it’s perfect timing.

Sarah:0:27Yes. And I just saw the movie, which you haven’t seen yet.

Rachel:0:31I know and I’m super jealous.

Sarah:0:32Yeah. Luckily I can’t spoil it for you because you did read the book.


Sarah:0:36And I’ve got to say this is, I think it’s a really good movie adaptation.

Rachel:0:41That’s what I keep hearing.

Sarah:0:42So the book, you know, it’s got a ton of storylines.

Rachel:0:45So many characters.

Sarah:0:47Because it’s told by all these different characters and there are definitely some things that are very complicated in the book because the basic premise is of course Henry and Rachel are dating. Henry Takes Rachel to meet his family in Singapore because they’re going, he’s in a wedding as the best man.

Rachel:1:01Yeah. Yeah. I mean we went through most of that last month we can probably.

Sarah:1:05Yeah. Anyway, they’re absurdly rich and Rachel doesn’t know. And in the book there’s a long, Rachel doesn’t know for a very long time, and she finds out sooner in the movie.


Sarah:1:13There are more hints. Just they simplify some stuff about. I don’t want to give stuff away, but the more complicated stuff gets simplified. Sort of the whole storyline with her father is simplified. The Gohs, their storyline is a little different. Just they’d know who Henry’s family is.

Rachel:1:30Yeah, I think I could tell that from some of the trailers.

Sarah:1:33Yeah, just so it’s a little less complicated about because they have this whole storyline, the book about figuring out who Henry’s family. Yeah. No, they, they already know in the movie so that they explained to Rachel.

Rachel:1:45So. So where would you rate it?

Sarah:1:47It’s great.

Rachel:1:47Not as good as the book, but it’s still a really good adaptation?

Sarah:1:50I would say just as strong as the book.

Rachel:1:52Okay, cool. High praise.

Sarah:1:54Because this book, this book is just fun. That’s what I would just describe it.

Rachel:1:59That’s how I’ve been describing it to everyone as soon as I finished it. I was like, it’s just fun from beginning to end.

Sarah:2:02Yeah, and the movie is too. It’s a very, very fun movie with a lot of really spectacular stars.

Rachel:2:10Yeah, I’ve been watching a bunch of interviews and behind the scenes stuff with them and they’re hilarious.

Sarah:2:16The wild thing is the actor playing Henry,

Rachel:2:19He had never done anything before!

Sarah:2:20No, he wasn’t an actor. He does

Rachel:2:21He was like a reporter

Sarah:2:23Yeah, I think he did travel shows or something. This is his first time acting and he’s in a blockbuster movie in a starring role. Yeah. And also the woman who plays the grandmother.


Rachel:2:34You’re secretly googling, aren’t you.

Sarah:2:38I forgot to double check

Rachel:2:39I can hear you tapping away over there.

Sarah:2:40I know I forgot to double check on her name. Uh, so I’m double checking on it. Lisa Lu, Lisa Lu, she was in Joy Luck Club.

Rachel:2:48Oh, that’s cool.

Sarah:2:49Yeah. And it’s a lot of people are talking about how Joy Luck Club was the last all Asian ensemble cast movie and it was 25 years ago, so I think it’s very cool that she was in both.

Rachel:2:59Oh, that’s cool.

Sarah:3:00Just a lot of [great actors] like they’ve got Constance Wu, who stars in Fresh Off the Boat.

Rachel:3:02Yes, I love Constance. She’s so adorable. Also they have Awkwafina who it seemed was going to be hilarious in it.

Sarah:3:09Oh, she’s fantastic

Rachel:3:10With her blonde wig and everything. Obviously, I’m very excited to see this.

Sarah:3:15She’s great. Yeah, it’s, it’s a really good adaptation. Lot of things had to be simplified because there are some really like absurdly complicated sort of machinations going on in the book, but they did a really good job. They’re true to the book while making it more clear.

Rachel:3:32I mean that’s all you can ask for it really. So tell me about what else you’re reading or what you’re actually reading since that was a movie.

Sarah:3:39Since that was a movie and I read it in March or something. It’s been a while since I actually read it. So I recently finished a Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, which I actually think you maybe recommended to me.

Rachel:3:51I did. I saw it floating around on Litsy, which for anybody who doesn’t know, and if you listen to our podcast then you’re probably a big old book nerd like us, it’s a great app for book nerds, just basically all about books all the time. And anyway, I saw a lot of people talking about it on there and I know you really like fun, awesome romance stories. So I thought it would be right up your alley.

Sarah:4:11And it super was. The story,is about Naledi this young woman living in New York. She’s a grad student in infectious disease and works as a waitress to make money and she’s trying to figure out like her future with grad school and then there’s Thabiso who is the prince of a small African nation and he’s coming to New York to meet with a company to talk about a deal. We find out that prince Thabiso so was betrothed to a woman named Naledi whose parents fled and you know, were traitors and stole their daughter away. And I did mention this to talk about Naledi but Naledi grew up in the foster system in America. So, knows nothing about her family. So of course, they were betrothed as children and Naledi has no idea. And Prince Thabiso is like going to go confront her because he thinks she knows and then comes to find out that she has no idea and


Sarah:5:13It’s great. It starts right away with Naledi receiving an email from prince Thabiso’s assistance and thinking it’s a scam.

Rachel:5:21Seems like a scam.

Sarah:5:22Yeah. She’s like, you know, they’re like talking about Thesolo and how she needs to contact them and just she’s like, okay, these are scammers. It’s got that. Then it’s got like all these great romance tropes like Prince Thabiso pretends not to be a prince. He’s just a normal guy and then she finds out and then there’s like this mysterious illness happening in Thesolo. So they go back Thesolo where she’s going to try and help and then of course she gets sick with it. It’s really good stuff. It’s got all that sort of good romance stuff you look for and there’s a sequel already out which is also quite good and it’s called A Duke by Default. So yeah, if you like romance, this is a series worth checking out because it’s really, really good. I haven’t read any of Alyssa Cole’s other series yet. She has a dystopian series and historical romance series. It’s like a dystopian romance kind of thing and I haven’t read either of those yet, but I’m planning to because I liked this series so much. So what are you reading?

Rachel:6:19Yeah, so I’m currently reading this awesome YA short story collection called Three Sides of a Heart, stories about love triangles, which was edited by Natalie C. Parker and it’s really fun. I’m not as, you know, I’m not necessarily the biggest fan always of the whole love triangle trope. I dunno, I feel like it’s a little overdone and not always done particularly well. I like when stories undermine it or do new things with it and that’s a lot of what this collection is doing and so I really appreciate that and it’s just, it’s fun, like it’s just cute fun YA short stories by some really great authors like Julie Murphy and Justina Ireland. Those were also probably two of my favorite stories that I’ve read in the collection so far were the ones by them, but yeah, I’m, I’m lucky in a whole lot. I think you’d probably like it too since it’s definitely got that romance vibe going on. But yeah, it’s just a really cute one. So I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes YA and is looking for something sort of light and fun, whether you like, love triangles or not because I really do think it’s kind of doing some different things with them.

Sarah:7:18Hmm, sounds interesting.

Rachel:7:19So tell me what else you’re reading.

Sarah:7:21So I also just finished a book and we usually avoid strong language and I would say this is on the mild side, but the title does have a word in it that if you’re very opposed to that maybe,

Rachel:7:32Cover your ears five seconds.

Sarah:7:34It’s Bygone Baddass Broads by Mackenzi Lee. And it’s really interesting. It’s just a collection of these um, interesting woman from history who are mostly forgotten. I’ve read a lot of books about this sort of topic because I find it very interesting and even then I may be recognized five of the women in the story. It’s got great illustrations. The stories are really interesting and there’s some cool women. There’s this one woman who might be my favorite. She was in Soviet Russia, her husband got killed during World War II, so she took her life savings, bought a tank.

Rachel:8:07Oh my God.

Sarah:8:08Took her tank to the front lines and then like fought the Germans and there’s this letter she wrote to Stalin like asking for permission to do this. That’s in the book and it’s, it’s good. So just a lot of really cool women doing really cool things and it’s sort of like a range, like you have women like that who fought, it talks about nurses, it talks about scientists, all these different women who did cool things that have been forgotten by history.

Rachel:8:32That sounds one thousand percent like my kind of book.

Sarah:8:34It definitely is. So what else are you reading?

Rachel:8:38So the other book I’m reading at the moment is called Blanca and Roja by Anna Marie McLemore who’s written a number of books that I’ve been wanting to read, but this is actually the first one of hers that I’m reading and it’s coming out October ninth. But yeah, it’s really cool. It’s got a lot of kind of fairytale vibes, like from the title you can maybe guess. There’s definitely some Snow White and Rose Red sort of homages going on and also I’m getting some, I don’t think it’s actually swan princess vibes, but like that kind of thing because there’s a lot of stuff related to swans and basically the premise is that there are these two sisters. They’re the del Cisne sisters and basically this family is cursed at one of the sisters is always going to be turned into a swan and one will remain human when they reach the age of 15. And so these two sisters are very different. Blana is like the very pale, you know, sweet, good one and Roja has darker hair and is kind of brasher and not as nice and so they kind of both assumed from a young age that Roja is probably going to be the one who gets taken by th swan since she’s not as good, but they really love each other and they don’t want that to happen. So they’re kind of trying to undermine it by being more like each other. And then these two boys show up in the woods and there’s some like animal transformation stuff going on and yeah, it’s just really cool. It’s got a lot of fairytale vibes, but it still a modernish setting and the writing is just really lovely and I’m really loving it. I definitely recommend it for anyone who loves sort of fairytale stories and beautiful prose.

Sarah:10:03That sounds really interesting. So now that we’ve talked about some of the books we’re reading, let’s talk about Harry Potter and how we sort of got involved in the Harry Potter fan community.

Rachel:10:14Yeah, I mean we’ve talked a little bit about how we got into Harry Potter in the first place when we were really little. But obviously it’s like however old we were when we first started reading it, we weren’t really involved in fandom yet.

Sarah:10:26I was nine, so…

Rachel:10:28I think we both, funnily enough, kind of got involved in the fandom at around the same time, which obviously since this is our book talk, going along with book five, it was about the time book five came out.

Sarah:10:40So I caught up to this series with book four, book five was the first book I waited on, but I read book four when I was 10 years old, so I was a bit young to sort of be on the Internet unsupervised. So it wasn’t until book five came out that I was able to sort of do more Harry Potter related things on the Internet and find the fan community

Rachel:11:02And I know because I’m sort of the same way. Book five as the first one. I sort of remember waiting for it to come out. I think it came out when I was in middle school and you know, just everybody sort of theorizing what would happen and who would be the new defense against the dark arts teacher and all this stuff. And after reading book five I think is when, for me at least I know like my involvement with the Harry Potter fandom is just. You cannot separate it from Mugglenet.

Sarah:11:25Yeah. Mugglenet was sort of the first site I discovered. I think they had like some sort of Harry Potter puzzle game or something. I don’t really remember what got me there in the first place, but I checked Mugglenet for updates every day.

Rachel:11:39Every day. Oh my gosh. Well they had forums and they had like quote lists and scene lists and fun facts about different characters and they had fan art and fan fiction and like honestly if it was something Harry Potter related, you could probably find something about it on Mugglenet.

Sarah:11:58Yeah. So. And I remember too, because you know now with book five we had to wait on the sequels and so much happens in book five that everyone had a whole lot of fan theories.

Rachel:12:10Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Sarah:12:11So we used to talk about our fan theories, like we would discuss them a lot, but also like going on the Internet and reading other people’s fan theories and considering the options.

Rachel:12:19Well we even had fan theory books, I actually found them. We still have them on some bookshelf.

Sarah:12:24Which is such a funny thing that these books of theories came out. I remember one had like, this is more book seven related, but had predictions that came up before book seven had predictions on percentage wise who would die.

Rachel:12:36Oh yeah. And it would give you like the odds of how likely it was each character was going to die.

Sarah:12:41And I remember, I hope you’ve read book seven. I’m going to spoil some deaths here, but I remember giving like both Hedwig and Dobby no chance they were going to die. Yeah.

Rachel:12:51And I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a high chance for Remus and Tonks and people like that either.

Sarah:12:55Yeah, it,

Rachel:12:56She took us in some unexpected

Sarah:12:57Caught everybody a little off guard. Yeah. Everyone’s taken a little by surprise with what happened in book seven.

Rachel:13:04Well I remember, one of the ones I was always proudest of I got right. And I mean a lot of people get this right. This was not an unpopular fan theory, but it was kind of a contentious one, but it was Harry’s a Horcrux and I remember us having discussions because you and dad adamantly for a long time were like no.

Sarah:13:19I did not think Harry was a Horcrux. I thought it was absurd. People couldn’t be Horcruxes.

Rachel:13:23And we’d get into arguments in the car about it. And I was like, no, obviously Harry’s a Horcrux. It makes sense.

Sarah:13:29I was like, it doesn’t make sense. And Of course it did.


Sarah:13:33Yeah. And of course later Rumblr became a part of sort of my fan community.

Rachel:13:40And that’s funny, I guess that was a bit of an age gap thing too, but I never got into the Tumblr fan community for Harry Potter at that age.

Sarah:13:48And so that was definitely later. That was more around book seven before Tumblr.

Rachel:13:53And you would have been around 16 then? Y

Sarah:13:56eah, 15 or 16, something like that. At that point, the only reason I bring up Tumblr is because Tumblr is where I found my favorite sort of alternative fan theory ever. I did a little research and I’m pretty sure it started on Tumblr, but it’s the one where instead of Cedric Digorry being the house or the Hogwarts champion, it’s Cassius Warrington, who’s a Slytherin.


Sarah:14:18Have you, you’ve never heard this?

Rachel:14:19No clearly please enlighten me.

Sarah:14:20It’s my favorite fan theory and we can link to it. I actually found like the post on Rumblr, so we can link to this in the show notes if you want to read the whole thing.

Rachel:14:29I do.

Sarah:14:30Basically the idea is that what would have happened if instead of Cedric Diggory being the Hogwarts champion it had been Cassius Warrington, who’s a Slytherin and he’s mentioned in book four is having put his name in and basically seeing the effect it would have had on Slytherin, like Slytherin would have been on board believing Voldemort was back. They probably would have in book seven fought the Death Eaters who killed one of their own.

Rachel:14:55That’s really interesting.

Sarah:14:56It just sort of bound Slytherin more to the rest of Hogwarts. It’s so interesting because I do think Slytherin isn’t. I think Slytherin should have been done a little differently in book seven. It’s fine the way it is. Like I understand it’s true to what’s happened before, but I think it could have been different.

Rachel:15:10We may discuss that more with book seven because I know we both have a lot of strong feelings about the Hogwarts houses too.

Sarah:15:15Yeah. And sort of the problems they caused, which maybe are intentional

Rachel:15:19The problems they cause and also some of the ways in which we don’t like how they are sometimes portrayed.

Sarah:15:24Yeah. And so this is just sort of like an idea that would have changed the whole way Slytherin was portrayed.

Rachel:15:31I love that. I had never heard that before. That’s, I really like that.

Sarah:15:33It’s fantastic. I also found out, I don’t know, I don’t think it’s the same person who came up with a theory, but someone’s written a fanfiction about it.


Sarah:15:42Of how it actually would have been if this had happened, which I also found. If I can find it again, we can link to that. I haven’t read it though. So you know, with fan fiction read at your own risk. I don’t know.

Rachel:15:55Check ratings, check tags, and still proceed with caution if you have concerns.

Sarah:16:00So that does kind of lead us a little into fan fiction, which I think is worth mentioning.

Rachel:16:07I think we both read quite a bit of Harry Potter fan fiction in our day.

Sarah:16:10Yeah. So I don’t remember the exact age. I found it through Mugglenet.


Sarah:16:15I was all about the Mugglenet fan fiction.

Rachel:16:17I think I got started reading at around 11 or 12 probably

Sarah:16:19And I was going to guess about 13 or so, maybe 12, 13 somewhere in there. So I read it a lot. So before we go any further though, I do have a question. Do you remember what your favorite sort of genre of Harry Potter fan fiction was?

Rachel:16:33Yeah. Well, so, and this is funny because we’ve talked about this before. We were drawn to very different kinds of Harry Potter fanfic, so the kinds of things I tend to be drawn to. I liked the angsty stuff. I mean we kind of talked about this a bit in relation to book five. I just kind of like that. I think I like, yeah, I don’t know kind of the emotional release of that, but I was definitely drawn to the angsty stuff particularly related to book five because there was so much about that and I really liked finding fics that sort of explored more of Harry’s trauma and how he was dealing with that. But yeah, I also, I really liked the fics where it was sort of writing continuations of the series. So like guessing what would happen in book six or book seven? Those were the things I tend to read.

Sarah:17:08And see, I did not like those. I did not read those at all because I would find myself getting confused between what actually happened and what had been fanfic.


Sarah:17:16So I mostly read marauders era fan fiction.

Rachel:17:19Which I did not read a whole lot of.

Sarah:17:21It’s basically prequels. So I mostly read things that were sort of outside the timeline of the books that I did read some. I mostly had the romance stuff. So it was like Ron/Hermione, Harry/Ginny, because those were my ships and I wasn’t gonna betray them.


Sarah:17:37Yeah. So I just, I didn’t like stuff that took place that same time. I did read a couple of AU kind of alternative endings. Like what if the death eaters won, kind of things. So I like those too because those were very different from the books, but mostly I was marauders era and of course I mentioned that I started reading at 12/13. So by the time I was about 14, you know, I’m a big Harry Potter nerd who has a journal and writes poetry because I was 14 and that’s what 14 year olds do. Um, so I was like, I should write Harry Potter fanfic.

Rachel:18:04Of course.

Sarah:18:05So I will say the great thing about Mugglenet is there sort of a quality gate to it you had to submit, and if it wasn’t good they would turn you down. And the vast majority of my fanfiction did get turned down. So the vast majority of my fanfiction has been deleted. It doesn’t exist. I didn’t save it.

Rachel:18:20Which is actually a shame.

Sarah:18:22Saving myself from embarrassment. No, it’s not because it can tell you one was, there was this whole genre of marauders era that had to do with Lily getting amnesia and I wrote one of those. So, you know, just. Oh, it’s bad. I’m embarrassed.

Rachel:18:37Well, important question though, because I do remember these being crazy popular during this time of fanfiction. Did you write any song fics?

Sarah:18:47No, I didn’t think you would know about those. I didn’t think you would ask.

Rachel:18:49Sarah, I read fan fiction. Of course. I know about song fics.

Sarah:18:53So not only did I write some song fics, so I was. Let me get to the rest of the story. So I do have a few. I’m going to keep the number.

Rachel:19:00Yeah, no, don’t. You don’t have to give out any details because I get it.

Sarah:19:02I know I’m not going to go in detail. I did find it so it does still exist out there on the Internet. I wrote a few more than one. The majority of what I did, but not all was song fic.

Rachel:19:15That’s amazing. Do you want to explain what song fic is really fast just for anybody who doesn’t know?

Sarah:19:20So it’s so weird. It’s, you took a song as your inspiration and your fan fic went along with the song and frequently you would quote the song throughout the fanfic so that the reader would understand which verse of the song, the next few paragraphs related to. It was a whole thing. So on top of you know, the majority of what I did being song fic, you did mentioned you liked the angsty stuff, so I will also say more than half of what I wrote was a in the angsty genre. I only wrote, I wrote very little romance. Well, I wrote a lot of romance. Fortunately for me it was too bad to go on Mugglenet, so I am saved that embarrassment. Um, but yeah, I do think it’s a little funny that I wrote all the fan fic between the two of us. Well, at least the fanfic that exists online. I don’t know that you, if you wrote any secret fanfic.

Rachel:20:13I’m not gonna say I’ve never written any. I never wrote any for Harry Potter.

Sarah:20:17Okay. I wrote an absurd amount. I remembered distinctly at summer camp when I was a teenager, early teens. It was one of the last times I went to summer camp. We were on a bus and on the bus I was thinking about a fanfiction I was working on. Doing plotting in my head for my fanfiction.

Rachel:20:38I definitely remember having ideas for Harry Potter fanfic when I was that age, you know, 12, 13, 14. So I would think about it. I just never wrote any of them.

Sarah:20:48Lucky you.

Rachel:20:50No, I love it. I, I wish I had, I think that would be so much fun to go back and look at like even if it is kind of cringy.

Sarah:20:56I mean I’m more than a decade after writing and publishing most of it and it’s still very cringey to go back and look at. Because I had wondered, I wasn’t even sure if like the Mugglenet fanfiction site was still up.

Rachel:21:12Yeah, I checked that the other day too.

Sarah:21:14Let alone if, my stuff was still on there, but it sure is. It sure is.


Sarah:21:21And that’s all I’m going to say about my personal fanfiction because.

Rachel:21:26Because you don’t want anybody going out and finding it.

Sarah:21:28It’s pretty embarrassing. Some of it’s quite bad. Some of it’s not bad actually. It’s just a 14 year old wrote it so it’s the sort of angsty stuff a 14 year old writes and thinks is like really, really high quality literature and it’s really hard to read when you’re not 14 anymore. Really hard to read.

Rachel:21:47Yeah, I can understand that. Well, I guess we should probably wrap it up there since I think that’s a good kind of overview of our first introduction to fandom, so I would like to say a big thank you to Sahara Sky for the use of our theme song, Never Long Time Goes By from the album Escapism

Sarah:22:05And thank you for listening. You can get in touch with us by tweeting at unassignedpod over on Twitter or emailing us at unassignedreadingpod at gmail dot com. We’d love to hear from you.

Rachel:22:16And if you’re enjoying the show, please think about leaving us a positive review or tweet about the show. Both are really great ways to get the word out and help other people find out about it.

Sarah:22:24All true. We’ll be back on the 28th with a very special episode.

Rachel:22:29That’s right. We’ll be taking a brief break in our Harry Potter marathon to discuss one of our favorite fantasy books, Strange the Dreamer right before the sequel. Muse of Nightmares comes out in October, so it’s the perfect time to pick up the book and join in our discussion next month.

Sarah:22:42Now go read some books.

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