Transcript! MuggleNet Academia Lesson 52

Snape: A Definitive Reading, LIVE from Chestnut Hill College’s Harry Potter Conference

On Friday, October 21, 2016, the MuggleNet Academia podcast invited Lorrie Kim to join them as a guest to discuss Snape: A Definitive Reading.  Deannah Robinson (deannahm03 at gmail) provided the partial transcript below.

Hosts: Keith Hawk and John Granger

Guests: Lorrie Kim, Prof. Louise Freeman, and Prof. Emily Strand

[STARTS AT 00:05:22]

Keith Hawk: Today, we have a very special guest. She presented earlier this morning over on the other room. I would like to introduce you to her, if you haven’t met her before. She is Lorrie Kim, author of Snape: A Definitive Reading. Welcome, Lorrie! Also joining the show, we have Hogwarts professors all over the place. Professor Louise Freeman is the professor of Psychology at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, VA. And finally, Professor Emily Strand, who is a professor at Mount Carmel College of Nursing and a frequent guest on MuggleNet Academia, along with Professor Freeman. How many times have you been on the show, Emily?

Emily Strand: Um, I think this is my fourth.

John Granger: Fourth, that’s pretty good. Louise?

Louise Freeman: Uh, I think this is my sixth.

John: Yeah!

Keith: Sixth?

John: You can read both the things they write at HogwartsProfessor.com, and it’s a wonderful comment. I mean, everything that you want to know about the depths of the artistry and meaning of Harry Potter and Star Wars and Divergent, these ladies largely cover. Anyway, sorry; little plug.

Keith: No, that’s okay. Why don’t you tell us what we’re going to be talking about today?

John: People have the mistaken impression that the Hogwarts saga adventures are about The Boy Who Lived, when in fact anyone who has read the books closely realize that it’s largely the hidden story of the Potions Master Severus Snape. And so many of the films brought this out very quickly, that every scene that has Alan Rickman in it, all attention turns to the Potions Master. Up to this time, though there’s been certainly in fanfiction but also in critical commentary — if you do a literature review — you’ll find tremendous explorations of Snape with specific aspects of Snape, or Snape in this novel, or Snape and this character, or Snape and Neville Longbottom. Is it sadism? Snape and Harry Potter: is he a tragic father figure? Snape and Mudbloods and Slytherins. It’s never been given a definitive reading. What we have now is a text which is indeed a definitive reading where we follow Severus Snape through all seven books. And what we learn from Ms. Kim’s exegesis of the story is that the impression we got from the movies actually is correct, that the redemption of Severus Snape and his backstory — we only get in the very end, Chapter 33 of Deathly Hallows in “The Prince’s Tale” — that story has largely been what has driven his mystery throughout the series. So we’re thrilled to be able to have you on the podcast today to talk with you about Severus Snape, the revelations inside these books. So again, welcome.

Lorrie Kim: Thank you, thank you for having me.

Keith: Yeah, it’s like when you’re reading her book instead of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, it’s Snape and the easy Muggle Potion test or Severus Snape and how he teaches Expelliarmus, you know? It’s whatever is about Severus Snape, that’s what you’re reading in this book. It’s all his viewpoints on it. Again, welcome aboard, ladies. Our first question is the same on every show. Basically it’s just an introduction to the professors to let them tell us their story and why they’re teaching Harry Potter in their classrooms today. We’re going to do the same thing; it’s just going to be quick, very brief. How did you meet the Boy Who Lived? What is it that sparked an interest in you to not only read it once and twice and ten, twenty times but then to teach it in your classrooms at a higher level of education? Lorrie, why don’t you go first since you’re our special guest?

Lorrie: Well no, I’m not a teacher; I’m a mom, and my husband read the first chapter to me when I was sick one time. He said I would like it, and I did and I ate a book a day until I got — I think at that point there were five books. And then when I had kids, I saw the second generation of Harry Potter readers and fans and got interested in how people who had grown up with or become adults with the series, how they were transmitting it to their kids. Watching what they found important and what they realized that they hadn’t understood fully and had to go back and re-read, that was really interesting to me.

Keith: Louise, we’ve heard your story before on the show, but for those of you who have not heard your story, make it a simple one.

Louise: I’ll make it a very quick one. I’m the mother of a couple of first generation Harry Potter readers, so I learned the series by reading it aloud to my kids twice. That is the best way to experience it, by the way: in the very unlikely event that anyone listening or anyone in this room has not yet read Harry Potter, find a child and read it to a child. That’s the best way to experience it for the first time.

Keith: Emily?

Emily: Well, my son is not there yet; he’s only five, but he’s a big Star Wars guy right now, and he’s told me — although he has had no exposure to Harry Potter — he has told me in no uncertain terms that Star Wars is “way better than Harry Potter, mom.” I’m like, “Oh, kid, you just wait.” I use Harry Potter in my classroom, for sure. I use Star Wars as well, but I use Harry Potter because it seems to be able to help young people who have grown up with the books or the films and who have really become invested emotionally in the storyline and in the values the story presents. I find it much easier to help them to understand the power of religious myth and the power of the Christian mystery, which is the focus of my teaching. So to me, it’s just a really sharp tool in my toolkit for what I do and how I do it.

Keith: Great. Thank you very much. You mentioned that it’s been a while, first generation and now second generation’s reading it. You know, we have 20 years of Harry Potter. Is there anyone in this room that read Harry Potter in ’97? You’d have to be over in England if you did. It didn’t come out until ’97 in England.

(inaudible)

Keith: ’98. Came out in America in ’98. That’s when we got rights with Sorcerer’s Stone. Biggest mistake Arthur Levine made, but he gave us Harry Potter, so you know. But anyway, twenty years in the making. Did y’all see this? Special Newsweek edition: 20 Years Celebrating Harry Potter. It has all sorts of things in here, and the reason I want to mention this is because MuggleNet, the website that I’m managing, had a great privilege. We got a phone call from Newsweek that they wanted to feature only us in this magazine, Potter and MuggleNet. So a couple of things in here about us at MuggleNet, and to be mentioned in Newsweek is, you know, it’s kind of like a highlight, it’s like a bucket list type of thing. We’re privileged to do that, but I also want to show you guys — this is a plug, John. This is what’s called a plug.

John: It’s a plug!

Keith: See, I plugged your books, so it’s time to plug me. So we have an ad in here just to show you MuggleNet.com. If you haven’t been to our website, please go there. We have all sorts of things. Seventeen years we’ve been doing this with the fandom. We’ve collected recipes, fanart, fanfiction, you name it. We have a Quidditch Center. We have it all. So if there’s anything going on in the magical world or Muggle world, we have it covered, especially with Fantastic Beasts coming out. J.K. Rowling just announced that there are going to be five movies, not three like we thought. Five. So we have ten years more to go. In fact, this coming month is a big month with the red carpet events. If you’re going up to the premiere in NY, I will be there, say hi. Anyway, the other article, our ad is a MuggleNet live event that is taking place next year. I can’t tell you anything more about it. It’s in here; you can go to the website, MuggleNetLIVE.com. Check it out; it’ll be activated very soon. It’s there to get an email so we can send you a notice when it does go live. We’re just waiting for the red tape to clear from Warner Brothers. But go there. John?

John: Yes, yes.

Keith: Oh. It’s my turn.

John: And an advertisement.

Keith: It’s my turn. I forgot, I’m asking this question.

John: Ask this question.

Keith: Lorrie, back to Snape. This is a huge book and it’s probably as big as Philosopher’s Stone.

John: It’s twice as big as Philosopher’s Stone.

Keith: So why a big book on one character? I mean, it’s pretty obvious he’s the good guy, right? So why do we have a book on Snape when we know he’s the good guy? All the way through, you guys knew he was a good guy all the way through, right? No? I didn’t think he was a good guy, either. Tell us why this is such a big book.

Lorrie: I did want to read the whole series from his point of view. I felt that there are two stories. One of them is the story of how this baby grows up into a child and a man who survived Voldemort’s attack, and he doesn’t change. He grows, but he doesn’t change. He’s himself the whole time, and that’s the struggle: to keep him himself. The other story is of Snape who started out criminal and had a change of heart and did a lot of extremely difficult, mysterious things with dubious motives and changed a lot until the big revelation of the series revolved around the explanation of his motives. Those are two really different trajectories and Snape’s is more mysterious and I found that really, literally, every single action of his, or every single utterance, Rowling set up so that it can be interpreted in at least two different ways and they are contradictory, which means that he has at least double the possible interpretations of your average fictional character.

John: I read — Lorrie was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of the book, and I got to read the book as I was going to be talking about it here, so I had to read the whole book. And, forgive me, I looked at this 350-page book and thought, “Is she out of her mind? 350 pages on Snape! I’ve really gotta do this!” I thought, “well, I’ll just skim it so I’ll get ten clever questions”, and I spent ten hours turning every page, underlining, highlighting, going crazy because the book is that valuable. It’s coming back to a question. She starts out, though, by going — she introduces this story while she does this, and then she goes book by book with an extra chapter just on “The Prince’s Tale.” And each chapter covers four things.

Now, let’s see if I can get this right: at first it talks about how in each book Snape shows his dislike for Harry Potter, and it’s different in every book, it has a different dimension. The second thing it shows is his dislike for the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in that book, which merits its own theme of how he shows this and what it means. The third thing he does, that she explores, is Snape’s concern for his reputation. And the last thing is the mystery of his motives, how you can read these things both ways, and yet what she’s hinting about the next part of the story. But here’s the crazy thing I want. We’re back to the question: one of these questions is how Snape, every year, has a war with the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and every student says, “He really wants that job.” And even when Dolores Umbridge meets him in class, she says, “You really wanted that job, didn’t you?” It’s always Snape wanting to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. One of the times, one of the many times when I was reading the book and my head exploded like WHOA was when Lorrie explains why the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher thing is a fraud that Dumbledore almost said, “You’ve gotta play this part that you want this position, even though you really don’t, because it’ll be your cover.” And she argues it from the text. Now can you explain some of that, Lorrie, because I thought that was drop dead brilliant.

Lorrie: We never hear Snape say that he wants the job, except to Bellatrix, which is — that was the intention, to put up a front for the Death Eaters. What we have is Dumbledore doing what he does, putting out rumors, so that the first time we hear that Snape really wants the job and covets it and resents the actual DAtDA teacher, we have it from Percy telling Harry in the first book, saying, “Well, everyone knows this.” We know, for example, that Dumbledore does that with rumors about the Shrieking Shack. He spreads rumors and it becomes something that “everybody knows.” When we see Umbridge challenge Snape on it in the 5th book and she says, “So, you’ve been applying every year,” and Harry pretends he’s broken something so he can stay behind and eavesdrop on this, and Snape is really angry and he won’t say anything. He just says through his teeth, “I suggest you ask Dumbledore.” I think he’s supposed to pretend that he’s been upset every year to be passed over for this position because he needs to preserve this facade that he’s never renounced the Dark Arts, he’s just pretending, and this is so diametrically opposed to his true feelings. It’s not an easy act to keep up, and also it helps that he actually does not like any single one of the other Defense teachers. He really doesn’t like them, so that’s not a hard act for him to pull off.

John: That’s right. He’s very authentic in the role that he’s assigned, but it seems clear that Snape doesn’t covet the position, and yet we all buy into it. That, to me, was one of the moments I had thought, “Wow, if I hadn’t followed Lorrie through each book to get to that point, I wouldn’t have said, ‘Oh, it’s been a sham the whole time!'” Anyway, that was brilliant. Patrick McCauley, one of the founders of this whole conference and one of the co-leaders of it with Karen Wendling, he’s written a book called Into the Pensieve, and we’ve had him on our show to talk about his thesis that every major storyline inside Harry Potter starts with an act of violence against a woman and how that ripples out from that story. The whole Dumbledore thing starts off with the rape of Ariana and his father’s response to it, and Dumbledore’s and his brother’s. Obviously, the murder of Lily Potter gives us, really, the whole Harry Potter drama. I wasn’t really — forgive me, I’m not a big Snape guy, you know? I’ve always found Snape as somebody who was such a sadist that I didn’t give him a lot of focused attention. I get it, I’m supposed to be the Potter pundit and I — big blind spot for me. Well, that Snape’s story begins with — in Snape’s worst memory, we see Snape’s mother being abused by Tobias Snape and we see a boy huddling in the corner. Lorrie, the question for you is, I mean, you draw a lot of this out in the book, especially certainly in Snape’s Worst Memories chapter, you draw out that Snape, his whole thing is actually nonaggression — even though he’s a sadist in the classroom — it’s nonaggression and protectiveness. Do you think it comes from that root experience when he saw his mother being abused by his father and that child’s desire to protect his mother?

Lorrie: Hmm, let me see where to start. One thing is that I’m not sure that I would call him a sadist. If you look at J.K. Rowling’s depictions of sadists, she shows us three … four. She shows us Voldemort, Umbridge, Bellatrix, and Macnair, and with the exception of Macnair, the other three, when they are practicing their sadism, she shows them physically responding; they’re breathing heavily, they’re flushed, and this is not how she shows Snape, although there are things he does that I think are very cruel and occasionally cross over into flat-out abuse. It’s not that I condone how he treats people cruelly, especially Neville, but she does, I think, differentiate. So if we’re talking sadism as a medical term, I don’t think that I would diagnose him with it.

John: Okay, I’m going to defer to Louise on that. About the root cause of his protectiveness: first of all, Snape as a protective character, again, was one of those smoke coming out of my ears, WHOA. Snape is that much of a good guy that his principal thing is protecting other people? I mean, forgive me, that was Snape upside down to me. Snape’s on his broom, upside down, flying sideways, WHOA. That’s not how I saw him. Can you talk about that a little bit and then about his mother?

Lorrie: Yeah. Well, a person can be protective without being nice and without liking the people they’re protecting. The encapsulation for me for Snape is when he’s a student and he says, “Just shove a bezoar down their throats.” That’s protective. It’s not nice, it’s not affectionate, it’s not kind. It’s protective. And it’s impatient. It’s aggrieved. And it’s condescending.

John: So you’re suggesting that he’s protective, but when we think protective, we think of a mother’s affection. Like a chicken with their chicks, you know, a hen with her chicks. And Snape is like half Tobias Snape and — I’m waiting for Louise. Louise is making a face, so I’m waiting for the response. He seems to be this cross, very protective trying to put off Tobias Snape. But on the other hand, also still being like Tobias Snape and being harsh.

Lorrie: One thing we do see about Snape is that he’s kind to mothers. He’s kind to Lily, he’s kind to Narcissa. Molly Weasley has no complaints against him; they actually agree on a lot of things. So I think that does have something to do with the bond that he had with Eileen. Also the discord in his home is — J.K. Rowling wrote that very carefully so we’re not sure exactly what’s going on. Depending on who you are as a reader and what story you’re looking for, you can read it as a father abusing a mother. You can read it as equal arguments because Lily says “they’re still arguing.” We don’t know what the argument was about and why the boy is crying. We don’t know if — we do know that Tobias doesn’t like magic and he doesn’t like anything much. Is it one of those times where the Muggle parent is angry at the magical parent about their child’s magic? We don’t know. But depending who you are as a reader, you will see what applies to you and that’s what you’ll take away from it. What we do know, we see from how Snape flinches as a student that when he is ridiculed for being not masculine and not brawny, that’s something that he has heard before. We know from Petunia and Lily as children that he already has a reputation in their neighborhood as somebody that people don’t like and have taunted. So we get hints, but it’s not completely spelled out and I think that’s one of Rowling’s ways of making her story accessible to more than one kind of reader.

Keith: I was just thinking about this as you guys were talking and you mentioned the scene in Snape’s worst memory, but if we jump ahead and we look at the Prince’s Tale where young Lily and young Severus are playing together as children, you have young Severus, who’s this abused kid by Tobias and Eileen, right? And then you have Lily who’s an angel, but her sister Petunia is… she’s evil. I mean, I think she’s evil, just because of the way she treats Harry growing up. Yes, she’s protecting Harry, but she treats Harry like garbage. I wonder what’s going on in the Evans’ household and what draws Lily and Severus together as friends because there has to be a story there that brings these two together. Louise, what do you think that might be?

Louise: When I think of a possible connection between Petunia and Snape… right now, I’m thinking Petunia. I remember what you said about Snape being a protector who desperately resents the very existence of this child he’s supposed to be protecting. In a way, Petunia’s very similar. Remember how Dumbledore described her as she took you resentfully, bitterly, she hated the idea of taking you, but she took you. And that’s really what Snape kinda does. Dumbledore tells him, you owe it to Lily to protect her child, and of course Snape doesn’t want this child to exist because this child is proof that Lily didn’t love him, that Lily loved James. But he knows it. He knows he’s responsible for Lily’s death and that Dumbledore’s right, he does owe it to Lily to protect her child even though he really, really wishes this child could just be erased from history. As to what might have gone on in the Evans house, I think we have very little information. All we have really is Petunia’s perspective and we know she was jealous of Lily for being magic and she was apparently jealous of the attention Lily got from her parents for being magic, but that’s about all we know. Was Petunia mistreated by her parents? I don’t know. We don’t have any way of knowing one way or the other. Lily, obviously, is one of the more saintly characters in the series. It’s very unlikely she came from a dysfunctional home.

Keith: Okay, fair enough. Emily, do you have any thoughts on that?

Emily: Um, no, but I think I’m still stuck on the reputation topic and thinking about Snape– I’m going back a little bit. Thinking about the further indignity of Snape having to keep up this reputation that he didn’t choose and that didn’t actually represent who he really was and how looking at the whole series from Snape’s point of view really kinda points that out. And what that says about — you said just earlier that Snape is kind to mothers, and what does that say about Snape’s, the depth of his devotion to Lily, that not only is he willing to do these hard things in protecting Harry Potter, in protecting her child, but he’s willing to make himself look a fool for most of his life and most of his career. So those were kind of my thoughts that were roiling around here. I’m not sure there’s a question there. Do you want to comment more about how those things connect?

Keith: Well, you know, if you have that one friend that you can tell your deepest, darkest secrets to, I kind of think that’s where Severus meets Lily and finds out just how sweet of a girl she is and just lets everything out and that’s why there’s such a tight connection, like this life-long friendship that actually turns into love, that gives him that power of devotion to Lily. John?

John: I’ve been — again, I read this book earlier this week and some of the things — I read the books I don’t know how many times. Like all of you probably, I go back into the books and just start reading at certain points and read the end of that book. One of the things that Lorrie points out is that in the first three or four books, Snape is described as being ugly, his sallow, greasy skin, his hair is unkempt, and the Weasleys keep this up throughout the series, but Lorrie brings up the part in the book that we see this starting to change after the fourth book where Snape is no longer described as ugly, that that isn’t his essential characteristic. You want to talk about that, Lorrie?

Keith: I think it’s because he shampooed his hair for the Yule Ball.

John: Yule Ball?

Lorrie: I’m sure he did not shampoo for the Yule Ball. His date was Karkaroff. Shall I go back to the childhood Snape and Lily question?

Keith: Whatever you want to do. Just answer that question. That’s fine.

Lorrie: I’ll go to that and then I’ll talk about the ugliness. What I saw in the childhood scenes with Snape, Lily and Petunia is what happens painfully when some children are born gifted and some are not. That’s the pain of Petunia. She and Lily love each other. They have everything the same, they have the same family. But Lily has these beautiful gifts. They’re astonishing. Petunia desires them. She can’t make them happen. No one else can make them happen, actually. She is afraid of them. Obviously, they’re frightening, but they’re beautiful. Then when young Snape meets Lily, that’s how they bond. That’s what he says to her: “You have loads of magic. I’ve been watching you.” Because obviously, child Snape was very, very gifted as well, and he wasn’t developed. Neither of them. Neither Snape nor Lily was developing them with peers. They were developing magic on their own. Lily didn’t know that you’re not supposed to fly; she taught herself. She taught herself because she was happy and it was beautiful. And he saw that and he identified with that. They were leaving Petunia behind in this painful and exclusionary way. That jealousy hurts. It’s not fair. Life isn’t fair; some people are born gifted. To bond that way with magic, that Snape and Lily together as children, they didn’t have any teachers, they had no limits, they were not with other children to compare themselves to. They could go at their own speed, which we know is very fast. That is really sacred, especially during that age before adolescence when your brain is just developing, you’re becoming the person that you’ll be as an adult. I think that excitement, we see it again with Dumbledore and Grindelwald when Dumbledore finally finds a peer before he admits to himself that this guy is really evil. But just the excitement of a brain that works the way yours does, that’s a bond that’s really hard to break. If you don’t have that with anyone else, especially.

Keith: So when did the ugliness start? Because obviously, you know, Lily sees quite a different child than what you see as an adult. Obviously he got picked on in school and then he transferred over to Slytherin and stayed away from Lily and the Gryffindors and, you know. Is that when the ugliness started to come out of him that created this, as you’ve said in your book, the first three books he’s described as ugly: sallow, greasy hair, long nose.

Lorrie: It depends on what you’re feeling when you look at him, because he’s always been odd-looking. He’s always been obviously neglected in his clothing. But Lily never says that to him as a child until he calls her a Mudblood, at which point she says, “I’d wash my pants if I were you.” And she knows what effect that will have on him. What she’s letting him know then is, You’ve just betrayed me to people who want me dead. I’m going to break our friendship and say this thing to tell you, yes, you’ve crossed that line. So he goes, in Lily’s eyes, from not being ugly to ugly to having that be one of his traits in that moment. The same thing with Harry. Well, first of all, kids, middle schoolers, will sit in class and look at their teachers and make fun of them so disgracefully, and will laugh at how ugly they are and they’re grossed out by them and gross each other out about the teachers for fun. So that’s going on anyway. Snape is unusually unattractive but anyone who’s going to treat kids the way that he does, the kids are going to look at him like, God, he’s ugly, he’s ugly inside and out. And also, he is not okay with being ugly. Some people, like Mad-Eye Moody, you know, whatever. He doesn’t have time for that. But Snape is not okay with this unattractiveness. He’s sensitive about it and kids can tell. Then, starting from the point when he has his second chance, when Voldemort returns and he has to begin his double agency, different emotions in him are primary. Before then, he’s waiting, he’s dreading. He’s feeling guilty, he’s resenting. Once his double agency begins, he’s under so much pressure and fear. From that moment at the end of Goblet of Fire, when Dumbledore says, So you know what you have to do. Are you sure you’re ready? And he’s completely pale and he says, “yes, I’m ready,” his ugliness is beside the point. His fear and the enormity of what he’s about to do is striking even the kids in the hospital wing who are watching him. So that’s what they see when they look at him. And during the time that he’s a double agent, they do still sometimes think he’s ugly and they do still sometimes say that, and he sometimes behaves in an ugly manner to them, but there’s other stuff that they’re also fascinated by.

Emily: Can I just jump in for a second, just with an observation?

Keith: Absolutely.

Emily: I think it’s really fascinating the distinction you drew between Snape and his self-consciousness about his ugliness and somebody like Mad-Eye Moody who could care, you know? Because it’s possible in his mind his unattractiveness directly contributed to his not being able to win Lily romantically, because James Potter’s always described as being very good-looking. James Potter, I mean physically, outwardly good-looking. Oh no, not always? Oh, enlighten us. Please tell me, because I must have missed something.

Lorrie: No, no, James is really ordinary looking. He’s just really confident and popular, and athletic. But he wasn’t born with, he’s not like Sirius who always has anime wind in his hair. James is really ordinary looking. It’s other things; it’s the support he’s gotten from his family and his nurturing that makes him “nature’s nobility” and Snape isn’t.

Emily: Okay. That makes sense.

Keith: If it doesn’t go through the microphone, we don’t hear it. In the book you had talked about Patronuses and we all know that Harry can do a Patronus very well. Learned it in his third year. Snape can also do a Patronus, right? We all know this. Why does Snape say to Harry that a Patronus charm is not the only way or even the best way to fight a dementor? Why would he say that to Harry? I mean, from what our perspectives are, that is the best way to fight a dementor is bring all your happy thoughts and block out the dementor. But Snape says no.

Lorrie: So what Keith is talking about is in sixth year, when Harry gets a low mark on his DAtDA paper because he disagreed with Snape on the best way to tackle dementors, and that’s all it says about that. So we’re all left here going, Huh. What? And we assume that Harry must have said Patronuses because that’s the only way he knows. There are other ways: Sirius did it by becoming a dog, and that’s obviously not the best way because almost no one can do that. Patronuses, also: not easy. Not everyone can, so I imagine that Snape — if you look at the kind of defensive spells that Snape advocates, they’re simple and basic. Expelliarmus: anyone can learn Expelliarmus. Snape would not recommend for an entire population that’s about to be headed into war that when dementors come — because they’re coming — everyone just cast a Patronus. Not only can not everyone cast a Patronus, but even someone like Harry, who does it easily, can’t do it when there are a lot of dementors around, when they’re very unhappy, when something has happened to them. It’s not a practical thing for a DAtDA teacher to teach, so that’s one thing. Another reason is that to cast a Patronus, it’s a privileged charm because it means that it’s okay and safe for everyone around you to see it. Now Harry is really trapped; he knows this because he cast a Patronus at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix and then he nearly got expelled for it. But that’s the only thing he knew how to do, and that’s good that he did it because a Patronus has the benefit of protecting other people, which is the highest kind of magic — if you can do it. What if you can’t? Then if you’re entering war and you have to be subversive, if you have to survive, which is what Snape is trying to teach the kids in sixth year because he knows what’s coming, you can’t broadcast yourself that way, and we see that in Deathly Hallows when they go to Aberforth’s pub and all that Harry can do is cast a Patronus and Aberforth has to lie to cover it up. Harry is — he’s still thinking like somebody who can speak his mind. But they are entering a stage when if you speak your mind, you’ll end up like Charity Burbage. You have to learn what kind of power you have when you don’t have a voice. If you’re somebody like a Muggle-born or someone who has to stay hidden or somebody who’s being hunted or if you’re a house elf and you’re not allowed some kinds of magic, you have to learn other ways to have a voice.

Keith: Does anybody know another way to fight a dementor? Cheering charm? Okay, but that’s casting on — you’re going to cast that on a dementor, they don’t notice that. Somebody else? So that requires a second person there? I think the way to fight — go ahead, Louise.

Louise: Here’s my hypothesis about Snape’s way of fighting dementors.

Keith: Okay, let’s hear yours and I’m going to give mine.

Louise: He was the Potions master. He was, as you said, much more of a Potions Master than he ever was a DAtDA person. Potions were his thing. I’ve written quite a bit about the psychology of Harry Potter and of course the dementors were inspired by J.K. Rowling’s own experience with clinical depression. And the Patronus charm is actually very similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, which is the treatment she got. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one way to fight depression. Another way: drugs. Though I always thought Snape may–

Keith: What’d you say?

Louise: Drugs.

Keith: Drugs?

Louise: Yes. I always thought Snape may have developed —

Keith: So you shoot up. When you see a dementor, you should shoot up.

Louise: He had a potion, he had invented an anti-Dementor potion, and this potion was the wizard equivalent of Prozac. You could fight them off. That was my idea, that he had some sort of potion-based remedy for dementors.

Keith: Anybody else want to give it a shot? Here’s mine: What is Snape trying to teach Harry in Order of the Phoenix? Occlumency. He is great at closing his mind so that nobody can read it. If a dementor can’t read a happy thought, it goes away. Possible?

Emily: Yeah, but isn’t that kind of blurring the distinction between mind and soul?

Keith: Maybe, but a dementor is sensing a happiness. That’s what attracts a dementor is, if it smells or feels happiness, it goes to that to suck it dry. Snape can just say, “I got nothing.”

Emily: So it’s like almost the same effect as Sirius being a dog. You know, where it’s just kind of this blur that goes by.

Keith: That’s my thought. That’s the only way I can see.

John: We know that Snape is a master of Occlumency. Keith, you’re a genius.

Keith: Well, I know that, but we’re talking about this show right now.

John: Back to Lorrie’s genius, she’s the genius on stage for us. We go through each book, ding ding ding ding ding. We go through these four things, and in Lorrie’s book, there’s a chapter, it’s sort of like the movies. We have an extra Deathly Hallows chapter and in that one, Lorrie talks about all the scenes we get in “The Prince’s Tale.” I didn’t know this, maybe you knew this: there’s a number, how many scenes there are that Snape dumps into that magical goblet for him to dump in the Pensieve or whatever. There’s 20 different scenes. Did you know that? There’s 20 different scenes, and all of them Lorrie explores at some depth, at some length, and draws out new aspects of them. Really, it’s a masterfully done job. But the one I like the most, I think, is the scene of Severus inside Sirius’ bedroom after the death of Lily and James. He comes into the house and — this is after the death of Dumbledore — he comes into the house and he breaks into Sirius’ bedroom, not his favorite place, obviously, and he finds the letter of Lily Potter to Sirius and he rips the photograph in half and he hugs it and weeps. And it’s a disgusting scene where he’s crying viscerally, snot and tears and everything humiliating for a man to be weeping, and Lorrie draws a connection between that scene and what Hermione says about how to recover from casting a Horcrux. You want to go into that?

Lorrie: At some point, I want to go back to the Occlumency.

John: Great. Occlumency, great.

Lorrie: The thing about Sirius’s bedroom and what Snape was doing in there: the first time I read the books, I had no idea what I was reading and I was repelled by a lot of it. Some of the stuff he does when he tears a photograph and he throws away a husband and a baby, it really repelled me. And the way he looks when he’s crying and he’s showing Harry that he looks this way, you want to look away. It’s really ugly crying. Then I looked carefully at what it’s showing us. We know that remorse is something that Dumbledore talks about a lot. We know that remorse is what the Horcrux books say is the way to reintegrate your soul if you have split it by killing and even if you’ve committed Horcruxes. And we know that there are remorseful people in the series, but we don’t see them undergoing it — except for Snape in that scene, because Hermione says, the catch with remorse is that the pain of it might kill you. And when we see Dumbledore and Snape have that conversation where Dumbledore says, “You’ll have to kill me,” and Snape is horrified and says what I think is one of the bravest things a person can say where Dumbledore says, “I can’t have Draco do it because his soul isn’t damaged yet,” and Snape says, “What about my soul?” To go to somebody that you’re not sure ever loved you and say, What about me? is so brave. Knowing that he’s ugly, knowing that he’s unloveable and has done some really horrible things, he says that. And Dumbledore says, “Only you know what it will do to your soul.” And then Snape thinks about it and he says, “Okay, I’ll do it,” and what I think he’s doing in that moment is trying to ask himself, Do I have what it takes to kill somebody and then feel the kind of fullness and remorse and really understand what I’ve done so that I could reintegrate my soul? And he commits to doing it, and for Snape to feel full remorse — because once you kill someone and you feel remorse, you feel remorse for everything that you’ve ever done in your life. He’s going to have to think about what he did to Harry Potter. He has spent all these years too guilty to think about it because he loved this woman and then her 11-year-old comes to school: he’s been abused, he’s been half-starved, he gets headaches all the time. This is all his fault; he can’t stand it. This is what he did to him, and that’s what he’s reading in the letter in Sirius’ bedroom is this child’s normal 1st birthday party. He had a mom, he had a dad, he had a cat. He’d gotten a birthday present. He had an ugly vase. It’s so normal; it’s everything that Harry is dying to have, and Snape ripped that all away from him because he said, I just want Lily alive. I don’t care about her husband and baby. And that was the insensitivity that became evil that created Harry’s life as Snape has seen it for the past several years and he hasn’t been able to think about it. That is a lot of what fuels his cruelty to Harry and his sensitivity to Harry’s flaws. When he says, Okay, I’ve killed my friend, I’ve killed the last person in the world who knows who I really am, I have to integrate my soul, he feels remorse not only for the pity of Dumbledore’s death but he remembers what he did to Harry’s family, and you can’t feel remorse for only one. He accepts yes, he killed Dumbledore and yes, he also, a long time ago, killed these other people and he’s showing Harry, I recognize it finally. This is my apology. I know what I did to you.

John: That’s really wonderful that you’ve integrated why Snape at that moment, after killing Dumbledore, goes back and finds a relic or a token of his original crime to reintegrate himself. He knew he had to feel the remorse. How much remorse could he feel for killing Dumbledore when Dumbledore asked him to kill him?

Keith: I’d also say it’s more of an assisted suicide, is what it is.

John: Well, he can’t — he doesn’t feel remorse there. He goes back after Dumbledore’s death and feels the remorse as freshly as he can for his crime against his best friend and her family. You wanted to talk about Occlumency.

Lorrie: Snape in Sirius’s bedroom is a really emotional thing. Yeah, the best way to tackle dementors: it is Occlumency, and it’s a specific form, I think, that Snape wants to recommend, which is to take what material creates a Patronus and to introject it. Instead of doing it like Harry does, where the whole world sees it and it protects other people. If you cannot do that, take all of those exact same thoughts and just fill yourself with them and that will block out the dementors the same way. The reason we know this is because that’s what Harry does with the Resurrection Stone on the walk in the forest. It says “they acted like Patronuses to him,” the images and memories of his loved ones. That’s what Snape has been trying to say, because Harry asks them, “Will anyone else see you?” and they say, “No. We’re here and we’re real, but no one can see us but you.”

John: Brilliant. I love it. You’ll love this book. If you buy this book and read this book, every one of the chapters will be a mind blower, I promise you. Probably the best one — no, there’s two of them that stand out — is Prisoner of Azkaban, which is really a fan favorite. I’m a big Chamber of Secrets guy, but a lot of people really love Prisoner of Azkaban as their favorite story. In this book, Lorrie points out that it’s a great year at the end for everybody except Severus Snape, that this is his nightmare. Basically everything in his past comes rushing into his present and nobody will understand or sympathize with him. Basically, Lupin is here. He’s a danger, he’s always been a danger. Dumbledore won’t recognize it. Sirius Black has obviously got some sort of inside… He realized what’s going on with Lupin and can’t get any satisfaction. But here’s the killer: as Lorrie argues persuasively, that mysterious moment when Harry’s talking to Lupin and Lupin says, “Professor Snape accidentally mentioned at breakfast this morning that I was a werewolf.” Lorrie points out that this is something that Dumbledore had said he should do. Do you want to explain that, Lorrie? Because I remember reading that and was doing the HUH? How is that possible?

Lorrie: I don’t think that Dumbledore suggested he do it, but I think once they said he was going to do it that Dumbledore did not disagree because Snape has been trying, in his extremely cruel and prejudiced way, to tell Dumbledore, There’s no such thing as a tame werewolf. Now to take a more humane and realistic view of that same sentiment, it was the flaw in the plan. Dumbledore thought that a disease that’s that powerful, like lycanthropy, that strength of will is enough to prevent it, but he forgot that Lupin, like everyone, is human. And the flaw in the plan — when you feel love, when you get called away because somebody that you really love is in an emergency, Lupin sees that the map says Sirius Black. He doesn’t know what this means, but he knows it means a lot about things that are really important to him. He forgets his wolfsbane. He goes. He can’t control his lycanthropy because he’s human, and Snape has been trying and trying to tell Dumbledore this, saying, “Don’t you remember the last time you had him here? He almost killed me.” And that’s the original rift between Dumbledore and Snape is that Dumbledore didn’t think that Snape’s trauma was as important as protecting Lupin’s privacy. Which yes, it’s important to protect Lupin’s privacy. It was absolutely at the cost of Snape, who was traumatized first by being almost killed, but second and even more damagingly by being forced into silence because Snape was not allowed to tell anybody what had happened. Then after that, that did more damage, especially in the future after that when he saw favoritism against Slytherins from Dumbledore and from the rest of the school. That’s one of the big grievances that Snape carries into this third year. Then when Lupin transformed on the grounds and very nearly bites humans, Dumbledore’s reputation is almost — if that got out, the school would be over, Dumbledore’s career would be over. This is really not the way to run a school, and we’ve just seen Snape have what I think is a trauma flashback in front of Cornelius Fudge, screaming, “You don’t know Potter.” You know, he’s trying to say, All these things have happened and nobody will ever believe me, and then he and Dumbledore have that showdown in front of Fudge where he says, Dumbledore, don’t you remember? and Dumbledore says, “My memory’s as good as it ever was.” I think it’s inevitable that there was a conversation that took place off the page between that moment and the moment that Snape said, Oh, Slytherins, by the way, Lupin’s a werewolf, in which it became clear that if Snape did that, he would not be punished, whereas Lupin has been allowed to resign.

Keith: I also think that a big reason Snape is so mad at this point in time is that for the last thirteen years, he blamed Sirius for releasing the Secret-Keeper charm to Voldemort to go in and kill Lily. So the person that Snape is most furious with regarding Lily’s death is Sirius Black. So for him to get off scotch-clean, in his mind, that’s just a terrible blow and that’s also that’s why he was so angry in that hospital room. He just blew up in there. Before we get into the last two questions, we have two questions left. If we have time left, and we might have a few minutes, we will answer a couple of questions. So if you have questions, hold on to them and we’ll definitely get them to you.

John: Prisoner of Azkaban is great, but maybe the Half-Blood Prince chapter in Definitive Reading is even better. Because in Half-Blood Prince, we start off at Spinner’s End where Snape takes the Unbreakable Vow, and it leads all the way to a finish on the Astronomy Tower where he knocks off Dumbledore and has this final battle with Harry and really your coverage of that book is one of the best in the whole book. I really loved that chapter. One of the things you point out is that Snape, at Spinner’s End, is talking to Narcissa and at this Snape recognizes somehow is his moment of redemption. Here is a mother coming to him to beg for help to protect her child and then Snape suddenly says, This is my moment. I failed my best friend and failed to protect her child in the moment of need. Now I can take the Unbreakable Vow and go forward with this. Dumbledore’s probably already said, you’re going to have to kill me this year. Here he goes and he makes this vow. My question — the thing is, up to this point in the series, Hermione makes that joke about Ron having the emotional range of a teaspoon. Dumbledore may be an eyedropper in terms of his emotional — not Dumbledore, Snape’s emotional range with the anger and bitterness is pretty much an eyedropper. He doesn’t seems to have compassion, empathy, sympathy, none, zero, wiped out. But when he’s looking into Narcissa’s eyes, taking the Unbreakable Vow, he seems to feel entirely her need. Where does he get that?

Lorrie: I think if you look at Snape with his Slytherins, there is a lot more empathy. It’s spiteful sometimes and resentful, but I think he has always raised his Slytherins to look to him as someone who will advocate for them because they won’t get a chance, they won’t get a hearing from the rest of the school. I think the Slytherins already know that about him, but the other thing is that he has been watching with dread, hoping that Draco doesn’t become what he became at the same age. And he’s been trying to stop Draco from doing things like saying “Mudblood” or when he’s — when Draco and his friends, when their fathers go into Azkaban, Snape gets really upset. When he hears at the end of Goblet of Fire Harry gives the names of Crabbe and Goyle and Malfoy, and Snape gets really upset. He knows he’s going to have to pay extra attention to those boys because they’ll be much more vulnerable to going down the same path he did. At the time of the Spinner’s End chapter at the beginning of the sixth book, Draco has gone and done it. He has taken the Dark Mark. Snape has lost one of his. But the thing is that Snape, unlike a lot of people, won’t give up on them after that because Snape himself has become a Death Eater, has committed crimes, and come back. So he won’t give up on these people; it’s not too late. He is committed to Draco and this is going to help him because he has just had this conversation with Dumbledore where he trapped the curse in Dumbledore’s arm. He knows they have less than a year, and he knows he’s going to have to be primary responsibility for Harry Potter, whom he does not like. Genuinely doesn’t like. But if he can get the emotional comfort of doing the exact same thing for a kid he actually does like, it will help everything. It will make his job easier. And Narcissa is going to ask for his help because she’s asking him for his true self. He has been a teacher. He’s given everything to being a teacher. Draco trusts him because he’s a teacher. That’s why Narcissa wants him: this is him, this is true, and it will only help everybody.

Keith: In Deathly Hallows — I’m just going to go to the end of this thing and this’ll be the last question and we’ll bring up some questions here. In Deathly Hallows, when they escape from Privet Drive, and there’s the battle in the air of the seven Potters, the one thing that kind of came at me was like, WHAT?, is when Voldemort’s flying without a broom. He’s just like vapor and can go wherever he wants by flying. So here we are, we’re getting ready for the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry is confronting Snape in the Great Hall, and McGonagall steps in and fights Snape. Everybody remembers this, right? It was even well done in the movie: they were battling each other, Snape knocks down the Carrows to knock them out of the way. And then what happens? He goes out the window and flies. He goes out the window and flies just like Voldemort. So McGonagall says, He must have learned that trick from his master. That’s not what you’re saying, though. You think it has to do with his character and magic related to Lily and even J.K. Rowling’s mother. How is that related to J.K. Rowling’s mother?

Lorrie: For one thing, when McGonagall says, He must have learned that from Voldemort, we’re supposed to think that everything she says about him at that moment is going to be proven to be incorrect. It’s an assumption she makes. For another thing, the nature of Voldemort is not to teach people the things that make him superior. People are thinking, Well, is he rewarding Snape that way? No. Voldemort doesn’t teach anyone anything. Voldemort thinks he’s the only person in the world who knows what the Room of Requirement is. He doesn’t share his secrets. But what he’s doing then, Snape, he has reached the end of the line where he can just defend himself. If he stays in that battle any longer with his colleagues, he’s going to have to hurt them or hurt himself. He won’t hurt them. He breaks a hole in the window to leave; he’s protecting them. He is desperate. The only thing he wants is to find Harry before they all die and give him the memories of Lily. He is doing that thing where he’s introjecting the most loving memory he has. What’s the most blissful thing he knows is when he was a child with this brilliant friend of his and they were just doing pure magic. Nobody told them they couldn’t do this. They were just doing it. I don’t know — it doesn’t say if he had ever flown before. I don’t know that this is something that they did together. I don’t know if just thinking about her, knowing what was at stake, made him able to fly. But that is consistent with what’s happening with him at that moment, his protectiveness. What it had to do with Rowling’s mother: well, we know one of the real world inspirations for Professor Snape was J.K. Rowling’s mother’s employer who was Rowling’s chemistry teacher. He was very happy to employ her mother and recognized her genius, so we know that there’s some element of Rowling’s appreciation for people who saw the brilliance and beauty of her mother. And her mother’s last name, her maiden name, was Volant, which is French for “flying.” And then we see this image of this beautiful girl flying off a swing and it’s the mother, it’s the child looking at the story of his dead mother, and I thought, that is a scene of pure beauty that I can easily associate with the way Rowling talks about how her mother inspired this series for her.

Keith: Excellent. That exactly what I was looking for. I never knew that Anne Volant and Volant being French for flight kind of led to Flight of the Prince. That was pretty good. Again, all of this that you heard today can be found in Snape: A Definitive Reading by Lorrie Kim. Does anybody have any questions before we shut down the show?

Audience: So J.K. said the Sorting Hat made seven mistakes in its life, and one of those was putting Snape into Slytherin. Do you agree with that?

Lorrie: Where did she say that?

Keith: I’ve never heard that before.

Lorrie: Did she say the Sorting Hat has mistakes?

Audience: Yeah, I either read it online like Pottermore or just something, but it was from J.K. herself. She said one of the biggest mistakes that the Sorting Hat has ever done in a thousand years was put Snape into Slytherin. Biggest mistake ever, but do you agree with that?

Keith: I don’t think that’s actually something that J.K. Rowling said.

Lorrie: I was about to say I haven’t seen that.

Keith: I don’t know where you would’ve seen or heard that, because–

Audience: I don’t remember.

Keith: It’s not from Pottermore.

Audience: I barely go on Pottermore. I don’t even have a computer at home. So I know it wasn’t from Pottermore, but I know either somebody said it or someone lied or whatever, but I think it’s kind of interesting and it makes you think. Because I mean you look at Slytherins, they’re bullies and they don’t really love you. They don’t know how to love; they’re just plain meanie heads. But if you know how to love, then you’d have gotten into Gryffindor or the other three. But how can this guy totally be a bully but still love at the same time?

Keith: Well, just because you’re in Slytherin doesn’t mean you don’t have the capacity for love. I mean, Pansy Parkinson is in love with Draco Malfoy. Draco falls in love and marries Astoria Greengrass, and I think Goyle loves Crabbe. Just saying it.

Emily: What if it were true?

Keith: Just because they’re in Slytherin doesn’t mean that they don’t love somebody or have passion or anything else. It’s just that their main love in their life is more or less an ambition, to get to a certain destination. So they’re very ambitious people. That’s where the Sorting Hat places you for that. Snape is very ambitious. He wants to be highly recognized. But again, I don’t think J.K. — just for the record, I’m going to say flat-out: No, J.K. Rowling never said that that was where she regrets something, putting Snape in Slytherin. That never happened. I don’t know where you read that from, sorry. Yeah, maybe a fanfiction post or something like that.

Lorrie: Quickly, one thing that I think happened with this series is when J.K. Rowling started writing it, she had no idea that millions of people would take her sorting system so seriously. She started out writing a lot of bias against the Slytherins; that was her children’s book. And as the series went on, we saw a more complex view of how the bias against Slytherins affected them in that House, and she also said that most Slytherins are just normal kids. We see a couple of evil ones. The thing about Snape that I identify as Slytherin: seeing Harry learn from him throughout Deathly Hallows. Slytherins, it’s not that they’re just ambitious, it’s that they have more calm because Gryffindors become more overwhelmed by energy at the moment and we see Harry learning throughout Deathly Hallows how to hold on to that, how to decide when to speak, when not to speak, how to know when he absolutely has to lie. You see that every time he masters a longer view, a longer game and a more subtle one, that these are things that he’s learned that Snape has modeled and that other Slytherins have modeled so that by the end, he could not have triumphed over Voldemort without learning these traits. We see that there’s more to Slytherin than just the suffering that they put on Harry in his earlier years.

Keith: We have time for one or two more questions. MuggleNet brand new staffer Grace Candido. What’s your question, Grace?

Grace: Mine is a question looking more for a reaction. I actually believe that Voldemort definitely would have taught Snape to fly, and I say that from the mindset of the fact that he grew up during an era that was mostly war-minded, he is a war-minded individual and he wants more power. With that in mind, he would’ve probably wanted his top generals as in Bellatrix, Snape, the ones who he had in his inner circle, to know as much as possible that would benefit him in battle. So I feel that — because he actually did personally train Bellatrix and she brags about that in the books, and I would see that he would probably train Snape in a certain way, as well. So I think that he probably would’ve taught him how to fly. Just my personal opinion. It would benefit him on the battlefield a great deal to have people who were skilled at fighting but able to lead his forces. And in his mindset, he’s already immortal, he’s already a god. He doesn’t really have to worry so much about these puny mortals trying to overthrow him.

Lorrie: I can see where you’re coming from, but the way that he disposes of Snape because he thinks that’ll give him the Elder Wand, I don’t think he actually really cares that much.

Keith: Yeah, I’m not really sure if he would’ve taught either. I can definitely see that Bellatrix and Snape are his favorites at one point in time; he might have taught them some stuff. But it’s obvious when they’re facing Hogwarts and Hogwarts has the protective barrier over it, everybody’s trying to get through this barrier and they’re not able to. And Voldemort just goes, when he feels it and he just goes running through the barrier. So I don’t know that anybody else could’ve done that magic. Same with flying, I don’t know where Snape would’ve learned it. Sam.

Sam: Hi. My question is to Lorrie. I will admit: I’m not nearly as avid a Harry Potter fan as everyone else in this room, I’m here with my girlfriend. But my second favorite character was always Snape, and I’ve always enjoyed anti-heroes, and I’m very excited to see that you have written this book about Snape and you have taken time to think into the mindset of Snape. My question to you is with how Draco had turned out in his life, do you think Snape would’ve 1) been proud about Draco and his turnaround in his mindset? Secondly, had felt like he was part of accomplishing that?

Lorrie: Yes, and I think Snape was proud of him because they planned for — Dumbledore planned for the Elder Wand to go to Snape because he thought that when Draco came to attack him, that Draco would use an offensive spell, and it turned out that Snape had taught him so well to do non-confrontation and to do defensive spells that Draco used Expelliarmus and therefore he became the owner of the Elder Wand and none of them had foreseen that. Then he saw — after Snape killed Dumbledore, he had to take care of Draco. He had to take him to his mother; he had to do what he could to intercede when Voldemort dealt with the two of them after Dumbledore’s death. I think he saw after that that Draco was sorry that he had taken the Dark Mark and was just trying to survive and was no longer misguidedly following Voldemort. I think he saw that change in him. I think he was proud.

Sam: Thank you. [ENDS 01:16:11]

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Transcript! Snapecast Interview

In November 2016, Snapecast included an interview with Lorrie Kim in their Episode 43: Remembrance and Reunion. Deannah Robinson deannahm03@gmail.com provided the transcript of the interview below.

*****START OF INTERVIEW***** (00:50:18)

Shannon: Hi everyone! This is Shannon, and I’m here with a special guest for the fan interview segment. With me is Lorrie Kim, who’s recently published a book, Snape: A Definitive Reading, that follows Snape across the seven Harry Potter books. Lorrie, thanks for joining me.

Lorrie: Thank you for having me.

Shannon: So I take it you’re a very big Snape fan.

Lorrie: He’s my love in the Potterverse. He’s, I think, my favorite fictional character ever, probably.

Shannon: Well, that’s perfect because I think Snapecast listeners feel the same way, and I was really thrilled to see this book because it’s an interesting perspective that’s looking at Snape across the books. It’s almost like, finally, the Harry filter is removed, and let’s see what’s going on here. Why did you write a book all about Snape?

Lorrie: One answer is that I always read the series wishing that it was Severus Snape and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Severus Snape and the Chamber of Secrets, all the way through. That was a story that compelled me, so this was a chance to do that. The practical answer to that is that I was approached by Diane Tarbuck from Story Spring Publishing, a publishing company that was started by a bunch of Snape fans.

Shannon: Excellent! Your book is a reading of Snape across the seven Harry Potter texts, and it incorporates quotes and other fans’ and writers’ interpretations of different parts of Snape’s behavior or character to try and get at, for example, what may his motivations have been in certain scenes, or what he could’ve been experiencing while we’re following Harry’s perspective in the actual books. What aspects of Snape’s story or behavior were the most difficult for you to understand and explain?

Lorrie: One of the aspects that was the hardest for me to figure out was why he has this bizarre unfounded conviction that Harry Potter loves being notorious. Starting from the first day of Potions class, when he assumes that Harry loves being a celebrity and sets out to take Harry down a peg, and the other Slytherins are snickering like they’ve already talked about this. Meanwhile, poor Harry just wants to blend in, and this accusation from Snape toward Harry recurs. Any time he’s extra annoyed with Harry, he starts saying, “Oh, you think you’re so famous and you think that gives you such privileges.” Where is this coming from? Is he envious? Eh, that wasn’t quite it. Finally, it was my own experience being a real jerk to somebody — completely unconnected, just in my real life — to the point that whenever I thought about them or saw them, I was really stricken by guilt and self-blame. If I had to see that person more frequently, I think I would be happy to ascribe some negative traits just to relieve the unbearable guilt I had. Probably it sounds unconvincing for me to say, “Oh, it was out of guilt,” but when I looked carefully through the books, it has to do with Snape projecting onto Harry a lot of the stuff that was actually true about James, combined with some stuff from Harry. Like when he says in the third book to Harry, “Oh, you’re just like your father who was strutting around,” and Harry says, “My father didn’t strut and neither do I,” and this was less than a week after his Firebolt came and he strutted around the Great Hall with all these Gryffindors. Yeah, you almost don’t, Harry, almost don’t. But surely enough to remind Snape of something that he was already sensitive to.

Shannon: This is a good point, because I think — one of the things I found really compelling reading your book was going back and forth not only to quotes from the text, but also connecting to foreshadowing. Those of us, it makes sense to read the definitive reading of Snape after we’ve read the Harry Potter books and are a bit familiar with them. But there are a lot of details that are easy to forget, that something was said and maybe for some of us we zero in on certain parts of the text and they stay with us, and others of us will zero in on others and we’ll forget things. There will be some oversight about, “Oh yeah, that did happen.” Like when you were mentioning the Firebolt just now, I was thinking, “Yeah, I have this picture of Harry in my head as being really humble and kind of irritated by attention and shy, but also self conscious in many ways. But yeah, he has happy moments, and what does that look like to an outsider when you get this brand new most awesome thing?” So I enjoyed your interweaving of quotes, but also you drew upon material from interviews or things that you had come across that other analysts had provided as a way to unpack some of the nuance of the text. I found that particularly compelling. It was like building a case bit by bit, pieces of evidence. Another thing that you did — this stuck in my head — when you were exploring how Snape learned how to fly, where that came from. And I know that’s obviously a point of debate that Snape fans have unpacked in their own analysis or in their fanfiction, for example. But one of the things that you drew upon was Rowling and her mother, and her mother’s last name. So interviews with Rowling or knowledge of things that Rowling has said even offhand about her own family were also fodder for your interpretation. Do you have another example of something that was difficult to understand and explain?

Lorrie: Something that — the difficulty was in explaining it because I really wanted to get this point across. I feel strongly that Snape was not doing it all for Lily. I think that is true up until the point he killed Dumbledore, after which he did it for his own beliefs. By that time he went on taking this cause on for himself. We see that struggle when he has that conversation with Dumbledore where he casts the Patronus. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the last time he’s doing it only for Lily because by taking on the assignment to kill Dumbledore and then reintegrate his soul by feeling remorse so that he can go on to live until he can deliver the message to Harry, he has to really face himself and he can’t pull together his soul unless he truly feels remorse for everything. He can’t be doing that just for Lily and then begrudgingly hold out against Harry that way. He has to see that whether or not he personally likes Harry that there is such a thing as right and wrong, and that he’s going to do what he thinks is right. At that point, it has nothing to do with any image of a really long dead friend.

Shannon: So, you were concerned about getting this point across clearly because it has been kind of divisive among some Snape fans. I think even in our own Snapecast crew, some of us were kind of struggling with the idea that this is all for love. What?

Lorrie: For one thing, you know, when people say, “Well, that’s really creepy. He’s doing this all for a dead woman,” I don’t think Snape has any illusions about Lily being completely dead. If anyone knows that she’s dead and gone, it’s Snape. He doesn’t have any thoughts like, “Oh, in the afterlife she’ll forgive me,” nothing like that. It’s that he was full of despair after she died because of him and wanted to kill himself and Dumbledore said, “No. Keep going. See what you can do with the rest of your life.” And Snape did that with absolutely no personal reward. The thing I wanted to argue against was the notion that Snape was only in it for himself, and I’m not really sure where anyone can get that interpretation because he got nothing out of the second half of his life struggling and getting no credit and having to put up with a lot of life-threatening misery. He lived and died expecting that he wouldn’t get any credit for the kind of work he did, having people hate him, having people hate him for correct reasons and also for lies that they were putting out there that were the opposite of his true feelings. He didn’t get anything out of it. If he’d gotten what he wanted out of the deal, he would’ve just been dead and resting from when he was a young adult. 

Shannon: This is a good point that does stand out in the later chapters of your book when you’re looking at how much he’s concealing, especially when he has to carry out the ruse, of course, being Voldemort’s hand after killing Dumbledore. But just how much lack of credit he’s getting and how much he has to play along with the negative view that his colleagues who had become friends at some point, you can see that maybe in his young adulthood he had some solace in developing collegial relationships with McGonagall. They were a good team; this is something that does stand out, I would say. A lot of people can see that. He has to sacrifice friendship, he has to sacrifice his good name, and he’s lost Dumbledore, right? The one who knew. So it is a very lonely existence that he’s facing. Removing the Harry filter and looking at what Snape may have been experiencing, I felt very exhausted for him, beyond what I had the first time I read the books. Because now it foregrounded Snape in exactly what he may have been experiencing in the moments Harry was running off risking his life and maybe just about doing something so stupid that would throw it all away or Dumbledore was making certain decisions that were really ill-advised. Very stressful.

Lorrie: Yeah, and there can only be so much blame on Harry or Dumbledore, either, because everybody’s mistakes were so understandable and so human.

Shannon: Yes. It deepened my appreciation for what Snape chose to do with his life even more than I’d already had as a deeply devoted Snape fan who has an oversized appreciation for him relative to the other characters in the book. But I wanted to ask, then: Did writing this book change your understanding or appreciation of Snape in some way?  Or did you find while you were writing and trying to explain certain moments that you had revelations that you hadn’t realized before?

Lorrie: Yeah, there were two. The first one happened in Prisoner of Azkaban. I didn’t realize until this time what Snape thought was happening all year. There were clues, but when I looked only at what Snape knew, what evidence he saw and what he didn’t see — for example, all the times that he was knocked out in the Shrieking Shack and Lupin and Sirius were filling in backstory and he never heard it — I realized all year long, he thought that the prank they pulled on him when he was a 5th year was exactly what Lupin and Sirius were trying to do again.

Shannon: Okay. That’s terrifying.

Lorrie: It’s ghastly. Here’s the thing that made me feel the most horrified: when he walks in on Lupin and Harry talking alone in Lupin’s office becoming friends, he thinks Lupin is grooming Harry. He thinks Lupin is trying to gain Harry’s trust, playing on Harry’s trait of wanting adventure so that if he gives the Marauders’ Map to Harry — because at this point that’s what Snape thinks — Snape says to Lupin, “Don’t you think Harry got the Marauders’ Map directly from the manufacturers?” So he thinks that Lupin is getting Harry’s trust, giving him the map, and then he and Sirius have a plan to lure Harry outside of Hogwarts, past the Dementors, so that Lupin can transform into a werewolf and kill Harry.

Shannon: And meanwhile, he’s not getting any support from Dumbledore on this because Dumbledore is like, “Leave it, Severus. I trust Lupin.” So he’s completely in it on his own, dealing with his own past trauma and a headmaster who won’t let him talk about it and also won’t really acknowledge that it’s a risk, and he thinks the exact same thing is happening.

Lorrie: Yes, that’s what he thinks is happening and for one thing he’s wrong about a whole lot of it, almost all of it.

Shannon: As we see.

Lorrie: Yes, and Dumbledore is wrong about more of it than a lot of people notice in their readings because so much of what Dumbledore is feeling and saying comes from such a good place it can be easy to miss points where he was wrong. Lupin has so many good intentions that it’s easy to gloss over the parts where Lupin really shouldn’t have done some things because Lupin is not trustworthy. But it’s for completely different reasons, not what Snape is thinking. But you can tell, even Harry can tell, that Lupin is hiding something, and for Snape to see, “Oh, Lupin’s hiding something,” of course his mind is going to go to Lupin and Sirius being partners in malice they way they were when he was a student because Snape doesn’t realize, he doesn’t know, that Lupin was not in on the plan to kill him as a student. Snape thought that James, Lupin, and Sirius, all together, thought it was a grand idea. He doesn’t realize that it was only Sirius’s idea.

Shannon: What stood out for me: this seemed like Snape’s really horrible, very bad year re-traumatizing him because I keep thinking, did he ever receive support for what he experienced? He had a near-death experience at the hands of peers, and then wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Now he thinks it’s going to happen again, and he’s still not allowed to talk about it, and he’s still worried it’s going to happen because he’s experienced it. So he’s got his own past trauma which is obviously motivating and blinding him, but no one else to turn to because he’s given his word. And then… I don’t know, it’s maddening to read it this way. It’s really difficult. Really difficult. I love Prisoner of Azkaban, but reading this I was thinking, “Wow, this was a really — if you went through some kind of trauma, and then you think it’s going to happen again to someone else and then no one will listen to you?”

Lorrie: Yeah, and it’s a kid. Yeah. It’s a kid, and you’re a teacher. It’s your job and you’re trying to give this kid what you wanted and didn’t get at his age, and the kid is not thanking you. The kid thinks you’re the enemy. What I see happening based on very tiny traces is that that conversation did take place between Dumbledore and Snape off the page the morning after the Shrieking Shack incident in Prisoner of Azkaban, right before Snape tell the Slytherins that Lupin was a werewolf. Because we see Snape doing that, and he never gets into trouble for it. Lupin gets into trouble. Dumbledore is furious with Lupin.

Shannon: Lupin gets sacked.

Lorrie: Well, yeah, he is allowed to resign and he is running away from Hogwarts as fast as he can. And when Dumbledore comes to say goodbye to him, there’s a part that says Harry had the impression that Lupin was trying to get away as fast as he could and Dumbledore shakes hands with Lupin and says soberly, “Goodbye Remus” or something. It’s really like, “I’m disappointed in you.” Then after that, Lupin, he complains about it, but Dumbledore can’t hire him to work at the school after that. He has to send him out to be a spy with the werewolves, which is not anybody’s idea of first choice for job. But it’s finally apparent to everybody that you cannot rely on human beings to be completely flawless. You can’t ask Lupin, “Never, ever transform unsafely.” You can’t. It’s beyond his capability. It’s beyond anybody’s to control that. It was a case of Dumbledore not respecting how difficult of an illness lycanthropy is, thinking that willpower alone could do it.

Shannon: So what was the second episode?

Lorrie: “The Flight of the Prince,” when Snape says, “Don’t call me ‘coward’,” and I could not figure out what was going on there for years. It’s so anti-climactic; he’s screaming, but we’ve never heard the word ‘coward’ foreshadowed. I thought, Well, I guess there were bullies who called him ‘coward’ in the past, and it’s a sensitive spot for him and he doesn’t like that word. It comes out of the blue. Does he have issues with being called a coward? Well, what he just did was really, really brave and nobody knows it. Meanwhile, tiny little Harry, who doesn’t even know how to cast some essential spells, brandishing his tiny stick and saying, “Come back and fight me, you coward!” As we saw in that confrontation, Snape overpowers Harry several times over. Snape doesn’t even have to wave a wand or say anything to block Harry’s most enraged attacks. It’s nothing to Snape. If Snape is not standing and fighting, it’s not cowardice. 

So I looked at it and the first clue came from Hilary Justice, who did a beautiful reading of that where she shows that that’s a really long paragraph where Snape screams, “Don’t.” And then there’s a long narration about the torment on his face and about the howls of Fang, who is trapped inside Hagrid’s hut that a Death Eater has set fire to and Fang can’t get out. And she’s comparing the torment on Snape’s face to the way that Fang sounds trapped inside a burning hut. After that long description, then we hear, “Call me ‘coward’.” So I thought, Okay, we’re paying attention to how Fang feels, comparing it to the things that Snape can’t say. This time around was when I realized that all of book six is leading up to the difference between how you feel when somebody that you fought against dies versus when they survive. If they come out of it okay, you can claim some relief in yourself and be like, “Okay, well, that was a really lucky break this time. I can do better. I’ll never do that again.” And we see that with Sectumsempra, when Harry thinks about what could have happened, he just turns cold. And we see that was Slughorn feeling very responsible for Voldemort becoming this mass terrorist when he wasn’t the one who decided that Voldemort should do that. But because so many people had died and so much damage had been done, Slughorn was really eaten alive by the guilt. Then we see Ron almost dying from the poisoned mead, and then we see what happens when you didn’t even mean it, but it turns out in death. The way that Lupin blames himself for James and Lily dying, the way that Sirius blamed himself. Snape, he didn’t physically kill James and Lily, just the way that Dumbledore later on says he didn’t strike the actual blow that killed Ariana, he thinks, and he doesn’t want to find out. But when somebody dies, it tears your soul apart. Your guilt about it, it rewrites your right to how you felt before then. We see Snape desperately trying to tell people, “Well, you don’t understand: James and his friends were really shitty to me. They were really shitty.” Trying to protest like, “I had the right to dislike them and be angry at them, even though I didn’t kill them. They’re not saints just because they died.” But you can’t ever really own those feelings again if death happened. It’s just overpowering. We see even after Sectumsempra, Snape makes Harry rewrite all of those detentions for James and Sirius, like, “They were not saints. They were not saints. They were not saints.” But Snape never intended for them to die. He didn’t want that, but he had wished it in a fantasy way so hard and he was trying to tell the world, himself, somebody, “No, I didn’t mean that they should really die!” 

So Harry that night — that’s a really long night for Harry, because you recall that he learned that night from Sybill Trelawney, who was drunk in the Room of Requirement, that it was Snape who overheard the prophecy. He never knew that before. Dumbledore and Snape had spent his entire school years trying to keep that information from Harry, and he finally has learned it. And that was just a couple hours before the Flight of the Prince confrontation, and then so much happened after he learned that that we, the reader, we forget that he’s only just learned it. And Snape doesn’t know that until that fight when Harry is wandless and he yells at Snape, “Kill me like you killed him, then.” It’s deliberately written so that “like you killed him,” it’s not named. Harry means James, but they both know that Snape has just killed Dumbledore, too. Until then, Snape could always say to himself, “I wasn’t really a murderer. I’m responsible and I’m never going to get over the guilt, but I didn’t actually kill anyone.” But now he has. Avada Kadavra cannot work unless you mean it, so he has just become a person who is a murderer, and he feels terrible about it. So when Harry says, “Kill me like you killed him,” Snape wants to say, “Don’t call me a murderer,” but he can’t say that ever again. So he says, “Don’t.” And then there’s a long silence, and what can you say? So he says, “Don’t call me ‘coward’.”

Shannon: Why can’t he say ‘murderer’?

Lorrie: I don’t think he wants to be called a murderer because what he did with Dumbledore was so much braver and more complicated and more awful than that, and his true self doesn’t want to be a murderer. The false self, the self that’s meant to be a decoy for Voldemort to believe in, would love to be a murderer, but the true self that’s Snape — it’s all abhorrent to him, and he’s at his absolute limit. Never mind that he killed Dumbledore; he’s just lost his only friend.

Shannon: And confidant.

Lorrie: And he has a really long night ahead of him. He hasn’t gotten Draco back home yet, even. Meanwhile, he’s going to have to intercede on Draco’s behalf to try to take away as much of Voldemort’s punishment as possible because of course Voldemort is going to enjoy punishing Draco for failing.

Shannon: Right.

Lorrie: So his night has just barely begun, and he just killed someone.

Shannon: So ‘coward’ was a replacement for ‘murderer’.

Lorrie: I think so.

Shannon: Interesting. Yeah.

Lorrie: Because the word ‘coward’ in itself, it didn’t have the resonance that I was looking for. 

Shannon: Right, right. It’s a really good point you make. This is not like Back to the Future, where we find out that ‘coward’ was kind of a trigger word for setting things in motion.

Lorrie: Nope. We only ever see it again when McGonagall calls him that.

Shannon: You know what’s interesting, though? McGonagall, head of Gryffindor; Harry Potter, Gryffindor. ‘Coward’ seems to be a Gryffindor insult. So whether it’s true or not, it’s almost like it’s the ultimate insult a Gryffindor can hurl at you: you’ve failed. And Snape hasn’t failed. It’s just Harry doesn’t know this at all.

Lorrie: Right, and then at the end, we get the reversal where Harry recognizes that.

Shannon: In tribute, the bravest man, probably the bravest man he ever knew, yes. So your book was published early this summer, and the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, came out this July. Did you find that the 8th Harry Potter story, in a sense, altered your reading or reinforced your reading of Snape in some way, and can you give an example?

Lorrie: I had one of those fan moments of “I told you so” when I read Snape as he appeared in Cursed Child, and it was a lot less subtle than I was expecting, because something that Rowling does in writing Snape in the first 7 books is she always keeps everything he does or says to at least two different interpretations or motives. Whenever he does something completely noble, there’s always also pettiness or vengeance or small-mindedness, either that you can interpret it either way, or just to remind us no matter how great of a human he ever became, he was essentially not a very nice person. Partly to show that it was harder for him. There are people who are naturally good. This is not one of those cases. Not that he was naturally evil, but just kind of a jerk at heart. And many of us are jerks at heart, and it is not easy to be good if that’s not the way that you’re wired. Every time we see Rowling show something beautiful or noble about Snape, she always put in a reminder that this is not a suddenly redeemed and angelic character. I thought that balance was going to be retained in Cursed Child, and it wasn’t. That surprised me. It seemed to me almost like a corrective. The thing that it reminded me of was how in Goblet of Fire, Rowling wrote into the dialogue an explanation of how to pronounce “Hermione.” That it was not a case where she was happy for people to just bring to it whatever they wanted — that she wanted to say, No, there is an authoritative take on this. I felt like there was a little bit of that authorial voice coming in here like, “No, he really did do it at the end for his own beliefs because he believed in the cause, not because of the memory of Lily.” Because as we know from Twitter and from interviews, Rowling has been following the endless debate about Snape’s character, as though her canon weren’t closed, and I think she felt it was important enough so that when Jack Thorne wrote this way, that was something she could give her approval to.

Shannon: Good. So there were no things that surprised you other than that?

Lorrie: There were delightful surprises, things that made me laugh in happiness. He was funny.

Shannon: He’s always been funny.

Lorrie: Almost always. He’s never funny in book 7. That was another thing that I discovered in this read-through that I had not noticed before. Because I had assumed that he’s always funny in some horrible way that — if you agree it’s funny, and not everyone does — if his horrible insults make you laugh, then you’re like, “well, that’s probably not very nice of me.” But in book 7, his humor is gone.

Shannon: He’s also not a teacher in book 7.

Lorrie: Right. He’s not a teacher, but there’s nobody around to appreciate his humor. He used to joke to McGonagall, he used to joke to his Slytherins, he used to joke with Dumbledore.

Shannon: He had friends. He had students he was overseeing. He had more people in his life. He could be more.

Lorrie: Meanwhile, in book 7, all he’s worried about is trying to keep his Slytherins from becoming monsters, trying to prevent students from killing each other, trying not to lose anybody. He has no humor left in book 7. 

Shannon: You know that saying, “It’s lonely at the top”? That when you achieve a position of great leadership and responsibility, you can’t really be who you were before. And here he is now as not only headmaster but also right-hand man for Voldemort. So he’s really at the top in a very visible way. He’s very isolated, and he can’t be funny. He can’t show these other sides to himself. That’s kind of sad. I like when he’s not serious, I like when he’s a bit biting. I appreciate a bit of nonsense.

Lorrie: We get a lot of that back in Cursed Child.

Shannon: Yeah. This is a lot of food for thought. Thank you so much for joining us, Lorrie, and I can’t help but recommend this book. I mean, for Snape fans out there who are looking for a close reading of the Harry Potter series but with a focus on Snape, I think this is a wonderful book. It’s reawakened my love for him, so thank you very much for writing it and thank you for joining us on Snapecast.

Lorrie: Thank you for having me. Obviously I love talking about this character, and I think he really deserved a book-length examination because what Rowling did by inventing him still impresses me.

Shannon: He did, he did. Thank you so much.

*****END OF INTERVIEW***** (01:20:26)

Transcript! Book Jawn Podcast Ep 36

In September 2016, Book Jawn Podcast released an interview with Lorrie Kim about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. You can download and listen to the podcast and you can now also read the transcript, courtesy of whiz transcriber Deannah Robinson.  Contact her at deannahm03@gmail.com if you need anything transcribed!

EP 36: LORRIE KIM AND THE CURSED PODCAST

Sarah: Hello! And welcome to Book Jawn Podcast, Episode 36.

Grace: Thirty… five. Oh, 36! Nice!

Sarah: Yeah. Look at who knows how to count!

Grace: I hate you! Stop… I hate you! I don’t know…

Sarah: I know, and that’s way more than my fingers and toes, as well. No one is more surprised than me.

Grace: We’re super excited— Oh, I’m Grace.

Sarah: I’m Sarah.

Grace: And we’re here with…

Lorrie: Lorrie.

Grace: And so many of you guys were so excited about our episode with Lorrie and her book, Snape: A Definitive Reading, that we asked her to come back for our Cursed Child discussion. **** We’re that far in Cursed Child? We’re in an interesting situation here, because all three of us liked Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and I know that many people didn’t. But we’re going to have a talk, we’re going to talk about it.

Sarah: Yeah. Agreed.

Grace: So, I wanted to just start with saying we haven’t obviously had a new Harry Potter text in our hands for a long time, and how did you guys feel? Where did you get your book? How quickly did you read it?

Sarah: Well, I borrowed it from Spiral, and then took it back because they were in such high demand that I was like, “Well, I’ll let somebody buy this at full price.”

Grace: Yeah, she was asking people to bring back the book. She asked JD, too. She’s like, “Can I sell your copy? You’re just getting one later.”

Sarah: That’s hilarious. I did not know that. But yeah. And then I just bought it from the Marble later.

Grace: How did it feel though?

Sarah: It felt great. I read it very quickly and I squeed throughout it. I was like, “I’M SO HAPPY TO HAVE A NEW HARRY POTTER!” Then I thought it was going to take me a while to read, because it’s not written in book format. It’s written as a play, and it did not take anything from the story for me. I was actually really surprised that my wife wasn’t like–she still hasn’t read it, so I was very surprised, but I think she was a little put off by the format. But I liked it, yeah. What about you guys?

Grace: Well, I got mine at GeekyCon. We had a midnight release after the ball that we have. The line was really long. It just felt long. Anyway. First of all, I did get the book in line, but it was really a perfect setup because I’d spent the whole ball talking to the number one famous Slytherin/Snape defender at GeekyCon. We had finally talked to each other for the first time at this ball, and we were so excited. We’re hugging each other, being like, “I feel so validated by the things you’re saying.” And then we both got Cursed Child, and it was very affirming to our feelings about Gryffindor bias and Scorpius is a perfect little cinnamon roll precious boy.

Sarah: He is precious.

Grace: So I got the book, and I didn’t start reading it immediately, though. I didn’t actually start it until a week after the release date, and I read it in one sitting and cried on the train. I mean, I liked it, but I feel like it was affirming to my specific Slytherin feels. I got a very personal attachment to it. Lorrie?

Lorrie: I got mine at Big Blue Marble because it was released at the same time that Big Blue Marble was hosting the release party for Snape, so I did my presentation, then I stood in line here. And I was prepared because so many people I knew were very negative about this script coming out, for different reasons. A lot of them were because they had done so much creative work as fans within the Potterverse, and they had bad experiences in the past of their headcanons not working out with new canon. And I really have a problem with this, even though I should be more open-minded. But a lot of people are like, “J.K. Rowling should just never say another word.” 

Grace: Yeah, a lot of people feel like that. Like, how huge mega Harry Potter fans feel–

Lorrie: That she doesn’t have the right to say anything, that she has made the universe and she should just now walk away and it belongs to her readers.

Sarah: WHUT?!

Grace: This is like, I would say, most people, at least superfans I’ve talked to, feel this way.

Lorrie: I feel very strongly about it, and I have such a problem with that, to the extent that I don’t think I understand how seriously people feel this or how important it is. Because when they say it, they’re so vehement, and I disagree so much, I don’t think I’m listening to them. But I disagree because I think that she has the right to do whatever she wants, and if it bothers you, if her authority is too threatening, just don’t read it. But that’s much more easily said than done.

Sarah: True.

Grace: People’s fanfictions or headcanons, those still exist. They can still hold on to those and there’s new content, but the thing you wrote still is great. The thing you wrote still has readers. 

Lorrie: A lot of people say it’s because they’ve been transforming aspects of Potterverse to be more inclusive or more representative of things that are important to them, and every time Rowling comes out with new content, it reminds people that actually, in most ways, Potterverse is not all that progressive. For example, people who had invented a lot of lesbian backstory for McGonagall, and then Rowling came out on Pottermore with an extremely heteronormative— the same story for McGonagall that she has for a lot of the other teachers, which is romance that went wrong at a certain point and then celibacy afterward. People thought, well, after the potential richness of McGonagall as a figure of female education– which historically has been really embedded with lesbian history, with female empowerment–to have this felt reductive. And I’ve seen people be really angry about that, because it wasn’t just that their headcanons had been invalidated, but in a way that was upsetting in the first place. One of the things I was doing when I was reading this was to see where Rowling’s authorizations were moving on some issues, like people were saying the racial tokenism, for example, or the queerness or anti-Slytherin bias, how much feedback is she incorporating? How much is she acknowledging? How much is, “You know what? It’s my universe”? And then balancing that, of course, against the fact that she didn’t write it. That’s something that is, I think, universally difficult for a lot of readers to remember: “Okay, she has authorized, but she didn’t write.” The syntax isn’t hers, the characterizations. And that’s been a problem for people during interpretation as they read this is, “Okay, I am not comfortable with this characterization of this person. Is that because it’s poorly written? Is it because I’m looking for J.K.R.’s writing and it’s not hers? Or is it because I’m not getting something?” And there have been times when I’ve concluded, “No, it’s because it’s really subtle and intentionally written to be surprising and difficult to get on first reading,” and I wish sometimes that people wouldn’t be so quick to conclude that it was poor writing because it’s not always.

Sarah: Yeah. I get that.

Grace: A lot of the most— I’m just going to compliment you here rightfully, but a lot of your analyses are about these kind of unsaid things or subtle things in the series or the things you find re-reading. That makes total sense.

Sarah: Well, you remember when the 7th book came out, how everybody was so upset about the epilogue.

Grace: Oh, we remember.

Sarah: And that’s one of my favorite pieces of the original series. I think it’s so beautifully written and so — there’s so much. It’s a thing that when I first read it, I was like, ‘What in gay hell is this?’ And then I re-read it a couple of times, and was like, ‘oh no, actually, this is really brilliant.’

Grace: That makes sense.

Sarah: I think that it is— I think you’re right. A lot of stuff does gets richer when you re-read it, and see how nuanced and how many layers there are. I totally get what you mean, though. As to the people being like, ‘J.K. Rowling can’t write Harry Potter anymore,’ I think that’s garbage.

Grace: Hot Take: You’re garbage. 

Sarah: I don’t think people are garbage. I think that’s a garbage opinion. I feel like it’s a world that she created, of course she has authority on it. But I think that even JKR at this point must realize that it is a world that her readers have taken a lot of ownership and liberties with, and that’s fine. That creates space in that fandom for all sorts of different voices. I think that she—I don’t know a lot about Pottermore. I know there’s been a thing of the American houses and appropriation. I don’t know a lot about that, but I also don’t know that Pottermore is written by JKR.

Lorrie: The parts that she wrote are noted. If it doesn’t say that it’s from her, then somebody else did the writing.

Sarah: Okay. 

Grace: But the Native American appropriation was her?

Lorrie: No. [CORRECTION! The Pottermore writing about the Ilvermorny houses WAS definitely by Rowling!  I was incorrect when I said otherwise during the recorded interview. -LK]

Grace: No? Really?

Lorrie: I don’t know who did the writing and I don’t know how much authorization she gave, but it’s not one of the elements that says New Writing from J.K. Rowling.  [Dear Lorrie:  Yes, it is!  It definitely says New Writing from J.K. Rowling!  You were wrong, wrong, wrong!  – Lorrie.]

Grace: Interesting. 

Sarah: I can’t imagine anybody is here to step up and claim that.

Grace: Yeah. Huh. I think my opinion on this is that— well, I think that obviously it’s her writing, and I look forward to new content. I want that. I love reading new things that she’s written because I love Harry Potter and I want all the things, I want more all the time. I do think that the series or the story is so important to so many people. The three of us in this room, it has influenced our lives in huge, sweeping ways.

Sarah: Profoundly.

Grace: So I think that for anyone who feels that way, you’re protective over this thing that’s influenced your daily life so much. But I don’t agree with saying, “Well, then I don’t want anything else. This is what it is.”

Lorrie: Well, I like that you went to the epilogue, because obviously it springboards off the epilogue. I remember reading the epilogue and I was not that impressed with it for reasons that this play confronts head on. For one thing, it was very heavily that heteronormative “OMG they’re all going to marry their high school sweethearts and have children.”

Sarah: All except for Draco.

Lorrie: Which, thank goodness. And Draco not is also a beautiful thing. It means that he was free to continue to have romance from somebody who shared his same background, that hadn’t been making the same mistakes that he made as a teenager. He was allowed to go on and have a second act.

Sarah: Look, in my heart, he ended up with Neville.

Grace: That’s her OTP, Draco/Neville. I just want to know who Neville— what’s he up to? Just call me!

Lorrie: The single thing that I hated most about the epilogue was the really unhealthy dynamic between Hermione and Ron, where he’s basically gaslighting her, where he says, “Hermione, I bet you thought that I couldn’t pass the driving test without Confunding the Muggle examiner,” and Hermione says, “No, I had perfect faith in you.” And then he whispers to Harry, “No, actually I did.” So he’s angry at her for not having faith in him, but—

Sarah: But her lack of faith would have been justified.

Lorrie: That really, really got my stomach hurting, because that’s the same dynamic that I don’t like about Molly and Arthur, where they’re not honest with each other and they blame each other and they work around each other in a way that I don’t think is good. So Cursed Child starts, and it’s made so much better for me, because it’s out in the open that this is the dynamic, which is fine with me because it’s like, “Okay yes, these are our flaws, which we openly acknowledge,” and Rose is there going, “Well, I have every confidence that he did Confund the examiner.” It’s out in the open, it’s not me worrying that Hermione is trying to cover up for Ron’s lack of confidence, what kind of marriage dynamic is that? It was much more accepting to me of these people and more realistic. And then of course the child, who is nearly an adult, has something to say about it, which, to me, shows that the epilogue is a promise, and then that scene in Cursed Child is a reality. Of course, when we’ve just seen these kids fight Death Eaters, it’s hard to know in the future what’s it going to be like when they’re married and they have kids. And here, okay no, this— It’s real life. Their kids have opinions. I found immediately within the first couple acts that it reconciled me more to the epilogue.

Grace: So I wanna move on to the series — you said — oh, the complete Harry Potter series and then Cursed Child is the second part, but it is canon. But there are so many readers saying, “No, this isn’t canon, this isn’t canon.” But it is officially canon. Do you guys each consider it to be? Do you think that the way the characters are written is true to their character?

Sarah: You know, that’s an interesting question. I think— yes, I think that the characters are believable for who they could’ve grown up to be. That said, I don’t care that much. It’s not going to take away from fanfiction for me. I’m still going to read fanfiction, and I’m fine with that. If it doesn’t follow through with Cursed Child, I get it. I get that there is a lot of inclusivity that is absent, and so I get that as being a valid qualm. So yeah, it’s canon, but I have a big shrug about it.

Lorrie: To me, it’s absolutely canon, but that is based on my reading of it, which I know not everyone will share. For two reasons: the first one is, it’s about that phrase, “All was well,” that was at the ending of the epilogue, which I know made a lot of people really nuts. Because they said, “How can you say all was well? It’s clear in the epilogue that it’s still a prejudiced society, the same tensions and the same unfairness that were always there continue. The only thing that was well was that Harry’s scar doesn’t hurt anymore, but nothing else has been improved.” Which made me think, Okay, for the purposes of the Harry Potter story, ‘All was well’ means there was a baby who was almost killed by a serial murderer, and he was really badly traumatized and it led to war and he was hunted for his entire childhood. What can we do? Is it possible for everybody involved in the circumstances around his traumatic childhood to get this child to adulthood, to a point that he has roughly the same chances at life that his peers can expect, roughly? They did get him to that. He came of age, he was a grownup, he was allowed–because of Dumbledore and Snape’s sacrifices–to go on to have a family of his choice. To live without his scar trauma impeding everything and controlling everything. He was allowed to have a family, which is what he always wanted. And therefore, yeah, it’s still a negative world with a lot of conflicts in it, but those are the same conflicts that his peers, who were not hunted down by Voldemort, also had.

Grace: Right, it’s like, What were you expecting ‘All was well’ to mean? Everything’s absolutely perfect and no bad exists in the world?

Lorrie: So he—unlike Dumbledore and Snape, who were paying for their own sins from youth and therefore gave up some stuff, they enabled Harry and Draco to go on and have more than they themselves did because of their own self-sacrifices, and it worked. For both Harry and Draco, there were times where I wasn’t so sure it would work, but it did. So that was ‘all was well.’ Then when we come to Cursed Child, I think, ‘okay, this is the 8th story for me in that it’s answering the question: Okay, so here’s that baby. What’s it like when he becomes a father and he parents a child of the same age that he was going through when we knew him? What’s that going to look like? For yourself, you can get over your trauma, but when you had provide parenting for your child that you did not receive, and it’s not just that you didn’t get it, but in place of proper parenting you had unusual trauma that was completely unlike what almost anyone else went through, how is that going to look? What’s that experience going to be?’ To me, this completely answers that question. It may not answer the question of “Who is Albus?” or “Who is Scorpius?” or “How did everybody else turn out?” It’s just a question of, “Hey, whatever did happen to that baby?” “Well, he had kids.” “Really?! What did he do when they were that age?” “Eh… It wasn’t that easy for him!” 

Sarah: You know, it’s funny. In sort of… a lot of times, people who are sexually abused as children, it’s depressive for their entire lives. And then when they have kids that are that age, it is very triggering for them. So it’s— that’s legit.

Lorrie: It’s something that actually happens to people.

Grace: So kind of his shitty parenting is similar to that, you mean.

Sarah: Yeah.

Lorrie: You ever see cats that were raised by dogs, and they can’t clean themselves?

Sarah: They can’t clean themselves? No, I’ve never seen that.

Lorrie: Like… you see cats that were raised by cats, they lick their fur and they’re clean. Meanwhile, if you are a dog owner, you have to bathe your dog. But I’ve seen cats who as kittens were raised by dogs and they smell and you have to wash them.

Sarah: Why?

Lorrie: They didn’t get taught to clean themselves. It’s simply not there. Good parenting is not instinct. It’s learned, and it takes forever. You can’t just get it from– Sirius provided some really beautiful moments that parents are supposed to provide, but he wasn’t the real parent; he didn’t have the authority; it only happened for a couple years. Most of what Draco knows how to do for Scorpius–because Lucius Malfoy, despite being a nazi, was a father, and did go to bat for his kid… by bribing ministers and trying to get people killed. But the point was: Somebody’s threatening my child and that hurts me, and I don’t want my child to be hurt. So Draco knows what to do with Scorpius, even if he’s not going to do it the way Lucius did. For Harry, that’s simply not there. Nobody ever did that for him. Sirius didn’t have the authority, and then he goes to Dumbledore and he says, “You were my dad!” And Dumbledore’s like, “Umm, I wasn’t?” 

Grace: Look, we don’t have any real examples of good fathers in the original seven books, in my opinion. We talked about this earlier–not in this episode, excuse me; we talked about this off the episode. And you said Lupin was probably a good dad, but–

Sarah: For ten minutes. 

Grace: That’s what I’m saying. When I really think about it, I don’t have any good examples of a good father figure in the whole series.

Lorrie: Hagrid’s dad.

Grace: Hagrid’s dad. But again–

Sarah: I mean, that’s really obscure.

Lorrie: We’re reaching.

Grace: Right, reaching, it’s a good example. But we’ve never seen him in action. We never have seen him present.

Lorrie: Yeah, we don’t see it, we hear about it. And it’s apparent from Hagrid’s ability to nurture that somebody did a good job on Hagrid. 

Sarah: That’s right. He was a good parent to Norbert.

Lorrie: Yeah. I mean, that’s his whole purpose. One reason why I consider it canon is because from the point of view of the overarching series, I think it’s the story of Harry, and yeah, this is what I want to know: what did happen to that person? He got over a lot of stuff through enormous effort, mostly on his own with good help, and then he went on and had kids. So that’s one reason, and here’s the other reason why I think it’s canon: I think that the content of Cursed Child is deliberately set up to tell us that very little in it is canon, that very little in this play that happens is canon. Most of it is AU, things that are done and then undone. For example: the things that I know shocked faithful readers, like Cedric Diggory becoming a Death Eater — the single kid who we knew from the series that would NEVER become a Death Eater. He’s become one in this AU, which gets undone, and the whole thing about– okay, Voldemort and Bellatrix reproduced in a mammalian viviparous fashion. HOW?! And that also gets undone. And that’s subtle, that’s not explicitly stated, but it’s another AU. All of these AUs that are created by children trying to imagine what their parents went through without even having the means to live the lives that their parents did. Trying to think about possibilities, struggling to make stories through which they could understand why their parents feel the way they do. These are AUs that can be created or undone based on what you understand of each other. So yeah, there’s a universe in which Cedric Diggory became a Death Eater, I guess, or which Voldemort had sexual intercourse, if that’s possible.

Sarah: Sounds sexy when you put it like that!

Lorrie:… and that Bellatrix, who was showing while she was– yeah, I don’t–I think it’s very deliberately shown to make no logical sense to people who lived through Harry’s teen years, which would be the readers of books 1-7. Because the person imagining this didn’t.

Grace: Is your theory that they didn’t use a Time-Turner?

Lorrie: No, my theory is that a Time-Turner is allegory for trying to put yourself, mentally, back into another time so that you can understand things. 

Grace: Right.

Sarah: So is it kind of like that psychological technique of putting yourself into that person’s chair and then having a conversation?

Lorrie: Well, it’s also the kind… Lies about a person’s family can affect people’s lives, even when they’re not true. Suppose all of your life you were told that your father was this one person, and then you discover, a long time later, no, actually your father was this other person that your mother only met once, and you have to go find out who that person was. But all your life, you’re trying to look for yourself in the person you were told was your father, so all of these stories can create effects in your life whether or not they’re true, and then you learn new information that changes things. And I think that’s sort of what’s happening with the Time-Turner here is Albus, he doesn’t listen to anything Harry has to say; he can’t. He’s trying to understand it on his own terms based on things that he’s trying to piece together about people he’s never met, who died before he was born. He can’t imagine things. For example, he doesn’t know Voldemort as we readers know Voldemort. He doesn’t know that Voldemort was so inhumane as to be inhuman. He can’t imagine that those of us who have experienced Voldemort from Harry’s teenage point of view are like, “NO, that man did NOT have children! He was trying to be immortal; he didn’t even think he needed to reproduce, because reproduction is for mortals. He wouldn’t have wanted–that’s not how snakes reproduce!”

Grace: And he wants it to be HIS legacy, it’s always about him and him being powerful, so I can’t imagine him being like, “Oh, lemme have a kid so that if I die, someone else can benefit from my power!”

Lorrie: It’s really, really hard to imagine, and we also know so much about the weird attitude of Bellatrix toward children and babies that it’s all of these horrifying thoughts that we have trouble with because we have experienced things through Harry’s teen POV, and we’ve met Voldemort through Harry’s perspective, and Albus hasn’t. He doesn’t–and this happens to children of war generations–you can’t know how bad these things were if you weren’t there, and your parents don’t want you to because it was awful.

Grace: I’ve got goosebumps.

Lorrie: So I’m thinking that the weird things that are hard to accept and hard to fit into Potterverse as we knew them from Harry’s teen years, that appear in Cursed Child, are showing us these things may or may not have happened. But the difficulty that Albus has understanding the reality that Harry lived through, for one thing, should help us understand how hard it was for Harry as an orphan in, say, Prisoner of Azkaban, to realize that his life was being controlled by people and decisions that were made before he was born — by his parents’ generation, by people who are dead or in prison, that nobody is telling him anything. So why is this Potions professor making his life miserable? Why is Lupin lying? All these things are happening, everybody knows it but him, no one’s telling him anything, and that’s– now we see Albus. Okay, some of that was because Harry had an exceptional situation. Some of it is just because that’s what happens, and you don’t know what your parents went through, and especially when it was as traumatic as what Harry went through, you can’t convey it to your child. And if you try to, you’re going to– it’s really not easy, it’s not probably possible to understand that your father was in mortal peril. I mean, we see that Albus gains more and more understanding through the play, as he is in situations where he can feel mortal peril, and then he realizes, “Oh, my father felt this?” And the more he feels that, the more he understands it. But Albus wasn’t actually in mortal– I mean, these were chosen Time-Turner trips which, because they were undone, turned out to be these side AUs. They don’t turn out to be realities that he’s stuck in. But he gets to undo them because each time, he has some maturity and some understanding that enables him to go back and undo it. Every time that there’s a scene change, it’s because there’s new information for Albus or Scorpius that enables them to go back to their earlier misunderstanding and, at that point, clear up some of the bad artifacts that came about because of their misadventures.

Grace: That reminds me of the one thing I would change in the book. Like the book, there was one scene that I felt was missing, which is Albus seeing Harry at his age forced into a decision for protecting someone. I wanted to see Albus understand his dad directly in a scene where Harry’s in mortal peril. I wanted him to understand in a more clear way watching this– I wanted to see Albus see Harry at his exact age and be like, okay. I feel that would be such a–

Sarah: It’d be gratifying for him, or it would help him understand.

Grace: Yeah, I guess that’s what I wanted. That’s the only thing I would change. I wanted him to directly see his dad at his age. Did you guys have things, if you could change something?

Sarah: I’d like to see Neville. 

Grace: You’d like to see Neville?

Lorrie: I wish that Ron hadn’t been written as a clown.

Sarah: Dude!

Grace: Really?

Sarah: Yeah, he was a doofy uncle, like…

Grace: Well, a lot of people didn’t like it, but I actually thought that you got it or something.

Lorrie: I think the clown element of Ron is really important but it’s only one. The Ron that I knew from the series 1-7, he has a clown element, he has a very touching, emotional element. He has depth and instincts in areas that the other characters don’t that he contributes but he doesn’t do it in an overbearing way. That’s part of his personality, so I felt like the deeper notes of his character were not represented in the play, and that only the clown element was represented, and that felt unbalanced to me. He was also portrayed as ignorant or clueless a little too much. That’s not the balance I like in my Ron. So I would have like a little bit more gravitas from this Ron.

Grace: What about you, Sarah? You said Neville.

Sarah: Actually, I would like to see what happened to Neville and Luna. Was the gist that Ron had taken over Weasley’s joke shop? Yeah, I didn’t care for that. I would like to have seen him doing his own thing.

Lorrie: Well, they did say — and this was another thing that I saw Cursed Child address directly from the epilogue–it had always bothered me so badly that Potterverse is completely patronymic, that you don’t ever see a witch take — all witches marry wizards and take the wizard’s last name without exception. The only possible room for question there is, what did Tonks call herself after she married Lupin? I don’t know. 

Grace: Well, didn’t Hermione also, in this book, hyphenate?

Lorrie: Not in Deathly Hallows, so the first time that I see Rose Granger-Weasley, I’m like, So that makes it on purpose, that Rowling made it a patronymic society in books 1-7 as opposed to an assumption for Rowling’s part that she assumed we’d all share. It made it intentional.

Grace: Which was the next era?

Lorrie: That yes, she was presenting a very patriarchal society in which all the women had to take their husband’s names and that Hermione, of course, would say, ‘No, I’m going to do something different.’ And that, especially because so many plot points in the first 7 books depend upon the mother’s last name being erased.

Sarah: Oh, that’s true.

Lorrie: So, I wanted it to be true that this was intentional and we were meant to notice that it was considered not an option. But then as soon as we meet Rose Granger-Weasley: See, there you go, yes, yes. I feel that that canonized the reading of Potterverse of which all women taking their husband’s surnames was a comment on the patriarchy. And we see that further underscored when Draco says, “Everyone thought that my father and I wanted to continue the Malfoy family line. We really couldn’t have cared less about that.” Because there are some characters — Snape and Sirius, and now Draco — who really don’t care about the family line dying out. 

Grace: Sorry, I’m just thinking about Sirius. Of all the characters, Sirius is like, “Yeah, we can die, we can all just die!” Oh, it’s not funny, it is funny. I’m sorry.

Lorrie: That’s like Phineas Nigellus saying, does that mean that my great great grandson, the last of the Blacks, is dead and our family line is dead? And like, Well, yeah, not that he cares about the family line. And Snape, too. Who cares? He’s so not patriarchal. And it turns out that neither is Draco. All he cared about was a happy family for his wife and him. He really didn’t care about a family name or anything.

Sarah: But that makes sense, though.

Lorrie: It does.

Grace: I really wanna talk about Draco, of course.

Lorrie: DRACO!

Grace: But before we do, I wanna go back to where you bring up women. I read up online some criticism, which is that when the play was cast, we all got really exci–hopefully if you’re good, you got really excited about–

Sarah: If you’re a good person.

Grace: If you’re a good person, you got really excited about Hermione being cast by a Black actress, and then some people were really upset writing about–

Sarah: Racists. Racists were upset.

Grace: Oh, no, no, no. After that– yeah, racists were upset. I don’t care about that, I don’t wanna talk about that. After reading Cursed Child, some fans were upset because they were like, “You cast these Black actresses as Rose and Hermione, you got us all excited for this progressive story, and there are not a lot of women in the story.” I read this criticism, a lot of people said there weren’t actually that many scenes with women in them. I do think Hermione had a big role. So I’m not saying I necessarily agreeing with it, but do you guys think there were enough women?

Sarah: Hermione, Ginny, Rose… 

Grace: But Ginny’s not really in it, though. Again, she’s in a couple scenes.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s possible that the cart witch has more scenes that Ginny–

Grace: I love her so much.

Lorrie: I realized this morning I am the cart witch… Oh, boy.

Grace: That’s the character you are.

Lorrie: I am!

Grace: That’s totally true. You’re– it’s amazing. I’d be so happy.

Lorrie: I’ve never seen myself in the Potterverse before.

Grace: I don’t really see myself as a specific character. 

Sarah: I relate on a deep level to Neville.

Grace: I can actually see that one. I talked to Emma about it. I’ve never really connected to a specific character. I joke about being Slughorn, but that’s not actually how I see myself. The character I’ve most connected to was Dumbledore. Of any actual… I feel like that character.

Sarah: Because of your swank wardrobe?

Grace: Because of my swank wardrobe.

Sarah: I knew it.

Lorrie: Oh yeah, the high-heeled boots! First shoes we ever see him wear!

Grace: But no, I first saw that tweet that you did this morning, and said, Yup, that’s accurate! 

Lorrie: Just saying. That’s for stealing pumpkin pasties.

Grace: Back to–I’m not saying–

Sarah: Dude!

Grace: Yeah, she brings… to all the Harry Potter events she doesn’t host, she’ll just bring all the Harry Potter treats.

Sarah: I thought you were referring to the scary roof scene, and I was like, Umm…

Lorrie: No, I am! I am.

Grace: Both. Definitely both.

Lorrie: Yeah, we have my kids sneaking off somewhere, thinking that they’re going to do it and me showing up: “Hello, children.”

Sarah: Have a pumpkin pasty bomb!

Lorrie: “Get back where you’re supposed to be. You think you can outwit me? HA!”

Grace: So I think — I love that. It made me so happy. It was so true. I don’t think I agree with that, especially Albus seeing it as… This is still Harry’s story, this is still him as a father. I don’t think there were not enough women in the scenes. I still think I can see the play, so it’s kinda hard to say.

Sarah: Yeah, well, Delphie, Delphine, Delph–

Lorrie: Delphi?

Sarah: Delphi. Yeah, she’s a woman. There are also not that many characters, to be honest, that play a major role.

Grace: Plus, if we’re going to–if it’s a play, they can’t have every actor. They can’t have Luna and Trelawney or whatever, you know, all these other women in it.

Sarah: I wish.

Grace: Because you’d have to hire all those actors. I don’t know. What do you think, Lorrie?

Lorrie: I saw a story, a separate story, that I would love to see. Which isn’t the story that this play tells. Ginny and Hermione are a lot more open and sympathetic to Draco than Harry.

Grace: I loved that.

Lorrie: And Ron, I mean obviously. But when Ginny said that after Astoria died, she owled Draco, saying, What can we do? And that just got me, it got me so much, because we didn’t know that. Did Harry know that? Then we find out that Harry must’ve known it because the answer that Draco sent back was, “Tell you husband to make a statement that my child is not Voldemort’s baby.” So Ginny must have presented that to Harry, who said, “No, we’re not going to do that.” And then there’s the Dramione moment at the end. Draco and Hermione have a lot more easy time interacting than Draco and Harry.

Grace: So many wizard rock songs playing in my head right now that it’s confusing.

Lorrie: Especially Ginny, that Ginny understood Draco a lot better, to me, that is a whole other universe, a whole other four-act play that could be written that’s not Harry’s story, which means, “okay, that specifically showed me that this isn’t supposed to be THE story. This is Harry’s story with really emotional references to other stuff going on.” I wasn’t disappointed by it, however. I’m still marveling over the experience that when I was reading the play, I was picturing Hermione and Rose as Black. 

Grace: Yup. Immediately from going in, it was like–

Sarah: It’s really cool.

Lorrie: There is nothing to indicate it, but this is a favor that they have done for me.

Grace & Sarah: Yeah.

Lorrie: Yeah. You have a Time-Turner, now we go back to fourth-year Hermione watching the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and we get to imagine that we know for a fact that we’re picturing a Black girl.

Sarah: That’s so cool.

Lorrie: That really got me, and to me, that’s maybe THE story of this particular production, is that that change has been made in my mind.

Sarah: What’s really cool, too, that regardless of what alternate universe they were in, Ron had biracial kids. I thought that was really, really cool. 

Lorrie: Yeah, and even in that one, the “spare,” the new spare, is played by an Asian guy. Like, Okay. Is that his name, Craig Bowker, Jr.? The guy who does all the homework for the Scorpion King? The new spare.

Grace: It’s interesting though, because in Hollywood, at least, the most underrepresented groups among actors are Asian men.

Lorrie: It’s not a huge change, but with racial representation in Potterverse, I am still at basic 001, I am taking everything. And we’ve read people saying, “Gosh, the name Panju opens up a whole can of worms.” Like — it’s not a name. It’s not a person’s name. It’s this really weird, “all brown people are alike,” “let’s just pick a name and go with it” kind of weirdness.

Grace: Oh, really?

Lorrie: Yeah, it was a lot of people saying, “Oh, this is kind of bad and insulting.”

Grace: I guess I said we were going to go back to Draco now.

Sarah: Something that I found really cool about Draco was not just how much of a caring father he was, but also seemingly what a caring husband he was. I thought that it was cool to see that yes, he was concerned that his son was being dragged and called Son of Voldemort. But also his wife’s reputation was on the line, and what did that mean for her. Then when she was ill, how he was– I don’t know. I just like Cursed Child Draco a lot.

Grace: Yeah, I wanna talk about Draco for a lot of reasons. First of all, I think his parenting was awesome, especially in contrast to Harry’s. My favorite line was from him. Also, as someone who was once a Draco fangirl and then was like, “I don’t wanna be like that, Team Neville,” like you fan crush, it was cool to see him as the person that I want him to be. He got to be the person that I, in my own girl crush brain, hoped that he was. But yeah, my favorite line that he said, when they’re talking about their friendship, he’s talking about being jealous of the trio and their friendship. He said to them that they shined, “You shone so bright and my friends were idiots basically, and it just wasn’t fair.” It made me so happy because it made so much sense. Draco is smart, it’s never been a question that he’s an intelligent kid, and he just never got to have that kind of friendship. And him being so honest about that jealousy– I just thought that whole thing was beautiful. And If you’re a kid in school ever and there was a group of friends that, even if you hated them, that love each other so much and had so much fun, you can’t help but be jealous of them.

Sarah: I just turned to it.

Grace: What was the line?

Sarah: It says: “Two lumps who wouldn’t know the end of a broomstick from another. You — the three of you — you shone, you know? You liked each other, you had fun. I envied you and those friendships more than anything else.”

Grace: I loooooove that part.

Sarah: He goes on to say: “My father thought he was protecting me. Most of the time, I think you have to make a choice, at a certain point, of the man that you want to be. And I tell you that, at the time you need to be a parent or a friend, and if you’ve learned to hate your parent by then and you have no friends, then you are all alone. And being alone, that’s hard. I was alone, and it sent me to a truly dark place for a long time. Tom Riddle was also a lonely child. You may not understand that, Harry, but I do and I think Ginny does, too.” 

Grace: Ginny does, too.

Lorrie: I love that.

Sarah: Ginny says he’s right, and Draco says, “Tom Riddle didn’t emerge from his dark place, and so Tom Riddle became Lord Voldemort. Maybe the black cloud Bane saw was Albus’ loneliness, his pain, his hatred. Don’t lose the boy; you’ll regret it. And so will he, because he needs you and Scorpius, whether or not he now knows it.”

Grace: So the black cloud, I wanna highlight that part. 

Lorrie: So many, so many things to talk about. I wanna stick with Draco for a second. What I love about this Draco is that we can see every — The Draco of Cursed Child is completely foreshadowed by the Draco of the series for me. And I know not everyone sees it that way, but for one thing, the Draco of the series is really funny. He’s witty and he’s clever, and he’s insightful. It’s hard to see because, for example, he puts his wit into that song he makes about Ron, which is vicious. But he is the kind of person whose mind is always going. And his tenderness toward Astoria, we see that in Narcissa always being so tender toward Lucius, even when she has really good reason to be angry with him. But he has gotten these things from his extremely imperfect parents. I really like how we see who Draco can be if permitted, and I also like that we got the sign very early on, an alternative to the balding hairline for the epilogue, we get that he has a ponytail. It’s like, “Okay, we’re letting you know that just enough has shifted so that your brain can accept that this is a different story.” Just like different lines get assigned to different characters on Platform 9 ¾, it’s like, “Okay, I remember this. This isn’t the way I remembered,” which is saying: Yeah, memory is like that sometimes. Different perspective, different time, different characters; you think you remember it. Do you? Does it matter? Does it mean something different now? But yeah, Draco’s characterization that highlights likeable elements of him from the original series: one of my favorite things. 

Grace: How do you think his parenting is contrasting Harry’s?

Lorrie: Draco acts like someone who knows what it feels like to have parents stand up for you. He’s like, “okay, when something happens to my child, I’m going to say, ‘You know what would help? Do this.’” Whereas when Harry had terrible rumours about him, nobody was able to stand up for him, nobody had the right. Sirius was supposed to be– I don’t know where. Sirius had no personhood to stand up and say anything, and the times he tried, he got into a fight with Molly Weasley, and he got into a fight with Snape, the two times that he tried to stand up for Harry, saying– and Dumbledore overrode him. At the end of Goblet of Fire, when Dumbledore was like, “Harry has to recite everything bad that happened to him tonight,” and Sirius is like, “Can you wait? He’s really, really upset and tired.” And Dumbledore says, “It has to be now. I understand, but it does have to be now.” Dumbledore is right, so Sirius backs off. And then Sirius tries to argue with Molly, saying, “My godson is in mortal danger, and you want to keep him ignorant,” and Molly’s like, “You’re not his father.” And then he tries to tell Snape, “Don’t give my kid a hard time in Occlumency lessons,” and then the two of them nearly beat each other up. That was really bad. So that’s the closest that Harry gets. Sometimes Molly tries to stand up for Harry, but that’s always not quite right. And Harry appreciates it, but it’s not quite right. So he doesn’t know this feeling, but Draco does. Draco’s dad joined the PTA because he didn’t trust how the school was going to treat his kid, and then bribed everybody and Imperiused everybody. That’s an experience that Draco had at a really specific daily level. It’s not just a one-time thing. You had to grow up that way seeing it. He saw his cold, bitchy, snotty mother be lonely and scared because her husband was in jail. She could’ve blamed Lucius, like, “Oh my god, the Death Eaters are overrunning Malfoy Manor.” She could’ve been really angry with him. And instead, she just stayed with them and the unspoken message throughout book 7 that Narcissa was giving Lucius and Draco was, “Keep your head down. We’re going to get through this. It doesn’t matter: don’t react. We’re going to get through. The only thing that matters is that we get through it.” And then she got them through it. Draco knows that, so he’s applying that to Astoria and to Scorpius because it was really powerful what he got that Harry, you know–Voldemort killed his parents, he never got that, and he blames Dumbledore for not giving it to him. Even though Dumbledore’s like, “I wasn’t supposed to, I was your headmaster.” That’s the curse that goes, “You want to do well by your kids, but if something happened to you that interfered with your ability to learn how to do it, then you’re going to pass on some really bad failures to your parenting, even though you desperately don’t want to. That’s your curse, and your kid is going to suffer, even though nobody deserves it. The parent doesn’t deserve to do that to the kid, the parent doesn’t want to. Kid doesn’t deserve it; it’s going to happen. That’s your curse.”

Sarah: Thank God I’ll never have children.

Grace: I’m listening to you talk about this and like, I’m having this exact same thought. “Shit, I don’t wanna have kids.”

Lorrie: If Harry Potter can have children, you guys can, too.

Grace: Also I thought, Why didn’t he go into therapy? While you were talking…

Lorrie: Because his scar didn’t hurt. Until now. Because James and Lily weren’t in his shadow area, he understood James and Lily. It wasn’t until Albus started to not communicate with him on the platform, about to go into second year after all summer saying nothing, that Harry understood there was a problem and his scar was hurting. It’s not until something came up that it was in an area that he wasn’t equipped. I was going to say something and I totally don’t–

Grace: Well, you started to say shadow.

Lorrie: You were going to say something, and then I said, No, wait, Draco. And now I lost it.

Grace: No, you were talking about Bane’s black cloud reference.

Lorrie: Wait, it was Voldemort/Tom Riddle being a lonely child. That’s it, that’s the line, that’s the insight that we get from Draco, Tom Riddle was a lonely child, and that Ginny understood that but Harry probably didn’t. And Harry starts to understand that in book 6, and Dumbledore stops him in a way that’s cruel but probably necessary, and Dumbledore says, “Are you feeling sorry for Tom, for Voldemort?” And Harry’s like, “No, no, no.”

Grace: I wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t do that.

Lorrie: In his position, he’s trying to build up boundaries between him and Voldemort, you know, to get sucked into, “Oh, poor Voldemort killing everybody.” But Draco had that different perspective and it’s after Draco says, Tom Riddle was a lonely child, that Harry has a dream in which we get THE quote from Voldemort that’s pulled from the end of Goblet of Fire that fourteen-year-old Harry overheard. Harry, when he was fourteen, witnessed Voldemort saying to the Death Eaters, “I smell the stench of guilt in the air.” That’s the reproach of the child who wasn’t cared for by people who promised they would take care of him after he had been lost in the forest with no body, and his Death Eaters had sworn that they love him and they didn’t come look for him. Because Harry’s been dreaming that of Petunia, too. Petunia says the child has cursed us, which is completely backwards. Of course, when he’s been dreaming of them running away from the letters, Harry’s dreaming of the time that Petunia and Vernon and Dudley were running away from the letters, and Petunia says about Harry, the child has cursed us, and of course poor little Harry has done nothing of the sort. That’s her guilt talking. And Harry does the same thing to Scorpius, putting accusations on a child that has done nothing. Just that if you’re a guilty parent or adult caregiver who has not been fair to a child under your care, your fear of them will make you think that maybe they are cursing you, and that line from Voldemort saying that he smelt the stench of guilt connected to Draco saying Tom Riddle was a lonely child. It’s saying that, yeah, Voldemort had the same sensation of being angry at people who were not providing the care that he needed, even if they weren’t the appropriate people to provide it.

Sarah: This makes me feel like I can 1) never have kids…

Grace: Yes.

Sarah: And 2) maybe I’m going to start a club.

Grace: A club?

Sarah: A Death Eaters club.

Grace: Oh, god. Sarah!

Sarah: I can’t do that. I’m a Gryffindor.

Grace: Well, so is Wormtail, so… you could be. You could.

Sarah: Don’t compare me to Wormtail. He’s the WORST.

Grace: Let’s go back to that passage. There’s a lot in that tiny part, we’re talking about friendship, we’re talking about Draco growing into someone more empathetic, we’re talking about lonely children and how Ginny can understand and maybe Harry can’t. There’s this key line about Bane talking about a black cloud over Albus. You have some very interesting theories on this, about what that represents.

Lorrie: When the kids and Delphi are trying to find the time turner in Hermione’s bookcase, there are two riddles, and one riddle says “Dementors”. The other riddle says “Shadow,” which makes me think that we’re supposed to understand this from the Carl Jung definition of “shadow”, which is the part of yourself that you’re so afraid of that you can’t be aware of it consciously, and it stays in your unconscious. And if it’s out of balance, you can behave in damaging ways based on that. That’s what’s happening–that’s the black cloud around Albus, that he’s being damaged by Harry’s shadow. Harry is acting out of things that he’s too scared to face. Usually Harry’s shadow is most easily understood to be Voldemort, the part of Harry that he’s afraid of, and he’s afraid that he really is Voldemort. For this play, by the end, when he’s able to transform into Voldemort knowing that he’ll be able to transform back, that’s the triumph of the play, that he’s been able to bring the fears out of his shadow unconsciousness into dealing with it consciously so that it can stop hurting Albus. But at the point when Bane is telling him that there’s a black cloud, it’s so much part of Harry’s shadow, it’s so impossible for him to deal with consciously that his identification of that black cloud is basically, “Anything but Harry Potter.” “What’s that black cloud? Is it werewolves? Trolls? I know, it’s Scorpius, son of Voldemort!” And McGonagall is horrified, Albus is horrified, Draco is bewildered and furious that he’s breaking up this friendship because Harry’s definition is, “Oh, the answer is anything but me.” 

Sarah: I’d love to read all your analysis of this book.

Lorrie: Meanwhile, while Harry’s fear– his shadow is Voldemort, so therefore we get all this “return of Voldemort,” which is that Harry is now scared again in a way he has not been afraid for 22 years. And that part of his psyche is gaining so much power that it’s becoming personified for him as Voldemort again. But meanwhile, my reading of Delphi is that she is Albus’s shadow. And by creating a character that is “Delphi,” that changes in her identity throughout the play according to what Albus happens to know or need to know at the time that he’s working things out, so that the final confrontation between Delphi and Voldemort is actually Albus being able to see what’s really going on emotionally between him and Harry — without having to force both of them to dredge it up into the consciousness and have a conversation that’s really too much to ask of real life human beings. Because the moment that Delphi appears, it comes right after the words “Fiction” and “sorry.” Albus, who is upset with his father, is overhearing Harry talking to Amos Diggory, and he overhears Harry lie, and Amos Diggory says, “You have a Time-Turner,” and Harry says, “Everything you’ve heard about that Time-Turner is a fiction. I’m sorry.” And the moment that Albus overhears that imperfect father say “fiction”, he creates fictions of his own, which are all the AUs that follow. The immediate line after that, Delphi appears. It’s not even that he meets her; she wasn’t there before and suddenly she appears. “Hi, I’m Delphini.” So this creature, this entity, Delphi, has several names: she has Delphi, she has Delphini Diggory, and she makes up some really half-assed story about how they made fun of her name Delphini Diggory at school, which is half-assed on purpose. Trying to tell us, okay, this story doesn’t match up, you’re supposed to think. And then she says, “Oh no, I never actually was at school.” All these things don’t match up. And she’s the Augurey. She has different names and identities based on what Albus is working through at the time, and at the time that she first appears, what he needs is somebody to be emotionally with him in grief and anger that his father isn’t having empathy for a father-child dynamic. At that point, as far as he’s concerned, Harry Potter is evil and a failure, and Delphi’s there going, “Ah, so you’re related to Harry Potter?” So that’s what he needs then, and then there’s a moment that I knew threw a lot of people. Suddenly in this play, Delphi has silvery blue hair and is a romance figure, and people were like, “That’s the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of! She’s a Mary Sue!”

Sarah: I don’t really know what that is, if I’m being honest. 

Grace: Mary Sue?

Sarah: I mean, a little bit, but from comics, right?

Lorrie: Or from fanfiction written by people who are working within a given universe but also fantasizing about themselves as the most attractive and unusual person in this universe, in their fiction.

Grace: Who did everything.

Lorrie: Yeah. And there is a general collective sense of embarrassment about this kind of character because many of us have this in our pasts and are a little bit embarrassed about this. And it has a bad reputation, and there’s a sexist connotation to putting down Mary Sues, too, because people will say, “Oh, fanfiction, it’s all about Mary Sues, it’s all about stupid teenage girls and their fantasies of themselves having silvery hair or whatever, or wings.”

Grace: That do everything. But then it’s like, Captain America does everything, but we don’t call him a Mary Sue.

Sarah: That’s actually just what I was thinking.

Lorrie: And then people are saying, Exactly what is Bruce Wayne?

Sarah: I don’t know. A tortured Mary Sue?

Lorrie: The whole fantasy of–

Grace: He’s rich and strong and smart and…

Lorrie: Yeah. And vulnerable. So this whole concept of a point-of-view character that is the most dominant new figure in a piece of fiction is called Mary Sue in a way that is sometimes sexist, and the silvery blue hair and the attractiveness and the romancing with Albus and Scorpius going, “Uh, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.” That is sort of an indicator like, Okay, this is one of the things that Albus is working through. Because she’s not described as having silvery blue hair the whole time; she’s suddenly that.

Grace: That part was jarring.

Lorrie: It’s very odd. But then before that and after that, Albus isn’t needing that. The first thing we see is that she is the kind, loving caregiver of Amos Diggory who’s been wronged by Harry Potter, which is the first entry that Albus has into this story. Then near the end — so heartbreaking — we see this girl saying, “Voldemort, father, I’ve spent my entire life trying to be somebody that you could be proud of when you finally pay attention to me.”

Sarah: And it’s Harry Potter pretending to be Voldemort.

Lorrie: Exactly, and it’s Albus sustaining this character, Delphi.

Grace: Damn, that–ooooh. That hit me in the gut.

Lorrie: And the more Delphi goes to Harry and says, “Father, father, I want you to look at me as a child,” the more trouble Harry has maintaining the Voldemort form.

Grace: Damn.

Lorrie: Because what Delphi’s asking of him is not something that the actual Voldemort could have provided. That he can’t do this as Voldemort. That’s not who Voldemort was. 

Grace: Are there any other shadow storylines that you want to talk about in Cursed Child? Any other characters with shadows or plot points?

Lorrie: So there’s an AU is which Scorpius goes alone. 

Grace: There’s no Albus.

Lorrie: Which I’m thinking is because he has seen what Albus is doing with the AUs and seeing– they’ve had that argument where Scorpius says, “Oh, I’m angry at you, Albus. You think you’re the only one with father issues, you think your life is so shitty. Well, that’s very annoying, from my point of view.” 

Grace: Go, Scorpius, GO!

Sarah: Scorpius is my favorite character in this whole thing.

Lorrie: Except for the fact that Jack Thorne had authority to create an OC in Scorpius without the weight of having to match up with Rowling and the characters she created that people have loved for so long, and Scorpius is so much of a blank slate. He has some elements of Scorpius that he took from J.K. Rowling, but he had so much more leeway to create an original character — who is my favorite. He seems to be a runaway favorite with many people. I found it impossible not to love him.

Sarah: He’s just so earnest.

Lorrie: And he’s complex, and he’s very, very self-aware and obviously brilliant. And the fact that he enjoys being a dork and is unapologetic about it. So we have Scorpius and we see this little hint from Draco saying, “Scorpius is a follower, not a leader, no matter what I try to instill in him.” And we’re like, “Draco, what do you know about being a leader?” We had Lucius expect– we already see in Chamber of Secrets, in Borgin & Burkes, how hard it is for Draco to live up to Lucius’s expectations of him to waltz into Hogwarts and be top student, even though annoying Hermione Granger is getting favoritism. We know that Draco always wanted that, to live up to his father’s expectations.

Grace: Yeah, but even Lucius doesn’t even live up to that expectation.

Lorrie: Although Lucius has the kind of power and wealth that he thinks his son should be able to reproduce at Hogwarts, and it’s not working. So Draco is putting this very weird expectation on his child, completely inappropriate considering that the mom is sick and then dead, that they have just barely survived this war, that his kid is lonely, that his mom has to teach him songs and buy him candy. And in all of that, even knowing that Scorpius is his real self and trying to love Scorpius at the same time, trying to tell him he has to be a leader? That’s not a thing that humans do. He got that from his dad; there’s a kind of dad he thinks he’s supposed to be. And he’s upset with Scorpius for not being a leader. So we have that one AU where there’s no Albus, and it’s just Scorpius going to face Draco. So what is this father who wants him to be a leader? And then discovering, ‘Oh gosh, a world in which it makes sense for a Malfoy to be a leader is a whole different world.’ And he goes and he has that all by himself, and then he goes and re-meets with Albus.

Grace: This just sparked a thing in my brain. I love Scorpius, but I don’t necessarily see him as a Slytherin. He doesn’t seem like a Slytherin at the same time, going further. When I was at GeekyCon, someone was talking about the different houses and what they should do in life, and I only remember the Slytherin one because I’m a Slytherin, and he said, “Slytherins shouldn’t be the leader. That power corrupts you.” So is Scorpius — does he have Slytherin traits, but he’s using them responsibly? Say something! I’m just thinking, I’m just thinking through all of this while I say it. Please say stuff. Help me! 

Lorrie: Right after Scorpius and Draco have that conversation– that’s the conversation where Draco treats Scorpius the way he thinks he should. He’s physically punishing Scorpius. He drags Scorpius physically onto his desk. He‘s about to hit Scorpius, and then Scorpius brings up Astoria and says, “Mum always said you’re better than you let yourself think,” and that mention calms Draco and allows his sorrow to come out because he doesn’t want to be hurting Scorpius. Scorpius then says, “That’s not who we are. We shouldn’t be like this.” And then something comes into Draco’s face, and he looks at Scorpius and he says — really really super carefully, because Draco, he’s still a shill — he’s saying, “No, I didn’t do that Muggle killing, but I’m the one who’s going to have to answer for it.” And then he looks at Scorpius really carefully and says, “Whatever you doing, be careful.” And that’s a Slytherin thing, meaning ‘Know how to speak in allegory and know how to be subversive. Don’t be like poor Charity Burbage and say what you really think and then get killed for it. It’s too dangerous for that. Do this other thing. Be careful.’ That’s when we get Snape entering the narrative. Because it’s right after that that we get the Slytherin who shows how to be careful and to work toward that goal while not getting killed for it. 

Grace: And to do good in the world with your Slytherin traits.

Lorrie: Just to know how to do it. Draw on that ability, because Scorpius, he does. We see him going, “Uh, for Voldemort and valor, I guess.” It’s very tough for him to play along, but you see him making himself do it and understanding all the time, ‘Okay, so a world in which I can’t be friends with Albus Potter is a world in which he wasn’t born, is a world in which I could’ve been a leader. The Malfoys were leaders. Because this is the world and oh my god, this is really terrible,” and it makes him understand, “that’s what my dad grew up as. When my dad was my age, this is what he had to do, and who helped him.”

Grace: Actually, Scorpius has this scene that I wanted Albus to have. I just put that together. Scorpius has that. Damn.

Lorrie: What Harry was asking of Albus was not — this is part of the curse. It’s not appropriate and it’s not possible, but you can’t avoid it. Harry wants his child to understand and legitimize what he went through. “This is my blanket.”

Grace: Yeah, take this. Feel my suffering.

Lorrie: “This is my blanket. My mother, my dead mother, would’ve wanted you to have it,” and Albus is like, “I don’t even know how to deal with this. This is so disgusting; get me out of here! This is the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever experienced,” and Harry’s like, “No, don’t go!”

Sarah: He also gives James the Invisibility Cloak and–

Lorrie: And Lily gets what she wants.

Sarah: She gets fairy wings, so they get magical items, and he gets this crusty old blanket that is not magical. It has too much emotional significance, and he doesn’t necessarily understand the idea of non-magical luck, right?

Lorrie: He’s given Albus only what he, Harry himself, needs and nothing at all what Albus needs.

Grace: I was going to say, this shows how much I love you, but for Albus, it’s– this is you reaffirming how obsessed everyone is with your legacy and how obsessed you are with your legacy.

Lorrie: It’s like, You, young teenaged child, please help me, your father, get over some basic stuff, which is completely inappropriate and yet is something that happens. It’s the unavoidability of it and the horrible damage it does is the curse. Meanwhile, Albus quite rightly is like, “I’m not listening to a thing you have to say, because this is really bad and wrong.” So Scorpius and Draco can have that moment where Scorpius sees what his father went through because Scorpius has more support in his life to witness what his father went through. But for Albus, it’s much riskier because his fight originally was that Harry didn’t know how to appropriately express to Albus, “I wish you would understand what I went through.” What Albus gets instead is that he gets to watch the scene that his father wished people would understand about him, the original scene of Lily and James being murdered. So it’s not so much that Harry and Albus needed Albus to understand what Harry was like at thirteen or fifteen. They needed Albus to see why Harry is different from Albus’s generation, what caused it, and why Harry, at age 40, isn’t over it yet — because how do you get over it? And that you possibly can’t until you’re old enough to have your own children.

Grace: Can we bring it back to Snape?

Sarah: Sure. I think nobody in this room is ever going to say no to that.

Grace: Does anyone want to add anything? Do you want to talk about queerbaiting before we close up?

Sarah: Yeah, I do. I will say that I love this book. There was a ton of stuff there for me. I really loved the character of Scorpius. One of the things you had asked in your pre-show questions was why do so many people dislike it. That’s one of the things that I have seen around the interwebs, and something that I relate to as well. The whole time I was like, “oh, we’re going to get a gay romance. This is going to be, they’re going to wind up together. This is going to be great because it’s going to really validate the people who have shipped Harry and Draco and searched for themselves, and queer people who have searched for representation in this fandom, it just isn’t there in a very obvious way.” But I think that there are so many places that flirt with the idea of these characters being together that it was really disappointing to me that they opted not to validate that. I think that’s why a lot of queer people don’t like the book and I think it’s valid and real, and that’s my only real criticism of The Cursed Child.

Grace: I saw someone saying, “Well, we shouldn’t ship these characters together, it’s totally weird and creepy to ship children together.”

Sarah: WHUT?!

Grace: Yeah, so that was something I saw someone saying, and a bunch of people were like, “hey, listen, if your response is shipping these two characters together as queer, and you’re saying, ‘no, that’s crazy, they’re kids,” but then it’s okay for Scorpius to like Rose, that is why we have fanfiction. That is why queer people need to write fanfiction because they’re not represented and they need to feel like it somewhere. So if you’re like, “Oh no, you can’t possibly say that’s disgusting, they’re kids,” that’s kind of a problem here.

Sarah: I call malarkey.

Lorrie: I had a hard time seeing how it wasn’t romance, the way that Scorpius and Albus were written. While I can buy that maybe it wasn’t, some of the inclusion of attraction towards Rose and Delphi felt a little too close to compulsory heterosexuality for me. Because it’s not like we saw chemistry or anything based on the attraction we saw between the characters, whereas there was so much chemistry of a romantic or not-romantic sort between Albus and Scorpius. I don’t have any problem with them not being a romantic couple. It’s that — when we look at the areas where people are watching Rowling’s universe to see which fan emotions she’s responding to. Okay, we have Black Hermione, which is a really significant beginning. We don’t have any more queer characters than we did before, and it’s not that anyone has any responsibility to write anything but their own play. But because this was such a profound dynamic between those two kids, the context–the scenes where Scorpius was interested in Rose, I didn’t feel like they added anything. They kind of distracted me like, “Why is that there? Eh.” It wouldn’t have taken from the play to remove that element. 

Sarah: Yeah, I agree.

Grace: Do we have any theories on why they did that, or are we just going to leave it?

Lorrie: I don’t know, I wish they had done– eh, whatever. I wish Dumbledore had been canonically gay.

Grace: We talk about that sometimes. You can’t just say, “Oh this character is gay” after, just to get those queer points.

Lorrie: Wizarding population cannot be that much straighter than the Muggle population. On the other hand, the thing that I have to say is you take the writer as who they are. You can do your own story, you can write your own stories, you can read other authors. Is this a surprise coming from Rowling? No. Is it a surprise coming from Jack Thorne? Well, we didn’t know before. Kind of a bummer.

Grace: I guess you can’t force the author into doing what you want. That’s kind of the lesson of this whole thing.

Lorrie: This is their text. It’s not the only text.

Sarah: That’s why the Imperius curse doesn’t exist in real life.

Lorrie: But we know what’s like when people write under Imperius Curses, and it’s not good. People do get forced to write, and that is a real thing.

Grace: Like Donald Trump’s biography.

Sarah: Shut her down, shut her down!

Grace: I can’t go an episode without mentioning Donald Trump. I’m sorry! Okay, I guess I’m just going to wrap it up by talking about Snape in Cursed Child. For those of you who don’t know, Lorrie wrote this book called Snape: A Definitive Reading, so she’s an expert on Snape, and I want to talk about how you felt about the scene with Snape. Also about Professor Hermione.

Lorrie: Professor Hermione Snape was one of the funniest things. 

Sarah: Oh my god!

Lorrie: There were a lot of hints at people becoming Snape-like. There are hints of Albus responding to bullying by becoming more Snape-like. But then when Hermione shows up, and if you stripped away the dialogue tags and you asked somebody who was saying these words, the thing that was most Snape-like was when she accused–was it Albus or Scorpius? No, it was Albus– [Wrong again!  Scorpius! — LK] when she accuses a clearly unpopular child of having an imaginary friend. Completely uncalled for, more than mean. It also introduces the concept of imaginary friends, which is something that–I think it’s Delphi and Scorpius, that Delphi bonds with Scorpius over that later in one of her weird, fake, manipulative ways. I did always think that Hermione and Snape were written as characters very similarly to one another, and I did feel this — Yup. This is completely easy to see. Snape’s vindication in this play was one of the areas that I found to be least subtle. It reminded me of when, in Goblet of Fire, when J.K. Rowling had Viktor Krum pronounce Hermione’s name really deliberately because she was addressing in the text the fact that a lot of fans didn’t know how to say “Hermione.” So here, with the very deliberate explanation that was not allegorical at all, there was no subtlety to it; it’s a fantasy. Considering what Snape had to give up as he died, giving up any chance of knowing whether people would understand what he had done, this is one Time-Turner fantasy. Would it be a fantasy to go back in time and tell this person, “Yes, actually, we did find out what you did.” It’s this whole Eliza and Alexander Hamilton thing like, “Okay, have I done enough? Guess what? You’re dead, but we know now.” I saw that sort of as a corrective, saying there’s been so much debate about the nature of Snape and this is something that they wanted to make clear, I think, the writing team. There is a correct reading, which is that he did do something really big, and he would be moved to know that he was appreciated.

Grace: And that he would do it again.

Lorrie: Yeah, and that he was only doing it for Lily up to a point. Most of the time he was doing it for Lily, but not all of it. Yeah, I think it was sort of a desire to say, No, there is actually a correct reading. Here it is.

Grace: I like when he jokes about not being married to Ron.

Lorrie: Oh, god, that’s another weird, almost shippy moment. We have almost Dramione, we have almost Draco/Ginny, and we have almost Snape/Hermione there. There’s some…

Grace: “At least I’m not married to…”

Lorrie: Because clearly, if it was only the three of them working underground for all this time, then the intellectual companionship, it wouldn’t have been Ron. Not the way he’s being portrayed here.

Sarah: No. He has spiked hair. He’s bad at being a rebel!

Lorrie: Yeah. 

Grace: Okay, well.

Sarah: So many feels.

Grace: Yeah, I teared up a couple times in the conversation. 

Sarah: My mascara’s gone.

Grace: I guess for anyone listening to it, we’d love to hear what you thought of the book. After listening to the episode, which will be what’s happening if you hear me saying these words. Let us know what you think, and let us know if this discussion changed any of your perspective or not.

— END OF INTERVIEW —