The Invasive Authorship of J.K. Rowling

“it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author”)

I didn’t want to post anything. It didn’t feel right to post anything with the world going up in flames. It breaks my heart to see the violence that is occurring in America. I dont condone violence, but this issue goes so deep within the system, you have to fight fire with fire. I have been so enraged and heartbroken by this situation, that I didn’t want to post. However, I have seen Rowling’s interactions on Twitter and I felt compelled to write this. Ive been wanting to post this for a while, as I mostly rant about Rowling. But after seeing her hypocrisy and the crap she has been sprouting out on her Twitter the past week, I wanted to finally put out this post. This blog post will discuss my dissertation, “The Invasive Authorship of J.K. Rowling.”

My favorite thing to do for inspiration, is listen to my favorite artists talk about their work. It provides interesting insight into this piece of art they created. For example, Billie Eilish released her new song, “Everything I wanted.” I really liked the song, but I couldn’t formulate a meaning behind it. I didn’t know what the song was trying to say. So I looked at comments on the song. Many people had their own interpretations.

But I read a comment that said Billie talked about the inspiration behind the song. She stated that it told a story of a dream she had, where she killed herself and no one cared. That the only person, the “you” she refers to in the song, talks about her brother. The only one who cares about what happens to her.

However, the meaning behind a piece of art doesn’t formulate that piece absolutely. When you listen, read or digest a piece of art, you will take on whatever meaning that work has on you. Currently, there has been a debate on the meanings behind pieces of art. What was the intention by the original author and what are they trying to say to us?

I recently graduated with my degree in a Masters in English. I wrote my dissertation on “The Invasive Authorship of J.K. Rowling.” It was an enjoyable experience, but by god, I hate this woman now. I was already starting to lose respect for this woman and youll see why when I talk about my dissertation. But I decided to finish this blog post due to her recent toxic escapades on Twitter and the media. When I see anything to do with Harry Potter, I get PTSD. I planned to talk about my thesis for a while, because I genuinely enjoyed this topic. I got to dissect the nature of literature and how we perceived it for years. I also got to analyze my childhood series. Harry Potter got me into reading, writing and ultimately doing my degree on literature. My central focus on the theory of authorship with J.K. Rowling as the main study. Due to her reputation, she seemed the reputable choice to discuss invasive authorship in literature. For this blog post, I am going to do a brief overview of what I discussed on my thesis, since I dont want to rewrite the same 15,000 word dissertation. That would be boring. I split my thesis into three chapters;

Chapter 1 – Dumbledore is Gay, The Intentional Fallacy of Joanne Rowling

dumbledore gay

*sigh* We really are going to start with this one. The beginning of Rowling’s questionable role as the absolute author came with her declaration about Dumbledore in 2007. She stated “I always thought of Dumbledore as gay” in an interview a couple of months after the publication of the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I found when Rowling stated this back in 2007, the fandom took it as fact. This was an absolute statement made by the creator of the series, therefore, it should be taken as gospel.

My plan for this chapter was to evaluate the intentional fallacies within Rowling’s grandiose statement. So I constructed an evaluation of the text itself, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to see what evidence supports this love relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Granted, there is some evidence in the book of a strong relationship between these two characters. Mostly, it remains ambiguous what exactly their relationship was, as the book isn’t Dumbledore’s story. Rowling even stated that she wanted to leave it open-ended. However, she contradicts this statement by stating the intent of Dumbledore being gay. It leaves no interpretative room for her readers.

She further contradicts herself when she wrote the screenplay for Crimes of Grindelwald. With the movie set during the time of Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s famous battle, surely she would play into their mysterious relationship more. A forbidden love between these two great wizards with very different views for the world, would make for a heart-wrenching story. But she failed to do this. There was no evidence of a love relationship presented in the film. The only hint we got was in the line, “we were closer than brothers.” This provided weak, even no evidence to support the claim she made back in 2007. Moreover, Rowling had contradicted herself further in an interview that was released after Crimes of Grindelwald came out, where she said there was an intense sexual relationship between the two characters.

Bitch, where?! If I am to follow the text presented to me, there is no textual evidence to support this post-scriptural intent. Not in Deathly Hallows and certainly not in Crimes of Grindelwald. This gets her readers to look back at her statement in 2007 and sigh.

Her contradictory statements confused and angered fans. Moreover, she took away the interpretative power of her fans. Any reader of Harry Potter could have made some anaylsis of a strong connection between Grindelwald and Dumbledore with Deathly Hallows. However, she took away that opportunity with her absolute statement, “Dumbledore’s gay.” Moreover, her lack of proof or sufficient consistency with her statements in her film, Crimes of Grindelwald, reinforces the argument of that post-scriptural statements. Post-scriptural statement shouldn’t inform the original work. If it was not written into the original manuscript, then dont consider it canonical. As one of my friends said to me, there is more evidence of Harry being bisexual than Dumbledore being gay.

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Chapter 2 – J. K. “Just Kidding” Rowling, The Fall of the Absolute Author

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This chapter focused in on Rowling’s identity as an author and celebrity. Through the conversion of these two identities that she attempts to convey to the public, her status as an absolute author begins to fade. I argue that the author identity given to Rowling began with “the implied author” from readers. When they read the Harry Potter series, they feel Rowling’s presence. Theorist, Alexander Nehamas argues that no reading cant generate an author. Rowling perpetuates this as she likes the feeling that she knows the author knows the ins-and-outs of their own story. That there is a comfort to that. So this pushes for an absolute author identity. But I agree with the debate that Rowling was merely a scribe and had no real power over what came out in the writing process.

With her celebrity status increasing, her invasive behaviour began. Scholars had argued for years that the literary was intellectual and elitist whereas celebrity associates with popular entertainment mass production. Rowling merged these two worlds together with the success of her books, which created the film franchise and made her a household name in literature and popular media. For years, she maintained the balance between her authorial identity and her celebrity identity. She allowed interpretative opinions of her works to be made through fan-fiction etc. However, with her social media presence, this is where she began her post-scriptural campaign. She pushed her Dumbledore narrative and created new canon to her series that seemed forced and unnecessary. The main argument stands that she attempted to maintain her author status by using her public figure status in the media. To maintain the relevancy of her series in the public eye, she butchered the nostalgia of her biggest works. Whenever a fan argued lack of representation, Rowling would present new book canon that never appeared in the original text. She lost her authorial integrity through the abuse of her public/celebrity identity. Moreover, the increase of celebrity would muddle up the relationship between Rowling and her readers.

Chapter 3 – The Invasive Celebrity and her fans

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With the loss of her absolute status as an author, I discuss in this chapter the loss of her credibility as an author along with the relationship between author and reader. The reliability of their author decreases immensely. Rowling continues to alter the canon of their favourite series in order to stay relevant, and if any fans questions this, Rowling responds with contempt on her social media. This represents a toxic relationship between Rowling and her fans or her readers. In this chapter, I evaluated that fan culture aided in the downfall of the absolute author, J.K. Rowling. However you could argue that they persisted this unhealthy viewpoint on her absolute status.

The toxic relationship between Rowling and her fans leads to the contention with her authorial status. The distinction between fans and readers blur with the celebrity of the author. The reader represents in literary discourse as an objective figure that will read and analyse a piece of work. Whereas fans are considered as Henry Jenkins, call “rogue readers.” Fans assert their right to interpret the story how they see fit. They construct fan fictions that interpret their view on the series and take some of the authoritative power away from Rowling. At first, Rowling was flattered by the fan fiction made about her work. She was the first author to embrace fanfiction whilst other authors such as Anne Rice sued fans for their fan fictions. However, when Rowling began her invasive behaviour, readers and fans alike turned against Rowling. With fans taking liberty of Rowling’s work, it brings to question the relevancy of the author. It puts the author as the master of their own literary universe under fire. The increase power fans have over a work, leads to the decrease in Rowling’s authorial power. However, you can argue there is a small pocket of fandoms that become obsessive and almost cruel towards their celebrity idol and thats why authors and media are against fan fictions and fandoms as a whole. Theorists even characterize fans as deranged, excessive and dysfunctional.

 

However, they ignore the power the fans have. Most fans take their knowledge of their beloved series and make sound objective critiques on the series. Their fan work play massive role in redefining the work they already know. Fanfictions show the power the reader has over a work and depletes the power of the absolute author. Moreover, the celebrity status Rowling holds, makes her open to criticism. Fans attack her for her foolish post-scriptural additions to her story. Rowling has now become a joke amongst the literary and media world. Respect for authorial status depletes, and her fandom lives on.

Throughout my thesis, I wanted to argue whether the power of the author is necessary. Do we need an author in order to understand a work? I had mixed reactions from different people, and whilst writing this, I had mixed thoughts on it. With Rowling’s invasive behaviour, she risked the reputation of her series, and the status of her power. However, as a reader, I cant help but think of Rowling when you read her work. We were taught from a young age that the author matters in the grand scheme towards the meaning of the text. In a way, they do. We cant unsee or unhear the author and it would almost be a disservice towards the person who created the work. However, it is your power as a reader to create your own interpretation of the work. I am a big Harry Potter fan, so when Rowling sprouts crap like Crediance being a Dumbledore and werewolves represent people with AIDS, Ill call her out. As someone who knows the work and can make a critical analysis, I can safely say I know the work better than Rowling. Its up to the reader whether the author has merit or not to what they say. Whether their intent or not, its up to you if its canonical fact. We dont need the author to dictate our interpretations of their work. Once they publish it, its out there to be interpreted. An author cant control everything about their work. Ill respect an authors piece of work and stand by them or not. But ill make my own interpretation of that work.

I dont stand by Rowling, but I still love her series. Do I believe Dumbledore is gay? Ill go so far as to say no and that Rowling said it so to claim LGBTQ representation without putting in the work in her books. Thats just my interpretative opinion that I backed up from her behaviour and lack of evidence she integrated into her work. But someone else can argue it differently. But thats what is beautiful about literary criticism. You can have an open discussion with other readers and fans about art that you love. Be open to critique and interpret. Dont take on Rowling’s contempt and disregard for her readers. She shows more and more how much she has fallen. As a writer, as a public figure, as a human being. I was losing respect for her as I wrote my dissertation back in 2018 and 2019.

But in 2020 I can safely say, I have absolutely no respect for that woman. But should the actions of the author really ruin their piece of art? Will you stop loving that work because of the controversial actions of their creator? Thats really up to you. It makes it a fascinating topic that I only scratched the surface of in my dissertation. If you want to learn more about this topic yourself, I left a list of some of the sources I used in my dissertation. Mostly I put the sources that got me into researching this topic, and ones I found really interesting to read down on this list. I hope you are all doing well. I hope you are safe during this difficult time. With the pandemic and the riots going on, it is terrifying to think how much has happened this past year. Stay safe and Ill see you in the next post.

 

Sources: 

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” The Norton Anthology: Theory Criticism Third Edition, edited by Vincent B. Leitch, W.W Norton Company; New York, 2018, pp. 1268-1272.

Booth A. Wayne. The Rhetoric of Fiction. London, University of Chicago Press, 1973.

Bundel, Ani. “Is Dumbledore gay? Why J. K. Rowling’s continual character revisionism is getting old.” NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/dumbledore-gay-why-j-k-rowling-s-continual-character-revisionism-ncna986726.

Busse, Kristina and Hellekson, Karen. Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. North Carolina, Farland & Company Inc, Publishers, 2006, Google Book Search. Web. 12 April 2019.

Framing Fan Fiction: Literary and Social Practices in Fan Fiction Communities. Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 2017, Google Book Search. Web 12 April 2019.

Calhoun, Laura. “The Intentional Fallacy.” Philosophy and Literature, vol. 18, no. 2, 1994, https://muse-jhu-edu.proxy.lib.ul.ie/article/416166/pdf.

Davidson, Guy. “Introduction: Modernism and the Networks of Celebrity Construction.” Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 39, no. 1, 2015, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jmodelite.39.1.127.

Eco, Umberto. Interpretation and overinterpretation. Newcastle, University of Cambridge Press, 1992.

Foucault, Michael. “What Is An Author?” The Norton Anthology: Theory Criticism Third Edition, edited by Vincent B. Leitch, W.W Norton Company; New York, 2018, pp. 1394-1409.

Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2013, Google Book Search. Web. 12 June 2019.

Irwin, William. “Authorial Declaration and Extreme Actual Intentionalism: Is Dumbledore Gay?” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 73, no. 2, 2015, https://www.jstor.org/stable/43496554.

Nehamas, Alexander. “What an Author Is.” The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 83, no. 11, 1986, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2026619.

O’ Meara, Lucy. “Killing Joke: Authorship from Barthes to Nothomb.” Baltimore, vol. 55, no. 4, 2015, https://search-proquest-com.proxy.lib.ul.ie/lion/docview/1764712863/fulltextPDF/E8884D3EF00C42E8PQ/1?accountid=14564.

 

 

A writer’s biggest fear

In this blog post, I wanted to talk about something I found out a couple of years ago. As a writer, you dream of someday having your work published. You want your characters and stories to reach other people, and to move them just as the characters have moved you for years. Imagine you spend years on a series you adore, get it published and it comes out successful. Imagine that series then being turned into a massively successful television series, which garnered more fans of your books. Imagine putting your blood, sweat and tears into that work, only for it to be taken away from you years down the line. And not only one series gets taken away from you, but two series that you were working on, get snatched away.

Some would think this can never happen. However, it happened to the best-selling author, L.J. Smith.

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If you have never heard of this woman, you may have heard of her best-selling series of books, called The Vampire Diaries. Yeah, that book series that turned into the huge television series with the same name.

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Honestly, I was horrified when I found out L.J. Smith’s story, because I fear that could happen to me. I aspire to become an author and make it as a career. I am passionate with every work I get into. I invest in all my characters and their well-being (or their destruction depending on the story). To work on a series for that long and for it to be taken away, thats horrifying and sad. I guess, I should tell you the story of how L.J. Smith lost two of her beloved series, The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle.

L.J. Smith published the first volumes of The Vampire Diaries back in 1991 and 1992 with the book packagers, Alloy Entertainment. She published The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury and Dark Reunion. The books told the story of Elena Gilbert and her teenage antics with the vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore. The books became best-sellers. Also L.J. Smith published her other series, The Secret Circle and The Night World around this time as well. Until she took a decade long hiatus from writing. By the end of her hiatus, The Vampire Diaries got picked to become a tv show. The pilot episode came out in 2009, with massive success. With the success of The Vampire Diaries series, the CW made a television adaptation to Smith’s other series, The Secret Circle. Unfortunately, it didn’t become as successful and was cancelled after its first season in 2012.

secret circle

Smith returned to The Vampire Diaries books and wrote the Return trilogy. By 2011, the Return series was finished and Smith submitted a draft of the next instalment in the Vampire Diaries series, The Hunters. However, the new instalment presented a pivotal plot twist in the story that publishers didn’t approve of. Smith refused to rewrite her story, as she felt it was the best course of action in her series. With this dispute, the publishers fired Smith from her series, The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. They hired a ghostwriter named Aubrey Clark, who took on as the new creator of The Vampire Diaries and wrote more books for The Secret Circle series. I noticed a couple of years ago, that the new books had Aubrey Clark’s name in small writing below L.J. Smith’s name. I was curious and thats how I found out about the firing of Smith from her own series.

aubrey clark

 

When I read about this, I asked the question, how could they fire the author of this best-selling series from her own work? It’s like if J.K. Rowling was fired from Harry Potter and they got someone else to finish the series. No one else can replicate or understand where the story was going, more than the author herself (Or we could jump into the debate on the power of the reader, but I’ll save that for another post). So I looked into it. Back in 1990, when Smith sold her series to Alloy Entertainment, she wrote the series as “work for hire.” What that meant was Alloy Entertainment owned her the copyright to the series. Smith had no rights to her own series. She didn’t realize what that was back in 1990, but she soon found out. When she sent her draft of The Hunters to her publishers and book packagers, she got sent a letter saying that they wanted a change to the story. They felt the story was leaning too heavily on Elena and Damon’s relationship instead of Stelena, and there was something about Bonnie and Damon’s relationship in the books. They requested that Smith change this, and she refused. So it resulted in them firing Smith and hiring a ghost-writer to continue the series.

The series continued for another few years after Smith was fired. The last Vampire Diaries book was The Salvation: Unmasked in 2014. L.J. Smith continued her intended vision for the Vampire Diaries by selling her stories as fanfiction on Kindle world. These books are called The Vampire Diaries: Evensong. They continue after the books she wrote in the original series. Due to the nature of these books, the events that take place in these stories aren’t considered canon to the lore of The Vampire Diaries. L.J. Smith owns other series herself, but it is tragic that a beloved series got taken away from her. Her name still used on the covers so to capitalize on the fame of the books due to the popularity of the tv show.

It is a sad story and makes you think of how harsh the publishing world can be. Smith signed away her series for its chance to be published. It did really well, and then it was taken away. It feels like a cautionary tale for any aspiring writers or new authors to be wary of what you sign. Read over your contracts. Get a literary agent that will offer you the best advice on how to sell your story. When you want to send your book off into the publishing world, learn the ins-and-outs, so maybe you can avoid the same tragic story as L.J. Smith. Thanks for taking the time in reading this and I shall see you in the next post.

My Favourite Books

This was a difficult post to write. If you are an avid reader, you know it can be hard to pick a favourite book. Several of my friends have asked what my favourite book is, and I could never answer them. How can you pick one out of thousands of books that you have read, and state it as your all time favourite? Its impossible and I feel like I havent found that book that stopped me in my tracks. A book that leaves me speechless and has me in love. I have several books that I can say that I love out of the billon of books out there. So Ill give you the list I made out of some of these outstanding books.

 

Perks of being a Wallflower

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This books is beautiful, heartwarming and tragic. I read this book when I was in secondary school and I definitely felt like the character, Charlie. He was so relatable and the book has an amazing cast of characters. It made me feel hopeful for a great group of friends where you can trust and have great experiences with. Now, as I got older, I have met the people that remind me of Charlie’s friends. It is a really realistic portrayal of friendships, trauma, social anxiety and teenage life.

I laughed, I cried and fell in love with this book. Thank you, Stephen Chbosky and I cant wait to read his new book, Imaginary Friends.

Harry Potter series

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I think a lot of people in my generation have the Harry Potter series on their favourite book list. I grew up with these books. I did my masters thesis on this series. J.K. Rowling was the reason for my passion for writing. Even though I hate Joanne Rowling now, my heart still lies with Harry Potter. I’ll never stop loving the series and itll always be a part of my heart. It started my love for reading and writing. So thank you, Rowling for the books you wrote.

The Hunger Games

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If you dont know what the Hunger Games is, it’s about sixteen year old, Katniss Everdeen who volunteers for the Hunger Games in her sisters stead. The trilogy tells her story of survival, political intrigue and rebellion. This series is another favourite of mine. The books hold up today and I love the character, Katniss. I relate to her cold demeanour and I love Suzanne Collins writing style. She can write tension and suspenseful chapters which makes you want to turn the page. I still love it as an adult and I feel like it holds up after the age of the YA novels.

The Last Song

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The Last Song is the story of Ronnie Miller and the summer that she spends with her father at Wrightsville Beach.

I wrote a blog post about Nicholas sparks and his work. This is the one book of his, that I will return to over and over again. I loved Spark’s work, but I feel like his work is just a rinse and repeat. But The Last Song was the book that got me into his work in the first place. I have read it so many times. It’s just a simple story about first love, family, loss and betrayal. I wonder if I read it now, would I still like it?

The Book Thief

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The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, a little girl who is taken to a new home because her mother can’t afford to take care of her. The story is told by Death, who becomes a character you come to respect and even feel sorry for by the end.

I discovered this book from my hairdresser. When I get my hair done, I always brought a book with me because I am a social introvert. I would rather read a book then talk to people. But my hairdresser would talk to me about new books we were reading. One day, she gave me her copy of the Book Thief and said, “I think youd love this.” I would love to write something like this. To write in the point of view as Death, I find so fascinating. I loved how it was written and the story, itself, was heartbreaking. This book was a huge inspiration for me.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Oscar Wilde was a confidant and excellent writer. He writes very vibrant characters. I loved the gothic themes in this book and the dark turns it took throughout. A great Irish writer that everyone should pick up. Not only are his fictions fascinating, Oscar Wilde’s own life held it’s own twist and turns.

The Wild Irish Girl

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When Horatio, the son of an English lord, is banished to his father’s Irish estate as punishment for his dissipated ways, he goes off in search of adventure. On the wild west coast of Connaught he finds remnants of a romantic Gaelic past–a dilapidated castle, a Catholic priest, a deposed king and the king’s lovely daughter Glorvina.

I studied this novel in my Irish Gothic Literature class in my masters. The works we looked at, played on the gothic elements of the supernatural and architecture of romance and horror. I loved it, but I especially loved The Wild Irish Girl. The book presents the culture and countryside of Ireland fantastically. Granted, the book tips over on the stereotypical scale. However, the purpose of the book was for Owenson to promote the ancient culture of Ireland so that British readers and everyone in the world, can understand the country of Ireland.

The gothic horror of Glorivana presents the dichotomy of the relationship between Ireland and Great Britain at the time. It presents a very nationalistic view on the union between the two countries and it’s very cool. No wonder I loved it.

 

And that was my favourite books list. My choices got very gothic at the end. Pick them up and check them out. They could be good reads during quarantine. Hope you all are doing well and I shall see ye in the next post.

Nanowrimo – My Failure

So I just got through the first couple weeks of Nanowrimo and….

I’m failing. Miserably.

The first day was pretty okay. I did a small amount of words. But I wasnt too concerned as I had the day off on Saturday to catch up on my word count. Now you may be asking, how did it all go so wrong?

Easy…I got sick. I got hit with the flu the second day into Nanowrimo, and since then, my progress has plummeted.

Every time I opened my computer, my mind went blank. Too foggy to actually attempt to write. But I have done something. I began the project I wanted to write for so long. I have it under the name “Project Zero.”

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It had a shaky beginning, but the hardest thing to do is start a novel. But I’m super proud I started it. But so far, I feel like a failure. I think that’s the downside to Nanowrimo. You fall off the rails and you feel like crap for not staying on top of it. But I should feel accomplished in starting the project. I’m much further than I was a month ago.

Also writers block has hit me again. But it will happen. I started writing again after so long, so the writers block will hit harder. I find it harder to jump into novel writing or short story writing. However, I still feel inspired to write. So when I have found difficulty to write my novel, I jump into my poetry project. It has evolved more this past month and I feel proud of that. “Project Cherophobia” has become a more personal endeavour and writing it has made me happier. I still need to find the structure of it and I still have more to write for it. I feel like it is a cushion for the work I am trying to do in Project Zero. When I hit a wall, I jump back to Project Cherophobia.

But so far, I have found Nanowrimo extremely difficult. I got the flu and im working all the time. I just find it hard to sit down and write. But I still pick up my phone and try to jot down some pieces of inspiration I get. So I haven’t lost complete hope. I’m way behind on my goal to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. But at this point, I just want to write what I can. I started the projects and I feel proud. I dont regret starting Nanowrimo for that reason. I wouldnt have the initiative to start without Nanowrimo.

But let’s see how the rest of the month pans out. I hope you are all doing well in your Nanowrimo endeavours. But the point of the Nanowrimo is to write the story you’ve always wanted to tell. Dont get bogged down on the short comings or the low word count. Have fun with the writing and you’ll accomplish a large amount within a month. Talk to you in the next post.

My Opinion on Nicholas Sparks

“You read a romance story because you know what to expect. You read a love story because you don’t know what to expect” – Nicholas Sparks

Today, I decided to write an opinion piece on Nicholas Sparks. Originally, I had a blog post planned where I talk about John Green and his works. However, I still need to finish Turtles All the Way Down and i have so much more planned for that post. It’ll take some time before I post it, but I cant wait for you to read it. Instead, I wanted to delve into an author that I was obsessed with years ago. But I cant imagine reading any of his works now. This post is dedicated to the romance writer, Nicholas Sparks.

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The first time I was introduced to Nicholas Sparks works, was his book The Last Song. I read it because I knew they were making a movie with Miley Cyrus in it. I loved the book and I liked the film. Then I realized how popular his books were. This is the man who wrote The Notebook, which is considered the most popular romantic films out there. He has written heart breaking tales such as A Walk to Remember and became the face of romance novels in the early 2000s. I fell in love with his works when I was in secondary school. I read loads of his books and defended his stories. However, there was a consistent criticism I heard about him. Girls in my school said to me, “he just writes the same story over and over. Someone dies in every book he writes, mostly from cancer.”

The main consensus about Nicholas Sparks is that he tells the same story over and over and over again. As a teen, i didnt see it. I continued to read his books and watch the films based on them. Now, the only book I’ll consider going back to, would be The Last Song, the first book I was introduced to. His work became formulaic and very predictable. The love stories became cliched and uninteresting.

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The last book I read from Nicholas Sparks was The Lucky One and it was uninspired. The typical love story and instead of a loved one dying, the antagonist dies. But plot twist, he is redeemed through his death. That was a no better plot twist than the abusive husband dying at the end of Safe Haven. The stories always contain the same formula, the stories take place in the South. Boy and girl fall in love but something always gets in the way, such as money, religion etc. But it all turns out good in the end. The couple stay together but lose a loved one along the way through cancer.

After the Lucky One, I attempted to pick up a Sparks novel and read it. But I just couldn’t get through it. The stories became too predictable and no longer enthralled me as a reader. So if you were to look at his quote again;

“You read a romance story because you know what to expect. You read a love story because you don’t know what to expect.”

Nicholas Sparks claims he writes love stories. Each love story he writes should be different in their own way. However, every story he puts to print, never changes drastically. Different characters and circumstances, but the story remains eerily similar to most of his previous works. That’s not promising for any writer. A writer should evolve into different genres or at least, play with different stories with the genre. Sparks was good at writing love stories, but he has lost that talent. He just plays the same tune over and over. That turns stale after a while. I bought a few more of his books before I stopped reading him, but I cant imagine picking them up any time soon.

I’ll just always remember him as an author I loved when I was in my early teens. And I’ll pick up The Last Song every once and a while for a nostalgia read. I’m sorry if I offend any Nicholas Sparks fans, but this is my opinion. I used to be a fan, and I’m not anymore. I’d like something different from an author every time I pick up their new work. I dont want to read the same thing over and over and over again. But I’ll still watch the movies every once and a while. A little guilty pleasure romance movie wouldnt hurt.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Talk to you in the next one

 

Research: A Writer’s Best Friend

One thing I find most important when it comes to being a writer, is do your research. When it comes to a particular genre or subject, you should research it so it get the full scope of it, in order to portray it properly. I learnt this in college. As an English student, I had to research the particular time periods and theories of that time to apply to my text. For writing, I research genres, character names, or certain time periods. Currently, I’m attempting to write fantasy so I’ve been reading George R.R Martin, researching the tropes and the lore of these stories. What worked for the genre and what was a cliché?

It’s even more important to research for your book, so to plot efficiently and start the writing process in an easier way. Nanowrimo is coming up, so I have been in full swing when it comes to research. Mainly, I’m focusing on choosing names, locations and plot threads to use in my novel.

The planning for this project comes easy to me, as the setting takes place in Limerick City. So I can visit it all the time, and take inspiration of places that I go to all the time. However, I want to mention some old place that are now closed down in Limerick, so that places my story in a particular time period.

 

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From those basics, I have come up with a place and a time period to set my story in. Moreover, I know several Limerick locals, so I’ve developed more of my plan based on those as well. Research on the city becomes essential to the plot. For my novel, Limerick almost turns into it’s own character. Therefore, I need to live and breath Limerick. So I needed to look more deeply into the city, as I don’t know everything about the place.

The most difficult things for me when planning on a novel, are characters voices and how to get from point A to point B. When I am writing in the point of view of an aggressive Irish teenage girl, I need a distinctive voice. Beautiful descriptions of the city will come naturally to me. But a characters voice i struggle with everytime. So a great way to research that, is by going to a public place and listen to have people talk. Certain conversations can reinforce or add to your story. And you’ll develop your characters voice through that.

As for the plot, I always find it difficult to fill in the blanks. I have my beginning, middle and end, but I don’t have plot threads to connect them together. So I’ve been going back to my characters. What could I do for each character that will lead to the final goal, the final message? Any contrived characters delete from your draft. You feel like you are waffling, trim it down. Any plot points that go nowhere remove from the planning. And since I am writing a young adult novel, pick up a current young adult book and see what your contemporary authors did with their take on the genre. Currently, I am reading John Green’s “Turtles All the Way Down.” It puts me in that young adult feel, so that works. Another way to figure out plot points is by making out a mind map. It’ll it’ll connect characters to the plot and to each other. You’ll be able to find your progression for the story through that method.

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And another thing I do for research, is watch YouTube videos by book tubers. I wrote a post about this before, but getting tips from fellow readers and writers can help greatly with your own writing. The Youtubers I recommend to watch  would be Lindsay Cummings (she has a few advice videos on Nanowrimo prep), Sasha Alsberg, ShaelinWrites (she does calming writing vlogs, and it always gets me in the writing mood) and Kate Cavanaugh (she does a lot of writing challenges and vlogs that get you excited to write again).

I hope you enjoyed this post, and remember, research is a writers best friend. Always consult your Google search bar and YouTube recommendations for writing advice. Go out and research on people and the place for your story. And delve into the genre you want to take part in. Its daunting, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.

See you in the next post

The Life of a Wannabe Mogul Review

This review has been a long time coming. I just finished my thesis so I feel I finally have time to catch up on some of my blog ideas that I have. But first, I need to talk about Bella Thorne’s new book, The Life of a Wannabe Mogul: Mental Disarray.

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I first heard about this book through Instagram, I believe. Bella Thorne was posting a lot about her new book. Now, I was one of those people who was apprehensive to buy her book. I don’t know. I feel like I want to support the unknown writers so they have more of a chance to make a living as a writer. Whereas Bella Thorne has a massive following and doesn’t need this book to increase her fame.

But when I saw what she was releasing, my interest was peaked. I have been reading a lot of poetry books, so to get back into the swing of reading. So when I saw some of the style of Bella’s poetry and the use of drawings, I just knew I had to get it.

Another thing I appreciate about Bella’s book is the raw emotions and technique used. Throughout the book, it is unedited and reveals Bella’s mistakes as she picks up a pen and writes. This was intentional and thats what makes her poetry so inspiring. You know as you read that she wrote from her heart and there was little monitoring done to it.

The books discusses dark themes, such as child molestation, torn up families and self loathing. I couldn’t put it down when I started reading it. A lot of the poetry grabbed me on the first line, but there were a few that I related to a lot.

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These are a couple of poems where Bella showcases her talent to elicit emotions with her words. Its powerful stuff. She talks about how much she hates herself and how she always looks for someone else to love her, instead of her loving herself. That’s dark and I relate to that idea. It’s so hard to love yourself that you try to find that love in other people. I just want that person to tell me how they love me and how much they care. I don’t believe it myself so I’ll believe it when it comes from someone else. It’s really haunting and beautiful. And her poetry is accompanied with drawings made by bella.

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The drawings bring out the dark emotions of her poetry. And she even chose to throw words around the page to show how distorted and fractured these thoughts are. Her style represents the emotions she felt as she wrote them, such as with this piece. 20190915_122608.jpg

Overall, this book are a thrilling ride to pick up and read. I highly recommend you check it out. It is worth the money. I wont show anymore poetry from the book so you can check it out yourself. Hope you enjoyed this review. I’ll be back with regular content as my masters programme is done. I submitted my thesis and I have more free time on my hands. I have so many more blog posts planned and so much I want to share with you. Glad to be back. See you in the next post.

What Literature Means to Me

Since I started my Masters programme, I have gone on a journey to delve into as much literary texts as I possibly can. Part of my course is to look at Literature and define it. What is your own definition of literature? Do you only see elitist literature as part of the canon of literature? Can only a select few of works by writers, such as the Brontë’s and Austen, be considered a part of canon? What counts as literature?

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This a big question in literary academia and it is quite contested. Literary critics/theorists argue that certain significant works will be considered a part of this grand literary catalogue. However, this becomes elitist. The literary canon consists mainly of classics and works that critics deem exceptional within the literary world. An example of an elitist work would be Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. 

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Austen’s novel became influential for its time. I read somewhere that many male readers believed Pride & Prejudice to be women’s literature. Therefore, they didn’t take it seriously. However, Austen’s work places a new perspective on her current society and how it treated women. Moreover, she created the progressive character, Elizabeth Bennet who subverted societies thoughts of women at the time. Pride & Prejudice is up there on the elitist list of literature. However, can a series like Harry Potter, be considered elitist?

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Harry Potter would be considered popular fiction. However, does it discredit it as an influential book? As of February 2018, the books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history, and have been translated into eighty languages. The books have touched so many generations of readers. But it isn’t considered elitist. However, what a critic will think is exceptional, you may think its tripe. Therefore, the literary canon becomes subjective and the question of literature comes into question. To me, literature are works that really grapple you, works that amaze you, leave you speechless and change your view on the world.

I dont consider popular fiction, or elitist fiction when I read. I read what interests me, and what grabs me as a reader. But more importantly, I read something that teaches me something. I want a novel that doesn’t provide me with all the answers. I want to be on the tips of my toes when I read a novel, and many things to be left up to interpretation.

I had a conversation with my Gender & Sexuality professor, about this topic. She started to compare two novels: Asking For It by Louise O’ Neill and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. Both are well-known Irish novelists and both books portray similar scenes or themes. Asking For It delves into the trauma of sexual assault and the continued assaults made to the victim by society after the event. According to my professor, O’ Neill’s novel delivers a simple story with an obvious message behind it. It starts a conversation, but it doesn’t create new avenues to explore that. Whereas with Conversations with Friends, you have to read between the lines to explore the full extent of the story. The narrative is not taken on face-value. You must read further into the plot thats given to you.

And thats what literature is.

Stories that leaves you with more questions than answers. Stories that make you return to the same characters over and over again. Stories where you take away something different each time you read it. Literature insights so much emotions and intrigue. It is a beautiful form of art and knowledge. Ill find a place in the literary world. It’s my home and that’ll never change.

 

 

 

 

BookTuber/Writing Channels I Love

I dont watch that many booktubers or writing videos on YouTube. I have been trying to find more writing vlog to watch, because I find watching these type of YouTubers inspire me to keep writing. My writing has slowed down within the last couple of years.

Sometimes I hated these YouTubers for talking about reading and writing. With my reading slump, I felt like a failure when watching these people. They would talk about the 10 books they had read in the past month, whereas I barely get through one book. However, these channels helped me to get back into writing.

They talk about stories they love in these books and they talk about their writing process. I mean you cant say that watching these types of videos, wont make you feel inspired by the end. I wanted to write a blog post about these channels so that if any of you need some inspiration or you feel discouraged by your reading or writing, check out these channels. You may find the next best book for you to read and they could help you start writing again.

And for any of you who do watch some booktubers or writing channels, let me know of anymore channels I could watch. I’m trying to broaden my watchlist.

Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia)

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The first booktuber I need to talk about is Sasha Alsberg. Her channel is called @abookutopia. She was the first booktuber I came across and her channel was the reason I got into watching other literature channels. She is very bubbly, outgoing and brilliant to watch. Moreover, she has become a writer, as she published her first book in January 2018, called Zenith. She has made a few vlogs about her writing process through the time she was writing Zenith. She got me excited to write again. I just wanted to sit down, and write my own adventures again, after watching her vlogs.

She also makes videos about her favourite books of the year etc. She is a great source to go to, if you are looking for new books to read. She is one of teh more popular booktubers as she has met and interviewed several celebrities on her channel, such as Stephanie Meyer:

She is a young upcoming writer and a fun YouTuber to watch. I have yet to read her book, Zenith, but I have it ready on my bookshelf.

Lindsay Cummings 

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Next is Lindsay Cummings. I discovered her through Sasha’s channel. Since she co-wrote Zenith with Sasha, she appears in several of her videos. Lindsay has a channel of her own, where she discusses her love of reading and her own experiences with publishing. She is one of the more experienced writers I have come across on YouTuber, as she has published several novels. Overall, she has published 7 novels; The Murder Complex, The Fear Trials, The Death Code, The Balance Keepers Triology and Zenith. Her channel focuses more on the writing process and how to get published. I love the writing vlogs she does as you can see into her day as she goes through a draft of her novels.

She does a lot of videos on writing tips. She discusses NaNoWriMo and the difficulties of getting through your novel.

She is less bubbly than Sasha, but I love her writing advice. She makes a calm atmosphere in her videos, which makes it easier to feel inspired and listen to what she says. She is updating less on YouTube as she has moved house and having her first child with her husband. I wish her all the best in her endeavours, with her new life and her next novel, Nexus.

Shaelin Bishop (ShaelinWrites)

Her channel is more about the art of writing and she discusses her own projects she is working. I love Shaelin’s channel as she discusses her own projects, her own novels and short stories. She has published a couple of short stories, so I feel confident watching her advice videos and feel more inspired to write after her discussions. She took a hiatus from her channel, so I didnt go back to her channel for a while. She recently came back to her channel so I came back to her old and new content. My favourite videos from her are her discussing her works:

 

I love when she discusses how she came up with her ideas, and how she delves into these different worlds she writes about. She also talks about her set-backs, such as her growing disinterest in a project she used to love or the hardships of writing a particular work:

But my favourite videos of hers, are the more recent writing vlogs she is doing, where she writes out a short story and discusses what happens while she is writing it. She provides great advice on how to create an engaging story, interesting characters and unique dialogue. I love her simple set-up in her videos. It is just her and the camera. She just sits down and talks about writing. And I love it.

Those are all the booktuber channels that I love. Go check them out. They have really inspired to keep writing and reading. It’s a section on YouTube where I felt was what I was into. It’s not all prank videos or drama videos, which is nice to find. And if you have any other book/writing I can check out, let me know in the comments. I’d love to watch some more. See you in the next post x

5 books I didn’t like

I’m surprised I never talked about some books I disliked. I wrote reviews on novels that I liked, so its only fair that I write a post about a few of the novels I didn’t like. Now, this is all going to be based on my opinion. I may talk some shit about popular books from popular authors. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I have no hate towards the authors of the novels. Mostly, I love their work. Just not the ones I am going to talk about in this post.

Ill only be talking about 5 books as thats all I have at the moment. This is in no particular order. There may be spoilers to these novels down below, so forewarned.

Paper Towns by John Green

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Synopsis: After an all-night adventure, Quentin’s lifelong crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

I loved The Fault in Our Stars, but I didn’t like this novel. After reading it, I just felt like it was a waste of my time. I thought, “why did I read this?”

The mystery behind the character Margo, drove the story. I loved the concept of this mysterious Margo. No one knew the real Margo and Quentin was one of the many people who saw her as almost an angelic figure. Throughout, I was interested in who the real Margo was. I didn’t care about the rest of the novel. The rest didn’t hold my interest that much. The story was mainly to discover the real Margo. Now, when you find Margo, thats when the story was ruined for me.

I hated it.

I dont care if Quentin ends up with Margo in the end, or if they get a happy ending. But, I hated Margo at the end of the novel. Now, I guess it was John Green’s intent to show the real Margo, behind all the mystery and I guess I just didn’t like what I found. Overall, I felt the book was uneventful. After I finished it, I asked myself why did I even read this?  It just wasn’t for me.

 

The Vampire Diaries The Return: Nightfall

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Synopsis:

To save the two vampire brothers who love her, Elena Gilbert sacrificed her life.

Now that a supernatural force has brought Elena back from the dead, all handsome, brooding Stefan wants is to keep her safe. But when he is lured away from Fell’s Church, sleek, powerful Damon seizes his chance to win Elena over, unaware of the danger they’re both in. A malevolent being has infiltrated the town and is growing stronger. Able to possess Damon at will, the creature is also drawn to Elena and the new power she has acquired. But it’s after more than Elena’s power: It thirsts for her death.

 

I loved L.J Smith’s works. I read most of her Vampire Diaries books and loved her Secret Circle series. I loved the shows that are inspired from her works. But dont be mistaken. The book series is nothing like the tv show. Sure, the tv show is dark and sexy, but the books are sexier and more f***ed up. But I loved them. I’ve always loved dark stories and I liked L.J Smith’s writing style at the time.

However, I never finished the series. Why? This book is the reason.

I dont remember much of this book, except for one part. It was a scene where, Elena and Damon are running away from Damon in a forest. They come to a clearing and whenever they try to leave the clearing, Damon prevents them from leaving, using his powers. Then Damon forces Elena and Matt to have sex in front of him, while he watches.

Now, I was a young teen when I read this. This scene shocked me. I actually still remember this scene to this day, years after reading it. I thought I stopped reading the series after that, but I found a bookmark in The Vampire Diaries The Return: Shadow Souls, which means I continued onto the next book in the series. I’m surprised I didn’t stop reading after that scene. Come to think of it, I’m surprised I didn’t stop reading the series sooner, because it has so many of those types of scenes, such as Tyler almost raping Elena in the first or second book in the series.

 

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

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Synopsis: 

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

My sister loved this book. She begged me to read it for ages and then I finally read it. It wasn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t great. It didn’t wow me, or hold anything special for me. I hardly remembering it to be honest. I remember picking up the sequel in O’ Mahoney’s and I loved the blurb of it. It got me interested in the story. But I didn’t realise it was a sequel to If I Stay.

It was good. It just wasn’t for me. No shade to Gayle Forman. I actually the writing style in the novel. It was just…I dont know. It didn’t captivate me, like other books did. Now, I can barely remember the novel.

 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Synopsis: Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

This was a book I started and never finished. I started the book, got through two chapters and put it down. I just couldn’t get through it. The premise of teh story is fascinating and I really wanted to read it. But I couldn’t. I didn’t like the way it was written. I just couldn’t get through it. I tried a second time, when I had to read the book for a college module. Same thing happened again. I guess I just dont like Ishiguro’s writing style.

I loved the film though, with Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield.

 

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

I ended up reading this book, before watching the film. I love dystopian novels and I wanted to see how they would take this. Again, this novel didn’t really wow me. There was no real explanation as to why this war started. It is left up in the air. Daisy’s love story in the novel and movie was with her cousin, which I’m sorry. I’m not into incestuous relationships. They are not close cousins but still. It was an interesting novel, but not my cup of tea. I liked the ending though, where she finds the cousin and he is completely shell-shocked. He cant speak or interact. He cant remember Daisy. It is traumatic when you see him like that. Other than that, I wasn’t a big fan of it. I wasn’t a big fan of the film either. I only watched it for Saoirse Ronan, fellow Irish queen.

 

I hope you guys enjoyed this blog post. I want to know what you think. Are there any books you didn’t like? What about the books I mentioned? Have you read them and did you like them yourselves? I respect and love most of these writers, but sometimes, even the best writers come out with some bad novels. Thats all part of the process.