So you have read all of the Harry Potter books, taken all of the online quizzes, and researched the Latin derivations of all the spells. You think you know everything about Harry Potter? You have nothing on Andy Gordon. Andy is a contributor to the Harry Potter fan site Mugglenet.com and co-author to the book What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7? If you’re itching to find out what’s going to happen in The Deathly Hallows but can’t wait until July 21st Andy and his team just might have some ideas for you.
How did the idea to publish a book speculating what would happen in HP7 come about?
The idea for the book was originally conceived by Ulysses Press. One of their editors is a Harry Potter fan and suggested that a book of predictions would be a good idea. They approached MuggleNet, as it's the most prominent fan site. The first I heard about it, I was just innocently using AOL instant messenger one day when a message popped up from Emerson, the site’s creator, saying "Would you like to write a book?". So I said "yes"!
When did you start writing it?
We kicked off the project in June 2006. Even though all the writers are hardcore Potter fans, we didn't labour under the misapprehension that we knew EVERYTHING. The first task was to go through each of the books with a fine-tooth comb, extracting each and every reference that could be a clue to anything in the future. Then we had to amalgamate everything into a coherent evidence stream for each of the subjects that we wanted to cover. I'm not ashamed to admit that analyzing the books as closely as we did on this occasion revealed a number of things we'd missed before. I don't think I'd ever read any book in that amount of detail, and it certainly led to new evidence and new directions being thrown up that we hadn't even considered before we wrote it.
Did Mugglenet write a 'What Will Happen...' book for any of the previous Harry Potters?
The strength and the weakness of our website approach is that you have researched editorials as well as thousands of user theories. On the forums, for every well-researched idea that's backed up by solid evidence, there are a hundred out-there theories that make little sense, and you have to wade through the lot if you want to find the good stuff and even the good theories still have counter-theories. This is great for stimulating debate, but it doesn't give any clear direction as to the most likely course of events. What's missing from any website of this nature is an objective overview, picking out the best of the theories and putting them together in a consistent manner to predict the plot. That's where the book comes in! But like I said, we didn't think of writing it ourselves – if Ulysses hadn’t brought it up we probably wouldn’t have written it!
What is the format of the book?
Each chapter has a single author, and the book is intended to read as a consistent work rather than a collection of the thoughts of different people thus everything was kept uncredited. In two of the chapters, opposing arguments are presented on particular subjects with a conclusion, drawn at the end but apart from that, each individual chapter is generally the work of one person.
There are an awful lot of fanciful theories out there about how various good characters are really Death Eaters in disguise, or how certain people have swapped bodies and are really someone else but we thought it was important to keep to the main issues and plausible theories for Deathly Hallows. We concentrated on the well-known important areas such as Dumbledore's death, Snape's loyalty, whether Harry is a Horcrux, R.A.B. and the locket, etc. The book provides a lot of information you can't get anywhere else by presenting new evidence and new angles on issues that people know and care about.
Has the wait for HP7 been the longest wait of your life?
The honest answer is "no"! Firstly, I've been busy writing a book! And second, as anyone who read early editions of "What Will Happen..." will know, Deathly Hallows is appearing rather more swiftly than we'd anticipated. I don't think anyone predicted that Jo would release it a week after the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film. So we're actually hurtling towards the release much faster than I'd imagined. I've also got 2 young children, so I never get the chance to sit round waiting for anything anyway!
When you get the HP7 book will you read it all at once?
A lot of HP fans will read it in one sitting, but that's not my style. I like to enjoy my books and pace them a bit more than that, to build the anticipation. I also have to take incredibly detailed notes as I go through (so I can update the MuggleNet Encyclopedia with all the new information presented), so that slows things down a bit! I took about 3 weeks reading Half-Blood Prince, during which time I forbade anyone to tell me the outcome. I'm going to have to read Deathly Hallows a little more quickly, however, for the sake of the site. It'll still be measured in days rather than hours though!
How will you feel when you've finished The Deathly Hallows?
Busy! I also imagine I'll feel a mixture of satisfaction, where I've predicted things correctly, and a certain amount of stupidity, where I've got it totally wrong. We've put our heads on the block a bit with a book of predictions, and so there's bound to be a bit of "how on earth did I get that wrong?" when the truth is out.
What was your favourite book in the series thus far? Why?
You don't want four titles, do you? For me, Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and Half-Blood Prince are all in with a shout. Prisoner is the book that really started the series headed towards where it is now, and I like it for the fact that there's no Harry/Voldemort showdown at the end. But for simple charm as a self-contained work, you can't beat Chamber of Secrets. The storyline is clever, the new characters are very entertaining, and there are of course some excellent subtle hints at the future in there!
What legacy will be left by the Harry Potter series on the book world? What will people think in 20 or 50 years time?
I think you just need to look at books like Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia, or the works of Austen or Dickens to answer that question. The series will pass into the same world of classic literature, and I've no doubt that people will read them for years and centuries to come. People are still making adaptations of just about everything that Austen or Dickens ever wrote, 150 or 200 years after they were written. There's no reason for the Harry Potter books not to go the same way.
What are your favourite authors/books other then J.K. Rowling/Harry Potter?
It's certainly fair to say that JK Rowling is my favourite living author, although she'd have had some stiff competition but for the untimely death of Douglas Adams. I'm a big Tolkien fan as well, I think Lord of the Rings is the most remarkable literary achievement of modern times. Recently I've been reading more non-fiction than I used to. I'm currently reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, which is a fantastic book. You have to really think about all of the subjects he's presenting to get the most out of it, but it's well worth doing so.