Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Read the new Harry Potter short story

I’m coming to this story a little late, but it turns out to be just as well that I waited it out, as you’ll see by the end of the post.

In case you hadn’t heard it elsewhere yet, J.K. Rowling has written another short story set in the world of Harry Potter. This one, unlike the Beedle the Bard stories auctioned for charity last year, feels much closer to the ‘present’ day. Instead of a small collection of remote fairy tales (serving as background material for Harry Potter), this 800-word story tells us about a brief encounter between Sirius Black and James Potter and a paid of clumsy, buffoonish Muggle police officers. One of the officers even shares my last name! :)

The story was auctioned by Waterstone’s to benefit English PEN and Dyslexia Action along with twelve other stories — including contributions by Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Nick Hornby, Tom Stoppard, and winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature, Doris Lessing. All are worth reading — if you can decipher their handwriting! — but I particularly enjoyed the Gaiman and Hornby stories (if that’s what you’d call Hornby’s strange little work). There’s even a competition where you can submit your own story, here, which could be chosen to appear alongside the baker’s dozen. But act quickly! The deadline is June 19.

Rowling’s story — one of only two that ran on the front and back of the note card — sold for £25,000 (about $49,000 USD), accounting for more than half the total proceeds of the auction. That’s about $60 per word! Nice work if you can get it, eh? And not terribly surprising. The story is cute, and as we all know, the real world hasn’t gotten nearly enough of the Harry Potter world yet. You can read the entire story, as well as the other twelve, here. The link requires Flash; alternatively, you can read the Harry Potter story here.


  1. Have you ever written any languages of your own?

  2. Languages or short stories? Either way, yes. :) I’m guessing you meant short stories, since this is the subject of the present post; but OTOH, maybe you meant languages because of how frequently I post on that subject as well. And yes, I have been known to conlang, as some call it. I haven’t done it seriously in some years, but my most developed language had a full, if simple, grammar, and a vocabulary approaching 10,000 words. That might make for a good post at some point in the future ...

    Back to fiction, I haven’t (and probably won’t) submit a story for this particular competition, though. Too little free time at the moment. What about you?

  3. No, I actually meant languages, and chose this post to ask only by virtue of it being the first post, thus easiest to access =).

    I am currently creating a language for the fictional project that I am working on. It is a slow, tedious process (both the writing and the creating of a language). I am trying to make the vocab as little contrived as possible, except for certain words in other languages that possess certain mystery or have so endeared themselves to me by the sheer wonder wrapped within them that I cannot refuse them. The grammar is of course heavily influenced by the languages I have studied - it's hard to avoid - but I think I have a few creative ideas evenso. It is an exciting endeavor, the creating of a world!

    I would love for you to post on your own creations. I would be eager to examine your languages - or even some of the writing you mentioned. Are you working on any long-term projects?

  4. Alex, I think you’re project sounds very interesting. I’d certainly be happy to here more about some of those mysterious words from other languages that you’ve retained for your own, as well as some of those creative grammatical ideas you’ve come up with.

    Your request for more details on my own glossopoeic efforts convinces me all the more that it may be time for a post on that subject. A very large number of Tolkien fans seem to take a shot at creating their own languages, don’t they?

    Anyway, watch for an upcoming post — or more than one — on the topic. And in the meantime, feel free to comment again here with any further details on your conlang that you might wish to share.