LeakyCon London is off to a great start, and our Tumblr Human, Dahlia, and I went to some of the smaller panels around the con.
Participatory Culture Roles: Lurkers, Geeks, and Ringleaders
This panel focused on the changing roles of participation in the Harry Potter fandom and internet culture in general. Because Harry Potter was released around the same time that the internet was developing as a technology for communication, the fandom was able to latch on to new platforms of interacting. We all remember our Xangas and LiveJournals right?
We discussed the difference between producers and consumers of media, and it was surprising to learn that 90% of postings on media sites like Reddit and Tumblr only come from 1% of users. Which means that most of us are lurkers, rather than active participants.
Mark Oshiro of Mark Reads spoke briefly about creating a community with a high level of participation. His suggestions included removing internet trolls from the conversation in order to create a positive environment, as well as making sure the audience knows that participation is welcome by asking questions and fostering communication.
Elizabeth Wein and Sally Gardner (In Conversation)
Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity, and Sally Gardner, author of I, Coriander, were the first panel of the Lit Track at LeakyCon. The main focus of their discussion was how they wrote the historical aspects of their novels. Elizabeth discussed her passion for King Arthur and how her first novel relates closely to Arthurian legend, “my first novel is King Arthur fanfic.”
“I love history because I always think you cannot mess with the past [...] you cannot be unfaithful to that part [...] it does a huge disservice to history,” Sally said when talking about the advantages of using history in her writing. She also brought up an interesting game called “What If” that makes people think about what would have happened if certain people like Hitler or Churchill had been hit by a car.
They also discussed the expansion of the YA genre.
“The books that I encounter in YA section are the cream of the crop,” Elizabeth said. She also discussed how those novels can be found alongside the adult section; however, the covers are dark and look “angsty.” Meanwhile, the children’s section is bright: colorful covers are shown and made to look inviting. “No young person would go there until they start to wear black themselves.” Sally continued by discussing how YA is crossing over into a huge market, “YA is Y, like why, and A is the attempted answer.”
For YA fans, Rays Under Fire by Sally Gardner will be released in the United States along with Tinker in November.
Quidditch and Hallows: How to Live Your Life
Quidditch can be interpreted as more than just a sport in the Harry Potter series, according to this panel. Beyond the theory that each Quidditch match directly foreshadows upcoming events in the book, we discussed how the various balls in Quidditch directly represent the three deathly hallows.
The Elder Wand is akin to the Bludger, because it operates under an offensive “hit first” mentality. The Resurrection Stone represents the Quaffle, because it is played by exchanging the ball (or life for death). Although it can help progress the game (or journey through life), it can’t ever win the game on its own. Finally, the Snitch represents the Invisibility Cloak because it represents acceptance of the end. As soon as the Snitch is caught, the game is over, much like death coming once the cloak is taken off.
A Comparison Between the Villains in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Rebecca Hurst ran the lecture as she presented a paper written during her last year of University. In it, she emphasized the grey areas in children’s literature based on the villains. Most of the discussion was sparked by complex characters such as Snape and Edmund, who are not the archetypical villain.
Most attendees agreed with Dumbledore, “sometimes we sort too early.” In fact, a criticism of Harry Potter was brought up: Slytherin is characterized as being the “bad guys” while Gryffindor is the good side. The main point of the lecture was that no one is wholly good or wholly evil, and everyone in the lecture seemed to agree.
Flesh, Flesh, Delicious Flesh
by Brad Ausrotas
Authors Will Hill and Matt Whyman were tasked by none other than Maureen Johnson with the following conundrum: if a vampire and a cannibal were locked in a room together, what would happen, and who would emerge alive? The two authors engaged the audience and their own knowledge of the subject matter to come to an interesting conclusion deigned to suit both their expectations and Maureen’s.
Will Hill, in favor of the victory of the vampire, is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an author of a series of books about vampires called District 19. Matt Whyman, on the other hand, is the author of The Savages and was in favor of the cannibal victory.
So who emerged the victor?
In the end, it was something of a tie. The audience and authors initially decided that the two monsters would perhaps settle their differences, given that they both share a mutual appreciation for human cuisine, even if in different forms. The authors, however, decided that this would not satisfy the apparently insatiable bloodlust of Maureen Johnson.
Inevitably, the panel took a much darker turn at this point, and audience and writer alike finally agreed that this delightful scenario would end with the cannibal and vampire joining forces before escaping and going on a killing spree.