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Friday, November 16, 2007


I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “She promises to post every single day, and she gets to day three and fumbles.”

But when you hear WHY, you will stop shaking your heads, as I know you must be. And in the process, I can answer today’s ASK MJ question.

shausto-la said...
Did you hear about J.K Rowling being list of 100 Top Living Geniuses? Really makes you think twice about all those visits she made to you in the past..

Funny you should ask this . . .

So there I am, sitting on the nice Virgin Atlantic plane yesterday, all buckled in like a good passenger. The plane was pretty crowded, but I had gotten lucky—the seat next to me was empty. So I was all ready to sit back for a nice flight. A little reading, a movie or two, and some writing--including my promised blog--until my laptop ran out of power. I had a plan.

When the cabin lights were dimmed for takeoff. I was looking out the window when another passenger approached me from behind—I have no idea where from—and plopped down in the empty seat.

“Fancy meeting you here,” J.K. said.

She was in disguise again, this time wearing a pair of baggy sweatpants, a sweatshirt from EuroDisney, and a cowboy hat. There was a suspicious-looking bulge around her stomach area.

“Why I do feel this isn’t a coincidence?” I asked her, as we sped down the runway. “And don’t you have your own plane? The one you use to chase Alan Rickman?”

“I often fly commercial. It’s better for the environment. And Alan has stopped going outside as much. He’s even gotten very good blackout curtains, the cheeky minx, so I can’t even spy on him from across the garden.”

I felt the wheels of the plane leave the ground. I illegally unhooked my seat belt and stood to scan for more empty seats, but there were none.

“Don’t bother trying to move,” she said. “I made sure these seats were full. I wanted to make sure we were together. Here. I got us some snacks.”

She unzipped her sweatshirt, revealing what had to be the plane’s entire supply of mini pretzels and nuts. Even though she had offered them, and even though I didn’t want them . . . I did note that she didn’t look like she was really going to share her stash.

“I’ve been busy since I last saw you,” she said, ripping open a bag of sour cream and chive pretzels (yes, they exist). “I bought a dolphin. I keep it in a tank on my roof. Ask me what I named it. Go on. Ask me. Ask me.”

“What did you call it?” I asked dully.


“You named your dolphin Fatso?”

“It’s a family name.”

“Is it?” I said, gripping my armrests.

“That’s not what I came to tell you about, though,” she said.


“No. As I know you know, because you mentioned it on your blog, I revealed that Dumbledore is gay.”

“Yes,” I said. “I am always glad to hear about positive gay and lesbian characters. Well played, J.K.”

She nodded.

“Of course,” she said, “I have more to tell the world. That’s why I’ve arranged this meeting.”

“Oh no,” I said. “Oh no, no, no. You always lie to me. I’m not going to be your little instrument of falsehood anymore. Go tell it to Fatso. He can go tell the dolphins. I’m done, J.K. Do you hear me? Done!”

I put in my earphones and turned my full attention to my movie screen, which wasn’t even on yet, because we had just taken off. I stared at it anyway.

“Obviously,” she began, ignoring my attempts to ignore her, “Dumbledore is not the only gay character in the books. The magic world is comprised in much the same way as the muggle world, population-wise, so there are many gay citizens.”

I took off my headphones and looked over slowly. This made perfect sense—unlike pretty much every other exchange I’d ever had with J.K.. So you can understand my concern.

“Right,” I said, guardedly.

“So I thought I’d tell you about a few more. For example: Helga Hufflepuff, Kingsley Shacklebot, Amelia Bones, Lee Jordan, Dolores Umbridge . . .”


“The gay guys are not always the good guys,” JK said, again, making a fair point. I was beginning to think I had misjudged her severely.

“You’re right,” I said. “Please continue.”

“Sirius Black, Crookshanks . . .”

“Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat?”

“Do you know another Crookshanks? Where was I? Oh yes. Katie Bell, Professor Flitwick, the Goblet of Fire . . .”

“Now wait a minute,” I said. “Look, I appreciate the fact that you’ve stepped up and given the world such a shining example of a gay parental figure—I do. But the Goblet of Fire is a goblet, and there is no such thing as a gay goblet. And if you make any remarks about ‘flaming goblets’ I am going to call the pilot. Not the cabin crew. The PILOT.”

“You really can’t take a joke, can you?” she said smugly. “That’s why I like you. You are very, very literal.”

I didn’t speak to her again until the stewardess brought me my vegetarian meal. Since it was food, J.K. was extremely interested. Her hand was midway to my salad dressing when I gave her a very dangerous look.

“Don’t even think about it,” I said.

She retracted her hand and did the “I was doing nothing, what are you even talking about?” look. She tried to distract me by playing with the contrast control on my video screen and making my seat go back, but I never diverted my eyes from my food. This, I could tell, was getting to her. She almost broke the stewardess’s wrist when they finally rolled up with her tray.

“Let’s stop wasting time,” she said, eating a pat of butter right out of the foil. “Let’s get right to the Curse of Ravenclaw.”


“Everyone in Ravenclaw has a very serious nut allergy,” she said.


“All incoming students with pre-existing nut allergies are sorted into Ravenclaw, but the majority of students are actually given a nut allergy right after the arrival night banquet. This is why you will never see a Ravenclaw eating a peanut butter sandwich.”

“Do you ever see anyone at Hogwarts eating a peanut butter sandwich?” I asked.

“Not a Ravenclaw.”

“Or anyone.”

“Anyone who is a Ravenclaw.”

“What I’m saying,” I said, “is that I have never seen a peanut butter sandwich at Hogwarts, ever.”

“Especially not when Ravenclaws are involved,” she said, knowingly.

“I’m saying that there are no peanut butter sandwiches,” I said, growing annoyed. “Not just in Ravenclaw House . . .”


“No . . . let me finish. Not just in Ravenclaw, but . . .”

“Exactly!” she shouted.

She made a second attempt for the salad dressing. I smacked her hand.

“Why?” I asked. “What is the point of giving everyone in Ravenclaw a nut allergy? Is this relevant?”

“I wanted to illustrate the fragility of the human experience. The humble nut taking down a powerful wizard. You see?”

“But you never used any humble nuts in the books.”

“That’s what makes this such an exciting revelation,” she said. “Only I knew about the curse!”

“It’s not a curse if they give students a nut allergy on purpose. What you’re describing is a tradition. A highly insane tradition.”

“If you think that’s bad,” she said, “you should see what they do to the students in Quabblecrack.”

“What in the #&*(@ is Quabblecrack?”

“The fifth house,” she said, with a smile.

With that, we hit a patch of turbulence and the plane began to shake.


“It didn’t seem worth mentioning at the time,” J.K. said, as we gripped our armrests and the flight crew went running down the aisle to secure the duty free cart.

“You didn’t think it was worth mentioning that there are FIVE houses, not four?” I said.

“I wrote up a description, if you want to see it.”

She produced a folded piece of paper from the pocket of her sweatpants. It read as follows:

The house of Quabblecrack was founded by Quentin Quabblecrack. He was a great believer in bureaucracy, and he invented many behind-the-scenes elements of Hogwarts, such as the complex magical spreadsheets that explain the pay scale for the staff, the impenetrable filing system, and the truly astonishing vendor approval process for all Hogwarts maintenance work.

The house symbol is the platypus. With its furry body, webbed feet, duck-like bill, pouch for young, and one poisonous spur, the platypus truly encapsulates Quabblecrack’s motto: “I am moved not by beauty, nor elegant design, nor simplicity . . . bring to me your forms, your procedures, and your systems of law, and I will make them complete in all ways. But print these things in block letters in number #2 quill, and make no mistakes. Also, please provide copies (in person, not by owl) and expect two weeks for processing.” The house colors are steel and smoke, which is pretty much just grey and a slightly lighter shade of grey.

Entry to the Quabblecrack common room is gained by a picture called “In the mail room at Gringotts.” Students must answer a long series of seemingly unrelated questions, and it is known to take up to three days to get inside. (The longest recorded wait was four and a half weeks, but that was due to a technical error inside of the painting.) As such, Quabblecrack students are frequently late to class due to exhaustion and confusion. Also, every student in Quabblecrack has a serious nut allergy . . .

The duck-billed platypus, symbol of the House of Quabblecrack

I put the paper down.

“You see,” J.K. said, “I created a lot of characters in my head. Certainly more than you ever have. I’ve read your books, you know, and with the exception of 101 Dalmatians, they’re pretty sparsely populated. And I don’t even think dogs count.”

101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith was published in 1956.

“Unlike you,” she said pointedly, “and many lazy writers like you, I have a cast of hundreds! But I made up far more characters than I needed, and frankly, a lot of them were boring and unusable. They had to go somewhere. So I put them in Quabblecrack. Lavingia Root, for example, is your classic Quabblecrack student. I never wrote Lavingia because she was so awfully, awfully dull and served no purpose. So I put her in Quabblecrack, where she is a prefect.”

“You mean that you made an imaginary house for imaginary students?” I asked.

J.K. made a sudden and successful lunge for my cheese as we hit an air pocket.

“Hogwarts is entirely imaginary,” she said with a chuckle. “Magic isn’t real, you know. There’s no such thing as Diagon Alley, or Hogsmeade, or the Hogwarts Express, or King’s Cross railway station.

King’s Cross Railway Station is a major junction of both the London Tube and the rail service. It does not have a nut allergy.

“That’s not the point,” I said. “You can’t just keep adding stuff you didn’t write. You can’t make an unwritten home for unwritten characters who were too boring to live.”

“Who says?” she asked, eating my piece of cheddar in triumph.

“Everyone knows that!”

“Someone,” she said, pointing at me with a food-stained finger, “makes a lot of dangerous assumptions. Now if you’ll excuse me, the pilot is going to give me some flying lessons. I think I can talk him into letting me land the plane if I let him have an hour in the tank with Fatso. People love dolphins.”

As a parting shot, she took my pillow. I think she ate it.

I hope this answers your question, Shausto-la. And I hope you have all assumed that when I said “every day for a week,” I didn’t mean weekends. I have a lot of mental damage to recover from, and I have to sign books tomorrow and talk to English teachers.

Please continue to send your questions, and I will continue to do my little all in providing answers.

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Anonymous phases of the moon said...

that is possibly the funniest thing EVER. completely wonderful. if it wasn't digital, i would hang it up and frame it on my wall.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Question for Ask MJ: When did your fear of zombies start? Have you ever seen one? I have to share a room with one, it's quiet annoying and never is fully asleep however it does favor U2 and The Killers music. I wonder if zombies all have their own music preferences?

11:17 PM  
Anonymous talia said...

Would it be okay with you if I made a shrine to you in the back of my closet?

11:51 PM  
Blogger Chatel said...

you have THE MOST active, impressive, far-fetching, imagination i think i've ever had the pleasure of reading!!!

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Silviya said...

If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only pick one type of makeup or cosmetic that you could bring, what would it be and why?
This question isn't as shallow as it seems...

(Personally, I would bring glitter. It could serve as a signalling device.)

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Ashley said...

brilliant! I said part of it out loud and the other people in this room looked at me crazily. anyways.

is an airplane a safe hideaway from zombies?

how do you feel about British television? Do you like it? Do you have any preferences for certain shows? Has it created any life-changing experiences for you?

What color is your pillow? Do you prefer feather or...whatever else it is that is stuffed in non-down pillows?

12:06 AM  
Blogger Quin said...

shhh, about zombies (patting my own recently cut hair)

this is great.

just, well, great. i've linked you in the hope some of your humour will rub off on me.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Actress Andrea said...

Oh man, I really needed that laugh today...amazing story! Just brilliant!

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Faith said...

MJ, you really need to stop associating with that woman. She's a dangerous character! who is obsessed with food! I bet if free monkey were ever kidnapped, (heaven forbid) she would be behind it!

Hang with the nerdfighters instead. They will never give ravenclaws a dangerous nut allergy or make houses for characters not in our stories.

Also, they are made of awesome. like you.

3:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

since when have you been literal?? i personally, din't think that you are literal, especially the way you made me laugh in those books of yours. as for J.K., i still can't get over Dumbledore being gay. i mean, i naver really got into the harry potter series, but i will definitely have to forward this page to my friend who is a HUH-uge fan of J.K. thanks MJ!!


ps- the dolphin thing was HILARIOUS!!

3:12 AM  
Blogger Gia said...

Love it!
So, seriously, do you agree with the people that say Dumbledore can't be gay because it wasn't in the books?
I, personally, think it's silly. If J.K. says that Dumbledore comes back to life, turns into a squirrel, and takes over the world, we will HAVE to believe it. Because despite the fact that it isn't in the books, they are purely her imagination, and that would be too.
So wouldn't that make it true?

4:20 AM  
Anonymous shausto-la said...

..my brother has a nut allergy. hes almost died multiple times. needless to say, i dont find nut allergies particurally funny.

but i lovee the house of Quabblecrack. thats probably where id be..hhaha i jsut share a common room with gryffindor or something.

["There’s no such thing as Diagon Alley, or Hogsmeade, or the Hogwarts Express, or King’s Cross railway station." ..ohh thank you. this made my day. regardless of the nut allergy stuff.]

4:38 AM  
Anonymous shausto-la said...

ohh my goodness. did any of you hear about the genocide in Darfur?


theres a fast on december 5th, you fast from 1 item and donate the money you would have spent on that item to help the refugees in Darfur.
Every three dollars you donate prevents 1 woman from being raped and killed for a whole year.

just donate people cus this is such a great cause. already over 141 women are being protected, adn thats just from 19 donations. if everyone donates just three dollars, think how many people that can save from a horrible fate.

heres a link to donate online:


8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG I really needed a laugh! Thanks!
You are hilarious and I have no idea how your write this!

11:30 PM  
Anonymous shaylaluna said...

i have some extremelty sad news i have emailed your posts about meeting with jk to my friends and none of them believe it. i will believe it completely so shame on them. ooh harry potter question to ask jk...
did you ever consider dumbledore and luna?

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the big question is: Did Fatso have a nut allergy?

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Karen said...

I love you.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

haha you make me funny MJ.

you are my favefavefavefavefave and your cool points just shot up, and that's kinda like face rank EXCEPT THEY EXISTED BEFORE FACE RANK EVER DID AND SCOTTWESTERFELD JACKED ME OFF
but i'm kind of a little over that.

or i will be when he gives me free copies of ALL his books.

but MJ you have more cool points than he ever did so that really doesn't matter.

i love you MJ.

2:51 AM  
Anonymous Keisha said...

Maureen, I am starting my first job EVER this week. Needless to say I'm slightly terrefied. Do you, in all your wisdom, have any advice?

3:32 AM  
Anonymous shaylaluna said...

found this article at the end its like kinda fits jk
(the real jk)


5:52 AM  
Anonymous Marlena said...

So, MJ, if it came down to you, Free Monkey, Scott Westerfeld and John Green being cornered in a room with with a zombie guarding the only door and a tank full of jellyfish blocking the window,would you
a.) smash the tank and make a run for it with the guys
b.)fight off the zombie and once again run
c.)use the shield and glow of Scott and John that you mentioned in your blog about BEA to escape unscathed
d.)have Free Monkey take care of it with his ninja powers

2:45 AM  
Anonymous shaylaluna said...

anyone like potterpuppetpals
i like sexy snape kinda liked it after reading aboutjk rowling
http://www.potterpuppetpals.com/ has anyone seen them.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Did you see that Gap designed a MULTI-COLORED, STRIPED Vespa?!?!?


And then... continuing in the spirit of ASK MJ Couple-of-Months...

So, for a long time (and now, too, but it seems to be to a lesser extent) male authors would write novels with female protagonists. (Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar, E. M. Forster's A Room With a View (which I'm currently reading, and made me start thinking about this), etc etc) So I was wondering, would you feel comfortable writing a novel from a male perspective? Would that stretch you or do you think it wouldn't be that much of a difference. I guess this question kind of also boils down to wether or not you think there's a fundamental diffence in the way men and women view the world. And then that also brings in another question, about relating, especially as an author becomes older and older, to the perspective of youth. Okay that wasn't even really a question. This is degenerating rather quickly.

My main point was the TOTALLY AWESOME Vespa.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that secretely you are JKR.

Have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month?

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! Potter Puppet Pals is the best! Especially Dumbeldore! HE ROCKS UR SOCKS. :)

4:05 AM  
Blogger Tiff said...

Maureen, I am super-excited for Suite Scarlett--mostly because it sounds like a New York version of 13 Little Blue Envelopes...Do you know when it will be released? And are you coming to Canada anytime soon to promote your books?!

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Marlena said...

*calls out* Oh, Maureeeeeeen! You haven't posted in almost a weeeeek!

I miss your hilarity =[

7:21 AM  
Blogger WannabeWriter said...


Question for Ask MJ: Can you tell us anything else about your book with John Green & Lauren Myracle? Anything at all?

And I agree with Marlena, I'm in need of some hysterical can't-breathe-or-think-clearly laughing. Where are you??

Oh, and I'm a little late, but Happy Thanksgiving!

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Maureen, i've never read one of your books. I'm not quite sure how I ended up on your site - but where the hell are you now?? You promised to post every single day this week!! I've been checking every day! So please, please, at least send in Free, Wee and Wee Monkey in as substitutes.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

absolutely hilarious. i would write more "i love your blog"-ness, but i have to go explain to my family why i was falling off my chair clutching my stomach.

i bow to your superior sense of humor.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous elizabeth said...

That was absolutely hilarious, Maureen! Keep it up! I particularly enjoy reading the posts about JK Rowling. :]

9:11 PM  
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