Stephen King Just Stopped a Maine Newspaper From Cutting Its Freelance Book Reviews

Thos Robinson, Getty Images
Thos Robinson, Getty Images

Maine has inspired some of Stephen King's most successful horror novels, and now the 71-year-old author has found a way to repay his home state. As The A.V. Club reports, King recently helped rescue the freelance book reviews section of the Portland Press Herald and its sister paper The Maine Sunday Telegram, giving both Maine writers and freelance journalists a boost.

After the Portland Press Herald announced that it would no longer publish freelance reviews of books related to Maine, King turned to Twitter. "Retweet this if you're from Maine (or even if you're not)," he tweeted to his 5.1 million followers on Friday, January 11. "Tell the paper DON'T DO THIS."

The change would have had consequences not just for readers, but local writers. The paper's regional reviews highlight the books by Maine writers that national papers may ignore. They're also written by local freelance journalists, and cutting the section would leave them without work.

The Press Herald responded to King's viral call to action with a challenge of its own: If he could get 100 people to buy a digital subscription to the newspaper, it would not cut its the freelance book review budget, the paper tweeted. (The move wouldn't have eliminated reviews from the Press Herald entirely—the paper still planned on having a books section and running national reviews from wire services, but would have nixed the Maine-centric reviews it currently employs freelance writers to do.)

King's followers came through. In less than 48 hours, the paper gained roughly 200 new subscribers, and after doubling its goal, the Portland Press Herald promised to reinstate the freelance reviews in time for the January 20 edition of The Maine Sunday Telegram.

"You all are the best readers anywhere. Sincerely," the paper tweeted on January 12. "We love you Maine. We love you journalists. We love you newspapers."

[h/t The A.V. Club]

New Harry Potter Scrabble Accepts Wizarding Words Like Hogwarts and Dobby

USAopoly
USAopoly

Patronus, Hogwarts, and Dobby may not be words found in the official Scrabble dictionary, but they are very real to Harry Potter fans. Now there's finally a board game that lets players win points using the magical vocabulary made famous by the Harry Potter books and movies. SCRABBLE: World of Harry Potter from USAopoly is a new edition of Scrabble that recognizes characters, place names, spells, and potions from J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World.

Like traditional Scrabble, players use the letter tiles they pick up to spell out words on the board, with different words earning different point values. Any word you can find in an up-to-date Merriam-Webster Dictionary is still fair game, but in this version, terms coined in Harry Potter qualify as well. First and last names, whether they belong to characters (Albus or Dumbledore, for example) or actors from the franchise (Emma or Watson), are playable. You can also spell magical place names (like Hogsmeade), spells (accio), and objects (snitch).

Harry Potter version of Scrabble.
USAopoly

Showing off the depth of your Harry Potter knowledge isn't the only reason to put wizarding words on the board. Magical words are worth bonus points, with players earning more points the longer the word is. SCRABBLE: World of Harry Potter also includes cards with special challenges for players—a feature that can't be found in any other version of the game.

This Harry Potter edition of Scrabble will be available for $30 at Barnes & Noble and other retailers this spring. Until then, there are plenty of Harry Potter-themed games, including wizarding chess, out there for you to play.

Harry Potter version of Scrabble.
USAopoly

J.K. Rowling Has Some Regrets About Ron and Hermione's Relationship in Harry Potter

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

In 2011, following the theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, many Potterheads found themselves at the end of an era in their lives. Fans were saddened by the fact that the series had come to an end—and even today, eight years later, it's still a sore subject for many longtime readers. But the pain has been somewhat alleviated thanks to Pottermore, new books such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and even insightful tweets from J.K. Rowling herself.

Did you really think the Potterverse would just be forgotten overnight? No, of course not. In fact, it only seems to keep growing with time as new readers and viewers come to the books and movies, thanks in large part to Rowling’s openness to sharing pieces of non-canon trivia.

One surprising admission Rowling shared following the conclusion of the series is that she had some misgivings about pairing up Ron and Hermione. In an interview conducted by Emma Watson in 2014, the author told the actress that she put Ron and Hermione together because she wanted to see them together, but that in many ways Harry and Hermione would have been the better fit.

"I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment," Rowling said. "That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione with Ron."

Though Rowling knew that her words would be met with "rage and fury" by some fans, she explained that "distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility ... There was too much fundamental incompatibility."

In a later interview, however, Rowling (possibly backtracking) said she thought Harry and Ginny were more like soulmates, whereas Ron and Hermione were a kind of an opposites-attract couple. “[They] are drawn to each other because they balance each other out. Hermione's got the sensitivity and maturity that's been left out of Ron, and Ron loosens up Hermione a bit, gets her to have some fun,” the author explained. “They love each other and they bicker a bit, but they enjoy bickering, so we shouldn't worry about it."

Whether or not Ron and Hermione should’ve been together in Rowling’s eyes, all that truly matters is that they did end up together—and made some pretty cute kids to boot.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER