Fantastic Beasts and Where it Goes

Thanksgiving weekend is the unofficial start of the holiday movie season. So I have done my duty and seen two films this weekend, Moana and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Moana was awesome. Just really, really great. Go see it. It’s funny, visually stunning, uplifting, empowering, moving, you name it.

Fantastic Beasts was good. For my money, not as good as Moana, but good. I could go on about what I liked and didn’t like, things I thought could have been done better, things that were done really well, but I’d rather talk about what I think is going to happen next.

SPOILER ALERT–If you haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts and are planning on doing so, do not keep reading, as I’ll be discussing some of the secrets of the movie below.








OK, here’s what we know. There are going to be five movies. Newt is going to be in most, if not all, of them, but may not be the main character in all of them. The series will take us through the Great Wizarding War where Grindelwald and his minions play the part of Voldemort and the Death Eaters and take on the Wizarding World. It will end in 1945 with the epic duel between Grindelwald and Dumbledore.

What else do we know? Well, how about the fact revealed by J.K. Rowling that Dumbledore was gay and had a relationship with Grindelwald? Which will make that final battle even more intense.

We know that Credence did not die in FB, and he will return in FB2 as an evil wizard. Also, Leta Lestrange (grandmother? great grandmother? of Beatrix Lestrange) will appear in FB2 as an evil wizard. Newt was once in love with Leta, so there’s some lovely tension there as well.

We’ve been told FB2 takes place in Paris. Are we going to get a different setting for each movie? Grindelwald’s fortress is supposedly in Switzerland, so will FB5 take place there?

Dumbledore has already been mentioned as being one of Newt’s teachers at Hogwarts, so he’s in the picture and will eventually be making an appearance, especially if he’s to fall in love/duel Grindelwald in the end. But will anyone else show up that we know?

From a time-line perspective, we could certainly meet a very young Tom Riddle. If Chamber of Secrets (2002) took place 50 years after Tom Riddle first opened the Chamber, that means he was at Hogwarts in 1952. He has to be at least 11 to be in Hogwarts. So in 1945 he is at least 6., possibly older. If Tom was in his final year at Hogwarts when he opened the Chamber, then he’d be a First Year in 1945.

Also, we know at least two other professors who were at Hogwarts in 1952. McGonagall was in the Tom Riddle flashbacks in Chamber of Secrets, and we know that Slughorn explained the concept of the Horcruxes to him from a flashback in Half-Blood Prince. So there’s no reason young versions of those two couldn’t make an appearance.

Something at the end of FB5 where Grindelwald passes on the torch of evil to Tom Riddle?

One thing FB didn’t do was give us any glimpse at any other wizardry schools. Hogwarts is mentioned, as is the American version whose name I forget, but we don’t visit. I would say it is entirely possible that we won’t visit any schools in this series, except that we know Dumbledore is already a teacher. If he’s to play a part in the series, then it stands to reason we’ll at least visit Hogwarts to meet him.

One of the joys of the HP series was watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione grow up. Well in FB, the main characters are already grown up. But we don’t know where they came from. We don’t know what Newt’s childhood was like, though he hinted that he wasn’t popular. Also, he was expelled from Hogwarts (against Dumbledore’s advice) and yet still has his wand. Hagrid lost his when he was expelled, so why didn’t Newt? I assume we’ll find out.

FB pretty much stands on its own as a film: disaster averted, true villain captured, Newt heading home. I suppose if the film isn’t a huge success, Warner Bros. can cut their losses and stop at one. But as it has already made over $100 million after one week, they’ll greenlight the others and we’ll hopefully dive into the larger story that was truly only hinted at in this one.

I, for one, am excited to see where it goes.




Introducing: Beyond the Doors

My second book is officially available for pre-order on Amazon!

Here is the cover of Beyond the Doors!


“When a family disaster forces the four Rothbaum children to live with their Aunt Gladys–a relative they’d never met–they immediately know there is something strange about their new home.

The crazy, circular house looks like it stepped out of a scary movie. The front entrance is a four-story-tall drawbridge. And the only food in Aunt Gladys’s kitchen is an endless supply of Honey Nut Oat Blast Ring-a-Dings cereal and some milk in the fridge.

Strangest of all are the doors–there are none. Every doorway is completely empty and wide-open–even the bathroom! Who lives in a house with no doors?

Their unease only grows when Aunt Gladys disappears for long stretches of time, leaving them alone to explore the strange house. When they discover just what Aunt Gladys has been doing with all her doors, the shocked siblings embark on an adventure that changes everything they believe about their family and the world.”

I’m really excited about Beyond the Doors, and think you’re all gonna love it.

Coming August 1, 2017!

Dealing With Ghosts

I recently finished Claire Legrand’s The Year of Shadows, and it got me thinking about ghosts.


The book deals with a little girl who meets a bunch of ghosts (obviously) who live in an old symphony hall. There’s quite a bit more to it than that, of course, and I recommend the book for MG readers looking for a nice, moody, atmospheric chill.

Legrand’s ghosts are very interesting. They don’t really have shape, but sort of form themselves into shape when they concentrate. They have a smattering of their memories from life, but not much. They are individual characters, with individual personalities.

As opposed to the Shades, which are sort of Legrand’s boogie-men and behave more like what some would call a poltergeist.

The ghost story is one of the foundations of horror, of course, and ghosts have been depicted as all sorts of things from creepy forms lurking in the night to foppish, jovial, nearly-headless buffoons (I’m looking at you, Nick). Sometimes they can speak, sometimes they can’t. Sometimes they can move physical objects, sometimes they can’t. Sometimes they are full characters, other times a ghastly prop.

Yet they’re all ghosts.

Authors use ghosts all the time, but whenever they use them as more than a brief mention, there’s this need too explain the rules. “Sure, you know what ghosts are, but this is what MY ghosts are like.”

It’s fascinating. Authors don’t generally need to do that with other creatures. You see a vampire walking down the street, you know it’s going to suck blood, shy away from the sun, and have very pale eyes. There can be minor variations, such as if they fly or not or… well.. they sparkle (whatever), but by and large a vampire is a vampire is a vampire. It became a vampire by getting bit by another vampire, and they make fresh new vampires by biting non-vampires.

Not ghosts. Why is that? At the heart of it all, ghosts are supposedly spirits of people who used to be alive. But how they became ghosts is always up in the air. As I have mentioned before, one of my current favorite MG ghost series of Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. (I recently devoured the fourth and latest volume, The Creeping ShadowIn the Lockwood books, ghosts are the danger, but generally without personality or character. They are the symptom of the evil for the most part, and much of the series is being spent trying to uncover the true evil. But one touch from a ghost and you die. Not so in The Year of Shadows, in which the little girl is touched by ghosts all the time, or in Harry Potter, where the ghosts tend to walk through Harry when he’s not looking.

All of this is to say that if you’re planning on using ghosts, be prepared to explain them. Readers have been inundated with all sort of different ghostly rules that no two people will have the same idea of what and who your ghost is unless you tell them. So be warned.

Just don’t make them all sparkly.