Welcome back to another Fake Geek Girls Like Us interview. Fake Geek Girls Like Us is a feature on +5 Charisma where I interview some awesome geeky and nerdy ladies out in the geek world. This month I get to chat with Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor the hosts of the podcast Witch, Please! We talk about all things Harry Potter and witchy! For clarity, Marcelle Kosman is MK and Hannah McGregor is HM.
1. Hi there! Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? What fandoms are you into? What was your first fandom?
Marcelle Kosman: I’m doing a PhD in early Canadian SF writing by women; I love cats; I’m a new mom. We don’t really talk about CanLit as having a fandom, but we SHOULD, and I hang out on the outskirts of that.
Hannah McGregor: Oh man, yeah, I’m a HUGE CanLit fan girl.
MK: It’s your sexual orientation!
HM: My all time greatest tweet.
And you wrote it.
MK: Hahaha I always forget. I’m a recovering Doctor Who fan. Probably my first fandom was Star Wars and the X-Files, back when the internet was in its infancy and I’d use the monthly allotment of bandwidth to print a picture of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovney or Yoda or similar.
I was also BIG into X-Men.
HM: The animated series from the 90s?!
HM: I wanted to be Jubilee so bad.
MK: I wanted to be Rogue!
I like LONGED to be unable to experience human contact
MK: Which is ironic because I was a very lonely child.
HM: I’m an Assistant Professor in Publishing @ SFU, and I sing barbershop, and I love wine.
And I was a baby geek girl from WAY back.
I think my first fandom was probably Sailor Moon — I used to draw a lot of sailor scouts in art class.
I was also on a Reboot forum in the early days of the Internet. One of my first crushes was grown up Sexy Enzo.
MK: Did you know you were a geek?
HM: I definitely did.
MK: See I did NOT know. Because I thought my older cousin was cool and he was into geek stuff, I confused geek stuff for cool stuff.
HM: I was an enrichment kid and we liked to define ourselves through our obsessions. I early on had the experience of failing to be adequately obsessed with the things I liked to qualify for true geekdom according to the boys in my class, but obviously too geeky for the rest of the kids. My geekiness has consistently hit a wall of misogyny. Like, I got really into comic books for a while when I was 13 or so, but stopped buying them when I couldn’t find titles that featured women with clothing on.
MK: I didn’t get into comics until my PhD by then there were numerous exciting, clothed women on the covers! Numerous, but comparably very few
HM: I got back into comics in a big way a couple of years ago, as a direct result of my then-student-now- friend Jason Purcell writing a paper on Happy Harbour comic book store. As a result Marcelle and Neale and I went and saw a documentary there, She Makes Comics, and I left with the first issue of Bitch Planet.
2. For those us who haven’t had a chance to check out your podcast yet, can you tell us about what you talk about on Witch, Please? How did the podcast come together? Why did you choose to explore and discuss the world of Harry Potter?
MK: So this one’s old hat, so I’ll just tackle the first part: Witch, Please is a critical feminist engagement with the Harry Potter world. What that means is that as we move through the books and the movies we look at how the books deal with gender, race, sexuality, bodies, and power, and we talk about how these things resist or reflect the world we live in. Sometimes we’re really hard on the books and films, and other times we’re really excited by the spaces they make available to question things we take for granted, like how gender-based violence operates under totalitarianism, or the reliability of history books.
HM: We like to say that we started the podcast as a “friendship project”; — an opportunity to reread the books together, and chat about them as we went. The critical lens we bring to our reading is in part inevitable because that’s how we’re trained to read, and in part a result of our increasing listenership. As we get a better sense of who’s listening, and what kinds of questions they have, we amp up our attention to critically framing our reading of the books.
And why Harry Potter? Well I’d never reread them, and I wanted to.
MK: Yeah, we didn’t decide to do a podcast about rereading the books, we decided to reread them and the wacky extroverts that we are we thought it’d be cool to make a podcast documenting the experience.
HM: I think a lot about the fact that I’m an ENTJ and you’re an ESFP and we’re completely different people except for our shared intense extroversion.
MK: Hahaha I can never remember my own letters you’re such a pro at self-awareness
HM: I’m obsessed with self-analysis. Whoa that sounds super narcissistic. Let’s get back to these questions.
3. Who are your favourite Harry Potter characters and why?
HM: Okay. I obviously love Neville and Luna. I love a weirdo outcast figure, especially when that weirdness and liminality provides them with a unique perspective on the events at hand. But now that I’m getting older I’m more and more drawn to the professor figures. Professor McGonagall is my fucking hero.
MK: Before we started this project I would have said Sirius Black was my favourite, but that is no longer the case. I love a deeply flawed character, but as I’ve gotten older I’m increasingly disinterested in static men. In terms of deeply flawed non-male characters, Molly Weasley is my new favourite. Additionally, Lily Potter remains super fascinating to me because we only get scraps of information about her, leaving a lot of room for her to change with the reader.
HM: Ooh, I’m gonna jump ahead one question:
4. Whose story in Harry Potter do you wish we knew more of? Is there a character that you wish JK Rowling would have explored further?
HM: I WOULD MURDER FOR A LILY POTTER BOOK
HM: Seriously folks if there’s any really good Lily Potter fan fic out there send it our way.
MK: I also stand by my desire for a gritty BBC series called Hogwarts that is just about the faculty and staff.
5. Are you excited for the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Do you have an hesitations? What about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
HM: I started Cursed Child this weekend and I don’t want to spoil our episodes on it but…?
MK: Ok so unlike a lot of fans, I have no hesitations about continuing the stories. Like, I don’t think the books are perfect, so I don’t need to “leave them alone” you know?
MK: My hesitations, and I’m pretty confident we share these, are entirely caused by the new colonial bullshit that Rowling has introduced to accompany Fantastic Beasts
HM: Yes, absolutely. We’ve spoken on this a number of times, and we’ll speak on it more, but Rowling’s extension of the wizarding world in North America has been handled incredibly poorly. The initial failure to think through the imperial implications of that extension was one shitty thing. But her consistent failure to acknowledge any of the critiques that have emerged –her use of her enormous platform to essentially silence indigenous critics — has been deeply troubling. I for one will definitely go see Fantastic Beasts, but I am braced for some troubling stuff in that movie.
MK: Ditto. There’s very little that we as cultural critics can actually do in response to pop culture, but the work of writing about what makes pop culture violent is REALLY IMPORTANT.
6. Do you have any other favourite stories about witches and wizards?
MK:I used to looooooooooooove the movie The Witches, and am also fond of Practical Magic. Oh and obv The Last Unicorn. Mommy Fortuna is a real boss bitch
HM: And Schmendrick the incompetent wizard, so sweet and bad at what he does. I will love that movie forever. Buffy, obviously, because Willow and Tara will forever be my badass lesbian witch role models. Also I want to strongly recommend the work of Canadian fantasy author Tanya Huff, especially her Magdalene short stories:
https://www.amazon.com/Third-Time- Lucky-Stories- Powerful-ebook/dp/B00T6JXESG
MK: I’ll check those out!
HM: Magdalene is one of my top all time literary idols. She’s the most powerful wizard in the world and she just wants to live in a warm climate and have a million lovers and cats and people keep making her DO THINGS.
MK: Ugh people amiright?
HM: So rude.
7. What is your favourite movie that was adapted from a book?
MK: Ok look I hate it when people claim that a man “gets” something better than the woman who wrote it, but Kevin Sullivan’s adaptation of Anne of Green Gables is ?
HM: Oh god yes.
Can I say all of Game of Thrones? I KNOW IT ISN’T A MOVIE.
MK: I say yes you can
HM: My favourite kinds of adaptations are the ones that take super duper long things that I’ll never have the time to read and turn them into juicy, trashy television.
MK: Oh totally. I’m never going to read the Sookie Stackhouse novels but True Blood was sooooooo wonderfully trashy.
HM: I can’t imagine that the books were better than that amazing show.
8. If you could suggest a book or story with an strong female lead, which one would you suggest?
MK: When I was a tween I read all of Monica Hughes’s sf novels and they are all (or mostly) starring badass young gals
HM: Gimme a minute to think about this one
Ugh so hard, too many!
Okay let’s take it back to our CanLit fandom, and I’m going to recommend that everyone go out and ready Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl if you haven’t already
MK: Great choice
HM: It’s very much the inheritor of that feminist sf that we read growing up, but more political and weird and concerned with race and gender and queerness and all those good things
9. Who was the first female character that you can remember looking up to?
MK: Easy peasey: Jem of Jem and the Holograms and She-Ra Princess of Power
HM: Wonder Woman
10. Are there any movies or television shows that are coming out that you are looking forward to (near or distant future)?
HM: I wish I could say that I was straight up looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie, but they’re going to do it wrong, I can just feel it.
MK: I’m pretty stoked to start Stranger Things. You’re so right about that, too.
HM: and Ghostbusters 3 of course
HM: Oh, there’s a new season of Bojack Horseman up on Netflix.
MK: I know and goddamn Trevor is watching another thing right now so we’re only three episodes in and like COME ON, TREVOR
HM: You know what I’m genuinely stoked for? Moana. Music by Lin Manuel Miranda, voice work by actual fucking people of colour. I’m on board.
MK: I do not know of this, what is this?
HM: It’s a new Disney movie coming out this winter. It’s set in the South Pacific and the woman doing the voice work for Moana is actually Hawaiian. In my heart of hearts I’m hoping for a new Mulan.
MK: Disney joins the ranks of Playboy for garbage empires starting to get it
HM: Maybe Harry Potter can claw its way back into those ranks.
MK: I just hope I’m still alive to see it happen
Thanks to Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor for chatting with us! Make sure to check out their links down below. Thanks for tuning in! Fake Geek Girl Like Us is an interview series on +5 Charisma where we talk to girls in nerd culture. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be featured!