author's notes for the maddest house

author's notes

1. Race and Ethnicity

When I first read the HP books, Harry in my mind was like any of the spectacled schoolboys I saw every day: skinny, with wild bedhead… and Japanese. Years later, that’s still how I see him. So I present to you, my (non-intrusive, hopefully) vision of a non-Caucasian cast of characters. Feel free to see the characters as you always have (skip down to number 2 now!); or see them as I do. I’ve always felt that the whole Pureblood thing would mean that arranged marriages would be common, and that the power of the blood would over-rule any racial or national prejudices. So there might be an Indian in the Black family tree; or a Chinese ancestor in the Potters. A Brazilian woman of Aztec and Vai descent might fall in love with a strawberry blond Brit and produce a brown-haired, hazel-eyed son. Personally, I like fantasies that look like the people around me; like my family of half-bloods.

2. Religion

Sirius’ religion is quite similar to the syncretism of Buddhism and Shinto as practiced (loosely) in Japan. In particular, the making of food offerings to an altar with pictures of the dead. Continuing with my theories about Pureblooded culture, it would seem to be one in which ancestors and genealogy are very important; and as the dead do seem to linger in the world through portraits and as ghosts, a form of ancestor-worship would seem appropriate for a Pureblood religion.

3. The Maddest House

The title is taken from a poem in Mary Ellen Chase's The Lovely Ambition. I think it is an old rhyme, but the later verses may be hers.

There was a mad man and he had a mad wife
And they lived in Ding Dong Dell.
They had three children, all at one birth,
And they were mad as well.

The father was mad, the mother was mad,
and the children were mad beside;
and they all got on a mad white horse,
and madly they did ride.

They rode by night, they rode by day,
Yet nary a one of them fell;
And they rode madly all the way
Till they came to the Gates of Hell.

The Devil was glad to see them all mad
And gladly let them in.
But he soon grew sorry to see them so merry
And let them out again.

Then God came down and said to them all,
“Now come along with Me,
For My House is the maddest House
That you will ever see.

“It's so full of madness there’s no room for sadness,
It's lasted for endless years.
It's built of gladness, and Grace, and joy.
There's no room in it for tears.”

4. Music

Many thanks to Youhavebeenwrongabouteverything and Ed McKay for all the wonderful music. The conceit of the story is that all the music is chronologically appropriate; i.e., these songs could conceivably have been in Remus and Sirius' record collection. I don't know why I made Remus a blues fan, but of course Sirius loves Morrissey. Feel free to disagree; feel free to suggest more appropriate songs.

5. More on Music

This is not a songfic. That is, I wrote the entire story and then found songs that seemed to fit. My brother’s hard drive coughed up Pink Floyd's “Wish You Were Here,” which is absolutely a brilliant fit for the mood of Chapter 1. Other songs are not quite as appropriate, I think, but we cannot have perfection in everything. Right?

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