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MTV Interviews Cheryl Klein

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Posted by: sue
September 23, 2008, 08:45 PM

Cheryl Klein, Senior Editor, Arthur A. Levine Books, is the subject of a new interview with MTV regarding her work as continuity editor of the US editions of the Harry Potter series. In this piece, Cheryl discusses her job, which involves keeping “track of everything that happens in the series, to make sure things are consistent and the details are right.” However sometimes a detail slips through the checks, and those slight errors fans refer to as Flints. The article notes these are named as such after “Marcus Flint, who is the Slytherin Quidditch captain in books one and two, appears again in book three,” said Cheryl Klein, a senior editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, the Scholastic imprint that publishes the “Harry Potter” series in the U.S. “But he was said to be a sixth-year student in book one, which meant he should have graduated by book three. So that gave rise to this entire category of what we call ‘Flints,’ when fans find continuity errors after the fact.”

Harry Potter fans are notoriously observant about even the slightest of details in the books, and had a habit of letting their displeasure over some of them be known. Cheryl describes this as “It’s like having 6 million copy editors checking your work. We really handle everything on a case-by-case basis, and we ask, for every letter, ‘Have we dealt with this before? Is this a valid concern?’ And some we fix ourselves, and others we talk to our British colleagues and J.K. Rowling.”

Some cases involve simple British vs American English translations, while some involve usage versus actual mistakes. Example: “This one woman I met, her daughter had a cleft palate,” Klein said. “And in book two, Gilderoy Lockhart referred to doing something with a ‘hag with a harelip.’ J.K. Rowling was using that phrase to indicate Gilderoy’s insensitivity, because he doesn’t really think about anybody besides himself, but when she realized that it’s a phrase that some people think is less than acceptable for people with cleft palates, she changed it to a ‘hag with a hairy chin.’ “

Some details might be frustrating, such as the timeline and the question of the playstation that belonged to Dudley “It didn’t come out until later, if you date the series chronologically. If you say Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday celebration is in 1992 … ,” Klein stopped herself and laughed. “This is really dorky stuff.” Dorky they may be, fans thrill over these things, however some can be simple silliness as in the case of the word known well to PotterCast and Leaky readers, the dreaded ‘Horcri.’

“John Noe, from the Leaky Cauldron, for instance, likes to tease her that the plural of Horcrux was stated once as Horcrii — “and I’m like, ‘No, no, we didn’t!’ ” she said, imitating panic in her voice. “But then I checked with J.K. Rowling, and she assured me, ‘No, no, they’re Horcruxes.’ “

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