Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Is Merope Gaunt Riddle the Snake Girl Featured in the Magical Circus Arcanus in Fantastic Beasts 2?

Pottermore recently announced that a magical circus is coming in Fantastic Beasts 2. As I had a theory stating exactly this back in February, I was extremely exited with this news.

So, I've been thinking more on what this circus might look like, and who might be in it, in a new series of videos. Here's one with Suvi Holm of Finland on who that Enchanting Snake Girl might be.

The transcript is below the video, in case it gets removed again. Hope you like it!


Hello. Welcome back to Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts. I’m Susan Şipal. In the recent announcements regarding Fantastic Beasts 2, the filmmakers stated that there would be some “surprising nods” toward Harry Potter. Suvi Holm and I have a theory as to what one of these nods might be, and we'd like to see what you think.

I covered many theories like this in my book, Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts, and hope you’ll check it out.

In my last video on certain time elements that may link Fantastic Beasts 1 to future films, I pointed out an intriguing date on the Circus Arcanus publicity poster. It noted that the circus was leaving for Europe after their final performance on December 13th. With the 5-day crossing possible in the 1920s, that’s just enough time for them to reach England, if that’s their destination, before New Year’s Eve…the night of Voldemort’s birth. A link that provides a lot of tantalizing possibilities, and we’re going to explore one of them now.

First, I’d like to point out that it’s not too far a stretch to imagine that the circus either originated in Europe or has been there before as the owner, Skender, may not be American. The publicity poster shows that the circus has been on tour in New York, not that they are based there.

I also said yesterday in the first part of this series exploring the mysteries of the Circus Arcanus, that I planned on three videos. But the material is growing, and thus I now expect this will be the second of four.

The focus on today’s video is thanks to Suvi Holm of Finland, who shared the key clue and beginning ideas with me. Suvi, if you’ll remember, was also the mastermind behind Dumbledore as a possible Demiguise Animagus theory.

Suvi found a very curious link between Merope Gaunt Riddle, Voldemort’s mother, and a circus. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore and Harry took a dip into Dumbledore's memory of visiting Tom Riddle's orphanage. Mrs. Cole, the matron, says that when Merope came to them on the night she gave birth to Voldemort, they wondered if Merope had come from a circus. This was purely because of the unusual name, Marvolo, that she gave her son. However, it still provides a link from Merope to a circus.

Suvi thinks that the Snake Girl pictured in the Circus Arcanus poster could be Merope. Together, she and I have pieced together the following evidence to support this theory, and why I think it not only possible, but likely.

We first see Merope in the scene where Harry and Dumbledore dip into a Ministry Official’s memories of visiting the Gaunt home. As part of this scene, Marvolo and Morfin speak to each other, and Merope, in Parseltongue. Though Merope is too cowed to respond, she clearly understands everything they say. If she weren’t being threatened by her father and brother, she would probably speak it. So, she should possess the ability to call snakes to her.

If you look at the image of the Enchanting Snake Girl in the Circus Arcanus poster, you’ll see that the snakes are wrapped around her rather than her transforming into one like an Animagus. This could be the mark of a Parseltongue. And who is the one known female Parseltongue of this time? Merope Gaunt Riddle.

Dumbledore believed that after Tom Riddle left his wife, Merope lost the use of her powers to take care of herself. But Dumbledore also admitted he was speculating. It is not specified exactly when Tom Riddle abandoned his pregnant wife. She may have been alone several months. What was she doing to support herself? Dumbledore also assumed she was staying in London, but is it possible that she used her unusual abilities to join a circus and traveled with them even to New York and back? And that something that happened in that circus injured her health or made her lose the will to live?

Now let’s jump across the pond to Credence. Many have theorized that Credence could be descended from Isolt Sayre, including several of this vlog’s followers, whom I’ve credited in the description below. The key clue seems to be the use of the word Squib. Grindelwald said he could smell Squib on Credence when they first met. Why was this important to have in the script, besides showing Grindelwald’s true colors? Because it could be a possible link to Credence’s heritage.

The most famous Squib established by Rowling in American wizarding history is Martha Steward, Squib daughter of Isolt Sayre and James Steward. Isolt’s mother and aunt were Gaunts. I don’t think Rowling would have made this connection if she didn’t somehow expect to use it in the story, not just the backstory. Through Isolt, Credence would thus be of Slytherin blood. If so, it’s very possible he speaks Parseltongue.

Marvolo Gaunt also called his daughter Merope a Squib. Though we saw through Dumbledore’s guesses about her use of a powerful love potion to bind and hold Tom Riddle that she most definitely was not.

Credence and Merope sure have a few things in common. What if they met during those last two weeks of her life? With her background of abuse and repressed magical power, she would clearly sympathize with Credence. In fact, I think it entirely possible that Merope would be the point of entry for Credence into the circus.

And what if, in witnessing her snake act, Credence discovered he could talk with snakes? Might Merope have recognized him as a distant Slytherin kin and taken him under her wing…or scale?

And might she have entrusted him with the one heirloom she still possessed?

The only thing we know that Merope did to support herself during this time was to sell her Slytherin locket just before Christmas. For a mere 10 galleons. Caractacus Burke said he performed numerous spells on it to ensure it was legitimate. But, remember, the locket had been faked somewhat before, though admittedly only with a substitute. Regulus Black switched Voldemort’s Horcrux locket out with a similar one when he visited Voldemort’s cave with Kreacher. Could the real Slytherin locket have been faked even earlier as an exact duplicate?

A curious thing about the Caractacus Burke Pensieve scene is that it’s the only one of the Voldemort-related memories that’s not presented from within. Harry and Dumbledore do not dip into Burke’s memory of that night Merope came into his shop, or even of Dumbledore interviewing him. No, it’s just of Burke taking shape in the Pensieve and talking about a night long past. It’s possible, therefore, that Rowling is hiding something important here that she could not from within a Pensieve scene that is supposed to reveal the complete truth. Like that Merope slipped Burke a fake locket after he’d examined the real one.

Merope was fully aware of what that locket was worth. She was present when her father talked about its value in front of the Ministry official. Perhaps she’d hoped to pass it on to her child, but, knowing her life was short, determined it would be too risky to leave an article of such extreme value with an infant in an orphanage.

We saw how Merope was careful to give her child a name that she’d obviously thought about in advance. One that someone else might recognize. Maybe she entrusted the real Slytherin locket to someone close to pass on to her child when he left the orphanage. A task that the new owner was unable to complete due to his own death.

Hepzibah Smith, the elderly collector Tom Riddle stole the locket from, said it had special powers. It’s unclear whether we ever saw any of these hidden powers as those that were displayed in Deathly Hallows could have stemmed from its power as Voldy’s Horcrux. But having worn it during a crucial time in her life, maybe Merope discovered some of its original magic.

What would happen if Slytherin’s locket found its way to another of his descendants with unusual powers, Credence Barebone? In Credence’s hands, might Slytherin’s ancient magic find new life? Think about it: how incredible Credence would be if he not only has the massive powers of the only Obscurial known to live past age ten, but is also in command of hidden gifts from Salazar Slytherin.

Remember, it was when Tom Riddle discovered his heritage that he really grew in power.

I freely admit I’ve slipped from fan theory into fan fiction as I have little evidence to back up the possibility of Merope passing off a fake locket and then entrusting the real one to Credence, just conjecture. (And don’t blame Suvi for this part of the theory!) However, if Rowling includes Merope in the story, it will be for a specific purpose. Merope may be just the person uniquely qualified to pass on special knowledge to Credence; whether it comes with a locket is just bonus.

The biggest negative against Merope’s inclusion in Fantastic Beasts 2 is that the recently released details says the film will take place months after the ending of FB1, when she is already dead. However, I could envision a brief prelude to the second film that shows Merope meeting Credence, and perhaps her entrusting him with something hidden, before the main part of the film takes place months later.

This Merope as the Snake Girl theory would definitely fulfill the statement that FB2 would connect with Harry Potter in surprising ways. While many people have anticipated a link to Voldemort, it would be just like Rowling to twist it and instead provide the link to his mother.

I’m not fond of Fantastic Beasts as a Voldemort origin theory, and I don't think that’s where it's going. But, because of the dates of the first film, I do think there must be some sort of connection. I do not think we will see the birth of Voldemort. I believe the connection is going to be more on what Merope might have left that will find its way to Credence rather than explaining more about Voldemort to us. Whose story we already know.

But for my theory to hang together, the timing is crucial. So I circle back to my last video and the dating of Circus Arcanus’ trip to Europe. Rowling knows her timeline. Why construct a timeline that has this magical circus arrive in Europe, probably England, right on the eve of Voldemort’s birth unless there was a connection somehow? To me, Merope seems to be the critical link to explain that purpose.

Yes, Rowling would have to fudge her canon a bit to make this work, but she does have an out. Dumbledore admitted that he was conjecturing about Merope’s whereabouts and magical abilities after Tom left her. He had no way of knowing if she’d gone abroad since she was in London for the birth. That's why the date of the return trip to Europe for Circus Arcanus is so important.

And to those of you who may think it’s ridiculous to look at this level of detail from a book published in 2005 for clues to a film coming out in 2018, think about this:

  1. The original text book for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was published in 2001. Rowling has said in an interview that ever since writing that book, Newt’s story has been playing in her mind. So ideas for Newt were jostling around in that very crowded brain when Rowling penned these Pensieve scenes.
  2. Beyond mere ideas, writers can have books in various stages of completion for many, many years. I have one that’s been in progress for over 15.
  3. And retroactively making something fit is always a possibility. It’s easy enough for Rowling to go back to a prior published manuscript and look for clues that she can now tie into a new story.

Speaking as a writer, if Suvi and I are right about this, it's frightening to think how far out and how much in detail Rowling plots her stories. I just can’t wait to see if any of this is true, and if not, what she has in store for us instead!

What do you think? Could the Snake Girl be Merope Gaunt? Please share your thoughts in the comments. And be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss my next video in this series, which will further explore the mysteries of the magical circus.

Be sure to check the description box below for links to the prior videos I mentioned. Also, don’t forget to check out my Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts at Amazon or your local bookseller.

Monday, May 22, 2017

What Does the Huge Squire's Sign Mean in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?

I've got a new YouTube video out on that huge Squire's sign that we see atop the building where the Team gathers to watch Credence as the Obscurus overtakes him toward the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The way the sign was emphasized in both the film and the script book seemed a bit odd to me, and made me think that JK Rowling might be hinting at something.

In this video I offer up my own theory, but as I'm not positive it's right, ask for your help in figuring it out.

I've also included the transcript below the video in case you prefer to just read it.

Hope you enjoy! And I'd love to hear your thoughts and theories in the comments!


Hello. Welcome back to Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts. I’m Susan Şipal.
There’s a huge Squire’s sign that Newt and Team gather under to witness Credence as the Obscurus in his final rage of destruction. Does that sign have a hidden meaning? And, if so, what is it?

I first covered this theory and others like it in my clue book, Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts, and hope you’ll check it out.

Today’s video is a bit different. I’m doing this one not because I have a strong theory to present to you. But rather because I know there’s something there and I want your help figuring it out.

Ever since I first saw the movie, I’ve been pondering that huge Squire’s sign that the Team gathers under at the beginning of the climax scene. The fact that it’s named specifically in the script book as well tells me that this sign has a purpose in being there. But what is it?

For months, possible meanings have percolated in the back of my mind. I’ve looked at and discarded a few as I’ve researched the word squires.

One theory that is very tempting to latch onto relates to my last video: Credence as the Atomic Bomb. There are two men in the Manhattan Project with the last name Squires. Arthur Squires was a chemical engineer who worked under Percival Keith, named in my Atomic Bomb theory as a possible source for Graves’ first name. This Squires was instrumental in establishing the bomb used on Nagasaki. The other, Lombard Squires, was an engineer and worked with plutonium inspections.

As the Squires sign appears in the scene that’s a prelude to Credence blowing up, there could definitely be a correlation between one of these guys, and maybe there is more there than what I’m picking up on. But for some reason, this explanation just doesn’t ring true to me.

Still I’m listing links to the two Manhattan Project Squires in the description below if any of you would like to investigate further.

So, my best guess is still the one I put in the clue book in December and takes a dive into classic British literature, which we know Jo has done before. Namely, The Canterbury Tales.

The Squire’s Tale is unusual for the stories the pilgrims tell on their way to Canterbury. The young squire who tells it never gets to finish it. Indeed, it’s a long, rambling, romantic story that, if finished, would seem to be longer than any of the others.

What intrigues me most about the Squire’s story, beyond the parallel name, are the presents offered as gifts at the beginning. A knight rides into court where a lavish feast is being held and offers the king the following magical gifts from a far away king:

A brass steed – to transport him anywhere he wishes to go in the world within 24 hours without harm.

A mirror – for his daughter - to see clearly into the true nature of people, whether friend, foe, or lover.

A ring – also for the princess - giving her the ability to understand the language of any bird and speak to them as well, and to understand any herb’s remedy.

And finally, a sword – that strikes lethally through armor and then has the ability to heal the wound.

You can probably already see what fascinates me with this correlation. For Fantastic Beasts, we have the brass steed’s power to apparate. Plus, as I posted in my Jacob’s Occamy video, there is the possible link to Jacob riding the Occamy in future films. I’m very grateful to Kelly L. for pointing out to me that in the extra features of the recently released DVD, concept art shows someone riding the Occamy. I anticipate Jacob’s Occamy is how he’ll keep up with his magical friends.

Two, the mirror that sees into someone’s true nature is also present in Fantastic Beasts with Queenie’s Legilimens ability.

Three, for the ring, my thoughts are theoretical, but I link back to my Tina as an Animagus theory, specifically the pigeon seen in the Second Salem Church. If I’m right, she should possess the ability to talk to and understand birds.

And finally, four, swords – Newt’s sword is his beasts. We’ve seen him use his creatures both defensively and medicinally. Swooping Evil, in particular, was used to stun the Aurors at MACUSA while Newt and Tina made their escape, as well as provide the necessary potion to restore security to the Wizarding World. I expect we’ll see even more, and greater, defensive and healing powers from Newt’s beasts in future films.

Notice one more thing: How the two gifts given to the princess correlate to the two magical skills I’ve attributed to Queenie and Tina.

One aspect I think is crucial to consider in figuring out the meaning of Squire’s is the location of this sign. Not only in its prominent placement on top of a skyscraper, but also in the sequence of the film.

First, the team is all gathered together observing the rampaging Obscurus below. Mostly, they stand behind the sign, effectively at its tail.

Next, take a look at the trip Credence’s Obscurus makes from Modesty’s origin home in the Bronx to the City Hall subway. He starts in the tenements, turns right into what seems to be a more prosperous or business area, heading directly to that very prominent sign. He then swoops up and pivots directly in front of that sign before veering off to the right. Almost as if he were on a journey…or a pilgrimage?

All in all, this entry to the final stand-off scene between Newt and Tina against Grindelwald to save Credence seems designed to draw our attention to this moment. It’s in the tail-end of the Squire’s sign that we see the team first united to save a very troubled young man with enough power to cause serious harm. Is this highlighting the main thrust of the rest of the series to follow? Each team member using their own talent to that end?

Could this sign then not only point to the nature of the Squire’s gifts, but also to what the team will bring to helping Credence rid himself of the Obscurus?

How I could see these “gifts” being put to use going forward:

Queenie’s Legilimens’ skill is obviously useful in helping her get into Credence’s mind and understand his pain. After all, people are most easy to read when they’re hurting.

If Tina has been watching over Credence as a bird, and has the ability to talk to animals including magical beasts, maybe she can speak to the Obscurus directly. Newt did say that Credence was listening to her…maybe it wasn’t just the man, but also the beast inside.

For Newt – he somehow was able to separate the Obscurus from the Sudanese girl. Perhaps with more skill, he can use his beastly sword to not only separate the Obscurus from Credence, but this time heal the Obscurial as well.

And then there’s Jacob – I’m not quite sure how riding an Occamy will contribute toward saving Credence, unless the Occamy provides special transportation power that simply Apparating does not.

For those of you more familiar with New York and its history than I am, I want to show you one more thing. We saw in Madam Piquery’s magical map the path the Obscurus was taking. So it seems that the Squire’s sign was somewhere around here.

Does that mark any landmark which might be important to the story or series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

One more curiosity I want to share with you. Notice the name of this building in the backdrop of Times Square during Graves and Tina’s battle. Kingly Court. The Squire’s Tale starts off in just such a place.

Chaucer’s Tales are revered for the insight he gives into English social strata during a transformative time following the Black Plague. Is Rowling perhaps using an allusion to Chaucer to offer a critique of our own modern society facing a major catastrophe? Or, could she be taking the viewer, an international mixture of people of various beliefs and social classes, on a spiritual quest?

While I think this theory has merit, I’m still not convinced it’s what Jo means. So, please, share your ideas in the comments. What am I missing? What do you think? Maybe together we can come up with an even better theory.

Be sure to check the description box below for extra information and links I’ve provided. And please subscribe for future theories. Also, don’t forget to check out my Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts at Amazon or your local bookseller. Until next time!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Touch of Magic BookTube Review for Martina Boone's Lake of Destiny + #Giveaway

Hi all,

I was fortunate enough to be a beta reader for Martina Boone's newest venture: Lake of Destiny, an adult contemporary romance set in the Scottish Highlands and filled with a hint of magic and touch of history.

I loved the warmth and humor of the novel so much, I decided to create a new playlist on my YouTube channel and start A Touch of Magic BookTube Reviews. Please check out my review of Martina's novel in the video below and subscribe to my channel if you'd like to see more.

You can also enter to win a paperback copy of Lake of Destiny by clicking the link toward the end of the video.

Are you excited to read Martina's newest release?


Hello I'm Susan Şipal and today I’d like to share something new with you. As an editor and author, I read a wonderful lot of books. So I’m starting a playlist to share those that have touched me the most. A Touch of Magic Reviews will be all about books…with just a hint of magic.

Having worked in the publishing industry for over a dozen years, I’ve read a lot. And I definitely have some strong opinions of what I like and what I don’t, as evidenced by my love of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series, not to mention my desire to spend an insane amount of time analyzing and speaking about them.

However, the Wizarding World is not my only passion. I love beautifully-written and thought-provoking books in both fiction and nonfiction. I’d like to share with you some of those that have touched my heart or my life. Though I may cover anything from adult romance, like today’s offering, to next week’s non-fiction. The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, they all have something in common: they inspire magic.

Martina Boone is an award-winning author best known for her Heirs of Watson Island series from Simon Pulse. She was born in Prague but defected to the US as a child. Though Martina spoke several languages, when she was teased for stumbling with English, she determined to learn “all the words.” If you read her books, you’ll discover she has done so brilliantly.

I was fortunate to be a beta reader for Martina early on, and I became a fan of her work from the moment I read her very first story. I immediately wanted to start a fan page. Then she came out with her young adult Heirs of Watson Island series. Compulsion was released in 2014, with Persuasion and Illusion following in 2015 and 2016. With my love of mythology, I immediately had to dig beneath the surface to discover all her stories’ secrets. Martina combines a fully contemporary story with just a touch of fantasy to make it all seem so vividly alive and magical.

Perhaps, however, her best skill is breathing life into delightful characters. Her people are so real I find myself talking to them even after I turn the last page.

As she is now venturing into contemporary romance with a touch of magical realism. I’m sure she’ll thrill many adult readers with her new series: Celtic Legends.

Martina’s newest book is a sweet contemporary romance, but with definite heat. Set in Scotland, it’s filled with a hint of magic and touch of history about Bonnie Prince Charlie and Rob Roy MacGregor. Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander will love it as well as those who enjoy Nora Roberts, Susan Wiggs, and Susan Mallery. It’s written with warmth and humor, which is the combination I love best.

Anna Cameron is healing from wounds of the past while courageously forging a fresh path for herself by starting a new career in a foreign country. Connal MacGregor is a man who could have had it all, but turned his back on the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to protect his most prized treasure – his young daughter. The two come together to not only help a small town in need of economic revival, but to push each other in their own personal recoveries.

According to the back cover: “For centuries, Loch Fàil in Balwhither has been known to locals as a "thin" place, one where the veil between worlds peels back on Beltane morn to reveal the face of a person's one true love.” But this “Sighting” can just as often wreak havoc in one’s life as bring joy. And setting up a festival surrounding the Sighting has recently divided the villagers – a wonderful cast of characters that are engaging and quirky and lend both conflict and depth to the story. It’s Anna’s job to unite the locals and bridge their argument with Connal while allowing her heart to open to the magical possibility of what her Sighting in the loch will reveal.

And through it all is Martina’s lyrical writing, interwoven with myth and magic to charm and satisfy the reader.

Who would you hope to see in the Lake of Destiny for your own Sighting? And if you met the person you were destined to love, would you tell them?

Lake of Destiny is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. I've included links to online retailers in the description below.

I'm so excited to share Martina’s newest release with you, that I'm offering a giveaway for one paperback copy. Just follow the link in the popup above or in the description below to the contest entry page. There you can choose various methods to gain entry points, including subscribing to my YouTube channel, joining Martina's newsletter list, and spreading the word. One winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, May 9 from all the entries. So get those points up by entering as many ways as you can!

Have you read one of Martina Boone’s books? I’d love to hear about it. Please share your thoughts in the comments. And be sure to check out my other playlist, Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts, where Wizarding World fans and I share theories of what’s to come in future films. Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future videos for both reviews and theories! Until next time!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Breaking News: Jude Law to Portray Albus Dumbledore in #FantasticBeasts2

News of the casting for the younger Albus Dumbledore has excited Wizarding World fans! Jude Law has been cast to portray Dumbledore for the next Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. The Pottermore announcement also hints at surprises coming to fans in how Dumbledore will be portrayed.

I've got a new video covering the announcement below and discussion is ongoing in the comments on my YouTube channel. Be sure to check it out and subscribe.

Transcript is below the video.



Hey guys, we’ve got some breaking news for Fantastic Beasts 2. Albus Dumbledore has been cast! I’m Susan Şipal with Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts to bring you the news.

So, fresh off my most recent video, Is Dougal the Demiguise Really Dumbledore in Animagus Form, we’ve got new reports which include a couple of hints for Albus Dumbledore’s role in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts 2.

Pottermore announced, and JK Rowling Tweeted, that Jude Law has been cast to portray our favorite Headmaster of Hogwarts in the days before he was Headmaster. Pottermore confirms that at this point in the story, Dumbledore will be Hogwarts’ Transfiguration professor.

Jude Law is a well known and respected actor, nominated for many awards for both film and theater, including two Academy Awards. He has also starred with many previous Wizarding World alumni, including Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp.

For all of us speculating as to what secrets the new (old) presentation of Dumbledore will reveal, here’s an interesting quote in the Pottermore article from David Yates: “I know he will brilliantly capture all the unexpected facets of Albus Dumbledore as J.K. Rowling reveals this very different time in his life.” (via Pottermore).

Unexpected facets…very different time. Looks like we need to continue our prior discussions on what surprises and twists we can expect from this younger Dumbledore. Especially now that we know the actor who will portray him.

We also get a slight reveal of the upcoming plot as the article states: “Its sequel takes the story deeper into an increasingly dark time for the wizarding world, where Newt and our other heroes must decide on their allegiances.” (Pottermore)

Truly, it’s not too much to go on as we knew the films would get darker. But this does place Newt firmly as the main protagonist and brings up the possibility that the Team may not go forward totally united…at least for a while.

The article also confirms the Fantastic Beasts 2 release date as November 16, 2018, and that filming will begin this summer, though it doesn’t state specifically which month.

What do you think about this casting? Are you excited to see what Jude Law will bring to the role of Dumbledore? Do you think there is the possibility that there could be a split of allegiance among Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob?

Please share your thoughts in the comments and check out my other fan theory videos in the playlist. Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future film updates and any clues they may hold.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Will Dumbledore be a Demiguise Animagi in Upcoming Fantastic Beasts Films?

I posted a new video over the weekend that is theory of one of my viewers, Suvi Holm of Finland. She believes the Dougal the Demiguise may be Dumbledore in Animagi form or at least that Dougal gives us hints as to what Dumbledore's Animagi form is.

Since the video posted, I found this note on Pottermore at the bottom of their page Everything You Didn't Know About Animagi:

Minerva McGonagall was taught by Albus Dumbledore himself
Does that mean Dumbledore was an Animagi too?

I hope you'll watch the video and share your thoughts as well! And be sure to subscribe and check out the other videos on you YouTube channel.



Hello. Welcome back to Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts. I’m Susan Şipal.

Fans have long speculated that Dumbledore may be an Animagi. Does JK Rowling give hints through Dougal the Demiguise as to what his animal may be? And if so, will we see him in this form through the upcoming Fantastic Beasts films?

I covered many theories like this in my book, Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts, and hope you’ll check it out.

The theory I present to you today is not mine but rather the brain child of Suvi Holm of Finland, one of the followers of this vlog. She shared it with me a few days ago, and the idea has grown on me so much, that I asked to present it here since she's not interested in doing a video herself.

As Suvi says, “Twinkly eyes, invisibility, craves sweets, seems to know future,” Dougal and Dumbledore seem to have a lot in common. They also share silvery hair, a wizened face, and blue eyes, as Dougal’s “flash a brilliant blue” (p. 211) when he is having a premonition. Could all these links indicate that Dougal is really Dumbledore in Animagus form? Or, is the characterization of Dougal designed to hint that Dumbledore's Animagi is a Demiguise?

As a Transfiguration professor, it would make sense that Dumbledore would be an Animagi, as Professor McGonagall is. We receive further hints that this may well be the case in the Transfiguration Today article floated across the screen of Fantastic Beasts. Above Dumbledore’s section regarding a Metamorphagus’ ability to vanish (which Suvi speculates may relate to Grindelwald), is the article: "How to Identify Unregistered and Unlawful Animagi."

Dumbledore told us all the way back in Philosopher’s Stone: "I don't need a cloak to become invisible.” (p. 213)

As a Demiguise, invisibility would come naturally, which would make flitting about Hogwarts unseen a whole lot easier. But this could also explain his knack for knowing what's happening all about the castle and his insight into the most probable future.

Suvi 's original theory is that Dougal IS Dumbledore. Which would mean that Dumbledore is present spying on both Newt and Grindelwald and would explain why Dougal is so eager to get out of that case all the time. She and I have discussed this possibility, and while I think this is a great theory, I’m inclined now to believe that Jo used the characterization of Dougal to give us hints towards Dumbledore's Animagi form. Perhaps that’s mostly because I would hate to lose Dougal as a character in himself.

We know we’ll be seeing Dumbledore in upcoming films. A much younger and gayer Dumbledore. Perhaps also a bit grayer still in his developing ethics. May we also find out other secrets which fans have longed to know? Will we see how he obtained Fawkes? Perhaps Dougal gives us a hint here as well in his careful babysitting of the Occamy. Maybe as a Demiguise, Dumbledore had more intimate trust with exotic, magical birds.

Another thing about Dougal that I’d like to point out is the special bond that seems to be developing between him and Jacob. Dougal is literally physically attached to Jacob for a good part of the scene with the Occamy. It's almost like he forsees that Jacob is a safe haven or that there is something special about this No-Maj who cares so much about magical creatures. I look forward to seeing what develops between Jacob and Dougal in future films.

For sure, I’ll be on the lookout for Dougal and any stray Demiguise sightings in upcoming films. Which, as Newt says, will only be spotted “with immense difficulty” (p. 185) We’ll have to keep an eye out for stray floating candy!

While I’m not sure if Dougal is Dumbledore, I’m highly convinced now that we will see Dumbledore as a Demiguise somewhere along the way.

Again, I wish to thank Suvi for sharing her theory with me.

As a reminder, you can still get my free ebook: Egyptian Myths in Harry Potter, containing nine of my favorite theories.

Just click on the link I’m providing above and in the description below. It also comes with discount coupons to my other books and on my story consulting services.

What do you think about Dougal and Dumbledore’s possible relation? I’d love to hear your theories. Please share your thoughts in the comments and be sure to subscribe. You can also find me online at these other places, though I’m most active on Twitter. Until next time!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Might Credence Barebone Run Away to Join the Circus in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2?

Have you wondered what will happen with Credence Barebone in Fantastic Beasts 2? We know he survives because we saw a wisp of Obscurus escape the subway station. Plus, Ezra Miller has already been announced in the returning cast. :-)

But, without a family and the Second Salemers, how is he to support himself? How will he get to Paris to be in the next film?

Here are my thoughts in this video, which is also on my YouTube channel. The transcript is pasted below.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


Hello and welcome back to Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts.I’m Susan Sipal.

We know from clues which producer David Heyman has dropped that Credence Barebone continues into the next film. But with his family all dead or gone, how will he support himself? And how’s he gonna get to Europe?

I think I’ve found a clue within the film itself. And it all starts with unlucky #13.

In a prior video, I analyzed Rowling’s Use of Unlucky #13 to mark key clues. Since then, I’ve found a very prominent placement of 13 in the setting of Fantastic Beasts.

This theory to follow is similar to those found in my most recent release, Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts. I hope you’ll check it out for even more clues.

As we approach the climax of the film, Graves walks past a particularly intriguing poster in an alley on his way to Credence, having been summoned by the Deathly Hallows necklace. It’s on a poster advertising the Circus Arcanus. Notice the prominent 13 begging our attention.

You can get a much better view of the poster on MinaLima’s website where they have a full-color advertisement that the newspaper it is based upon.

MinaLima are the graphics artists who designed for all eight Harry Potter films as well as Fantastic Beasts. They said in a recent interview, that some of the details they work into their material are direct from JK Rowling…but they won’t say what.

Notice some of the key details in this beautiful poster:
  • Circus Arcanus has been touring in New York during the course of the movie, which dates mostly around Dec 6-7
  • Their final show is on the 13th
  • Then they are leaving for Europe.

And we know already that the next film is based in Paris.

The Circus’ cast includes:
  • A snake girl
  • Borys the Brute hypnotist
  • Homo Amphibia

Surely some of these have some magical elements.

This so-called Freak Show reminds me of when “freak” was used previously in the film, with very nasty connotations.

Remember in the Shaw tower scene how the Senator called Credence a freak, twice? Once he directed it toward the family as a whole, and later to Credence specifically. The senator’s abuse showed the true nature of this politician and made Modesty react protectively toward her older brother.

Then there is the fact that the Circus is traveling to Europe. In an interview shortly after the release of Fantastic Beasts, Producer David Heyman said a scene had been cut that showed Credence getting on a ship. Could he have been bound for Europe? And might he have ended up on the same ship as the circus?

Credence is in desperate need of true friends. He may be drawn to the magic seemingly represented in Circus Arcanus. And to others suffering from society’s scorn and fascination.

He might feel that he’s found a true home with people like himself. And there may very well be a witch or wizard living within the Circus.
  • The Snake Girl could be a Slytherin Animagus
  • The Hypnotist using the Imperius curse.
  • And the Homo Amphibia may be a magical beast?

The Circus Arcanus may be nothing more than a decorative poster created by MinaLima, like the one in Deathly Hallows that hung in the Luchino Caffe where the trio dueled the Death Eaters after having fled from Bill and Fleur’s wedding. However, there is more to this one.
  • With the repetition of the word “freak,”
  • The circus poster leading to a pivotal scene,
  • The cut scene of Credence heading onto a ship,
  • The circus performers linked to magical elements (not just clowns as in the Deathly Hallows poster), plus they are heading to Europe,
  • And the theme of abuse of those outside society’s norms, especially children, there is just too much here to ignored.

And remember, that theme of abuse of children is one which is very important to Rowling. The concern that JK Rowling weaves into Fantastic Beasts for neglected and abused children is a reflection of her real-life crusade to help those that are institutionalized worldwide.

Lumos believes that no child should be denied a family because they are poor, disabled, or from an ethnic minority.

If you would like to support Jo’s foundation to help the millions of children in institutions, I hope you’ll click on the donate button and give to Lumos Foundation USA.

Please share your thoughts on Credence joining the circus in the comments. Also please subscribe and check out my playlist for more theories. Remember morevideos are on the way.

In the meantime, don’t forget to checkout Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts at Amazon or your local bookseller.

Until next time.

Monday, April 3, 2017

What Does Grindelwald Mean by "Will We Die, Just a Little?" in #FantasticBeasts and Where to Find Them? #YouTube

I've been having a lot of fun lately posting Fantastic Beasts theory videos on my YouTube channel. I find this medium very creative and the immediate response from viewers is great!

However, I've been slow to post these videos here, so I'm going to catch up this week. I'm posting my latest video below along with its transcript and hope you will check it out on YouTube. You can find my channel here.

Also, if any authors out there are using YouTube to further your reach, I'd love to know how it's going with you and will be glad to share some of my experience if you're interested.

What Does Grindelwald Mean by "Will We Die, Just a Little?" in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?


Hello. Welcome back to Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts. I’m Susan Şipal.

When I was working on my last video, “Is Newt Scamander a Spy?” I was suddenly struck by inspiration as to what Grindelwald might have meant by “Will we die, just a little?” Which we’re about to explore. But before I do, I ask that you stay tuned until the end of the video because I’m giving away a free Harry Potter fan theory ebook.

I covered many theories like this in my book, Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts, and hope you’ll check it out.

I’ve seen many theories of what Grindelwald meant by “Will we die, just a little?” (p. 257) But none of them sit right with me, including my earlier one that it relates to the Elder Wand. I don’t think it’s about a Horcrux, or the Hallows, or referring sexually to petite mort. And even though David Yates said yesterday that it’s about the journey and sacrifice both Grindelwald and Newt are about to embark on, I think that’s true only on one level.

Always remember, JK Rowling is intent upon keeping secrets, especially those that are important to the series. And this quote has a deeper meaning.

I believe the biggest clue to what Grindelwald means comes through the scene where he says it. And it revolves around the Obscurus.

To understand the relation better, we need to first understand what the Obscurus is.

Newt calls the Obscurus “a parasitical magical force” (p. 160). We’ve already seen that a skilled wizard can detach one from its human host, the Obscurial. The question is, if the Obscurus can be detached from one person, can it be reattached elsewhere?

By calling it a parasite, Jo implies this exact possibility. A parasite can be transferred from one living
host to another, as any pet owner can testify. Inside Newt’s case, we saw the environment the Obscurus was stored in, a frozen one. Almost as if it were put into a deep freeze. What would happen to it in a warm environment?

Grindelwald has also seen Newt’s Obscurus. He took a nip into Newt’s case when he had Newt and Tina imprisoned. He learned that Newt knows more about the Obscurus than he does. He heard that Newt has detached an Obscurus from another Obscurial, has witnessed that Newt knows how to store the Obscurus.

To defend himself to Tina, Newt says: “It cannot survive outside that box” (p. 159).

So the Obscurus needs to be either attached to an Obscurial, or kept in Newt’s deep freeze.

Newt also says it cannot harm anyone. Grindelwald clarifies: “So it’s useless
without its host?” (p. 159)

But, what if it could find another host? Perhaps a willing one? Perhaps a very mature, powerful, adult wizard.

I believe that in the films to come, both Grindelwald and Newt will seek to take on the Obscurus from Credence. And in so doing, perhaps die, just a little.

I think the whole purpose of showing Jacob with the Obscurus is to hint at this possibility. Why would Newt warn Jacob away from the Obscurus if he truly believed it were completely harmless? Newt’s sharp reprimand to Jacob to stay away hints at his fear that it could indeed reattach. Perhaps Newt doesn’t consider it likely because it has never happened. But then, he is the first wizard to detach one from an Obscurial, and he cannot be sure. So much of what is going on with the Obscurus is unknown. No one knew until Credence that an Obscurial could be an adult.

I believe Rowling made Credence an adult for a very specific reason, and it is to hint at the possibility of Grindelwald and Newt trying to take on the Obscurus themselves. If it were true that only a child could host this parasite, then they could not attempt it. But they and the viewer have seen through
Credence that an adult can host it, if he is very powerful and knows how to control it.

“You can control it,” Grindelwald says to Credence (p. 229). This is a very important point.

Because he is an adult, Credence has both more power than other Obscurials, and control. That massive power and control will appeal to Grindelwald.

Most Obscurials cannot control their Obscurus because they are children. We know how rare they are, as most witches and wizards believe they are extinct.

Tina says, “There hasn’t been one for centuries” (p. 150). But Newt immediately disputes that by telling about the girl he met in Sudan. Might no one have known of another Obscurial
who was kept well hidden many years before?

Many fans believe that Dumbledore’s sister, Ariana, was an Obscurial. Having witnessed her power, is probably the reason why Grindelwald is in New York…on the trail of an even rarer Obscurial.

Ariana couldn’t control her power. But Credence is unique. He is Grindelwald’s key to freedom, and
he will not let go.

“We’ll all be free,” he tells Credence (p. 89). If they find the Obscurus. And now Grindelwald has found two.

In considering the most likely meaning of “Will we die, just a little,” we must take into account what binds these three characters together the most: the Obscurus. Both Grindelwald and Newt share an immense interest in Credence. Gindelwald to use his powers to free himself and all wizards from what he sees as imprisonment under the Statute of Secrecy. Newt due to his driving concern to protect all magical creatures, and to save an Obscurial after he couldn’t before. And Tina was probably forbidden from being near the Second Salemers solely to keep her from finding out about Grindelwald’s interest in the Obscurus.

At the end, we see Tina, Newt, and Grindelwald fighting side by side to protect Credence, all claiming to want to help him, to free him. Newt is the only man who knows more about
the Obscurus than Grindelwald. And Tina, Grindelwald says, is always turning up where she’s least wanted.

The Obscurial is at the heart of this series and how those around Credence will seek to either help him or manipulate him for, perhaps for their own benefit.

One other point: Grindelwald has visions. He told Credence that he saw the Obscurial in close proximity to Credence’s mother and that it would be Credence who gained the child’s trust. However, Jo said on Twitter that while Grindelwald is indeed a Seer, he also lies about his visions.

Remember too, as discussed in my video: Could Credence’s Deathly Hallows Pendant Help Release Gindelwald from Prison?, Grindelwald probably possesses a direct link to Credence that will not only serve as a get out of jail free card, but reconnect him to this powerful Obscurial. Check the description below for a link to the video.

What I think happened is this: When Grindelwald was being escorted out, he had a blast of a vision. That’s why he stopped so abruptly. I’m guessing he saw a hint of him and Newt seeking to take on the Obscurus. Maybe he taunts Newt with it because he senses Newt’s involvement might be the only way he himself can figure out how to either harness Credence’s powers or attach the Obscurus to himself.

Note: Grindelwald is escorted out before Newt sees the wisp of Obscurus escaping the subway. But Grindelwald already saw the Obscurus in Newt’s case and knows that it can live without its host. I think Rowling timed the viewing of the wisp deliberately. If Grindelwald had seen the wisp, then said, “Will we die, just a little,” his meaning might have been too obvious.

Through all this there is one other relationship to consider. Tina and Newt form the perfect partnership in their concern for Credence – he is another link bringing them together as a couple.

Tina lost her job protecting Credence. And Newt will risk his life trying to save him. It is a powerful bond between them. I wonder, though, how Newt’s possible decision to take on the Obscurus would affect their relationship. Would Tina be supportive, or would Newt’s transformation drive a wedge between them? Unfortunately, we have so many years to wait for the rest of the movies to find out!

For over a dozen years, I have analyzed the secrets of JK Rowling’s wizarding world. I’ve presented workshops at home and internationally, written articles, and published books. Some of the secrets that I enjoyed discovering the most were the Egyptian myths Jo hid throughout the Harry Potter series.

I’ve pulled together nine of my favorite theories, written over many years, in this one collection that you can only get here. As you are fans as well, and to thank you for watching my videos, I’d love to share these theories with you for free and see what you think. All you have to do is click on the link I’m providing above and in the description below. You’ll be asked to subscribe to me on YouTube
if you don’t already, and you can choose to follow me on Twitter so you can always be up to date on my newest releases, latest giveaways, and most recent news for Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts fans. Then you’ll get the 42-page 9-theory PDF download. That’s it.

Oh, the download also comes with discount coupons to my other books: A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter, Teaching Harry Potter to Creative Writers, and Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts. Plus, a discount on my story consulting services. Just follow the links above and below. I hope you enjoy! And I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

What do you think about Grindelwald’s “Will we die, just a little?” Share your thoughts in the comments. I’ve got more videos coming, so be sure to subscribe. And remember to check the description below for links to "Is Newt a Spy" video, the free ebook, and any current giveaways.

Until next time!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tax Tips for Writers from CPA Lisa London + Bonus Offers!

Today I have a wonderful guest post from my good friend Lisa London. Lisa is a writer and CPA who is here to share some very useful tips for those of us stressing about how to do our taxes as writers. She's also celebrating the release of her new book geared to entrepreneurs and sole proprietors, like we writers usually are, to guide us step-by-step through everything we need to know about the bookkeeping side of our creative endeavors. As a special promotion, today only, Lisa is offering some great giveaways for those who purchase BANISH Your Bookkeeping Nightmares Check them out at the end of this post!

Tax Tips for Writers from CPA Lisa London

Writing is a business. Once we actually get paid more than $400 for our work, we are considered self-employed (or as the IRS likes to say, a Sole Proprietor). Wonder what that means to you?

First, it means you can no longer use the 1040 EZ or 1040 A (short form). To get the full benefit of being self-employed, you will file the regular 1040 with a Schedule C Profit or Loss From Business. The Schedule C is where you will show the income you received and the expenses that can be deducted.

Secondly, being considered a sole proprietor gives you the opportunity to deduct some expenses that you are already incurring so you can write. If you are in the 25% tax bracket (i.e. every additional dollar of net income is taxed at 25%), a deduction of $100 worth of paper and ink for your printer only actually costs you $75.

What are business expenses? Obviously, the IRS regulations can’t detail every possible expense for every business, but they still have guidelines and rules. You should stay out of trouble if you keep this in mind:
For an expense to be deductible, it must be both
necessary and reasonable!

If you are debating about whether something is deductible, ask yourself, “Is it necessary for my business?” If the answer is yes, then ask yourself if you could explain to an auditor why your purchase was reasonable. That is not to say a particular auditor will agree with you, but at least you would have a case to make.

For example, it may be necessary to keep track of the time, but it is not considered reasonable to expense a Rolex to do so. You may like to write in a secluded place, but charging your trip to the Virgin Islands is a bit of a stretch. If however, you are writing a travel piece, then going to the location for research may be deductible. Again, think “necessary and reasonable.”

Home Office:
I’ll highlight a few expenses that are deductible. If you write out of your home, you may be able to utilize the home office deduction. This used to be a real pain to compute, but the IRS now offers a simplified method. Basically, you take the square footage of your dedicated space (please note the word “dedicated”) and multiply it by $5. There are limits and exceptions, so check out

Your mileage to seminars, book signings, the post office (for business purposes only), meeting with your editor, etc. is deductible at a rate of 54 cents per mile for your 2016 return and 53.5 cents per mile for 2017. In order to take this deduction, you need to document the miles driven. Keep a log in your glove compartment or download a free app like MileIQ that uses your phone’s GPS to track your trips.

When you travel overnight for your business, you can deduct 50% of the cost of meals and entertainment. You can use the Federal Per Diem rates that is listed by geographical area at for the meals and incidentals if you don’t want to have to keep track of all the receipts. And if you are especially frugal, you may find these especially advantageous if you spend less than the federal guidelines. Remember, though, you can still only deduct 50% of the per diem amount.

Research Costs:
Research costs are also deductible. This includes books you purchase to make certain your setting is correct, give you the background you need for your historical fiction, or writer’s guides to better word choices. I know my daughter became a bit concerned about my purchases when I was writing my WWII novel.—“Mom, why are you reading the Wit and Wisdom of Adolf Hitler???”, but an IRS auditor could understand that it was necessary and reasonable.

Your home telephone is not deductible, but long distance calls for business and/or a second line are. Your cell phone may be expensed if it is used for the business and not the primary line for the home especially if it is crucial to your business, i.e. you ship books from a mobile app to customers.

We all should have websites. The costs of hosting, design, any e-commerce fees, etc. are all deductible.

But there are responsibilities, too. Be sure that you report all the income you receive via your 1099s. The 1099 Miscellaneous forms will have your royalties and any freelance type income. The 1099K will show any income received via credit cards through another company (i.e. Amazon, your e-commerce credit card processor, etc.)

Even if you do not receive a 1099, report the income. If the person who forgot to send you the 1099 sends it to the IRS later, they will tie it back to your return. One of the primary reasons people get audited is not reporting all their taxable income.

Quarterly Estimated Taxes:
If your income exceeds your expense, YEAH! But you may need to start filing quarterly estimated taxes. The reason for this is that as a self-employed person, you don’t have a boss withholding the federal, state, Social Security, or Medicare taxes and the government doesn’t want to wait for the end of the year to receive them.

To make things worse, being the boss means you have to pay both the employer and the employee portion of the Social Security and Medicare taxes. At the beginning of each year, you will estimate the amount of tax you expect to owe. Over the course of the year, you will need to pay 90% of that amount in four payments. I walk you step by step through estimating your taxes and filing the quarterly forms in my new guide. By the way, I highly recommend putting back 1/12th of the annual estimated amount each month into a savings account, so you will have the cash available when the money becomes due.

I know it seems overwhelming, but keeping track of your finances and computing your taxes does have a “necessary and reasonable” aspect to it. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the required filings and, if you’ll excuse the shameless self-promotion, read BANISH Your Bookkeeping Nightmares—The Go-To Guide for the Self-Employed to Save Money, Reduce Frustration, and Satisfy the IRS. Being a writer myself, I include many examples of specific tips and deductions for writers.

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  • Head into next year — realize how to use your budget to track cash flow. Plan for the growth of your business with all the information at your fingertips.

You’ll save hours of time, reduce stress, find ways to automate time consuming and boring processes, and overcome your fear of IRS requirements so you can focus on making your business blossom.

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Lisa London, CPA is known worldwide as The Accountant Beside You. She has spent three decades working in public accounting as an auditor and small business consultant with Deloitte & Touche, LLP, in corporate accounting as a director of finance for a division of Kodak, Inc., and as a consultant with venture capital and small businesses and nonprofits.

She began writing her books after helping her church with an accounting system conversion. Lisa found very limited resources to help the office staff and volunteers understand their basic accounting requirements. She realized that if her church needed guidance, other churches probably did too.

That aha moment led her to create The Accountant Beside You series of resources. Her first book, QuickBooks for Churches and Other Religious Organizations, is being used on six continents and has been translated into Spanish.

When she’s not working on accounting books or spending time with her husband and four children, Lisa enjoys sneaking away to write historical fiction. Her debut novel, Darker the Night, which tells the story of a young woman growing up in Hitler’s Germany from the perspective of a German civilian, has become a popular selection for book clubs.

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