Avid readers are usually the first to discover wonderful little known treasures and then have full bragging rights of “I told you to read that 2 years ago.” when the book blows up into a monumental success. I never got to have those bragging rights with Harry Potter. I was, in fact, extremely late to the party.
Of course I knew about Harry Potter. The first time I heard of it was when Sting arrived on the red carpet with his children and said they couldn’t wait to see Philosophers Stone because they had been reading the books as a family. Hm, a book Sting reads with his kids? Sounds interesting. I put it on my “to read” list.
But I didn’t get around to it straight away. In fact, I didn’t get around to it until the release of the final book. Shocking. I know.
I would read about my friends attending release parties. I am a fan of such parties so I fully applauded their dedication. Still, I didn’t have time to read all these books. I would “get to it later.”
Then something happened almost on accident. My daughter sent me a Sorting Hat quiz. I had a vague idea of what the Sorting Hat was, since Harry Potter mania was everywhere – I at least knew the basics. I took the quiz and got Slytherin. My friend Becky commented she was surprised since I am so much like Hermione. “Explain.” I asked. She replied “Hermione and you have a lot in common. You both study very hard. You both hang around with more boys than girls, but you don’t want people to forget you’re a girl. She is really loyal to her friends and she will stand up for what she believes in.” I smiled. This is certainly part of how I see myself. So the hat quiz was wrong since I am clearly Hermione who belonged to the house of Gryffindor.
Later that night I talk to my daughter and tell her Becky said I am like Hermione. My daughters reply was “A bossy know-it-all?” .. .. .. well that was certainly NOT the description Becky gave. Admittedly I am also a bossy know-it-all, but I had to get to the bottom of this Hermione thing.
Deathly Hallows had been released less than 2 full days when I Wiki’d Hermione. I know, I know, in hindsight that was a rather bad place to go. Still, most people on the net (read: except for a few douchebags) were kind enough to post spoiler alerts. I somehow forgot how some people are not so kind. So I dove into the article in Wikipedia about Hermione. I found out EVERYTHING about her. Even the end of the 7th book.
I didn’t realize at the time that I had read the ending. I skipped on over to the Houses section. By definition I was clearly Slytherin. I had some traits of the other houses, but when it came to it – I was Slytherin. I went back to the Hermione article and clicked the link to Lupin, who had caught my eye earlier. I nearly fell in love with him there on the spot. It was there that I realized I had read the ending. I clicked out of the browser fast.
That weekend I went to my sisters. She had the first few books and I borrowed them. I knew how the story ended, now I needed to know how they go to the ending. I read the two she loaned me but couldn’t wait to borrow the rest so I bought them. I read them like a starving person. I was so hooked.
The fandom came hard and fast for me. It was like I had been a fan forever. The complex worlds, the deep characters – it was just so amazing. I, like the rest of the world, wanted to go to Hogwarts.
Then I began to really explore more of the fandom by attending the Yule Ball at Dragon*con. I met some wonderful people there. People I still look forward to seeing every year.
I met people in another online place I went to. Some of those wonderful witches are still my friends to this day. I don’t know them in the flesh, but online. Still, online friendships can be very intense and very fulfilling. I love those girls.
Something about Harry Potter is that I get to indulge fully into the fandom. Like my Star Wars obsession, there are conventions, music, people playing dress up.. even other people who will do bad fake European accents with me when we are in costume.
I have attended midnight opening premieres in my tiny town with a very large group of friends on more than one occasion. For the Half Blood Prince premiere I even made the front page (Slytherin takes down a Ravenclaw!) of the newspaper. We take two rows of seats when we fill the theater. My Harry Potter peeps are amazing.
I tell my children that some day they can tell their children how they saw Harry Potter on the big screen at premiere openings. It’s an experience their children will not have (unless we some day get prequels! But that’s another blog.) I feel blessed to have seen Star Wars when it originally came, and now Harry Potter. I may have missed some things along the way (book release parties, the first few movies) but overall I still got to participate in this fandom. It is something I just hold so dear.
As a writer with a little world in my head, I sometimes try to imagine how emotionally overwhelming it is for Lady Rowling. The moments of seeing your characters come to life, seeing your world in full color on a screen 30 feet high, it must be the most amazing feeling in the world. I think I would cry of happiness all the time. But more so, one of my goals as a writer is to have other people fall in love with my characters as much as I love them. I want people to cry when they do, laugh when they do.. and Jo has achieved that. We love Harry and Hermione and Ron and Neville and Remus just as much as she does. That is what it’s all about. The money must be nice, but that isn’t all there is to it. It is so much more. She brought us a world that we love so passionately. Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, The Burrow, Malfoy Manor, all of those things are a gift to us. It is a gift that nobody can ever take away. It is a gift that will never get lost, never get chewed up by the puppies, never be stolen by an ex who “forgot” to return it. It is ours. Harry and his world will forever remain.