In honor of all things Harry Potter, I want to take this opportunity – on this special day, September 1st! – to talk about the significant role HP has played in my life. Very few of my vivid childhood memories come from before the age of 7 or 8, which means that JK Rowling ‘s work was present through all of the important years of my growing up. The first movie came out when I was 11 and the last book came out the summer before my senior year of high school, just after my 17th birthday. Emma Watson, the girl who played Hermione Granger, is only two months older than I am. Was I the exact age-range Rowling had targeted, or what?
That idea of boarding a train to leave your normal world behind has been with me since the first time I ever read Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone when I was in third grade (1998). I wasn’t one of those kids who expected a letter from Dumbledore on my 11th birthday, hoping to go to Hogwarts and escape reality, but still the thought clung to me throughout my teens and into college. Even though I wasn’t writing my own fiction during my teens, I was reading hungrily – devouring any kind of book I could get my hands on, and constantly re-reading HP. Maybe all that reading without writing for so many years explains the flood of ideas I have now. Maybe all that exposure to Latin at a young age through Rowling’s work led me to Classics.
So today I write, because we might not be able to get to Kings Cross in London, might not be magical enough to go through the barrier to Platform 9 and 3/4, might not have our trunks packed and be ready to leave by 11am on the Hogwarts Express – but we still have our books to call us back into that world… and so many thousands of other books to take us on different rides with other people to strange and wonderful lands.