Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Love Letter (Of Sorts) To J.K. Rowling

The date for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II looms on the horizon.  Pottermore is becoming a new term in my personal lexicon of squee-worthy words.  It’s official – I’m once again gripped with Pottermania.  *dons Hogwarts robes and Gryffindor scarf*  I’ve been thinking a lot about how grateful I am that Harry came into my life, and why.  Then I got to thinking how I’d love to send J.K. Rowling a thank-you note for all her hard work in bringing Harry and the Wizarding World to life.  But of course I don’t know her personal address, so I decided to do the next best thing – I’d send her an open letter.

Dear Ms. Rowling:

When Order of the Phoenix came out, it was all my little figure skating students could talk about.  I had heard of Harry Potter, of course; I‘d even seen the movies (The Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets).  But until that time, I hadn’t seen what the big deal was.  Book 5, though, seemed to stir up something so frenzied in all the kids that I became curious.  I bought all the books leading up to the fifth, and plowed through them in TWO DAYS.  When the fifth book came out, I was waiting in line at midnight like everyone else.

I was hooked.     

So many things came into my life because of your books, not the least of which was Harry and his wonderful world.  This magical world you created was so vivid and the characters were so real that I fell in love.  In fact, I became SUCH a fan I couldn’t contain all my thoughts and theories.  I had to talk to somebody about how I believed Snape had secretly been in love with Lily (I was right), and how I was certain that because the Gryffindor Sword went to Harry, he MUST be a descendent of Godric (I was wrong).  But no one in my circle of friends was as insane as I was about investigating HP stuff as if the very secret to life itself was hidden somewhere between the lines.  So I went online. 

Here is where Harry changed my life.

I never used to be computer-oriented.  Before HP came along, I never gave online communities a thought.  People who chatted online were nerds.  Shut-ins.  Creepers.  Whatever.  So with that attitude, I had no intention of entering into anything when I stumbled onto a website called HPANA.  I wanted to read what other fans theorized, sure, but I wasn’t going to join them.  Then I found the Wizarding War thread, and it was like finding my long-lost family.

A few Wizard Warriors at The Knight Bus, NY
I joined in.  The first person who greeted me (Cher-Bear, my sweet Southern Belle), warned me that I’d be sucked in if I stuck around.  The second person who said hi (Joris, our group’s graphic artist and my go-to guy when I’ve forgotten something [which is all the time]), suggested I read the rules of their online castle before I jumped into the deep end.  And the WW thread WAS the deep-end.  Amazingly enough, I had landed in the most hardcore, brainy, fiercely aggressive theory-based thread on the entire site right from the beginning.  I had found my home without even trying.

This was no kiddie HP thread.  Page-long posts were encouraged, and bad-spelling/punctuation was frowned upon out of respect for you, Ms. Rowling.  As a result, most of the posters were adults, with a handful of scary-genius older teens who could more than keep up with us (Joris, Emmitt, Mari, the Neils, May, Mandey and Ben come to mind – terrifyingly brilliant, all).  I personally learned how to do all sorts of things on the computer I had never even known about, thanks to Neil and Joris (if they can walk this poor old dinosaur through the process of how to embed a link into text, they can do anything). We got to know each other so well that we missed each other when someone didn’t post for a few days.  Christmas cards and personal photos were exchanged.  Birthdays were day-long celebrations.  And when the final book was released, many of us met in New York to attend the midnight release party at Scholastic – some of them coming all the way from Australia to be with the HPANA family (love you Andrea and BrioNI!).

I drifted away from HPANA once all the HP secrets had been revealed and I had nothing left to theorize over (I admit it – I went into a phase of mourning that HP was no more).  A year or two later I joined Facebook on a lark.  I probably would have abandoned my FB page if Joris hadn’t found me.  Before I knew it, I was back in the warm embrace of my online family.
Have you ever seen happier people? Finally, the last book!

We’re still together, The High Wizard Court of HPANA’s WW thread.  And there’s been a fantastic offshoot of our mutual interest in the written word – a couple of us have become published (gnargles&snorkaks, aka Tami Hart, aka Hart Johnson), and more are trying.  We’re all going to make it, I have no doubt in my mind, because we’ll always be there for one another.  We cheer each other on, help each other out when we can, celebrate like drunken monkeys whenever something good happens in someone’s life, and we’re united against any setback that might take place even though we are scattered throughout the world. 

So thank you, Ms. Rowling.  In writing your books you gave me the gift of not just one magical world, but two.  I will always love HP, and I’ll always be a Wizard Warrior.

JustHarry of HPANA
Stacy Gail, Author


  1. It was the first place on HPANA that I stumbled into, too, strangely enough. The title just sounded more... discussiony and less frivolous. I'm pretty sure I jumped in with something about the paired mirrors.

    You know I feel about this batch of peeps and the sublime Ms. Rowling like you do. My entire life course has changed. Man, I wish I'd been able to do that NYC thing.

  2. We missed you so much, Tam. I absolutely fell in love with Jelly and Courtney, Jay and Babs -- oh hell, EVERYONE. But Briony and Andrea coming all that way to celebrate the seventh book's with their fellow WW peeps... that was what showed me how much of a family we are. :)

    HPANA and Harry have played such a huge role in my life. And none of it would have existed if J.K. Rowling hadn't put pen to paper. I'm just so grateful. <3

  3. Years ago, I stumbled into a similar family through the works of Mercedes Lackey. We've all been friends for 15 years now, and still get together at least once a year to hang out. I can't imagine the person I'd be, without those friends, and I have an author and a series of silly books about talking white horses to thank for it.