My Friend, J.K.

I talk a lot about books. I’ve read widely, written about the books that changed my life. Each July 31, though, I return to the most important series of my life, the books that started it all: Harry Potter. I grew up in the era of Harry Potter. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at age nine and continued to read with quasi-religious fervor until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at age sixteen. I was always just a couple years behind Harry and company in age, the perfect recipe for adoration. For those of you well versed in Harry Potter lore, July 31 marks Harry’s birthday; he shares a birthday with his creator, J.K. Rowling.

J.K. Rowling was, and still is, my idol. I worshipped her. Although I loved her imagination as a child, I now admire her continued dedication to writing and to building a post-Harry Potter career on her own terms. She hasn’t entirely left Harry behind, as evidenced by her recent short story, but she has also moved forward.

In my experience, growing up involves knowing when and how to let go. Seven years later, I’m still not sure how to let Harry Potter go.

I was a deeply obsessive child (who grew into a mildly obsessive adult) and Harry Potter provided an outlet for some of my obsessive energy. I pored over each and every book for clues to future plotlines; I read Mugglenet forums and visited The Leaky Cauldron. At the release party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I was kindly asked to bow out of the trivia game after winning dozens of prize tickets; no one else could get a response in edgewise.

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Harry Potter marked a lot of firsts for me. It was the first book I ever loved violently, the first book that made me consider being a writer, the first book I turned to when lonely or sad. As depicted above, Harry Potter also provided the premise of my first CNN interview, which took place at the movie theatre at Universal Studios at the first showing of the Harry Potter movie. I displayed my signature– and chic– style of turtleneck, geeky shirt and windbreaker tied around my waist.

I dressed up for Halloween as Rita Skeeter and Fleur Delacour. Though I identified most with Hermione (shocking no one), I hated the prepackaged costumes everyone else wore for Halloween. They, half-hearted muggles, seemed to bastardize my pure love for the series. (In another “fun fact,” my fourteen-year-old self estimated that I had re-read each book somewhere between 15 and 20 times. My copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sports a broken spine and loose pages.) I even visited Chipping Sodbury, the birthplace of J.K. Rowling, on a trip to England.

Kaitlin at Chipping Sodbury

I pulled my first all-nighters reading Harry Potter books retrieved from the bookstore at midnight.

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Because I could go on like this forever, I will simply say that the Harry Potter series was the first batch of books I ever really fell in love with, and I’ll be chasing the feeling of reading them for the first time for the rest of my life. Maybe someday I’ll have the honor of editing a book that gives me the same joy as cracking open the latest Harry Potter installment at midnight.

So Happy Birthday, Harry. Happy Birthday, J.K. Rowling. As I say every year, I am forever in your debt.

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Comments
2 Responses to “My Friend, J.K.”
  1. CC says:

    Lovely post, Kaitlin, but somehow I am not surprised by your Harry Potter tale! 😉 Denisa is currently in England and just finished a two week program at Oxford and Cambridge. One of the things she was most looking forward to was the Harry Potter walking tour in Oxford. She texted one evening with great excitement that she had won a “real” wand! Apparently, there was some “sudden death” match at the end of the trivia game, which she equated to something that happened in HP (I’m sure you know what she’s referring to) and ultimately, she was the winner! Almost 17 years old and just as ecstatic to win a wand as she would have been 10 years ago…I’m sure you can relate. 🙂

    • Kait says:

      I can totally relate! Sounds like Denisa is having a fantastic time. I’m eager to get to Scotland to see some of J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for myself.

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