By some twist of fate, I was allowed to read the Harry Potter series as a kid. Which I still find shocking. I’m pretty confident that I was the ONLY person who grew up in ATI that actually had permission to read that series. Allowed to actually own the books. Books my parents paid for until I was old enough to pay for them myself.
[Technically, I read the first book in secret.]
The girl next door and I were allowed to be friends, and we were both avid readers. Her mom bought her Sorcerers Stone shortly after its US release, and I read the book over a couple of weeks at her house. We were obsessed. Once my birthday came around, Chamber of Secrets had been released and she gave it to me as a present. I was both excited and terrified. Excited because holy shit, what was Harry going to get into next?
I was terrified because the pastor at our church had already started the whole “Harry Potter-is -leading-children-to-witchcraft” campaign. LUCKILY for the relationship between me and Mr. Potter(did you read that in Alan Rickman’s voice?), I got lucky.
A girl we met through a homeschool group, let’s call her Becky With The Good Hair, ALSO read Harry Potter. Now, Becky With The Good Hair was home schooled BY CHOICE. As in, it was her PERSONAL CHOICE to be home schooled. Which honestly, always annoyed the shit out of me. But, that’s neither here nor there.
ANYWAY, so Becky With The Good Hair was soon to be homeschooled. We met because her mom was thinking about transitioning and wanted to connect with someone whom she could bounce questions and concerns off of. And somehow my mom and Becky’s mom were introduced, and they introduced us. Becky eventually decided she wanted to go back to public school…but the next year committed to being home schooled.
So Becky heard the buzz about Harry Potter, and although her family was very Southern Baptist, her mom was open minded. Before casting Harry Potter off as Satanist fodder, Becky’s mom read Sorcerer’s Stone. And guess what? She LOVED it. She felt that it was no different than The Chronicles of Narnia, even possibly possessing some Christian undertones.
My dad accepted her opinion on the subject, and Harry Potter got to stay. Honestly, Harry Potter kept me sane, or at least from being hopelessly depressed. There was always a new book about to be released, a new movie adaption to go see…There wasn’t a whole lot of happiness growing up, but somehow, even though Harry was just a character(and not even my favorite character), he got through it so…
Maybe I could get through this, too. My crazy, abnormal life I was thrown into. Harry understood what I was feeling when I had no one to talk to. No one to relate to. No one to really confide in. Harry was an outsider. I was an outsider. It worked. He escaped. And while I wasn’t old enough to escape, it gave me something to look forward to as I would transition from child to young adult.
In high school, I started writing terrible articles on Harry Potter fan websites. I started to write equally awful Fan Fiction as well. And while those pieces that I wrote 15 years ago embarrass me now, it was a starting point. A point of hope, and a sense of direction that just maybe this writing thing was something that I wanted to pursue forever.
For better or worse:
Books are powerful. Novels have the capability to change hearts, minds, and lives. Anyone who writes, regardless of if they are ever published by one of the big publishing companies or are on the NY Times Best Seller list, is courageous.
So have courage. Keep writing. Your words MEAN something. They are worthy. They are important. Books have the capacity to change the world.
What Book(s) changed your life as a kid?
What inspired you to be a writer?