One of the English teachers made their students read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone which caused a wildfire of Harry Potter mania amongst us. People were running around telling the other half of the sixth grade body that we were Muggles and they began shouting incantations. A couple conjured up wands out of nowhere. We read in the news about how parents bought the books only to burn them. People cried that this was the devil’s work! Magic doesn’t exist! I, being my awesome eleven-year-old self, rolled my eyes and assured my parents that this was all a fad and it would pass within a year or two. Sure, I was curious about the books, but I refused to touch them because they were popular and please, I’m independent and refuse to purchase anything that the cool kids are into (my parents thought I was impossible). All of that changed at a book fair my school was hosting. It was buy 1, get 1 free and well, nothing else seemed too appealing so why not try these Harry Potter books which I’m sure I won’t get hooked on?I was hooked by the end of chapter 1. I locked myself in my room and refused to come out unless it was absolutely necessary. Though I told my parents that I was fine with not eating because it would cut into my reading time, they put their foot down and forced me to eat at the table (the cruelest thing they’ve ever done!) J.K. Rowling had managed to do something that no other author at that time had done: She had managed to take me away from everything. I suddenly found myself looking out the windows, wondering if an owl was going to show up with my Hogwarts letter because I was sure I was destined for that place. I’m still waiting. Not a lot of authors are capable of making millions of people run out at midnight to buy their books. Of course with a movie deal on the way, it helps a book reach superstar status for a few weeks and then it fizzles away. I still can’t tell you who the author of The Descendants is nor would I be able to tell you that I had even heard of The Lucky One before I saw the trailers on television. J.K. Rowling is truly magical. Parents want their children to read and she wrote something that children wanted to read. She single-handedly made an entire generation scramble to the bookstores for each new installment, dressed as wizards and witches. People who never considered themselves as nerds or geeks suddenly found themselves talking about Parseltongue and mandrakes and dragons and Quidditch.
She had a remarkable effect on me. I never thought that I’d enjoy reading fantasy. I’ve always leaned more toward contemporary works like Island of the Blue Dolphins and Little Women. But J.K. Rowling managed to sweep me away. I realized then and there that those were the kinds of books I wanted to write — books that transport the reader away from reality to help them get away; to escape. I’m not trying to write the next Harry Potter and I doubt that’s what she has in mind for her next novel. But what I am trying to capture is that same magic she instilled upon me. If anyone said I had an inkling of her talent, I’d be on cloud nine for sure.