It was on the gritty, carpet floor of my grade three classroom that I first met Harry Potter. It was nearing the end of term; our teacher had lazily slapped a VHS into the machine and was fanning herself at the back of the classroom. In between jostling for a prime viewing space and tickling the boy I liked, I watched in awe as plumes of snowy white clouds billowed from the Hogwarts Express and an entire ginger family disappeared into a solid brick wall. The bell rang, school ended, but Harry Potter stayed in my mind.
A bad case of pneumonia caught me that summer holidays and I feverishly made my way through the books. When I returned to school I boastfully told all my friends I’d read all of Order of the Phoenix in only three days. Every day we filled our lunchtimes with heated discussions about potential plot outcomes and Latin pronunciation; a hoard of ten-year-old girls debating whether “accio” was “ass-ee-oh” or “ack-ee-o” and “Cyrus vs. Sirius”.
By grade five my obsession had reached such extreme heights, that at the tender age of eleven, my friends at I crafted a raunchy story where Professor Trelawney had a severe makeover and Harry fell madly in love with her. Needless to say we also wrote ourselves into the midst of the confusing smut – Australian transfer students, all crippling beautiful and potent kryptonite to Harry Potter’s steely heart.
It’s painful to admit, but around the time I was thirteen I entered into the world of fan fiction, where I lived for several years to follow. To this day I shudder to think of my parents reading my thinly veiled Marauders–Era erotica, weakly hidden in a file named “FOR LAURA” on our shared family computer.
Summers passed sprawled out on my grandmother’s living room floor, writing character biographies and mapping out plots. It was the first time I remembered feeling the “power of creative writing”, like I was doing God’s work; making these lives and moulding them however I pleased. It was so easy to work in this wonderful, semi-established universe, more magical than anything I could ever dream of.
It is to Harry Potter that I now owe my job title of “hospitality worker/freelance writer”. I grew to love writing and grew to love reading. I discovered the terms “Mary-Sue” and “cliché” and although that never stopped me running with my cliché-Mary-Sue ideas, at least I was learning. When high school was over and big decisions about life had to be made, I decided to study creative writing – a choice that I’ve been happy with so far in.
My story is not an unusual one and my love affair with this magical world certainly nothing unique. However, I will always be endlessly thankful to the battered, dog-eared and tear-stained pages of my Harry Potter books for coaching me through life in those formative years. Fan fiction, as skin-crawlingly embarrassing as it may be to admit to, helped me to find a passion for words and as J.K. Rowling herself would say; “words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic”.