Monday, January 29, 2018

Going Home Again with Harry Potter

Ever since I discovered Harry Potter in my mid-20s, I've never stopped reading it for more than a few months. Whether it's the UK editions or the French or the new illustrated volumes, picking up Harry Potter is like going home again. Great books, either for children or adults, give us a sense of belonging and comfort, while at the same time challenging us to see the world in new, magical ways.
My love of Harry Potter is what inspired me to become a writer, and I hope to emulate at least one tiny piece of J.K. Rowling's magic in every book I write. Much of her magic, however, remains a mystery to me. Like how she makes readers care so deeply about her characters. Perhaps it's the way she introduces them and immediately tugs at our heartstrings, like Dumbledore, who despite being a formidable wizard, is immediately likable thanks to his mild demeanor and his weakness for sherbet lemons. This is similar to Hagrid, who, although he breaks down a door and appears like a wild man, his eyes “glinting like black beetles,” proceeds to ask for a cup of tea and offer Harry his first ever birthday cake (50).

Even her minor characters are introduced with whimsy and the utmost attention to detail. For example, from The Chamber of Secrets: “Gilderoy Lockhart came slowly into view, seated at a table surrounded by large pictures of his own face, all winking and flashing dazzlingly white teeth at the crowd. The real Lockhart was wearing robes of forget-me-not blue which exactly matched his eyes…(63).” What a perfectly endearing way for us to meet a character whose vanity will eventually lead to his downfall.

There's so much to say about the many-layered world that J.K. Rowling has created, but I want to come back to the most important aspect for me: the sense of coming home. Like most people, my head isn't always a happy place to live in, but I know that whenever I need to escape or calm down I can slip into the wondrous world of Harry Potter, where love triumphs over evil, where surprises hide around every corner and where larger-than-life characters feel more like old friends. If I can one day write something that gives readers that same sense of going home again, of finding a pleasant and necessary escape, then I will have truly accomplished my goal as a writer.

Hogwarts, Castle, Harry Potter, Osaka
 (Quotes from the 2014 UK paperback editions)

1 comment:

Shari Green said...

This reminds me...I'm due for another re-read. ;-) Love this post, and love how HP inspires you.