Fan of the Year - Linda
First off, how did you become a Harry Potter fan?
Over the years as my students arrived at school with each and every Harry Potter book, they asked me, "Are you reading this book, Mrs. S?" Somewhat embarrassed, I had to admit to them that I was not sharing the joy they were experiencing in the novels of J. K. Rowling. Even though I encouraged them to keep reading and praised them for their dedication to Harry Potter, I spent every waking moment either teaching or preparing for my lessons. When I added in the time it took to take care of my family and my home, my reading-for-pleasure time was non-existent. Then came the wonderful gift of retirement! My first-born daughter, Kerry, had read every Harry Potter book, had seen every Harry Potter movie to date, and had visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with her husband and 3 sons. When she heard that my husband and I were planning a trip to Orlando in January of 2011, she insisted that we go to Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. Kerry advised me to read the first few books before we went, in order to become familiar with the characters and to gain better appreciation of the park. So began my quest! I started with watching movies 1, 2, and 3. Then I progressed to reading books 1, 2, and 3. Next, came The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As I walked around the corner to enter J. K. Rowling’s "imagination come to life", I saw the Hogwart’s Express poring steam, the famed stores of Hogsmeade, and hundreds of people dressed as witches, wizards, and even some as He Who Should Not Be Named. My eyes filled with tears, my pulse quickened, and the hair on my arms stood straight up. Yes . . . I am 61 . . . and was surprised at how overcome with emotion I became. My favorite moment was when we entered Ollivander’s Wand Shop and witnessed a wand choosing a young witch. I will never forget the look on that little girl’s face . . . PRICELESS! I loved our visit to Harry’s Wizarding World, and upon returning from vacation, I was hooked and could not wait to finish the series. I devoured the movies and books from years 4, 5, and 6, taking only 9 days to accomplish all of this. At last, I was ready for book 7. My daughter and I put a date on the calendar to view The Deathly Hallows Part One as soon as it came out on video, and I immediately began to read the final chapters in Harry’s journey. Mesmerized by each of the puzzle pieces falling into place, and anxious to discover the outcome, I read voraciously, finishing the last book in just 2 days. I then met with my daughter for our special Mother/Daughter movie day. As much as I have LOVED each book and movie, there is something GREATER in all of this. Kerry and I have shared a bond over Harry Potter that I will cherish forever. After reading past midnight many nights, I would wake early to call her and discuss the latest chapters. She would answer all of my questions without divulging information that would spoil anything for me. We would debate issues that we disagreed on, like whether or not Wormtail ever repaid his "life debt" to Harry. We shared exuberant conversations, laughter, tears (especially over the untimely demise of Hedwig), and precious moments I will always treasure. I sat right by her side for the first viewing of The Deathly Hallows Part Two, no longer just an ordinary Muggle. I am a FAN!
If you had the opportunity to meet J. K. Rowling, what is one question you would ask her?
If I had the immense pleasure of sitting down to tea with J. K. Rowling, I would hesitate to ask any questions. I would just LISTEN! I would love to hear her own personal story . . . how she grew up, her journey of becoming a writer, her thoughts on being a mother and wife, how she is coping with the fame, and her thought processes when creating Harry and all the other amazing characters in her books. I pray that she would smile from ear to ear as she rejoiced in sharing with me that she had conquered her own personal dementors.
It’s your fifth year at Hogwarts, and man is it going to be tough! OWLs are at the end of the year, and you’re nervous, especially for . . .
My least favorite class is definitely History of Magic with Professor Binns. Being a ghost, he seems to be in his own world, with little or no interest in his students. His lectures are long and boring, and they put us to sleep every time. He does not interact WITH the students, instead, he teaches AT them. He can’t even bother to remember their names. This is not the kind of teacher I ever wanted to have, and hopefully, never the kind of teacher I would become.
You’ve met with your Head of House and started to talk about your future after Hogwarts. What careers are you considering and why??
This question is a real no-brainer for me, since two of my greatest passions in life are teaching and gardening. I would surely pursue a career in teaching Herbology at Hogwarts. I love my vegetable garden, my flowers, and my landscaping. When all else around me fails, and daily stresses become overwhelming, I know just where to go to find peace in my life . . . my garden. I put on my overalls, grab a pruning shears, don my gardening gloves and my sun hat, and head outside for some horticultural therapy. I could relate to Professor Sprout in many ways. First of all, she has gray hair and is squat. Hello . . . did you see my photo? Second, as Head of House for Hufflepuff, she is loyal, just, and hard working . . . all traits I admire so much. Third, she is politically active, wanting fairness and justice. She opposed Lord Voldemort during the Second Wizarding War, and she opposed Dolores Umbridge and her tyranny over Hogwarts Academy. I bristled when Dolores told her students, "It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about." Ughhh . . . I have met too many administrators and teachers that bought into this ridiculous philosophy! Professor Sprout’s convictions and actions were reminiscent of my college years in the late 60's, as I marched on campus in protest of the day’s injustices. I would do anything to protect my school and my students! So, RIGHT ON, Professor Sprout! I would definitely join Dumbledore’s Army! Fighting "The Establishment" is in my "Hippie" blood!
OMG! You have your first crush! Would you use a Love Potion, Impressive Magic (ie: Francis the Fish), or a singing cherub to win them over? ?
A love potion? Absolutely not! Did we not learn anything from Merope?!?! Trickery should never be used to entice a possible love interest. Singing Cherubs? Are you kidding me . . . too Hallmark for my taste! Even though I am 61, I still remember my first crush. It still evokes fond memories of a time in my teenage years when I was learning how to deal with my emerging emotions. My choice would be impressive magic. I loved how Lily used Francis the Fish to make an impression on Slughorn, giving him a bowl with a few inches of water and lily petals floating on top. As they sank, the petals turned into a living, breathing fish . . . beautiful magic, wondrous to behold, and very touching. I believe love should be presented as an unconditional gift of self. There is one main difference in how I view this gift . . . my "fish" will not die when I go, but instead will live on after my passing, because I believe love NEVER dies. In turn, the love I was shown during my time on Earth, will go with me and stay with me eternally.
Pretend that all of the Time Turners were in fact not destroyed. What would you use one for?
When I was 14 years old, I saw the play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, and it made a huge impression on me. When the main character, Emily Webb, dies, she has the opportunity to return to her life for ONE day. She initially considers her wedding day but is advised not to pick such a significant moment. She settles on her 12th birthday. Like Emily, I would choose to return to a very ordinary day. I would most likely want to use the Time Turner to revisit a day when my own children were ages 12, 9, and 4. This period would be after the challenging toddler years and before the stressful teen years! When I tucked them into bed at night and kissed them on the forehead, I knew where they were and that they were safe. As a family, we all enjoyed time spent at the park or a day at the beach. A simple game of Uno or Sorry brought smiles to each of us. And the wonderful conversations at the dinner table were as precious as gold. As I think back over my life, the most precious moments were found in those "ordinary" times. When Emily Webb asks the Narrator of the play whether or not people realize life while they are living it, he replies, "No. The saints and poets maybe - they do some." It’s at that point that Emily understands how life should be valued, ". . . every, every minute." I agree, Emily. I have a decorative plate that is displayed on my dresser that reads, "Cherish the Everyday Moments". I try to live by that philosophy.
WWoHP had its 1,000,000th visitor in July 2009. Have you visited the park? What were you most excited to see?
As I stated in my introductory paragraph, my husband and I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in January of 2011. Since I am a thrill ride enthusiast, I was obviously looking forward to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Alas, my Achilles Heel (ie: my very weak back) was acting up the week before we left, and my chiropractor strongly advised against going on that ride! However, even if you do not choose to go on the ride itself, there is a separate line that you can enter to still tour the inside of Hogwarts Castle. It was AMAZING! There were the talking framed portraits, Dumbledore’s office, the Room of Requirement, holograms of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and even the Sorting Hat. The weather in Orlando that day was reminiscent of that in the movies . . . cool, drizzly, and bleak. It did not spoil our day. Instead, it added to the overall atmosphere of the experience! I truly enjoyed having lunch at The Three Broomsticks, perusing The Owl Post (laughed at all the "droppings" on the perches), and acting like a child again while in Honeydukes and Zonkos! My favorite memory is still of Ollivander’s Wand Shop. As the attending wizard handed the first two wands to a prospective 10 year old "witch", all sorts of chaos occurred in the shop. However, as he handed her the third wand, her hair rose on a waft of air and a bright light surrounded her. MAGIC!!! I am chomping at the bit to return to the WWoHP to again attempt a ride on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and enjoy another glass of butter beer!
There are so many rooms in the Department of Mysteries, the Time Room, the Brain Room, the Dias Room, etc. Which room would interest you the most and why?
There were so many great choices that I had a difficult time picking just ONE! I finally narrowed it down to the Love Chamber. As Harry’s prophecy read, "The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not." And as Dumbledore told Harry, this chamber "contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature." This chamber always remains locked and can not be opened with Alohomora or magical unlocking penknives. It’s also the most mysterious subject one can study and perhaps never come to understand. AMEN, I say, after being married for 41 years! All joking aside, love is the most powerful force in existence, especially the magical protection of self-sacrificing love. Lily was aware of this power, as are most mothers when it comes to protecting their children. Love is the only magic capable of repelling the Killing Curse. This IS the power of love!
The Hall of Prophecy has tons of prophecies on record. If there was one about you, what would it say?
My prophecy would say, "At age 61, you will look into the Mirror of Erised and smile at what you see." Reflected back at me as I gaze into the mirror, I find myself standing arm in arm with the man I have loved for 46 years. To my left are my three grandsons, the joy of my life. Right behind them are my two daughters, my son, and my son-in-law. I’m a little heavier than I’d like AND a LOT GRAYER, but I am happy beyond belief! In the mirror, I do not see a mansion or diamonds, fur coats or caviar, but I see a comfortable home, people who love me, and sustenance for my body and soul. There are no bags of money, but I am wealthy in what really matters. I am truly blessed!
Keeping in mind the encyclopedia that Jo plans to write, besides a main character, whose back story are you most interested in reading about and why?
I would like to know more of the story behind Merope Gaunt. I want to know what made her tick. When Harry looked at Merope in Bob Ogden’s memory in the Pensieve, he thought he had never seen "a more defeated-looking person." I want to understand how she rose above the continual physical and mental abuse of her father and brother. In Greek mythology, Merope was shamed eternally for falling in love with (and marrying) a mortal. Gasp!!! Does this sound familiar? Merope, a pureblood witch, tricked a Muggle, Tom Riddle Sr., into falling in love with her by means of a love potion. She conceived and gave birth to Tom Riddle Jr., aka Lord Voldemort. By knowing more about Merope, I would hope to gain additional knowledge about Salazar Slytherin, since she was a direct descendant of his. And perhaps by understanding more about Merope, I might gain some insight into her son, Lord Voldemort as well.
In chapter 1 of HBP, the Muggle Prime Minister is told about the existence of the Wizarding World. How would you react to news of a magic world?
WHAT?????? I thought there WAS a magic world? I suppose next you will tell me that there really isn’t a tooth fairy!
Do you have anything else you’d like to add? Maybe a theory you still believe to be true, a shout-out, praise for yours truly?
Thank you J. K. Rowling for never giving up on your dream and allowing me to be touched by your amazing writing. A very personal thank you for putting a "face" on the illness of depression, represented in the character of the dementors. Most people still think of depression as an "ordinary sadness", and they don’t understand the paralyzing effects of this disease. Four of my immediate family members deal with this issue, and I believe you have opened the eyes of so many to the horrific effects of depression. I’ve seen the hopelessness in their eyes, the fear on their faces, and the body language of someone who has given in to the overwhelming sadness and lack of interest in things they were once passionate about. No character in any book, or on any movie screen, has left me with such a sense of horror and dread. When the dementors enter the scene, my heart pounds and it is difficult for me to deal with them because their effects hit so close to home.
Thank you to MuggleNet for giving me an informative and FUN outlet for my Harry Potter obsession. Kudos to Kat for her hard work and dedication to all the world’s Harry Potter fans! I am appreciative to everyone who voted for me and joins in my passion for Harry and friends. I am both honored and humbled to be chosen as Fan of the Year!
And finally, a special hug goes out to my daughter, Kerry, for introducing me to Harry Potter. Thank you for sharing your passion with me. Thank you for answering all my crazy questions. Thank you for explaining ALL the things I did not understand . . . and there were soooooo many of those! I cherish all the precious moments we’ve spent together while we bonded over our mutual love of Harry Potter!