Fan Focus: Janaki – January 30, 2011

Age 17, United States


First off, how did you become a Harry Potter fan?

I think I was in Kindergarten when the first book came out. I remember my mom trying to read it to me then, and neither of us had any idea what was going on. I remember that over the years, people tried to get me to start reading the books, but I was always bored after the first chapter. I know I saw all of the movies in theaters as they came out, though. Then in fifth grade, the fifth book had come out and everyone at school was talking about it. My cousin, who had never read the books was considering reading the fifth because her dad had just brought her back a copy from Britain. So I decided that maybe the way to get hooked was to not start at the beginning, but near the end. I started reading and immediately I fell in love. The only thing was that it was dreadfully confusing, considering that at that point only three movies had come out, and I had never read the fourth book. However, I finished the fifth book in eleven days (a feat I was immensely proud of, and I went announcing it to all of my friends, who had taken months, or even a year, to read it). But then I realized I needed to know the story in the Goblet of Fire so I went to the library and read the fourth book, then re-read the fifth book. It made a LOT more sense now, and I was hooked. In sixth grade, I bought the whole series and read them all. I loved them so much, especially at a time when teachers, friends, and school were difficult, it felt like I had a friend in these books. To this day when I feel alone, or angry at life, or just need to escape, I pick up Harry Potter and find comfort in the familiarity of the characters. I went to the midnight book releases of the sixth and seventh books, as well as the premiers of those movies. I remember thinking the whole time during the book release of Deathly Hallows, “next time I should make sure and do—” and then realize that this was it–it was all going to be over. I only wish I had become a fan earlier and had had more time to enjoy the hype around the releases.

Imagine a world where you are 10 years old and do not know wizards exist. One day, a letter from Hogwarts comes, just for you. Would your reaction be disbelief, like Harry’s? Or something else?

Actually, I’m sure like a lot of other kids, the summer before I was eleven, when I first started reading the books, I dreamed endlessly that my letter would come in the mail, that it had to, I was just a Muggle-Born but I would go to Hogwarts, I would try to see if anything unusual happened when I got emotional, but alas, it seemed in the end that I was just a Muggle after all. Regardless, I think, because I’m a pretty rational person, that I would think it was a trick, or a joke, and probably not believe it until I had some solid proof. I think how Tom Riddle reacted was really strange, but of course, he was a strange child. I think actually I would be more disbelieving even then Harry, because he seemed to take it rather well after a couple moments of thinking “no way.”

Finally convinced that you’re a wizard and are off to a school you’ve never heard of, to do magic that you didn’t believe was possible, you head to Diagon Alley to get some school supplies, including a pet. You can choose from a toad, a cat, or an owl. Which would you choose and why?

Well, I’ve always wanted a cat, but given that neither of my parents are really fond of them and my mom’s highly allergic this particular fancy has never come true for me. I think that maybe since you can always use the school owls for post that an owl would not be extremely necessary. However, I admit it would be amazing to have a pet owl, as something like that is only ever possible in the Wizarding World. Honestly, I would not want a toad (I don’t know that anyone besides Neville would…) but I don’t know between a cat and an owl.

There are so many new people to meet on the Hogwarts Express! Which Harry Potter character would you become fast friends with and why?

I would probably say Hermione. Actually, maybe we would not start out as friends, but more as competitors, because I think I am like her in a lot of ways. I am trying to think which Harry Potter characters are similar to my friends now. I don’t think they are mostly really uptight like Hermione, but I still think she and I would hit it off. I would probably enjoy having a laugh with Ron, or playing chess with him. I’m not sure if I would’ve hit it off with Harry or not, sometimes you find friends in odd places, so maybe! I think it would be really difficult to be friends with, say, Luna, even though she is awesome! But she probably would not be the first person I approached.

You’ve heard so much about a test that you’re going to need to take first thing when you get to Hogwarts! You are terrified until you see that it’s only a hat that sits on your head, and shouts out the house that you’ve been sorted into. What does the hat tell you?

I think it would tell me that I belong in Ravenclaw. At least I hope it would. I think I would never have said that when I was eleven, but now that I’m seventeen, I feel like I have discovered a lot about myself since sixth grade. It might deliberate between like, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff or something, but I think it would decide on Ravenclaw because I am obsessed with learning, and researching, and gaining knowledge. I do think I’m loyal and just but I think that my desire for knowledge and value of intelligence probably outstrips the former. I definitely don’t think I’m cunning, and I’m sure I’m not brave… I remember thinking the whole day on Christmas Eve this year, “Hermione and Harry were at Godric’s Hollow this very day they were my age, and they had to deal with so much terrifying stuff, I can’t believe they were the exact age as me when they had such a narrow escape from Voldemort.” Of course not all Gryffindor’s have faced quite that much, but I do not think bravery is my forte.

You love ALL of your classes at Hogwarts, learning how to make things fly, and to even fly yourself! There’s just one that you really dread going to, and that class is…?

A class I dread? I dunno… I feel like every class is good in its own way! If I dreaded a class it would probably be because of the teacher. If Snape was still Potions master, maybe that, but I actually think Potions would be the most interesting class at Hogwarts. I don’t know if I would dread it, but Herbology sounds kind of… not very fun, I’m not big on weird plants. If I could include third year classes, I would say Divination or even Care of Magical Creatures, but I think I would have enough sense not to pick those classes. This is kind of off topic but I think my favorite subjects would be Potions, Arithmancy, Astronomy, and Ancient Runes.

Congratulations! You made the Quidditch Team for your house, and first year’s NEVER make the team! What position are you playing?

Oh boy… sports? Well, using my previous experiences from PE, I would say definitely not Keeper (I’m a horrible goalie), or Beater (I can’t have large balls flying at my head), probably not Seeker (because I’m really not fast), and so I guess that leaves Chaser. I would really rather just watch Quidditch though. I think commentating on the match might be fun! I don’t know if I could keep up with the pace though, I’m sure I couldn’t make it as interesting as Lee Jordan’s commentary, but I think I would much prefer being on the sidelines and cheering on my team!

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?

I would really like to thank my mom for listening to me more than anyone else when I go on and on about Harry Potter, and even getting me a lot of Potter -related items throughout the years. A huge thank-you to MuggleNet, for introducing me to a world of Potter-fans as excited about the smallest things as me, and to everyone on Mugglenet, who discusses all of the stories and theories, I feel like I can let all of my thoughts and ideas about Harry Potter out on this website without any prelude like I do with my mom or friends. I would also like to say (because I just finished reading Deathly Hallows again recently) R.I.P. to Dobby, Hedwig, Moody, Snape, Lupin, Tonks, Colin Creevey, and Fred, and any other unnamed victims of the war against Voldemort. For some reason, this time when I read through Fred’s death, it seemed more real and terrible than any other time, and I couldn’t believe I could just put my book down and go back into living a happy, unaffected life. I think this shows how much each and every character in this series has affected me and all of the other followers of Harry. Lastly, a huge thank you to J.K. Rowling for creating the most amazing books ever, and for having such a positive influence on so many people all around the world. Even my cousins in India read the books and watch the movies as obsessively as I do, here in the US. Harry Potter is truly an amazing phenomenon to have touched so many people in so many places.