Fan Focus: Linda – May 22, 2011

60-year-old Linda from the United States


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?” Embarrassingly, 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. Add taking care of my home and family, and my reading-for-pleasure time was non-existent. Then came the wonderful gift of retirement! My first-born daughter, Kerry, had read EVERY book, had seen EVERY movie, and had visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with her husband and three children. When she heard that my husband and I were planning a trip to Orlando, she said, “Mom, you HAVE TO go to Universal and see the new Harry Potter theme park. But first, you should watch a couple of the movies or read the first few books so you are familiar with the characters.” So began my quest . . . I started 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 bend to enter this section of the park, I saw the Hogwarts 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 60 . . . and was surprised at how overcome with emotion I became! My favorite moment was when we entered Olivander’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 could not wait to finish the series. I devoured the movies and books from years 4, 5, and 6 at Hogwarts, 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 see the outcome, I voraciously read like I have never read before, finishing the last book in just 2 days! Tomorrow, I will be meeting 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 and what the significance of the “crying baby” was in Kings Cross. We’ve shared exuberant conversations, laughter, tears (especially over Hedwig’s untimely passing), and precious moments I will always treasure. I will be sitting right by her side for the FIRST midnight showing of The Deathly Hallows Part Two in just a few short months, no longer just an ordinary Muggle. I AM A FAN!

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.

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 60, 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.

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 one is a no-brainer for me, since two of my greatest passions in life are teaching and my garden! 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 “farmer’s overalls”, grab 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 and early 70’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! I would definitely join Dumbledore’s Army! Fighting “The Establishment” is in my “Hippie” blood!

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, 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 40 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 60, 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 45 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! There is not a mansion or diamonds or fur coats or caviar, but I have a comfortable home, a wedding ring that reminds me of how loved I am, clothes to keep me warm, and sustenance for my body and soul. There are no bags of money, but I am wealthy in what matters. I am truly blessed!

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 entered the scene, it was 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 HP FANS!

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 love of Harry!