That Time I Was Anti Harry Potter

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HP Books

I know, my bookshelves are hot af.

Lately my social feeds and favorite news sources have been flooded with headlines reflecting on the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, and just reminiscing on my own personal history with the fandom has me all sorts of nostalgic. Anyone who knows me and my fangirl ways would probably just assume that I’m a HP fangirl, and although I am, that wasn’t always the case.

::cue dramatic music::

I was a teenager when Harry Potter became the it thing. I was also (and still am) a bit of a rebel, so although I loved to read, I refused to read the books simply because everyone else was reading them. I was sick of hearing my friends talk about them and decided to stubbornly stay as far away from the HP bandwagon as I could.

Until weeks before the release of the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

My childhood best friend was an avid Harry Potter fan. Just before the release of the fifth book, she begged me–one final time–to just give the books a try: “Please just try the first book, and if you don’t like it, I’ll never talk about Harry Potter to you again.” Irritated, but wanting to make her happy, I did give the first book a try. And within four days, I had borrowed and read all four books. By release day of book 5, I was attending the midnight release party at my local Borders, and I owned the other four books.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Poster

Said German Draco Malfoy poster.

For years thereafter, Harry Potter topped my fangirl favs list. I’m talking midnight release parties, reading the books aloud to my siblings (my character voices are awesome, if I do say so myself), buying all sorts of memorabilia (my prized possession being a German Draco Malfoy poster), and applying and being accepted (via sorting) to a infamous Harry Potter livejournal community (I was sorted into Gryffindor, although Slytherin was a close call).

Since I’m a huge (and unrepentant) nerdbomber, it’s fun to look back on my Harry Potter days. So, without further ado:

Harry Potter Highlights From the Life O’ Pam

  • Fanfiction: I dipped my toes in the pool of fanfiction thanks to Harry Potter. I know a lot of people roll their eyes at fanfiction, but as a fledgling writer, there is no better way to improve and gain confidence. Fanfiction was the first time I shared my writing with anyone, and it helped me grow more confident in my talent and learn to adhere to deadlines (because you can’t leave readers hanging too long for a new chapter!).
  • HP OTP: Speaking of fanfiction, my HP one true pairing was Draco Malfoy/Ginny Weasely. I know, I know, impossible in canon, but in fandom…well, talk about a following! She was the fire to his ice! They were the modern day Romeo and Juliet! Oh, the possibilities!
  • Goblet of Fire Movie Premiere: So, I may have attended the GoF movie premiere in NYC. It may or may not have been INSANE. I will never do something like that again, but it was a pretty cool once-in-a-lifetime experience. People were crazy, there were hundreds of fans lining up on the street hours and hours in advance. My friends and I took the train in at about 4AM for an early evening premiere. Although we weren’t as close the the red carpet as I had hoped (we were across the street), I did get a photo and signed movie poster of Katie Leung  (aka Cho Chang).
  • Sirius Denial: Sirius Black was and will always be one of my favorite Harry Potter characters. I know he was a hot head. I know he was terrible to teenage!Snape. But, well, I have a thing for bad boys, especially bad boys with motorcycles. #sorrynotsorry Also, in book 5, it sure as hell didn’t seem like he was hit with the killing curse, just saying. It was a RED flash, okay!? Needless to say, when they changed it to green in the movie, I was not happy.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: I’m convinced that the second time my family went to Disney was solely for the purpose of me visiting the HP theme park. And um, it was awesome. I can’t even tell you what it felt like to walk down streets that resembled Diagon Alley and stand in front of a Hogwarts replica. Oh em gee. I’m sure you can imagine the amount of shopping I did in that park haha. A couple of wands here, a leather bound journal there. Sigh. I’d like to go back ASAP.
  • Writing Inspiration: I fell in love with the world and writing of Harry Potter, and I fell hard. I was immersed in this fandom as a late teen into my early twenties, and silly as it may seem, my love for these books helped to further validate my desire to be a writer. Rowling has such a great rags to riches story, and even back then, I found it truly inspirational. One of my favorite things about the Harry Potter series is that you can see how Rowling progressed as a writer. More so than the actual writing was the imagination that went into the HP books. Rowling created such a nuanced world filled with hundreds of different characters. She had threads, so many threads, of plot and subplot woven throughout the series. The aspiring writer in me was in awe of the intricacy of her writing and the way she brought so many things–things that seemed extremely minor at first mention–full circle. I remember thinking, how did she do that? How did a quick mention of something in book one or two turn into THIS in book five or six? And now, as a writer, I see that it actually comes naturally. It happens when you dive deep into your story and characters. But back then, before I understood this, well, it was magic 🙂

Holy novel length blog post, Batman! I suppose you can see how dear the Harry Potter world is to me. J.K. Rowling has created something amazing and inspiring – a story and characters that have touched and mesmerized millions of people around the world. And now, I need to bust out my calendar and start planning a Harry Potter marathon, both reading and watching, because it’s been far too long since I last got lost in the halls of Hogwarts.

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Fangirl Fav: The Lord of the Rings

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img_2693I was sick over New Year’s and sadly missed my scheduled NYE plans, but instead of moping and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to start a 3-night rewatch of The Lord of the Rings movies. The extended editions, of course, because I do not mess around with my fangirl favs.

I fell in love with The Lord of the Rings (LotR) by accident. I’d heard of the books of course, but had always kind of rebelled against them because long, and my mean 8th grade Algebra teacher had dogs named Bilbo and Frodo. I could not possibly like something that he enjoyed. And yet, years later when FotR was released and my dad picked up the VHS (yes, you read that right) at Acme on a whim…well, the rest, as they say, is history.

LotR was probably my first completely-obsessed-with-fangirl fav movie (the TV show equivalent is Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I’ve had other books, movies, and TV shows that I’ve adored over the years, but LoTR hit around the time the internet started to get big, and I remember actually having countdowns until the trailers were released online. Not even the movie release date, first was the trailer release. And then I would watch it over and over again and make everyone I knew (who wouldn’t judge me too harshly) watch it too. Then came the movie releases. I saw both TTT and RotK in the theater three times each, and still, to this day, I mourn the fact that I never viewed FotR in theaters 😦

The movies, as anyone (and I hope that means everyone) who has seen them knows, are epic. In fact, I wish I could think of a more impressive and celebratory word than “epic” to describe them. They are insanely well cast (thank god for that whole Viggo Mortensen was a last minute replacement stroke of luck), visually stunning, obviously made with love and reverence, and everything good movies should be (albeit a little long – come on, I’m not delusional). They also brought about a new self-discovery: how much I love the shooting and production side of movies. The DVDs/blurays are filled with hours upon hours of interviews with director Peter Jackson, the producers, the cast, special effects geniuses, composer Howard Shore, and everyone else who was involved in the creation of the films. I spent so many hours watching that footage, being completely immersed and in awe of the love and work that went into the LotR trilogy.

Which is why it’s both funny and duh-inducing that I’m now an aspiring screenwriter. As if I really had a choice 😉

So falling sick recently was a blessing in disguise, as it reintroduced my once loved annual tradition of rewatching the LotR movies. In closing, I’ll just list, in chronological order, some of my favorite moments in the LotR trilogy (sidenote, my original list was 34082340 items long, so I’ve sadly cut it):

  • The formation of the Fellowship at the end of the Council of Elrond. Sigh. I just ::flails:: Such an epic moment!
  • Boromir redeeming himself at the end of the first movie. His parting line to Aragorn still gets me every single time: “I would have followed you, my brother, my captain, my king.”
  • The reveal of Gandalf the Sparkly White.
  • Gandalf, Eomer, and the Rohirrim arriving at the end of the battle to kick orc/urukhai ass!
  • Gandalf and Pippin arriving to Minas Tirith and riding Shadowfax up to the top of the city while Howard Shore’s epic “Minas Tirith” plays in the background.
  • Gandalf using his sparkly white staff of light and magic to ride out and save the soldiers fleeing the Nazgul. And Faramir! My Gondorian bae!
  • Theoden and the Rohirrim arriving at Pelennor Fields to join the battle. Makes me cry every time!
  • Aragorn going all badass king-to-be on the King of the Dead: “You will suffer me!”
  • Aragorn leading the army to the Black Gates. His speech. His head chopping. I can’t.
  • Everyone’s reaction to the fall of Sauron. Ugh. Perfection.
  • At the end of Aragorn’s coronation, when the hobbits bow to him, and he replies: “My friends, you bow to no one.” Then he and the ENTIRE country, plus some, bow to those furry-footed princes. Staaaahp.
  • And, finally, Gandalf’s goodbye to the hobbits, “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

P.S. I love The Lord of the Rings books as well. In fact, I did a 3-credit independent study on them my senior year of college, ‘cause nerd 😉