Okay, I have a shocking confession to make. At a Halloween gig at the Hard Rock Cafe a number of years ago, I dressed up in a blonde wig and I...oh, wait, not that confession. Never mind.
No, today's shocking confession is this: I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until after Deathly Hallows was already out. There. I said it. Whew.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I loooooove the Boy Who Lived and all of his cohorts, to the point where I'll put on a DVD of Half-Blood Prince just to have as wallpaper and background noise while I do chores around the house.
But this wasn't always the case. During the series' entire hysterical rampage through the literary world during the late '90s and early 2000s, I resisted. I refused to get sucked into the hype. I spent my childhood (and, yes, parts of my adulthood as well) inhaling fantasy books of every stripe, from the requisite Tolkein reading to The Elfstones of Shannara to The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant to the Deryni novels to holy cow this list could go on and on forever, and when I heard the Potter premise about a young boy who finds out he's a wizard and then goes to a boarding school where he learns magic, I thought: meh. How could this newcomer possibly measure up?
And the more notoriety the series gained, the more I stayed away. Now, I myself realize how ridiculous it is to shun something just because it's popular (especially if you haven't tried it yourself), but hey, that's the space I was in at the time.
Then a friend told me: just try it. Give it a chance. I'll even lend you my copies, she said. So I sighed and said, all right.
At that moment, my life literally changed.
Sometimes things are massively popular because they actually deserve to be. What a concept, right? I fell in love with these books (although Goblet of Fire was still a bit of a slog), and they were a huge source of inspiration when I was writing my first novel. By the time I got to Deathly Hallows, I couldn't put the thing down. And that, to me, is the sign of a great book: something that makes you postpone real life - eating; sleeping; caring for dependents - while you read just one more chapter. And one more. And one more.
So, thanks, Ms. Rowling, for creating this wonderfully entertaining and inspiring series. And yes, I bought my own copies.