At my age, I never expected to ever receive a Hogwarts letter. And I still haven't. But this was the closest I would ever come.
An invitation to join Pottermore's journey to the eighth Harry Potter story; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. How could anyone say no? So on the uncomfortably hot night of July 19th, we arrived at a nondescript building in the east of London. The street was a narrow affair, with houses and businesses dotted along its length. For one night, this building would be the newest extension of the Wizarding World. Almost like magic, it came into being.
Inside was like being inside of the books, or on the set of the films themselves. The reading room was to the left, filled with tablets displaying the books (how technology manages to work in so Wizarding an environment is beyond me). Beyond that, potions masters concocted dazzlingly beautiful drinks with names like Tom Collins Creevey, Voldemartini, Nimbus 2016, Chinese Fireball, and the Moscow Yule Ball. A cosy common room occupied the rear of the floor.
And throughout all the rooms were quote cards emblazoned with pivotal quotes from the books. We were told beforehand to download Blippar to our phones; by using the app, the quote cards were transformed into magical gateways, linking to Pottermore and all its wonderful content. But the real treat was meeting with other like-minded fans and trading stories and memories of Harry Potter. How we discovered the Wizarding World, what convinced us to stay, where we hope it goes next.
The floor above contained the Room of Reminiscence, where video interviews captured the memories of fans and their journey to the Wizarding World. A room, known as Sweets & Treats on the map given to us by our hosts was full of delicious sweets and chocolates for all to take like a miniature franchise of Honeydukes. But the floor above was where the real magic happened. It was a simple room, with a clear bowl and piles of writing paper and quill-shaped pens. You were asked one simple question.
How will you feel in 19 days?
In nineteen days from that date, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be released. A new story in the Harry Potter saga will be available for all the fans to enjoy. For those of us who reached the end of seven books and eight movies and believed that to be the end, a new chapter in the story is a welcome addition. We were asked to write down our hopes and feelings for the event and place them in the bowl to be released to world when July 31st—the same date as Harry's birthday—came.
I remember my first experiences of the Harry Potter story. I read a newspaper that was taking bets on which character would die in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Sirius Black was favorite. I wondered why this mattered, why I should care about this—it was only a story. A children's story at that. I turned the page and carried on. Months later I was ill and had the opportunity to watch the first two films on VHS (I told you, I'm old). When I was recovered, I set out to buy the first four books and waited eagerly for the fifth. I was hooked. I was a fan.
And the wonder of it all is that, in terms of the narrative timeline, I am the same age as Harry and his school year would be now. His adventure growing up could have been mine (if I was a Wizard, obviously). And as I take stock of my place in the world, I wonder how Harry and his friends view theirs. To be with them on the journey is, well, magical.
But really, how will you feel?
What emotions are going to come crashing over you when you read this new story? Or watch the play? Will they be excitement, or trepidation, or overwhelming joy?
What are you doing to prepare for the journey to the eighth story?