Harry Potter and the Magic of Words – Guest Post by Jamieson Wolf

Hello Imaginary Friends,

I’m enjoying some cuddles from Pegasus. You can enjoy this fantastic post by Jamieson Wolf.


Words have the power to heal. I experienced this firsthand.

In 2013, I woke one morning with little motor control and could barely walk. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Labyrinthitis. I wasn’t allowed to read or watch television or write at my computer for two weeks. Thankfully, my mother suggested I listen to audiobooks. I downloaded the first two Harry Potter books and started listening to them, certain I wouldn’t like them. Thankfully, I fell in love.

Listening to Harry Potter brought the story and the world that Harry lives in alive for me in a way that reading the book couldn’t. Hearing Jim Dale read out Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and then Stephen Fry read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was also a balm to my soul. Over the two weeks that I had to take off work, I would sit back and close my eyes and let the words wash over me. I would let the world of Harry Potter fill in the darkness.

Then other problems began. I didn’t get better. I got worse. The left side of my body went numb; I fell almost daily. Eventually, after losing the ability to speak and type on a keyboard (having been able to type since I was in my teens), I knew that something was very wrong. There was something else wrong with my body and, after a day in emergency, the doctors had an idea of what it was that lived within me.

There was a neurologist on staff that night. After looking me over he informed me that it was probably multiple sclerosis, but they would have to run tests to make sure. It would be some time until I knew what was wrong.

I turned to books for comfort. As I didn’t have Labyrinthitis, the doctors said it was okay for me to read again, thank goodness. I picked up a book by a new author that one of my friends recommended to me: Cupcakes at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown. It was about a woman named Georgie Hart who was desperate to put her life back in order. In a bizarre coincidence, she had lost her mother when she succumbed to her multiple sclerosis. This touched me deeply and I felt deeply connected to the book because of that. I went on to read Cupcakes at Carrington’s three more times and it was magical every single time.

I went through a battery of different tests: vision and hearing, bloodwork, a CAT scan and an MRI and a spinal tap to finish it all off. Now all I could do was wait. While I waited for the diagnosis, I knew that I needed to write something, anything. I would lie in bed at night and watch the stories I wanted to tell float above my head. Before, I could write ten thousand words in a weekend without breaking a sweat. Now, I could only write five or so words at a time, forcing my fingers to hit the right keys.

I decided that I had to write. I had to write something. I had dabbled in poetry in my teens before turning to short stories, novellas and novels. I figured that writing poetry would give me another way to tell stories. My poems would do away with iambic petametre and a rhyming scheme. Instead, they would be raw and real, part memoir and part story. I would take those five words that I wrote a day and stitch the poem together when I thought it was done.

Each poem took me about a week or more to write, but as I continued, I noticed something: I was getting better. Five words a day slowly climbed to ten and then to fifteen. I remember hitting twenty words a day and I felt elated. It was as if I had climbed a flat mountain and could look back at all of the words I had written. It was as if I could fly. Soon, I had a small collection of poems. I even thought that I might one day collect them all together and publish them. I had an idea for a title: Talking to the Sky. It would be a reference to when I was trying to heal and would sit at the computer, staring at the blank screen unable to type and tell the stories that I wanted to. It was like I was talking to the clouds.

Then, after three months, I received my diagnosis, a day before my birthday: I had relapse and remitting multiple sclerosis. I wasn’t afraid. Now, I knew the monster within me had a name.

I retreated into the world of Harry Potter once again. I have read the Harry Potter series more than anything else. I read the series once a year and have stopped counting the fortieth time I read the series the entire way through. That was years ago. I turned to his story when I needed comfort, when I needed joy. When I was sad or depressed, the story held within the books was pure magic. I needed Harry and company at that moment more than anything.

I also needed to write more than poetry. I needed to break out of the constraint of sewing words together like a patchwork quilt. I needed to write a novel. I didn’t know how long it would take, or if it would be any good. It didn’t matter; I was angry, surprisingly so, and I wanted to write something that would help soothe the anger. I wanted to give the anger a focus.

With that in mind, I started writing a novel I called The Other Side of Oz. In the novel, Justin is an Oz fanatic who has started seeing yellow bricks everywhere he goes. Is it his imagination intruding into real life? Then Justin and the boy he likes are in an accident. They travel to Justin’s version of Oz, but again, is it real or is it their imagination? I wanted to find some way to convey the sense of the unreal that I lived with every day. While not about Harry Potter, it was about the other series of books that had formed a large part of my childhood and adulthood. I wanted to write about someplace magical that wasn’t the world I lived in.

By the time I was done the book, a few months had passed. It had been exhausting, trying to force my brain to think of a story and forcing my fingers to type the words out. However, when I typed The End, I was elated once more. I had climbed another flat mountain, this one higher than the others that I had climbed.

I noticed other things, too. I was lighter, as if a weight had been taken from me. Scrolling through the pages of the novel that I had typed out, I knew it was because I had put the weight of that anger and uncertainty into The Other Side of Oz. That novel has never seen the light of day; perhaps, with a hefty edit, it will someday soon.

What I’ve come to realize six years later, is that I would have been a lot worse without the magic of words. The books I love kept me sustained and comforted when I need it and, when that wasn’t enough, my own words had flown out of me to relieve me of the pain and angst I was carrying within me. Words were the magic that I wielded. As much as the multiple sclerosis took a lot of things from me and made me revaluate how I lived my life, the one thing that didn’t leave me was the magic of words. Each one I write is part of the spell that I weave and each one I read heals me still.

I would be lost without them.


Jamieson Wolf is a number one best selling author (he likes to tell people that a lot!). His recent works include the memoir Little Yellow Magnet and the novels Lust and Lemonade and Life and Lemonade. A third novel, Love and Lemonade, comes out later this year. You can learn more about Jamieson at http://www.jamiesonwolf.com

Guest Post: HP Studio Tour

Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca and I’m so happy to be writing a guest post for you today!

I’m turning 28 this year, and like a lot of people my age, I was BIG into Harry Potter as a kid. Midnight releases for books and movies, all the merch, playing Harry Potter games with my sisters, the whole deal.

So when a good friend from University invited me to a conference in London, England, I knew I would have to visit some Harry Potter attractions.

We had a busy trip, and while I didn’t make it to King’s Cross Station (oh look, a great excuse to go back to England!) we did go to the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour to see the sets and props used in the making of the movies.

And it was so worth it.

The Studio Tour is outside of London and the tube doesn’t run there. However, there are lots of travel packages  that offer a bus to and from the tour, departing from convenient places around London (often near major hotels).

The only downside of taking the bus is that you have to catch it to get back to the city! I could have stayed all day! That being said, the timeframe that we had (approx. 3 hours) was reasonable and I never felt like I had to rush by something super fast to be able to make the bus.

The tour is set up a bit like a museum; most of the items are behind railings so you can’t touch, and there are information sheets all over telling you about each item, and fun “behind the scenes” facts. There are also video clips playing –  from the movies, as well as interviews with the cast and crew.

The tour begins in the Great Hall, as if you were a student arriving at Hogwarts for the first time!

One thing I appreciated was that there was no forced Sorting ceremony. While this might be fun for some people, I know that for many adult fans, we know our houses and definitely have strong house loyalty! (Team Ravenclaw here!)

The great hall was amazing, (the whole tour was) but there were two instances in particular that gave me the WOW factor.

Do you remember in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley for the first time ? That was a magical scene in both the book and the movie, where you really get to experience the magic of the wizarding world.

Walking into the set for Diagon Alley – it all came flooding back. Suddenly I was 8 years old again reading my first Harry Potter book. That magic and pure joy was truly something special.

The second location where I got that feeling was the Hogwarts Castle room. This is where they have the model of the castle that was used for all the external sweeping shots. You can see every tower, all the grounds, Hagrid’s hut. I actually teared up a bit.

Aside from the marvel of all the sets and props, the staff were also amazing. In Ollivander’s wand shop, they’ve written the names of cast and crew on the wand boxes. When I was there, a staff member was sitting with a young child who was asking where all of the character’s wands were. And the staff member knew each one! She was using a laser pointer to indicate the appropriate wand boxes all around the room.  I’m sure that was a special moment for that child, and the staff member sure made an impact on the guests!

I could go on all day, but I don’t want to spoil that magical childhood transportation moment for anyone!

I would highly recommend this tour to any and all Harry Potter fans – no matter your age! I will note that part of the tour does go outside to the Knight Bus, Number Four Privet Drive, and a few other locations, so check the weather and bring a jacket if needed.

Thanks again to Jen, Eric, Dragon, and baby Pegasus for the opportunity to write for you today!

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

I Hate Rowling

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I don’t hate the author J. K. Rowling. I hate the act of Rowling, or retroactively affirming something about a character or story.

I’m a firm believer that if it’s not in the text, movie, or show, then it’s not canon. Just because George Lucas once said in an interview that Jar Jar was secretly a Darth; doesn’t make it true. (He didn’t though)

J. K. has a habit of retroactively assigning things to her characters without putting in the story work. Dumbledore being gay is, at best, in the subtext of Harry Potter. But she got big love for including a gay man as a character. Even though she didn’t include it in the books. Or the films starring that character and his lover…?

The fact that there is stronger subtext and more words dedicated to the relationship between Aberforth and his goats than Albus and Grindlewald is frankly insulting.

I understand the fans wanting to know more about something they love, but the author’s job is to write and to build a world. They do that in the medium that they write, not the interviews after.

YOU DON’T GET COOKIES FOR REPRESENTATION IF YOU DON’T ACTUALLY INCLUDE IT IN YOUR STORY.

What you’re saying is, “Oh yes, this character was gay but it wasn’t important enough to mention.” It was important enough to mention that McGonagall had had a husband, but amazingly mentioning a queer character’s queerness wasn’t important enough in the book. Just in the interviews… ARHGHGRRR!

That’s not representation; that’s being dismissive. What exists in your stories is what matters. Anything else is just ego building.

Do you disagree?

Éric

Throwback Tuesday – The Last Horcrux (2014-02-05)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m frightfully busy at the moment and so you get to revisit one of my favourite short stories. Also some of the only Fan Fiction I’ve written. I don’t like writing Fan Fiction because I worry that I don’t get the voice of the characters or the feel of the world.

This story based off a comic. Here we go.

Click to read the rest of this hilarious comic

In the last days before the battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort decided that he must survive. To this end he created a last Horcrux, one that no one could ever find. Unlike his others, he used and ordinary grain of sand.

This last Horcrux was tossed into the deepest ocean. On its way into the deepest parts of the ocean, a deep water fish mistook it for food and chased it down. It swallowed the grain of sand and proceeded to swim into a magical tear between worlds.

The tear led into a lake. Being a deep water fish, the poor fish was completely blinded by the light in this little lake. It was quickly caught by a fisherman, who gutted it and brought it home. The fish’s guts however were left on the beach to decompose.

There the grain stayed for a few years until a jewellers apprentice came looking for sand to temper jewellery. The sand on this beach was perfect. He collected a large sack of sand including the grain which was a Horcrux.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY


Thanks for reading!

Éric

New World Magischola

I have talked about this LARP event before. It’s back!

Three nights, four days in full magic school – sounds amazing to me!

This event (and yes, only one this year) will be taking place in Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts on June 20-23, 2019.

Mount Holyoke College. Image from www.mtholyoke.edu

This college is wheelchair accessible and will have gender-neutral bathrooms (I like that they added that).

There’s lots of information here, FAQs here, and tickets here.

So if you’re interested in spending a weekend this summer living in the wizarding world, let me know and I’ll help you arrange transportation.

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca