Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Still One of My Favorite Books

A Boy, A Scar and an Epic Fantasy

I would be remiss in talking about children’s book authors without mentioning J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. The first Harry Potter book was published when I was barely 30 years old. Still, I was drawn to the description and scooped it up without hesitation. This was long before the hype would begin – the midnight sales with thousands of people dressed as wizards, the movies, the awards. I didn’t know yet that it would be a series of books and that I would pre-order them months in advance and anxiously track the package as it made its way to my doorstep on release day. I didn’t yet know that I would read the first book and fall in love with the idea of writing all over again. I didn’t know that it would rekindle a dream.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone depending on which side of the pond you live on) is one of my favorite books. And I can honestly say that I felt that way long before the book-buying, movie-watching fans got ahold of it. In 1998, I came across the hardcover at Barnes & Noble on one of my frequent visits to the children’s section. As many of you know by now, I turn to children’s fiction as a means of escape when life and work are too stressful.

I recommend that everyone read at least the first one (my favorite in the series). It made me believe that there is magic everywhere. And if we can just believe a little bit, wonderful things can happen. It made me fall in love with writing again. It made me want to write for kids, and it made me want to include a bit of magic in any story I write.

I loved the entire series, and the movies as well. My advice –  See the movies – yes. BUT read the books!! The movies are fine, but the books are wonderful!

J.K. Rowling led a “rags to riches” life. She went from living on government benefits to being a multimillionaire within a handful of years. And she owes it all to the 8-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury’s chairman who read a chapter of her manuscript and demanded more. Until that point, she had received multiple rejections and had even been told to get a day job since she would never make money writing for children. The Harry Potter global brand is now worth over $15 billion in US dollars.

I think that Harry Potter made a lot of would-be writers stand up and take notice. It more than likely kindled writing dreams in millions of people who never thought to try before. I am sure there are those who figured they would just whip off a book and be the next big thing.

I don’t think that way. Sure, it would be wonderful if my first book was discovered and sold millions of copies and Pixar or Disney made a movie out of it. And hey, these things sometimes happen. 🙂 But writing a book is hard work. It takes dedication, perseverance, and a suspension of reality. It takes the ability to put aside any self-doubt and do it anyway. A book is not something you just whip up in a weekend and toss at the public.

Harry Potter made me believe in magic again. It had me and some of my other 30-year-old friends wishing we could attend Hogwarts! It was no longer embarrassing to be sitting in public reading a kid’s book. And it made me want to capture some of that magic in a story of my own.

I had written two books by then and tucked both of them neatly into a drawer. I had not thought that I could publish them, let alone follow the self-publishing route. Watching the Harry Potter craze unfold made me believe that anything can happen. 🙂 I may never be as big in the children’s book world as J.K. Rowling, but if I can write a story that one kid falls in love with, I will have succeeded.


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