I just got back from a whirlwind visit to Orlando. One of the perks of living in Florida, even here at the very doorstep to Alabama where I am, is that you get to go to the theme parks fairly regularly. In the loathsome dayjob, I get invited to at least a dozen conferences in Orlando every year. It’s right in the middle of the state, there are plenty of hotel rooms, and it is easy to get to. In fact, two of the state professional organizations I’m in have just submitted to the inevitable and hold all their meetings there.
So this week, I went to the State Bar Conference at Disney World. (That would be bar as in law, not liquor, more’s the pity.) I had to sit through several hours of student first amendment rights and special education appeal procedures, but after that, I was free to take my babies to – not the happiest place on earth, but surely the most magical: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
Now, I realize that it is the height of presumption and self-aggrandizement to even mention my writing in the same context as the Divine Rowling’s. She is the best selling author of our time, and even richer than the dear Queen. I am a soon-to-be-epubbed author no one has heard of. I know I am not worthy to clean the Rowling’s Jimmy Choos.
But . . . I am gonna jump in here and be presumptuous anyway. Because if you, like me, have ever created a world, sat down and written your characters out to tell their stories, you have a different understanding of exactly what J.K. has accomplished.
I made up two people, The Duke and Duchess of Danesleigh, and all their accompanying friends and family. I made them become real, at least in my mind. And there are a few people so far who have read my book and enjoyed living in the Danesleigh’s world for a few hours. I hope that, come November and publication of PROOF OF LOVE, more people will get to know my characters, and at least for a little while, like being with them. It makes me really happy to know that Susan and Edward are alive in my reader’s imaginations after being in mine for so long.
But can you imagine what it must be like to be J.K. Rowling? The woman sat in a coffee shop for hours upon hours, nursing a single cup a day because that was all she could afford, and wrote her characters down. They were alive for her, and like all of us who write, she hoped that maybe, one day, they would come to life for someone else.
And now, everyday, thousands of people not only read her books, they care so deeply about these people she made up that they travel across continents to come to Orlando, and for a few wonderful hours, they can live in Harry Potter’s world. They can stroll the streets of Hogsmeade, they can lift a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, and they can fly on broomsticks above the Forbidden Forest. They love her stories so much that they made them as real as they could.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is incredible power. An author can take something that exists only in her mind, and make it matter so much to people that they force it to become real. Wow.
As I said, I am not worthy of comparing myself in any way to La Rowling. But, in my own tiny little way, I create worlds. It’s the best job there is.