I have to confess that I’ve only read half of the first book, I loved it, but the films were already out by then … I’ve seen them all.
Harry Potter World is based in Leavesden, Herts, England; it’s a Warner Brothers studio tour using the original sets and props. I got the chance to go via a subsidised work trip, coach included. I might never have gone otherwise as I have no desire to sample the M25, even on a Saturday.
The great hall is amazing – when I’ve watched the films I always assumed that the hall was real, we have enough well preserved medieval castles with great halls in the UK – but it’s a set, albeit a one where no detail has been spared, even the food looks real. (There is photograph showing the immense cast being fed their real lunch – and naturally they are using the long refectory tables in the great hall).
There are costumes and wigs from the various characters, including Harry – who knew he ever wore a wig! There are room sets galore; I particularly loved Harry, Ron and Neville’s (and other boys whose names I never knew) dorm. Especially Ron’s homemade patchwork knitted bedspread, reminds me of something I knitted for my daughter. I loved the Gryffindor common room, where I also saw something familiar; the throw on the sofa is the same as the one on mine. In fact the whole common room reminds me a little of home. And Diagon Alley is realistic enough – in a magical way, of course – to bring to mind dark, cobbled backstreets in secret parts of London.
I’ve been on studio tours in America – Disney and Universal specifically. They are more impressive and on a grander scale, with elaborate waiting areas and actors dressed as the characters waiting to entertain you at any moment, but there’s something about Harry Potter World that enchants you more. Maybe because there have been so many films, over so many years it’s very, very familiar, it feels as though you’ve already been there, lived there – or maybe it’s just plain magical.
But by far the most impressive and fascinating part for me was that all of this grew out of one writer’s imagination. JK Rowling scribbled her first masterpiece in cafés and on delayed train journeys – or so the story goes. Did she ever envisage that her imagination would be made so real and spread across the world? Her stories will last a long, long time – they are the universal stuff of children’s dreams…and nightmares. She’s there with the greats like CS Lewis and JM Barry and deservedly so.
Anyone who has read my books, The Finder and The Illusionist, will know that I like magic – but it’s not Harry Potter type magic – much as I enjoy that. It’s grown up, it could be you type magic. Generally speaking there aren’t any incantations because the magic my characters have is innate – who mutters words to make their legs walk, their heads turn? My characters twitch their noses (as a child I loved Bewitched) and wave over-long index fingers – never wands. But, like Harry Potter and most magical/fantasy characters (and superheroes), my characters keep themselves hidden from the real world – because the real world would never understand them and would seek to exploit or harm them. And don’t we all love a secret – our own!
For those of you who celebrate it – Happy Halloween.
BTW my short story Party Time is free 29 – 31 October on Amazon especially for Halloween, and THE ILLUSIONIST is on a Kindle Countdown on Amazon.com from 29 Oct to 5 Nov – don’t miss out. I’ve also just published (on this blog) October‘s short story – it’s a little bit gloomy. Well it is Halloween.