Monday, October 5, 2009

Meeting Steve Vander Ark

So, if you're love of Harry Potter ever took you online, you may recognize this:

The HP Lexicon is the first and largest fansite for Harry Potter, and it was all started by a book nerd. Steve Vander Ark was a library media specialist when he first read the series, and found himself making lists: lists of spells, lists of places, lists of people...essentially, anything that Jo might have returned to in a later book. When he put it all on the internet, a haven for fans was born.

This weekend, I got to meet Vander Ark at a small author event for his new book, The Lexicon. It is not the same as the site; instead, it is literally a big, huge, list. Think of a dictionary or encyclopedia for Harry Potter, and this is your book.

He began with a bang, telling everyone that we were going to have fun tonight. It wasn't about a lecture; it was about exploring Harry's world. He actually talked more about his other book, In Search of Harry Potter (available in the U.K. --darn!) because for it, he toured Britain to find the exact real-world locations of places in Harry's world. The results were astonishing. He showed us pictures of the Leaky Cauldron, found between a music and record store on a particular street - just as Jo described it. He found a real place called the Burrow, in the correct spot. And the most extraordinary part? Hogwarts. Really, truly. Though there was no castle in sight, everything else was perfect.

You should be getting an idea of how the night went. My friend and I agreed that we could have listened to his stories for hours. It was completely obvious that he was as much of a fan as any of us, getting giddy over HP discussion and skirting spoilers for audience members who haven't finished book seven. At some point he mentioned that he's read the whole series at least 40 times!

Just think...without the internet, none of this would have been set into motion.

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