(Yes, those are all my figurines)
“Yes, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is gone for good. His body was found last night, in a Muggle graveyard. Though this is good news, two valiant warriors also perished in the fight. Ginny Weasley, 16, was found near a burnt tombstone…it is believed Harry Potter was killed in the fire that burnt the tombstone.” This isn’t the ending you remember from the last installment of the JK Rowling bestseller series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s actually an excerpt from elphaba731’s The Last Battle on Fictionalley.org, a site set up by Potter’s American fans.
Whether they’re crazy about the Harry Potter books that pit the teenage wizard against dark wizard Lord Voldemort. or Stephenie Meyer’s Twilightseries about a teenager falling in love with a vampire, fans across the world have dedicated many gigabytes of websites to writing their own version of their favourite books, TV series and films. Since 1997, when the first Potter book released, the seven-book series has gripped the imagination of children (and not a few adults) across the globe. The series has spawned eight movies, a theme park in Orlando, and Harry Potter tours in Britain but Potter maniacs, it seems, can’t get enough of “the boy who lived.” And even after the last cinematic adaptation of the series has hit the theaters, young super fans are busy rewriting some of the scenes on fan sites.
On Fictionalley.blogspot.in, stories are divided into four categories or “houses” as the site refers to them – The Dark Arts for drama, mystery and angst; Schnoogle for novel-length stories; Astronomy Tower for romance; and Riddikulus for humour. Another site, Harrypotterfanfiction.com boasts of over 70,000 fan stories and podcasts while on Fanfiction.net, there are several twisted plots where Potter joins hands with his arch enemy Voldemort.
Before the Potter series finished in 2007, readers used sites like these to predict how Rowling would end the tale. Some people also posted documents they claimed were leaked copies of Rowling’s draft. The editors of Mugglenet.com, a fan site founded in the US by Emerson Spartz (who claims he was 12 and bored when he started the site), published a book,What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love and How Will the Adventure Finally End?
Another common strategy of fan fiction is “shipping”, where fans especially plot the romantic relationships of characters. For instance, disgruntled fans who aren’t happy with Rowling’s pairing of Potter and Ginny Weasley can write their own chapters in which the teenage wizard could fall in love with his best friend Hermione Granger or his earlier crush Cho Chang. These internet stories often take a darker, sexual slant, which is why sites such asMugglenet.com have stringent rules and don’t accept submissions that are explicit. Further, copyright rules are complicated and most sites include disclaimers to ensure no legal action is taken.
Mumbai’s Zuni Chopra, 10, writes fan fiction but doesn’t post it online. She’s written Hallory Powers, where Harry Potter teams up with Darrell Rivers from the Malory Towers by British author Enid Blyton for a superhero story. “Something that excites me is that a story can be told in many different ways,” said Chopra, who has written The Land of Dreams, a book of poems and short stories that was published in 2011. “For examples, Dementors [the soul-sucking guards of Azkaban prison] could enter Hogwarts or Darrell and Alicia could become best friends. I like to use these characters and tell new stories.” For eight-year-old Aarnav Chaturvedi, the Potter books have sparked an interest in writing. He doesn’t write fan fiction but wrote The Friendly Dragon, a short story which was published on the Words and More blog.
Ultimately, fan fiction is a way to revisit the wizarding world “I’m sure everybody will want to read the books and watch the movies over and over again,” said Chopra.
By Bijal Vachharajani on July 07 2011 6.30pm
Photos by Parikshit Rao