Who’s your radical?

By Alexandra Kukulka

Nothing is more radical than creating your own world, making magic real or being a vital part of so many people’s childhoods. J.K. Rowling is probably the most influential author in my life. Her stories have touched me in a way that no books have.

It all started on a train ride from Manchester to London in 1990. That’s when she conceived the idea of a boy attending a magical wizarding school. As soon as she got home, she began writing. Five years later, “Harry

Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was completed.

Her struggle with plenty of hardship while writing the first book is apparent in her connection to the main character Harry Potter, who lost both of his parents to the evil and heartless dark wizard Lord Voldemort. Rowling also lost her mother while writing the book. You also see her struggle with depression in “Harry Potter” through the presence of the dementors—the dark, ghostly, floating beings who literally suck the life and soul out of you.

After being turned down by 12 publishers, she finally landed one, and “Harry Potter” published. Rowling made a complete turnaround in those years of writing and publishing of the first “Harry Potter” novel; she went from being on welfare to being worth $798 million in a matter of a few years.

She went on to write six more books. The last one, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was released on July 21, 2007. I remember that day. I remember waiting at Borders and Barnes and Noble for the first copies of “Dealthy Hollows” in lines longer than at Disneyland. My dad went to get it at Rite Aid, and there was no line. I would say that I have definitely grown up in a “Harry Potter”-obsessed world and family. My dad and I used to race to see who could finish the novel the fastest, and it usually ended with my falling asleep in my book.

Not only were the books a huge part of my childhood and imagination, but the films offered a different medium to experience Rowling’s world of Harry Potter. I feel like I spent most of my Friday nights glued to TV watching the movies when I was younger. As I’ve grown up, so has Harry Potter and the actors who played the characters in the films. We’ve seen Emma Watson go from a frumpy little girl to a fashion-forward bombshell, and Daniel Radcliffe go from a dorky kid to a Broadway superstar.

Rowling is such a badass for creating this insane world of sports on broomsticks or death eaters versus students at a wizarding boarding school and for her personal story behind all the fame and fortune. She didn’t always have this life, and I am so proud to call her one of my role models. She doesn’t just enjoy the new wealth that she has though, which is another reason why she is my radical, and I admire her so much. She has become one of the worlds’ most noted philanthropists, supporting charities such as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Lumos.

She created part of my childhood, and Harry Potter will always hold a special place in my heart. If I ever get the chance to meet this amazing woman, I would say I’m so glad that she took that train ride from Manchester to London that day and dreamt up a boy in a magic school because I seriously cannot imagine my life without Harry, Ron or Hermione.