I had the absolute pleasure of attending LeakyCon a few weekends ago. Basically LeakyCon is a fan convention for Harry Potter fans, but many other fandoms also gathered. Doctor Who, Sherlock, the Mortal Instruments, Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and more. People dressed up as Dumbledore, the Tardis, Karou and Zuzana (from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor), Katniss and Peeta, Hagrid, the Doctor, Fleur Delacour, and many others. Exhibitors sold robes, books, t-shirts, buttons, greeting cards, posters, jewelry… I could go on and on. We lined up for autographs from YA authors such as Maureen Johnson and Leigh Bardugo; for actors from the LBD and Harry Potter and StarKid; for musicians such as Hank Green and, well, StarKid.
It all made me think about the effect fandom has as a phenomenon. Websites like tumblr thrive on fans sharing their love for books and TV shows. People write fanfiction, make graphics, and discuss plot points.
I got my start as a reader, and a writer, from the Harry Potter fandom. I wrote fanfiction voraciously. I spent hours on FictionAlley (haven’t been there? Every HP fan needs to visit at least once). I waited eagerly for the next chapter of Cassandra Claire’s Draco Trilogy. There was no tumblr, but we did had livejournal and I was on it. A lot.
There’s a power in this kind of community. There’s something about meeting other people and thinking: we both read these books. We both saw into Harry’s mind for seven years of his life. We cried when Sirius and Dumbledore died. We waited in lines for books and for midnight premieres.
I think it goes deeper than just, though. It’s: this story resonated with both of us. We both fell in love with this world. We both saw how books and cleverness helped, but friendship and bravery were the real weapons against evil.
Whatever the story is, the only reason we’d wait in lines for hours to meet people associated with it, the only reason we’d dress up as a fictional characters, the only reason we’d spend hours on fan art and fan fiction and the like is because the story resonated with us. Maybe with Doctor Who it’s the possibilities of time and space. Maybe with The Hunger Games it’s the injustice of the world and how one action can spark a revolution. Maybe with Battlestar Galactica it’s the question of what it means to be human. It’s the orphan finding a purpose, it’s good versus evil, it’s the band of unlikely heroes, it’s the fight and the payoff and the win.
It all speaks to us, and then we find each other at these conventions or online on blogs like this or in secret groups across the Internet. We stand together and say, ‘We know how powerful a story can be. We’ve seen it touch lives and bring people together. We know how powerful words can be, whether matched with a visual medium or alone in a book. We know and we’ll never be able to forget.’