PW’s Midwest correspondent and her daughter (both diehard Harry Potter fans) filed this report:
It was a scene straight out of a Harry Potter movie: lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and torrential rains poured down in the pre-dawn darkness outside our Minnesota home as I woke my 13-year-old daughter, Rachel, at 3 a.m. CST this past Tuesday morning. We’d read on Pottermore.com’s “Insider” blog that Day Three’s clue – from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – would be posted on the Web site between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. British Summer Time (3 a.m. – 7 a.m. CST) and we were determined to prevail as we embarked upon a noble quest worthy of Harry Potter himself: entering Pottermore sooner, rather than later.
We were desperate to be included among the million Harry Potter fans who will be “invited,” beginning in mid-August, to enter the beta version of J.K. Rowling’s eagerly anticipated new interactive Web site. Pottermore.com will officially launch in October.
J.K. Rowling has always simultaneously challenged and entertained her fans, and this latest venture is no exception. Between July 31 and August 6, fans can register to obtain advance access to the beta version of Pottermore.com by successfully following a short trail of clues. First, one must answer correctly a question from one of the seven books, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on Day One and ending with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Day Seven. Answering the day’s question redirects one to another Web site – a different one each day – where one must then find the Magical Quill. Only then can one finally register and obtain a username that can be used later to access Pottermore.com – but only after receiving one’s “invitation.”
Rachel stayed up until midnight Saturday night, refreshing and refreshing the screen, but was unable to log onto Pottermore.com “due to overwhelming demand.”
When Rachel woke up Sunday morning, the registration for Day One was closed.
Monday morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. and logged onto my laptop. Day Two’s question was up! I shook Rachel awake. Her first answer to the question from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was incorrect, and just as we typed in the correct answer, the screen changed. Day Two’s registration was now closed. We found out later it’d been up for only an hour as a limited number of people are allowed to register each day.
Clearly we needed to strategize. How better to prepare than to gather information from the Harry Potter fan community? For much of the day, when she wasn’t re-reading Prisoner of Azkaban, Rachel pored over the Pottermore.com Insider’s blog and skimmed the most recent of the 3,000+ comments posted on Mugglenet.com since Sunday.
The Harry Potter community of fans has always been supportive of one another, and never more so than this week. Fans gave each other advice and tips, passed on information, speculated when the third clue would be posted, celebrated those who’d obtained their usernames, and consoled those who’d failed to gain access. Some offered to set up accounts for others, and one rabid fan confessed that she’d succeeded in registering the first day, but enjoyed trying to figure out the daily clues and interacting with the other fans, so she was logging on every morning.
A number of Mugglenet.com fans even participated in online Harry Potter parties each night that went on into the early hours, trying to keep each other awake until the day’s question was posted. If J.K. Rowling was aspiring to keep this community engaged with each other as well as with the magical world she’d created, long after they’ve read the books and seen the movies, she’s already succeeded brilliantly.
For two hours early Tuesday morning, Rachel refreshed and refreshed the screen on the desktop, while I did the same thing on the laptop.
Suddenly, Rachel shrieked, “It’s up!”
The correct answer (2100) redirected each of us to a page on the Guardian’s Web site containing an article about Pottermore. And to the left, looking like just another advertisement, was the Magical Quill, which one had to levitate by moving one’s mouse below the quill in order to proceed to the next step.
Rachel levitated the quill. No problem for her. Not so easy for mama.
After Rachel levitated the quill for me by swiping the mouse back and forth quickly over the quill, we were taken back to Potttermore.com, to a registration page. Besides being asked to provide our names, e-mail addresses, country of origin, and date of birth, we were asked how many of the books we’d read and movies we’ve seen. We were then each given five options as usernames. I selected Oakquill190 as a username; Rachel selected WildRose41.
Curious as to how long Day Three’s clue would stay up, we kept tabs on it after registering. About an hour after it had opened, the Magical Quill disappeared and, a few minutes later, Day Three’s registration closed.
Rachel quickly received her confirmation email.
It’s been more than 24 hours and I have yet to receive mine. I must have misspelled my email address in the excitement of registering. Perhaps some magical sorting had been done, and I came up short when compared with my daughter. After all, if it weren’t for Rachel, a charter member of the Harry Potter Generation, who has loved him and his world since she was a toddler, I wouldn’t have gotten up so early two mornings in a row, trying furiously to obtain advance access to Pottermore. But I’m glad I did, because I rediscovered yet one more time the magical community inspired by J.K. Rowling’s work, shaped and reshaped by Muggles the world over for more than a decade.