Melissa Anelli (COL ’01), webmaster of The Leaky Cauldron, a popular Harry Potter fan site, bewitched students in Lohrfink Auditorium Wednesday evening with her wizard world expertise.

The event, originally scheduled to occur Feb. 10, was postponed until April 28 due to the record-breaking amounts of snowfall that occurred early in the semester.

Anelli told audience members – some of whom donned Hogwarts outfits – how themes from the series tied into her experiences as both a Leaky Cauldron contributor and a Georgetown alum.

Anelli described Rowling’s humble beginnings, writing her novel in coffee shops while taking care of her baby. Anelli said Rowling was not expecting anything other than a modest income. “She was hoping she’d only have to work part time,” said Anelli.

She also spoke of her experiences at Georgetown.

“I came here with my own perfect flawless plan,” Anelli said.

“I came in to be a doctor, that was my plan, but in my first week, I walked into THE HOYA, and I had a great time, and within a year, I had completely changed my plan, to become a reporter, to be an English major,” Anelli said in an exclusive video interview with THE HOYA after the event.

She told students, “Whatever you spend your free time doing, that might be an inkling about what you should do with your future.”

Anelli, who served as an editor for THE HOYA during her time at Georgetown and now works as a writer for the Staten Island Advance, claimed that she “felt out of the loop” at THE HOYA, but discovered her passion for journalism after discussing several of the Harry Potter novels with a fellow editor. She told the audience that they all needed to experience that “moment you connect with someone over something you love and care about.”

She also talked about technology’s role in the popularity of the Harry Potter series. “Harry Potter [fans were] the first group of fans to seize the Internet and use it for their own means,” Anelli said. She described trying earnestly to find out when the sixth Harry Potter book would be published; along the way, she came across The Leaky Cauldron, which she soon began to write for.

Anelli spoke about the unprecedented popularity of the Harry Potter series, saying, “I don’t know if we’ll ever have a shared text like we did with Harry Potter.” However, she said that the discussions and popularity developed by Harry Potter would need to be continued for future books, which she said was already happening with other popular novels.

She emphasized the importance of staying excited about reading.

Anelli told the audience, “There’s a lot of hubbub about the iPad, and the death of the publishing industry, and the only response is to talk about books . as such fantastic things. We have to be engaged, alert, excited readers.”

The Leaky Cauldron Web site, which was originally founded in 2000 before the release of the fourth Harry Potter book, has rapidly expanded in the past 10 years. Originally just confined to one page, the Web site now has MyLeaky, a social networking program, and Pottercast, a series of podcasts on iTunes. J.K. Rowling has appeared on Pottercast, and according to The Leaky Cauldron Web site, Rowling even declared the Leaky Cauldron her personal favorite.

When asked about the relevance of the site after all the books and movies are released, Anelli said to THE HOYA, “We’re trying to be about more than just the Harry Potter books and the Harry Potter movies, but be about everything that Harry Potter’s been affected by, and everything Harry Potter’s affected.”

Lecture Fund and the Georgetown Program Board sponsored Anelli’s appearance. After the event,Anelli signed copies of her book, titled “Harry, a History.”

Hoya Staff Writer Caitlin Schwind contributed to this report.

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