A lot of people are fans of Harry Potter, and few know that better than Lily Zalon of Fairfield.
Zalon, 16, is the author of "Dear Mr. Potter: Letters of Love, Loss and Magic," a collection of Potter fans' tributes to J.K. Rowling's iconic wizard and star of books and films.
"It's letters and pictures for Harry Potter fans, talking about how the Harry Potter series has impacted them...throughout their lives," Zalon, an incoming senior at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, said Monday afternoon.
Zalon, a Harry Potter fan herself, started a blog about the subject of seven best-selling books by Rowling, in March 2010. Some eight months later, Zalon was sorting through 6,000 submissions to find the best 200 letters and 600 pictures for her book.
"It had to be engaging and interesting," Zalon said of criteria she used in selecting letters and photos. "Some of them are cute, some are really sad. They had to contribute to the picture I was trying to paint, which is what the Harry Potter series did for its fans."
Zalon said Harry Potter, for her, "served as the one constant from my very, very young childhood to nearing the end of my teenage years."
"It provided sort of a look into a different world that was maybe a little more accepting and fun than the world I was in. It sort of just served as an escape from the non-magical world," she said.
The heads of two major Harry Potter fan sites picked up on Zalon's idea very quickly and did a lot of publicity for her, which drove the wizard's fans to her, and she also reached out to famous people in the hope they would contribute thoughts on what made Harry Potter so special. "We've got a movie star in there, two New York Times' best-selling authors, some of the biggest names in Harry Potter fandom," she said.
The movie star and authors are Evanna Lynch, a Harry Potter actress; Melissa Anelli, author of "Harry, A History" and webmaster of the-leaky-cauldron.org; and John Green, the author of young adult fiction. Zalon's book includes stories of how Rowling's work saved children from depression and bad situations at home, according to a news release from the Harry Potter Alliance, a charity that aims to engage youth in social justice issues.
Zalon's book was self-published, but she said she is meeting with publishers next week in the hope they will take over publication. As of Monday, Zalon said she had 3,000 orders that she had to ship out to Potter fans who heard the book was available.
All of the proceeds from the book will go to supporting youth literacy through the Harry Potter Alliance, Zalon said. "It's a very broad-based spectrum of issues that they work for. The book is for youth literacy," she said.
On Friday, Pequot Library will host "Harry Potter Fest!" which will include the chance to meet Zalon, buy a copy of her book, trivia and games centered on the wizard and a screening of "The Deathly Hallows Part 1."
The library, at 720 Pequot Ave. in Fairfield's Southport neighborhood, encourages attendees to wear their "best Hogwarts outfit" to the party, which begins at 4 p.m. The library encourages advance registration.
Zalon is the daughter of Susan Ei, Pequot Library's children's librarian.
To order a copy of Zalon's book, go to the Harry Potter Allliance website.