Emerson Spartz, the creator and mastermind behind MuggleNet, one of the most popular Harry Potter sites on the Web, decided he would not let the end of the popular book series vaporize his favorite hobby.
The Notre Dame junior, along with his MuggleNet staff in anticipation of the final book, publishedMuggleNet.coms What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7,which sold more than 300,000 copies and spent 26 weeks on the New York Times Children’s Bestseller List, the majority of the time at No. 2, behindEldest,the sequel toEragon.It turns out every one of his major predictions was correct.Look out, J.K. Rowling.
To put it mildly, Spartzsummer was not that of your ordinary Muggle (the term for non-wizard humans in the Harry Potter series).
I spent the entire time on a book tour, visiting more than 40 cities with each bookstore packed with hundreds of Harry Potter fans,Spartz said.For the midnight release (ofHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), I hosted an event, along with Notre Dame freshman and MuggleNet staffer Ben Schoen, that drew more than 5,000 fans.
Spartz conducted red carpet interviews at the U.S. premiere of the fifth movie (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) in Los Angeles and has become basically thego-toguy for all things Harry Potter.He has interviewed with most every major media outlet, including television appearances on MSNBC, Fox News Live and MTV.
MuggleNet, meanwhile, draws literally millions of visitors per week from around the world to discuss everything Hogwarts (the name of the school where Potter and his friends learn wizardry in the best-selling series of books by the British author Rowling). The site is so popular, in fact, that it has been ranked among the Top 1,000 Internet sites – not just related to Harry Potter, but on the entire Web – according to Alexa, a prominent on-line tracking company.
And to think, it all started from Spartz’ bedroom in LaPorte, Ind., where he grew up as more or less a typical Muggle. Well, not quite typical. He was home schooled starting at age 12, which is when he discovered a hobby that would turn out to be a much bigger enterprise than he ever imagined.
When I started home schooling, I suddenly had way too much free time and I thought it would be fun to make a Web site,he recalls.I was really into Harry Potter, so it started off just for fun. And I guess it still is for fun, just a little more serious now.
A little. Since MuggleNet went live, it has gone from a one-person pastime to something of a conglomerate with moderators and contributors from around the globe, translations into just about every language used in the world today, a server that resides on afarmin a remote location several states away, and advertisers, who have turned Spartz’ little just-for-fun venture into a profitable business.
And then there was the early-morning phone call back in 2005 that still amazes him.
It was from a woman claiming to be Jo.Not Jo Rowling, not J.K. Rowling, just Jo,he remembers.I had no idea what to say. Most of the conversation was a total blur because it was early in the morning and I wasn’t expecting it at all.I do remember her inviting me to Scotland to interview her on the day of the release of the new book.I said Id be honored, and I didnt talk to her again until I showed up at her office.
These days,Jois working on an encyclopedia about her seven Harry Potter books and the movie franchise, wrapping up the series with an A to Z account of it all.
With no plans for a vanishing act, Spartz has just begun writing another book with his MuggleNet staff and is studying business and playing intramural sports at Notre Damehis own brand of magic.