Last weeks seemed really turbulent for Steve Vander Ark, a 50-year-old librarian from Michigan, USA. His newest book, „In Search of Harry Potter”, has just been released. But it was his previous publication, the „Harry Potter Lexicon”, that brought Steve (who’s personally a big fan of the Harry Potter books) into conflict with the author of the series.
It happened so because J.K. Rowling did not want Vander Ark to publish his Harry Potter lexicon. On 31st October 2007 she sued his publisher, RDR Books. Ten months later, in September 2008, the court in New York City decided that the „Harry Potter Lexicon” could not be published in its present form. The case cost him a lot of time and nerves, even though he was officially just a witness. It is not the end yet, as early in November RDR Books filed an appeal.
Is Vander Ark ready to face his favourite writer in the court once more? „There may be questions I can’t answer,” he told us at once. Usually, as he says, he avoids talking in public and giving interviews. Anyway, he made an exception for us. We talked about the lexicon case, his relationship with J.K. Rowling and future plans, including what will happen now with the „Harry Potter Lexicon”.Wiadomości24.pl: Was 8th September, when the court announced its decision, the worst day in your life? You mentioned that although you were disappointed, you felt relieved as well.
Steve Vander Ark: It was definitely not the worst day of my life. Not even close. After all, I wasn't a defendant in the case. The whole thing was completely out of my hands for many, many months, and it wasn't me who was winning or losing. My only disappointment in the whole thing was that we couldn't come to a settlement and show that both sides were honestly trying to work things out in good faith. That's always been my goal through the whole thing.Tell us how it all started. When did you first come up with the idea of creating a lexicon for the Harry Potter novels?
- I started the Lexicon as a list of facts which I collected for fans to use. That was back in 1999 between books three and four. Harry Potter fanfiction was taking off then and online discussions of the books were blossoming all over. Fans kept coming back to the Lexicon to verify facts for their discussions or to research a story they were writing, and I kept expanding the site to accommodate their needs. I'm a librarian and connecting people to the information they need is what I love to do.