Voices from PEN/Faulkner Interns: Natalie Davis (Part 2)

This spring, we were joined by incredible interns who each wrote essays inspired by their time in the organization. We are thrilled to present the second essay by Natalie Davis, our spring Education Programs intern. You can also read her first, on her BookTube channel, and a piece by Alice Tsai on culturally responsive classrooms.

“Twilight Is My Harry Potter”

Author’s Note: The following post may slightly offend those that are of the houses Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff. You have been warned.

There once was a girl who had never given much thought to how she might become deeply mesmerized by an enchanting saga that would forever fill her hopeless romantic heart. This was a much simpler time. Also, what she didn’t know was that, although her world was Forks, Washington, she missed out on the exciting discovery of Hogwarts.

It was 2007 and the girl noticed the Harry Potter series at her first-ever Scholastic Book Fair. No other kids she knew seemed to be as interested as she was, but she still decided to look into the series herself. Due to the high demand of the books, all physical copies had been checked out. The girl was only able to get her hands on the audiobook for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from her local library. She was beyond excited to get her first listen. She was perhaps halfway through the third audiobook when she later learned that the series was being adapted into films. She wanted—no she needed—to see the movies, since she couldn’t find a way to get her hands on all seven books. After begging her dad to buy her one of the movies, she finally had in her possession Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She watched that movie a number of times, at least enough times for her to hold Harry Potter-related conversations, but a day came where the continuous movie watching was over. She was nine, and her parental guardian felt as though the supernatural might not simply be fiction, and put an abrupt end to her Harry Potter experience.

Being a Potterhead meant nothing to her.

Three years later, in 2010, one of the girl’s friends came to her talking about this other book series they had recently become engrossed in. It was as fantasy-filled as Harry Potter, but with a romantic twist of two star-crossed lovers; “a love story with a bite.” Thanks to that friend, the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer became the girl’s new fascination. Once again, the girl never got her hands on the physical books themselves, but thanks to FX she was able to watch the first three novels that had been adapted into films and brought to TV— Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. She remembers FX doing a Twilight Movie Marathon one weekend. She was flipping through the channels as she recognized the opening scene to the first film. That night her sole focus was watching those movies and commencing her dying love for Bella, the Cullens, the Pack, vampires, and werewolves. And from the age of twelve, Forks became her world.

In 2013, she was fifteen, and by that time she was able to read and watch what she wanted without parental control. That summer her mentor gifted her all four volumes, which led her to devoting most of her time indoors reading during her entire summer break. Well, all of July and two weeks in August. She literally read the first three in a period of three weeks! She would stay up until breaking dawn—pun intended—her head buried in those books, escaping into a story her teen heart yearned for. She confessed her love for Twilight soon thereafter, although some would say it was an obsession, because it had gotten to the point where she started committing the movies to memory. Every line, character’s actions, props placement, and scene settings were embedded in her brain for good. She became a Twihard, and that was when the true fan-girling for her began.

Her Twilight collection grew as she—really, her parents—invested in the volumes of graphic novels, the novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, the Funko Pop figures of Bella and Edward, the Twilight Tenth Anniversary Edition novel, Life and Death, and the Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga DVD collection. Despite the multiple memes of why vampires shouldn’t sparkle, the multiple reviews/critiques on why the entire saga is a terrible read, or the multiple comparisons to Harry Potter, she loved every part of it. Sure, the saga had its flaws, but for her it was about romance, the literary quotes, the coming-of-age story about figuring out one’s true nature/self, the meaning of friendships, the meaning of family, sacrifices, and having a love that will last a lifetime. Forever.

That girl was me.­

Natalie Davis was our Spring 2020 Education Programs intern. If you’re interested in becoming a Literary Outreach/Education Programs Intern with PEN/Faulkner, our Fall 2020 application for virtual internships is now open