How Harry Potter Made Me Believe in Writing

Moe Berg The Spy Who Played Baseball

I wrote about this pretty recently, but I feel like I need to repost it here on this blog especially as I get ready to start a six-month class at the Writing Barn helping other authors believe in themselves.

Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive me for reposting. I also hope that you have an amazing weekend! You deserve it!

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Sparty says you also deserve bacon! He also says that he deserves more bacon. Bacon for everyone!

The Post

J.K. Rowlng made me believe in more than magic. She made me believe in myself and that I could be a writer.

I don’t usually talk much about my past because I prefer not to let the things that happened to me define me. I much prefer to define myself. I’m ornery like that. But some days I actually feel a little compelled to talk about that past. Not in sordid detail. Sorry if you are into that.


So here it is: A while ago I was so afraid of my home that I would sleep in my car.

People didn’t know that when it was happening. Most people don’t know that now. I was a respected member of that little community. But I would sleep in the car, often with my dog when it was cold. Maine winters are really cold.

What does this have to do with Harry Potter? Did someone cast a spell and free me from my freezing cold car? In a weird way, yes.

I have the most amazing daughter and she loved the Harry Potter books when she was little.  She wanted me to make a magical world like Harry’s, but catered to her. She wanted the magic to be in Maine set in Acadia National Park near where we lived. She wanted the main character to be a girl who had a cool best friend that may or may not be a troll. She wanted the book to be about friendship and justice and have funny parts. I’d make up the story day after day, telling it to her as we drove to my newspaper reporting assignments that happened after school. And eventually I thought that writing this story, which eventually became the TIME STOPPERS books, was so much more interesting than writing and editing stories for newspapers about local planning board meeting and setback ordinances.


I wrote it when I waited to pick Em up from school. I wrote it during down times during town meetings. I wrote it on napkins, in my car, everywhere.

I wanted that story so badly.

I wanted to be a writer so badly.

But I didn’t believe in myself. I couldn’t even admit to myself that I wanted to write.

I was a woman who was too afraid to sleep in her own bed.

I was a woman that bad things happened to.

I didn’t believe I could do something like writing stories about magic and heroes especially for a living, especially when I felt so far from a hero in my own life.

Then I read about J.K. Rowling and how she had all these struggles, about how she wrote and was rejected, but kept writing because she was compelled to make it happen. She persisted.

And I realized that I could persist too.

So, I took that story I was writing and submitted it to Vermont College’s Master of Fine Arts program and promptly forgot about submitting it because there was no chance I could ever get in. And if I did, how could I pay for it?

I got in. My sweet grandmother died and left me a bit of money in her will. I used that money to pay for my master’s.

And a year later I was published, not with TIME STOPPERS, the story I wrote for my daughter, but another story with less magic but still a lot of heroes.

There is so much to admire in the story of Harry Potter and his friends and in the person who is J.K. Rowling, but what I admire so much about her is her authenticity, that she never shied away from telling the world about her bad times. It was that authenticity that allowed me to find my own brave.

I know she will never see this. But what I wish she could know – that we all could know – is that we only have tiny glimpses of the world we create, tiny bits of knowledge of the good we do and the impact we make.

I owe a lot to J.K. Rowling. I became a successful writer who actually gets to write for a living. I have a daughter who graduated Harvard and is all around amazing as she heads out into the adult world ready to make an impact, to change it for good. I live in an adorable place and I never have to sleep in the car, and I’m hardly ever afraid any more.

And it’s because I heard her story and thought, “Maybe I can do this too. I can be brave.”

I hope everyone reading this gets to have that happen to them, and I hope that we can work together to make this world a place where everyone can have the opportunity to feel safe in their houses, in the street, in their country, a world where we can all have the security of space and belief in ourselves to make whatever magic it is that we want to make.

Writing Prompt

Over at Bustle there is a really adorable (and smart) article full of Harry Potter writing prompts. You should go check it out if you’re in that sort of magical mood!

Writing News

An entire box full of The Spy Who Played Baseball arrived at my house on New Year’s Day! It’s a nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg and I need to give a couple away because I’m just that excited about it. If you post a comment on here before Sunday at noon (Eastern Standard Time) and Sparty picks your number at random, I’ll send you a copy and also a copy of another one of my books – probably Time Stoppers. So, do it! I like to mail things.

Also, there’s more stuff about me on my website.


Thanks again for reading my blog. I really appreciate it and you so much!



The Spy Who Played Baseball




Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

54 thoughts on “How Harry Potter Made Me Believe in Writing”

  1. Carrie, I have always admired you and your ability to write – getting right to the core of emotions and thoughts. Thanks for persevering and for telling us. I hope I can learn to be a better photographer. I am 70 and have one fabulous grandson.

    1. Peg. You can do anything. Age doesn’t matter at all. My former FIL became a paramedic, ran his first marathon, and became a black belt and started all of that after he retired at 65. You’ve got this. I believe in you.

  2. You are such a inspiration just like J.K. Rowling. I enjoy reading all of you books and I am looking forward to more of your stories. One of the best authors to date. Thank you for writing!

  3. I think writing books can be just as scary as making a wedding gown out of a jib sail, but it can be done, just ask my dil. I like reading books with characters and stories that are local. Be brave! Eat bacon!

  4. I always tell the kids in my class to look at other people who have succeeded, and use their strengths to help you be the best you. You, are a pretty awesome YOU!

  5. Carrie, I’m sorry you had to endure something that scared you so. I am glad however for your strength and your ability to overcome everything. I am grateful for your talent and willingness to share it with the world! You’re an amazing author/story teller!

  6. Dearest Carrie roomie–you are my favorite. I’m so glad you keep writing and share yourself with the world. Do we need to contribute to a bacon fund? I worry sometimes that Sparty will run out and it will be sad. I keep spare bacon in my freezer.

  7. Carrie, you are a MARVELOUS inspiration to young writers! I have already forwarded the notification of your publication of your latest book to my granddaughter, Ellie, who has shown her excellent writing skills! I intend to buy her a copy of “The Spy who Played Baseball”, unless Sparty happens to pick my name in your contest! 😉

  8. YOU inspire me everyday. I’m so grateful that the world crossed our paths. Great post. Xo

  9. Thank you for sharing this – your honesty is refreshing. It not only allows me to confront my own struggles, but also helps me to feel as if I am not alone when I wrestle with writing (or life in general). I’m so glad I know you and proud of how you persevere and inspire us all. <3

  10. Aww, that’s so sweet. And cool. And sad too. I think you will also inspire kids and other writers just like JK Rowling did! Cause you’re awesome like that!

  11. I read this and it makes me more happy that I found your work. Need is one of my favorite series, I’m honestly thinking of rereading it soon.
    When you’re reading, you don’t tend to think about the back story of the author, why they chose certain places or what they were thinking when writing.
    You’re able to provide that and in turn, we’re also able to relate with you, and support you as an author. So I’m glad you no longer feel scared of your home!
    I hope you continue to let the world of books inspire you, just as your books inspire the world xxx

  12. Yayy I’ll always happily comment and support you you are amaxing and give so much of you to all of is readers:-)

      1. 100% we will so make this happen start looking for a super cheap room for me lol

  13. Even if we don’t win I am going to go buy this book because it’s by one of my most favorite authors and it sounds like a good read! Can’t wait! Btw Carrie, you’re amazing!

  14. Sweet Carrie. I love how open you are and how you freely share. It’s an inspiration to many others, including myself. One day when I finally settle down from all the homeschooling, I’m going to try my hand again. Also, what a role model you are for young girls to look up to. I’m proud that my daughter adores you so. It makes me giddy that she gets so giddy when she sees you or gets an autograph. Thank you for being so awesome!

      1. She got her new book for Christmas. I haven’t uploaded the pics yet, but she got all excited. It was adorable. She told my parents that you “are a famous writer” and “she loves me”… LOL.

  15. Congratulations on the spy book! It looks amazing. And thank you for sharing this story – you are so brave, honest, and inspiring.

  16. Writers who overcome tremendous odds and go on to see their words make it into print are my favorite. Those who remain human after they succeed, who remember where they started and who never let them become over-awed by their wwn greatness are the best of the best. You are the Captain America of the best. I’m so glad you’re here.

  17. One thing I’ve always wanted to do was write. When I was about 18 (we’re talking many years ago now) I even began a story. I’ve let life get in the way of the dream I once had, but I still think about it every now and again. YOU make me remember why I wanted to write, and inspire me to not totally give up. 🖤 Thank you for being such an amazing woman!

  18. By nature, you are magical. I love your words and the power that is you! I am glad you endured on so many levels! Xoxo

  19. Carrie, thank you so much for sharing! Believe it or not, you’re my inspiration like J.K. is yours. I dream of being a published author someday. I’ve worked for years, but constantly allow my doubts and fears stop me from pushing forward.

    This post has reignited my drive and desire. Thank you for being the amazing person you are, and allowing me to follow in your journey. I hope one day, I can properly thank you!

  20. I always look forward to your posts and blogs. They are so whimsical with your critters. The heartwarming stories of your hobbit parents. Your never ending love for Em. There is magic everywhere. When we can’t find it, we make our own.
    Stay warm!

  21. I’d love to be win your new book. I hope Sparty picks me. I always enjoy reading your posts and the links to your blog. Thank you for the laughs and thoughts.

  22. You know one thing I should have written earlier is that when I was in your same shoes of being afraid to sleep in my own bed and instead I slept in my car. I had your books thru it and my husbands deployment’s and the loss of him. You my friend have kept me going and I totally think I should move in next door:) we all Love and adore you the fur babies and your daughter you Carrie are such and inspiration. Love you

    1. Oh, Heather. This means so much to me, thank you for letting me know. So much love back to you! And I am so sorry that you had to sleep in your car and so sorry for your loss.

      1. Thank you and it’s okay it helps to shape who we become. We have our quirks and things that we are afraid of. And things that makes us stronger, thru our trials we have become stronger. Love you my friend keep up with one of the Most amazing things one can share with others. Writing , an imaginary land with hero’s love villans. It’s such a wonderful escape.

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