Home » New book series reimagines Harry Potter at an HBCU

New book series reimagines Harry Potter at an HBCU

by The Grio

It all began with a post on Twitter. It was 2020 during the height of the pandemic and LaDarrion Williams was thinking about the lack of diversity in the fantasy genre. He proposed: “What if Harry Potter went to an HBCU in the South?”

“Growing up, I watched ‘Twilight,’ I watched ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’ and ‘Percy Jackson,’ which is one of my favorite books. I didn’t see myself in those stories, and I didn’t feel seen by them,” said Williams. He is a self-taught playwright, filmmaker and screenwriter.

The post went viral and started a dialogue online, leading Williams down a long road to make good on his idea. He’s the first to admit though that the process was not a fairytale.

Williams’ “Blood at the Root,” the first in a three-book deal, arrives in stores Tuesday. Jalyn Hall (“Till”, “All American”) recorded the audio version. The book follows Malik, a 17-year-old with magical powers who gets accepted into Caiman University, an HBCU with a “Blackgical culture” and a magic program.

Williams talked to The Associated Press about how his tweet became a novel and his inspirations for “Blood at the Root.”

Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.


AP: You sent that… and got a big reaction. Then what happened?

WILLIAMS: I wrote it as a TV pilot. I didn’t intend it to be a novel. I was sharing (the process) online and people were sending me money with CashApp and Venmo from the U.S., Canada, even New Zealand. They said, “Go make this a short film.” It was October 2020. Things were shut down. You couldn’t buy hand sanitizer. I asked my friends, and we shot this magical short film around LA. We snuck onto the UCLA campus. Sorry, UCLA, but we wanted to film on an actual college campus. That’s when I realized this story was very special.

I thought I had it all. I thought I had the viral tweet, the short film, I had the script, I had the idea. I thought…

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