A pot-filled parody of Harry Potter that started out as a spoof on rabble.ca‘s discussion forum, babble, is now a published novel that has grabbed international media attention.
Dana Larsen posted drafts of each chapter of Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone, on babble over the course of six months, from December 2006 to June 2007, to the amused and delighted feedback of other forum participants. He also posted it on the Cannabis Culture forums.
“I wanted to motivate myself by having an audience that was reading it,” says Larsen. “If I put it on the forum and people said they liked it, it would motivate me to write the next chapter. I had a good response, and people wanted to know what would happen. That helped my creative juices to get going.”
As the novel progressed, Larsen got together with marijuana activist and publisher of Cannabis Culture, Marc Emery, and illustrator Gary Wintle to turn his written sketches into a finished book. The book will be published in full-colour, soft-cover magazine format and released in October.
When he approached mainstream publishers with his manuscript, they liked it but were afraid of being sued for copyright infringement. Larsen isn’t worried, though. J.K. Rowling’s people haven’t been in touch, “nor would I expect them to be. I’d be very surprised if they contacted me for any reason. We haven’t done anything illegal. Parody is allowed.”
The national and international media coverage he received after just one e-mail press release pleases Larson, but doesn’t surprise him. “Harry Potter is so popular and marijuana is popular,” he reasons.
The fact that it is being published by controversial marijuana activist Marc Emery doesn’t hurt either. Emery faces extradition to the U.S. for distributing marijuana seeds by mail across the border.
The novel itself combines the humourous adventures of Hairy Pothead with consciousness-raising about marijuana. “I wanted to entertain and amuse people before anything else,” says Larsen. “It’s hard to talk about marijuana without it being political due to the nature of the prohibition against it. After reading my book, I hope you have a lot of information about cannabis and hemp in your mind that wasn’t there before.”
As the nominated federal NDP candidate for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country Larsen hopes that marijuana activism will become less controversial and more common in politics. “At one point, it was a big deal to be gay, but now it’s not a big deal. For most people, it’s not a big deal if you smoke pot. But in the political arena, you won’t find many MPs or MLAs who say, ‘Sure, I smoke pot and I enjoy it.’ I’d like to see that transition, like the gay rights movement, for the marijuana rights movement as well.”
The book launch for Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone will be held this Saturday at the Vancouver Seed Bank, starting at 2 p.m.