I’m talking with Kat Miller the Creative and Marketing Director at MuggleNet today! I’m so excited to feature her on the blog and give a glimpse into the life of someone who gets to actually have a paying job that is dedicated to Harry Potter. Ah-mazing. Remember to go here to check out the other Women in Geek interviews I’ve done with Sarah Rodriguez, Christina Janke, Megan Gotch, Vicky Connolly, Tiffany Wangerin, Lindsay Cummings, and Marissa Reynolds. Now let’s chat with Kat!
What do you do with MuggleNet, and what does that mean?
I am the Creative & Marketing Director, which means, well, I do a lot! Basically, it comes down to publicity, giveaways, media, and staff. I handle the majority of giveaways on the site, from setting them up, securing the prizes, executing the giveaway, and contacting the winners. I am the media contact for all of the major outlets. So, when a press release comes through from Bloomsbury, Pottermore, the Studio Tour, etc., they come to me. It’s my job to make sure that they are acted upon in an appropriate manner (we have the BEST news team on this planet, BTW). This also means that if there is a major public event, I will most likely be the one to attend and represent the site. We do try to spread the love between our volunteer staff, but we also need to be sure there is someone there who knows the parties attending, for maximum benefit. Speaking of our awesome volunteer staff, more often than not, I am the one who handles and sorts out issues not only amongst them, but with any issue they have with their jobs. I’ve hired or recruited all except about six people that are on staff now (out of around 45) with our Managing Editor Keith. So, really, it’s a very varied job – but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Do you have a day job, or does this pay your bills?
I do have a day job, but this does help to pay the bills! I am a photographer, graphic designer, and soon to be publicist (just landed my first few clients!). It’s a very exciting time in my life, and if you ask me this question in another 3 months, the answer will be very different I imagine.
How did you get started at MuggleNet? Were you a part of starting MuggleNet, or did you join in after it had been created?
I got started with MuggleNet back in October of 2006 as a gallery coder, 7 years into the site’s life. My job was to update the gallery to the latest and greatest software. That’s it. It took around 10 minutes once a month. Easiest job I have ever had! From there, I took over small jobs on the site, and eventually ended up taking over and revitalizing Fan of the Week. That’s how most of the staff has moved up, small, odd jobs, wherever needed. Being a self starter is a big deal in a volunteer organization like this!
Who are some of your female geek role models, and why?
She’s not a geek, but my mother. She is the strongest, hardest working woman I have ever met, and I would not have the resolve, tenacity, or strength that I have today without her. Her struggles and bravery has taught me what is means to be a strong woman. I really respond to woman who are honest about who they are, what they like, and where they want to go. Life is WAY too short to be cagey, dishonest, or sheltered. I learned that young, and have my mother to thank for that. Also, Jennifer Lawrence because “Where’s the pizza?!”
What is the best thing about working with MuggleNet?
There are so many amazing things, but I think my favorite is making people happy. We are in a unique position at MuggleNet. Having been around for so long and having a reputation as the World’s #1 Harry Potter Website allows us to do things that other sites don’t have the capacity to do. We recently gave away a package retailing over $1000, and that’s not even counting the intrinsic items like autographs. Nothing makes me happier than making someone else’s dream come true.
What do you find that is meaningful, special, and/or valuable about what you do?
I am the co-creator of MuggleNet’s global re-read podcast, Alohomora!. We are reading one chapter of the series every week, and taking Potter fans around the world on the journey with us. It has been an unparalleled experience. I’ve always been lucky to have friends to chat Potter with, but not everyone has that. Hearing from listeners that we are their friends, the light of their week, or the only people they have to discuss Potter with is so inspiring. Discussing new theories and crazy ideas is a highlight of my week, and I’ve never been happier to be a part of this fandom!
You are now a full-grown adult working on creating original content within a community based on a series of children’s books. Why? What made Harry Potter so impactful for you that you’ve continued to be so incredibly active in the fandom?
It’s hard for me to put my finger on why Potter has made such an impact on me. When I first started the series, back in 2000 (Goblet of Fire was my first midnight release), I had just graduated high school and was setting out on a new path. Most of my friends were going off to college, moving away, and I was staying at home to go to community college. I was perfectly happy with my decision, as back then, I wasn’t the independent person I am today. However, Harry allowed me to get out of my small world, to live a life that I didn’t yet know that I wanted. It sparked my imagination, presented ideas that were bolder and bigger than I could ever dream. I still find it funny that people continue to call them children’s books. The themes in Harry Potter aren’t children’s themes – they’re life themes. Bravery, Love, Friendship. These are traits that all people should strive to have and acquire. I’m thankful to have found Harry, and have grown into the loving, selfless, brave person that I am today, partially in thanks to him.
Do you encounter any negativity in your fandom based on your gender?
None whatsoever. Potter fans, I’ve found, are among the most tolerant, caring, thoughtful individuals that I’ve ever met. Equality, FTW.
There are lots of women out there who want to break into the geek industry, be it comics, gaming, podcasting, writing, or fashion. What kind of advice do you have for them?
Don’t focus on your gender, or make it an excuse. When I started at MuggleNet, there was ONE other woman working for the site. The boys ran the show, but just I did my work, sent in my ideas, and kicked ass along the way. Gender isn’t what is going to get you recognized for being awesome – your work ethic, enthusiasm, and creativity will. So, do what you do, what you love, and never, ever stop. I have a card that was given to me at the college graduation. I never save cards, but I took the front of it and stuck it to my bulletin board. I’ve had it for 11 years now. It reads, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou. I look at that every. single. morning, and live my life by this philosophy.
Have you gained friends since working with MuggleNet, or did you go into this already knowing the individuals you work with?
Some of my favorite people on this planet are friends that I have made through MuggleNet. They live all over the world, and I don’t get to see them often, but we make magic together quite literally every day. I’ve taken road trips with them, laughed (and cried) at all hours of the day, and danced the night away. These people are my family, and will always be a major part of my everyday. I’ve never felt more lucky to have people I care about so much in my life.
What do you wish people knew about what you do? Are there common misconceptions about what it means to do what you do?
I think that sometimes people don’t understand exactly how much hard work has gone into getting to where I am today. They see my tweets or my Instagram photos from some great place, at a special event, or with a cast member and say, “OMG. I am so jealous. I want your job!” – but really, those moments are few and far between. Usually, it’s phone calls at 2AM, around 300 emails every day (90% of them are legit, too), and working around 50 hours a week – and that’s just for MuggleNet. I also have a full time job PLUS am self employed, go to school, and at some point have to eat, sleep, and exercise. My job may be fun and sometimes glamorous, but it’s hard – in the best, most challenging, fulfilling ways possible, but still, it’s hard. Blood, sweat, and enough tears to fill a swimming pool have gone into my years thus far at MuggleNet, but I would happily live it all over again, to end up right where I am today.