Like most of J.K. Rowling's fans, George Norman Lippert was thrilled and fulfilled when he came to the final page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But being such a huge fan and having spent so much time in the wizarding world, he found it hard to say goodbye.
So like countless others, he sat down and wrote a story. Never intending anyone beyond his own family to see it, he envisioned a "next generation" of Rowling's stories starring James Sirius Potter, firstborn son of Harry and Ginny Potter. Lippert's story picked up young James' adventures the first time he boarded the Hogwarts Express, met new friends, and embarked on magical adventures of his own.
After 400 pages of writing, Lippert's wife urged him to post his "fanfic" (a term he'd never heard before) online for others to enjoy. He titled it James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing and put it online for anyone to read for free. And Harry Potter readers went gonzo over it.
The story finds James squaring off against a new movement called the "Progressive Element," a collection of wizards who want to reveal the magical world to Muggles in order to spark a war between them. Along the way, James makes a pair of friends — a "brick of a boy" named Ralph and an American expat named Zane — and must find out if he's able to live up to his famous family name.
Fast-forward a few years later, and Lippert has written an entire series of James Potter novels, currently numbering four — James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper, James Potter and the Vault of Destinies and James Potter and the Morrigan Web are books two through four — and all free. They're even downloadable in multiple e-reader formats. He's amassed millions of fans, some of whom made a film out of the first book (with more on the way) and others who've translated his books into multiple languages. More recently, he's used his success to launch a new "offshoot" series starring a side character from the James Potter books.
While J.K. Rowling and her publisher can't put the official "canon" seal on Lippert's work, he says that they are aware of his stories and successes and have been "very cordial and encouraging" on the matter. For her part, Rowling has stated repeatedly that she has no intention of ever revisiting the lives of Harry Potter and his friends, aside from a few short stories and biographies for Pottermore.com. So if you're jonesing for a Potter fix, short of Rowling changing her mind, this may just be the next best thing.
In the meantime, Rowling's delivered the first script to Warner Bros. for a potential film trilogy set in her wizarding world but starring a new character named Newt Scamander. He's the fictional "magical creature" expert who wrote the in-universe tome Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Scamander's globe-trotting adventures took place decades before Harry was born. Warner Bros. is hoping for a November 2016 release date.