Happy birthday to one of Middle-earth News’ finest! Our own Arwen Kester celebrates her “coming of age” as she turns 33 years old today. As our fearless leader, she plays a vital role both behind-the-scenes and on the frontline. Arwen is considered by all to be an irreplaceable part of our team and provides the guidance and leadership that keeps every operation running smoothly. Middle-earth News would truly not be the same without her and we are honored to call her one of our own.
So who exactly is Arwen Kester? She was able to take a few moments out of her busy schedule to answer the question that’s on everyone’s mind.
Middle-earth News: When did you first discover Tolkien’s works and the world of Middle-earth? Did anyone in particular influence you to seek it out?
Arwen Kester: My very first encounter was the old Rankin and Bass cartoon. In all honesty, it freaked me out, especially the part where Gollum bites Frodo’s finger off, which stayed in my nightmares for years. When The Fellowship of the Ring first hit theaters, I was baffled why anyone would want to see it, as I thought it would be similar to the old cartoon version. A friend finally convinced me to go see it. Little did I know, that first viewing would change my life forever.
ME News: You are the Director and founder of Middle-earth News. How did this organization come to be?
Arwen: After falling in love with the LOTR films and Tolkien’s writing, I kept my eye out for any and all Hobbit film rumors. In January 2011, I discovered the world of Twitter through Robert Kazinsky, who originally was set to play the role of Fili, before he left and the role fell to Dean O’Gorman. Rob had tweeted that he’d arrived in New Zealand and was prepping to begin filming.
I was instantly fascinated with Twitter and the fact that I could follow cast members along as the film progressed. I then noticed that, while there were other sites out there covering Tolkien-related movie news, there weren’t any covering all the Tolkien-related news. So, on January 12, 2011, I started the Middle-earth News Twitter account. Within a month, I had the website up and running, and before long, the makings of a fantastic news crew.
ME News: If you could hang out with any Middle-earth character for a day, who would it be and why? What would you guys do?
Arwen: Eowyn! She’s one of my favorite characters in the book. She also knows how to use a sword, and since I am currently training in German Longsword, I’d love to spend the day sparring, swapping funny stories, and talking about Middle-earth with her.
ME News: When not involved with events related to the realm of Middle-earth, what can we find you doing?
Arwen: I am a single mother of two, so most of my free time is spent with my kiddos, who are bundles of endless energy. I’m a huge fan of the outdoors, so hiking, biking, and camping are on my top fun things to do list. Gardening is one of my “favoritest” of hobbies and on my downtime you’ll find me enjoying a cuppa out on my back deck.
ME News: When your children become old enough to partake in the Middle-earth fandom, what do you wish for them to gain from the experience? Are there any particular life lessons you would like for them to take away from these tales?
Arwen: The three of us have read through The Hobbit. It was an amazing experience to be witness to their first exposure to Tolkien’s Middle-earth and a joy to see the wonder in their eyes as the text I read opened up a new world and endless adventures in their minds. I hope that one day they come to appreciate Tolkien’s unique writing style and realize how much time and care he put into writing his books.
ME News: Now it’s time for a “favorites” round. Favorite Middle-earth film?
Arwen: The Fellowship of the Ring, you never forget your first! 😉
ME News: Favorite Tolkien book?
Arwen: The Hobbit, I’ve read it too many times to count.
ME News: Favorite character from the films versus favorite character from the books?
Arwen: The four Hobbits on screen will always be near and dear to my heart, and as for the books, I’ll stick with my previous answer, Eowyn.
ME News: Favorite Middle-earth race?
Arwen: It’s a toss up between Hobbits and Elves.
ME News: Favorite Middle-earth location?
Arwen: THE SHIRE!!!
The Middle-earth News staff each had something to say about our fearless Director in honor of her birthday!
Alice, Staff Reporter
Arwen is the coolest boss you could ever have. I always saw her like the mum of the group, she’s a fighter, and always tries to keep us safe in our internet lives. She’s brave and reassuring, and she’s also super professional. The first thing you think about Arwen is “she knows what she is doing.” That’s why we say she’s our own Thorin Oakenshield, she manages so much stuff in such a great way, that it’s impossible not choose her as leader. But what I also like about Arwen is that she is a geek woman who can’t wait to geek out in every moment of the day. Her children are very lucky to have a geek mum like her!
Amanda, Staff Reporter
Arwen is simply one of the most amazing and selfless people I have ever met. She is a true geek, a wonderful mother, and our fearless leader. Middle-earth News would not be the incredible Tolkien fan site it is today without all of her hard work and dedication. She is incredibly ambitious and works so hard to achieve everything she sets her mind to. Needless to say, she is quite the inspiration to the entire team! Arwen looks out for each and every one of us and takes her role as the “momma bear” very seriously. If anyone decides to mess with one of us, they better watch out for her! Middle-earth News definitely has a strong “family” feel to it and no family is complete without its fierce, caring, and courageous matriarch. I am so lucky to have someone like Arwen in my life and extremely honored to be able to call her my friend. Congratulations on your coming of age, my Hobbity friend!
Arwen is a very inspiring person really… She’s a Doctor Who and tea-loving mom who swings a sword like hell, has a hobbit garden, and writes. So many things she has managed to combine within herself, it’s incredible. But the thing I admire most is how absolutely selfless she is when it comes to our team.. Sometimes it just seems all she’s concerned about is our individual growth and how comfortable we are with things, that’s why she always shares things with us before making a final decision. And that in particular is what really makes you feel like these aren’t just your work mates, but dear friends and almost family, really. Just how understanding she is, in anything. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I joined the team, and Arwen really made me feel like this is where I belong. So for being an amazing friend, an opportunity giver, and just a very fun, fun person I thank you, dear Arwen, and may you have a very happy name day!
Lily, Assistant Director
Arwen’s vision of a place where fans could get their Tolkien news has brought all of us together and given us amazing opportunities. We have all been able to learn so much about The Professor’s work and about ourselves. You know what I learned about Arwen? She not only has great ideas, she can make them come alive visually using her talents with Photoshop. But she’s a perfectionist, and she’s going to get it right down to the last detail. She’s unbelievably caring and brave and funny and innovative. She really belongs with a sword in one hand and a teacup in the other. In the TARDIS.
My favorite thing about Arwen is that she is the first to laugh at almost anything, and she will definitely be laughing the hardest. I have never known anyone who finds the humor in everything the way she does! The flip side of our leader, of course, is that she is a seriously hard worker who knows how to get what she wants. I admire her tenacity – she’s brought us through so much – and her ability to roll with the punches is something I seriously envy and plan to steal via magic when I see her. And on top of all that, she has artistic talent! It’s almost unfair. Arwen, you have graced the internet with one of the best-loved Tolkien fan sites and have graced my life with hilarity and friendship. Thank you, and happy coming-of-age birthday!
Maria, Staff Reporter
There is so much I could write about Arwen and whenever I sit down and try to put my thoughts into words, I feel like it does injustice to her. Arwen is an amazing person, geek, and friend. I’ve rarely met a person with Arwen’s amount of enthusiasm and energy. No matter how stressful or hard the times might be, Arwen always manages to smile and to cheer everyone around her up. This is a rare gift. Now that Arwen is coming of age, many new adventures will await her and I’m glad and honoured that I can partake in some of them. Arwen, I wish you an amazing birthday and a fantastic long expected party!
Words cannot describe how much I am thankful for having Arwen in my life, because of her I have this amazing family now that understands all of my hobbity needs. Arwen is not only our fearless and amazing news director, she is creative, a fantastic mommy and one of the nicest and most loyal friends I have. I am still in awe of her awesome interview skills, and cannot get over her photo with the members of the Hobbit cast. Have a wonderful birthday, Arwen. You are officially a full grown hobbit!
Valdis, Staff Reporter
Where to start with the praises of our majestic leader, Arwen? I will call her “majestic,” even though she tends toward Elvishness. I started following Middle-earth News in early 2013. Through a complex sequence of events (or was it just FATE?), near the start of 2014 I was invited to join this wonderful team. Arwen taught me the ropes, welcomed me with open arms (as did the rest of the team), and made me feel as if I had been part of the group for years instead of months. I am amazed by Arwen’s drive, energy, and talent in all that she does, and humbled that I have the opportunity to be part of such a vibrant community. Arwen, THANK YOU for inviting me in! I have found my Fellowship.
The Middle-earth News Team is pleased to wish Arwen a very Happy Birthday!