Saturday, October 20, 2012

The So-Far-Beyond-Epic-There-Are-No-Words Meeting of J.K. Rowling

 I have had so many formatting problems with the entry. I hope it's okay. 

Also, the title lies a little. There are words. Lots of words.

On Tuesday I was one of those fortunate enough to attend the J.K. Rowling even in New York city and, as anticipated, it was amazing. Beyond amazing.

Getting tickets was a total group effort. I, unfortunately, had to work and could only participate for a little while in the calling loop. My mum, my roommate, and her mom were all calling repeatedly and refreshing the page all trying to get tickets. Initially our intent was to get four. One for me and each of my roommates and then one for my mom. 

Of course my mum kept saying, “Now Amy, you are prepared to not get them right? This could very well not happen.”
I said: “Yeah, I know.”


Panic, of course, struck when I heard about the tickets that went on sale early. A friend of mine was texting me. I was a mess. 

I took my break at work at exactly 10:00 so I could call. I didn’t get through and I had to deal with a whole slew of texts from my mum and friends about their attempts. It was nerve racking.
But my mum, I am so beyond glad that’s she’s mine, got through. And we got two tickets. 

Roommate and I went. 

I could tell you all about the drive down. But it was fairly uneventful. With the notable exception of the appearance of Ginger. Ginger was a stink bug that suddenly appeared crawling around the GPS. Cue me having a mental breakdown and Sam thinking it was really funny. She named the damn thing Ginger! And she drove passed one rest stop while laughing at me.

We got to the city a bit early and went to Central Park and Books of Wonder (it was so beautiful) *sigh*.

Then we went to the theatre and tried not to freak out. 


She was introduced and everyone was screaming and I was trying not to cry. I mean, I was in the same room as J.K. ROWLING. Who could be calm in the face of that? J.K. ROWLING!

I sometimes hear people describe authors in terms of their books. She’s so witty or charming, or dull. Often, I find this a little unfair. Sometimes it’s accurate, I suppose but it’s not always true.

This time it’s true.

She is smart, clever, witty, caring, passionate, everything that makes the Harry Potter series as amazing as confused by her stardom as ever. There was of course a cool, collectedness to her but, at the same time, some of her reactions and comments suggested an unwillingness to accept the almost religious-like worship of her fans. The heart and soul of her books is present in her words and actions.

From the talk:
-The right 14-15 year old could read The Casual Vacancy but she wouldn’t recommend much younger than that.
-She said that she spends her life trying not to spoil her own books for people.
-The Casual Vacancy is a book for grown-ups not “adults” because ‘adults’ makes it sound like a Fifty Shades of Grey sort of deal and while people do have sex in The Casual Vacancy no one enjoys it.
-She has never read Fifty Shades but is not surprised that the writing is said to be so bad              because that’s porn.
-It was liberating to write for grownups, that being said, the form was a struggle because there’s not solid protagonist.
-She sees both Krystal and Sukhvinder as heroines in their own right.
-She sees Obbo and Simon as the two solid examples of villains.
-The rape scene between Krystal and Obbo was the hardest scene she’s ever had to write. She knew it had to be fast but she didn’t want to belittle the event at all.
-While admitting that dark things happen in The Casual Vacancy, she is still afraid that people don’t see any humor in it at all.
-Writers have to be ruthless.
-She just started writing and that MacBook Air “changed [her] life.”
- She took a great deal of notes about different parts of the book and many of them were so vague and obscure that she couldn’t understand them later. Kept writing back story to try and get to know the characters, knowing that most of it was going to have to be cut. One scene in particular (A post mortem) she spent days writing and then cut it out, much to her husband’s surprise.
-She’s not at all superstitious about writing but she couldn’t do computer work on the go until she got a Macbook Air because before that she thought laptops were too unwieldy. She says it “changed [her] life.”
-She saved all of her writing notes.
-Has one box in particular that she keeps in case she wants to weep over them.
-She thinks she’s good at taking edits because she’s never hit anyone…but maybe she should lower the bar.
-She never once considered self-publishing even though she easily could have.
-She likes being a part of a publishing house family.
-Anne Patchett thanked her for saving the publishing industry and she got a little flustered.
-Saw Pottermore as a way to deliver a high quality product to a wide audience.
-Anne Patchett talked about owning a bookstore and J.K. Rowling expressed so much interest that when Anne Patchett left the room her husband adamantly warned her away from opening a bookshop.
-When asked what fantasy world she most wants to live in she said Hogwarts was the obvious answer and that she still wanders in and out of it.
-Then said that she would go to Meryton and intercept Elizabeth and Darcy so she could have Darcy all to herself. And this is okay, her husband already knows all about her love for Darcy because who DOESN’T love Darcy.
-Decided that the books you read as children stick with you the most.
-She wants to live in Moonacre in Marie Merryweather’s room from Elizabeth Goudge’s              Little White Horse.
There was a comment made about her being Christ-like and she got all panicked and flustered.

Did this really happen?

She read from The Casual Vacancy. It was the “dinner party from hell” scene with Gavin, Kay, Miles, Samantha, and Mary. She apologized for the swearing and told the story of a profanity filled reading she did where a little boy was sitting in the front row.
Then we had to wait, impatiently, as they called the rows up. Sam and I tried to count down how much time we had left but then they kept changing how many rows they called at a time.

We made a few quiet comments. I got teary eyed. Then we lapsed into silence as I fell into an awed silence.

We did finally get called and here is where things went so fast.

It took us about fifteen minutes to get through that line. They were pretty much literally pushing people through the line.

We got a book, they checked our tickets, we moved forward in line.

This really happened...

We approached the table and by this point I am shaking like a great big shaking thing. It was planned that I would take a picture of Sam with J.K. Rowling and she was going to get one of me. But then they wouldn’t let us take pictures in line.

Sam went first.

Then I got up there. I didn’t cry but I totally froze and stared at her for a long second. Then she looked at me and I blurted out what I wanted to say, “Your books came to me just when I needed them most. Thank you so so much.” Unfortunately, I started talking at the same time as one of the eight people with her around the table and I think half of it was missed. She shot me a confused look at first and then said
“Thank you.”

And I was pushed through.

I took my one picture.

Did I mention that I was shaking?

I couldn’t/didn’t want to gush at first. It didn’t feel real (I still have a hard time with it. I seem so unenthusiastic when people ask and all I can say is 'amazing'). That couldn’t possibly have really been J.K. ROWLING I was in a room with. That I talked to. SHE THANKED ME! OH MY GOD!


I cried later.

A lot.

It is still so incredibly surreal. It’s a moment I never thought would happen in my life. Even when I got tickets and then still when I was in New York and even sitting in the theatre.

Admittedly, I went through about a ten minute time period where there was a tiny twinge of disappointment. Only because I think everyone dreams just a little of going into an event like this and leaving the one person who made a comment that mattered. That impacted the author. Of course, it didn’t happen. That’s life but I still wouldn’t trade the moment for anything. The ten minutes passed and I felt really bad about it.
So many people couldn’t go. It was such a limited event. I am so honored and priviledged to have even attended. I was in the same room as J.K. Rowling.

I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it right now.

I’ve always had such a hard time explaining what Harry Potter means to me or why it would matter so much to me to meet J.K. Rowling. 

I didn’t have any burning questions I needed to ask her, I never thought I would be functional enough to ask. I wasn’t. But there’s something about being in the presence of someone who’s had that much of an impact on your life. She won’t remember me, I don’t think I warranted a second thought, so it’s not that. I have no intention of EVER selling my signed copy of The Casual Vacancy. EVER. But that’s also worth so much more to me than the money could be.

But there’s something about it. About realizing, I mean fully realizing, that there really is a person behind the book series that impacted you so deeply. I knew she existed but this is completely different. After hearing her talk it’s almost like you could feel the ideas made flesh. That her writing was so much a part of her. And her writing is so much a part of me (and I don’t mean the tattoo) that it so odd actually seeing her. In the best way possible.
I can’t even really explain how this event felt. It was different from any midnight release or anything I’ve been to. You get such an odd mix of people at those things. This was all people who cared. They’re not sort of interested, but well, and truly touched by her. The excitement when just her name was mentioned ran through everyone in the crowd. We were all charmed and delighted and won over by her all over again.

I can’t say that it was totally life changing but it was amazing. It’s so inspiring just to be reminded that it was a person who touched your life that much. That they are real and care enough to take the time to sign all of those books, to be there in front of the audience.

I am so awed that I got to attend.

Did any of you ducks get to go? What did you think? Did you watch from home? Have you read The Casual Vacancy?


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