Thursday, October 18, 2012
Last week, I shared a little bit about how I visited the set of the Vampire Diaries early this year. I ended with a cliffhanger of sorts, because I meant to tell the rest of the story this week. But I'm afraid that you're going to have to wait one more week to find out what happened next...
Why the delay? Because of what happened to me last Tuesday.
What happened on Tuesday night?
I got to meet J.K. Rowling.
You read that right. One of my biggest writing inspirations and an author who changed my life came into town, and I got the chance to see her and hear her speak. She shared a little bit about her new adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, and even did a reading. She spoke about her writing process, career and opinions on books and publishing. And, best of all, she took the time to meet each and every member of the audience who stuck around and signed books for us all!
Before anything else, as inspired by the amazing Rebecca Serle and her post, let met tell you my Jo story.
When I was still in elementary school, my mother was my primary source of books. She'd pay attention to what was on the bestsellers list, or what books were making waves in the world, and she'd purchase them for me. One particular Christmas, she got me a book titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. While I thought the sorcerer bit was right up my alley, I wasn't into reading books with male main characters at the time, and so I put it in my bedside drawer and forgot all about it until I accidentally found it two weeks later.
Once I started reading this book, I was completely taken with it. I would bring the book with me and read it during my classes (even when I wasn't supposed to!), just completely and utterly absorbed in this incredible story. I could relate to poor Harry, as he struggled to find his place. I was intrigued by the magic in the book, the places, the creatures, the spells. It was enchanting. It was incredible. It was life-changing.
Without fail, every single time a new book in the series came out, I would get it as soon as I possibly could manage and just devour it. I'd go through them so fast on my first read, then go back and reread them at a slower pace to find details I'd missed, or draw pleasure from experiencing everything with these characters I loved all over again. . I read them so much that the characters became the best friends I wished I had, and the magic and the setting became something I aspired to find for myself (or at least pretend I could find for myself). As I got older, I was also amazed by the world that Jo built, and the care she put into all these tiny details from the start to the end of the series.
Obviously, I absolutely love the Harry Potter series.
Jo's creativity and imagination led to the creation of the Harry Potter series. This series, in turn, taught me things - about life, about love and about writing. I feel so inspired whenever I think of how these seven books just all came together so perfectly, with details in places that all just make so much sense. I admire the fact that there are stories within a story, that it's not just Harry's story (though that may be the primary focus, of course). I just - gah, I just love the way it's written.
I cannot imagine having grown up without this series in my life, both book and movie form. I can't imagine not learning these things about life, love and friendship along with Harry. I can't imagine not knowing who Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint + Emma Watson are. I can't imagine not being able to visit "Hogwarts" and "Hogsmeade" via a quick trip to Florida.
I can't imagine a life without Harry Potter.
So, yes, obviously, I snagged the opportunity to get to attend her one night only event in New York without a second thought. And it was so totally worth it.
I was basically in awe just listening to her speak. She was quite articulate and funny and intelligent, and I just found myself even more amazed by her.
Here are a few quotable quotes from Jo for the night:
- "The reader should never have a feeling of how difficult it is to write your book."
- "I've turned American."
- "We're ruthless people, writers."
- "The Macbook Air changed my life." (What an endorsement! It makes me want to get one...)
- "Discussing an idea before writing it is a way to kill it stone dead."
- "People have sex in this book, but no one really enjoys it."
- "All of our lives are observed in some ways."
And here's a few from Ann Patchett, who did an incredible job handling the questions and discussion:
- "True villainy is rare."
- (with regards to villains) "... fill out the symphony of the book"
And a few fun facts we all learned:
- The Casual Vacancy is mostly about what is hidden, and stripping the layers away.
- Jo would make notes of the things she wanted to come back to, like little details. She did not finish her outline before starting to write The Casual Vacancy.
- Children are very aware of fear. When it's addressed in books, they're given a safe place to deal with it. For Jo, you should allow children to get it out, talk about and then dissipate it then.
- For adolescents, they already start to appreciate that evil exists in the world.
- Jo is comfortable with 14-15 year olds reading The Casual Vacancy, because there are issues that they can understand.
- It has never crossed her mind to self-publish, as she appreciates traditional publishing. She loves the fact that they can handle all these aspects, as well as saying there's a romance to it.
- With Harry Potter, no one ever read anything before she finished the draft, even her editor. Her editor was always the first one to read the finished draft. With The Casual Vacancy, her husband read it while she wrote it.
Of course, you didn't think I was going to have this night happen and not take any pictures. Unfortunately, my electronics were not cooperating with me, so I only snagged a few of my own. Proper credit has been given for the pictures I included below if they aren't mine.
|The stage is set.|
|I was seated up in the second ring.|
|Check out this awesome picture of JK Rowling signing, care of Jennifer E. Smith!|
|I stood this close to her and snagged a picture after she signed my book!|
It was an amazing, magical, incredible experience and I feel truly blessed and awed that it even happened. Thank you J.K. Rowling for changing my life, and for giving me the opportunity to meet you and thank you in person by doing this event. You will always, always, always be a source of inspiration and awe. Thank you.