Ok, all I can say is that JK Rowling is absolutely amazing! Last night I was among the select few that got to sit within the presence of one of the most influential writers in my life. This event got national media coverage as well as a HUGE following here at UCD.This adventure started a few weeks ago when I was at Refreshers Day where all of the student clubs (known as societies) toted their wares and tried to entice students to join up with their groups the same way vendors sell produce at Boston's Haymarket. At this event, I was physically stopped and pulled me back in order to explain all the multitude of reasons that I ought to join up with their society. That society is known as the L&H Society (Literary and Historical Society) and their mission is to bring attention to the arts within the UCD community. For 2 euro, I could open myself up to "untold treasures" but what got me was the event that went off on Tuesday. 2 euro would get me in to see the person whose words have enchanted my mind and emotions, offered escapist nights of reading, a second life where anything was possible. 2 euro would get me in to see JK Rowling, the famed author of the Harry Potter series.
Unfortunately, they didn't email the tickets to me but rather, I ended up standing in line an hour early in order to queue up to get a ticket on Monday morning. But boy was I happy that I did! After softball practice on Tuesday, I walked up to the library and found a rather HUGE line waiting for the doors to open to let us into the amphitheater. After 45 minutes the line begins to move as the masses flood into the gargantuan lecture hall. Security guards and media people were whirling around snapping photos, checking bags, and a whole manner of other duties. The decision was hard, go back and get high or stay low and be in the front. I opted for the latter and sat off to the right hand side thinking there might be a good look at her from the side but I was in for a whole lot more than that.
When JK came into the room, cheers, clapping, hoots and hollers erupted from all around me. We got to our feet to welcome our prophet into our midst. A large thrown chair was brought in and put on stage not more than 10 feet away from me and you know who settled into the cushy seat in an elegant black dress. She read from Deathly Hallows at the part where Ron comes back to the other two in the forest after saving Harry from the pond. JK brought the book to life - I mean I'd hope she can, it's her book after all - but it was more than that. She gave the book soul. Her voice took on the personality to the characters. Her emphasis, perfect. Her accent, true. It was overwhelming. At interval she would stop, explain something from her writing process or other background that just fueled the atmosphere in the room. When she stopped, there was a palpable feeling of remorse that the sweet storytelling had come to a close.
The next phase of the reception was to take questions from the audience. She answered the questions of 10 students who had submitted their questions ahead of time. With honesty and openness, she answered questions about her writing, the story lines, the pressures and all. Two major points really panged at our hearts though. The first was when she spoke of not writing Harry Potter any longer. It was clear that she was going to miss this story that had been part of her life for 17 years. 17 years, she said, and this story had been the one constant in all this that time. I have no doubts that she will miss it every day. That said, the second and most emotional point was when she called us out as her target audience, "her people" as she named us. We were the age group that she had been gunning at when the first book was released. The entire room cooed with understanding and emotion. JK herself started to get a little misty when she was talking about that bit.
In any event, the evening came to a close after the L&H Society's auditor presented JK with the famed James Joyce award in recognition of all her contributions to society. She has singlehandedly helped students and adults rediscover their passion for reading and imagination. This event was amazing and absolutely thrilling. I'm so happy that I got to participate!