On Tuesday October 16th, I had the pleasure of attending a event and book signing with J. K. Rowling in the Daniel Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in NYC. Even though I love her for the Harry Potter series, she was in the city to promote The Casual Vacancy and I knew that if I wanted to enjoy the night, I would have to put the old series away and focus on the new book.
The theater was filled with tension and excitement. Rowling’s fans could barely contain themselves, but managed to pass the time after the doors opened by snapping pictures of each other and the stage, many not coming to terms with the idea that they would see her in-person in about an hour.
The conversation between Ann and Jo took place on the couches. Ann was CLEARLY a fan and Jo was exceedingly charming. When discussing The Casual Vacancy, Rowling found that the book’s structure was the most challenging aspect. The challenge to great writing is not to “let the reader know you’re working” which can be hard when the point of view jumps between characters so frequently, it happens multiple times in each chapter. In order to keep the complicated plot striaght, Jo used a series of complicated diagrams with arrows and cryptic notes to keep everyone and everything straight. She wrote freeply, “knowing [most of what she wrote] wouldn’t be in the book.” The free writing also helped her to “get to know the characters while taking notes.”
While the wizarding world was mentioned here and there, it really did focus on The Casual Vacancy, though there were some interesting discussions on truly evil characters in young and adult literature. Rowling believes children are better equipped to deal with truer evil because they have more opportunity to deal with their emotions.
Children’s lit fans should rejoice; Rowling has announced that she is currently writing her next book and that it is a children’s novel. Rowling also plans to write at least one more adult novel, however.
A brief Q&A with a couple of prescreened, audience questions took place. Then, everyone in the audience received a free copy of The Casual Vacancy and had the opportunity to get it signed. Signing went row by row and I can only imagine how long some people were there. Luckily, I was in the 4th row. The line moved along pretty quickly, so hopefully no one was there too late. Rowling was very professional and personable. She had a big smile for everyone and looked each fan in the eye. I was too star struck to think of anything good to say to her and merely thanked her for writing such an amazing series. I hate that feeling when you see someone you admire and end up getting tongue tied.