Now that I’m home I want to tell you all about what happened while I was in New York. Not because I want to show off, just because it was the most amazing few days and I know that you guys will understand, rather than just thinking that I’m a stalker as my friends will when they find out I flew across the Atlantic just to see JK Rowling.
Warning: this is mega mega long.
Sunday: In the afternoon we go to see Clémence Poésy in Cyrano de Bergerac (which was possibly my favourite play that I studied at Uni so I was excited to see it regardless). After the show we wait for her to come out and although she looks a bit weary & like she doesn’t want to hang around, she stops and signs our playbills. We go back to get changed then head out to the CBS studios. We arrive at about 8:30pm and set up camp on the pavement outside. Eventually there are six of us- me, Margaux, Rosie, Brianna, Jenn and Natasha. We pass the time making a ‘JK Rowling for President’ poster, drinking homemade Butterbeer and playing Harry Potter games.
Monday: Throughout the night people are coming & going from the studio, mostly just looking at us like we’re crazy but some wishing us luck in seeing Jo or saying it’s sweet what we’re doing etc. At some point during the night, maybe around 4am, Natasha recognises the host Gayle King walking past. We start talking to her and she asks us about why we’re waiting so long to see Jo, what she means to us etc. She takes out a notebook and starts writing things down, in particular something Margaux said about society not emphasising the values that are portrayed in HP. Around 5am a few of us go off to buy Jo some flowers (one pink gerbera from each of us). Margaux tells a crazy lady in a café that the flowers are for an old friend we’re meeting up with and I snort Pepsi up my nose trying not to laugh.
As it gets closer to 8am, the time we’ve been told Jo will be on the show, a few dodgy-looking men start turning up- autograph hawkers. They try to get into a better position than us (we’d been told to wait to one side rather than in front of the glass walls of the studios). We talk to the security guard who’d been umming and ahhing over whether to put up a barrier for us to wait behind. He does, and there isn’t enough room for us to spread out along it because the autograph hawkers are there too. Natasha tells them she’ll shove them out of the way if they don’t move, seeing as we’ve been there all night. One says to go ahead. So she does. We all have a space on the barrier. We stand there clutching our flowers in one hand, Harry Potter books in the other, having a panic attack every time a black car comes down the street. Two ladies (one of whom was at the events in England) pull up, wait outside and start making phone calls.
At 7:50am a black Escalade with its hazard lights flashing pulls up onto the pavement. We can see her a little through the tinted windows, then out she gets and strides over smiling. She signs a couple of the autograph hawkers’ books then moves along to us. The autograph hawkers (who are bunched up three deep at one end of the barrier) move along behind us and try to shove their books between us. The amazing security guard repeatedly shoves their books away and tells them we’ve been here all night so we get priority. As Jo gets closer I realise my book’s upside down so I fumble to try and turn it around & open to the right page in time, and just make it before she gets to me. A voice next to me says ‘last one Jo!’. She looks up from signing my book, smiles, and goes inside, one of her ladies taking our flowers for her with them.
Then we wait for the interview. There’s a TV screen just inside that we can see through the glass wall, but no subtitles. While we wait, we talk to another one of her ladies who is waiting outside with the car. Margaux finds out that she comes from very near where I come from, so she comes over to chat to me. Then she says “I’m going to text Jo and tell her there’s someone here from England!” and gets her phone out as though texting JK Rowling is no big deal. We talk for another couple of minutes and then she wanders off. After 40 long minutes finally the interview comes on, and we suddenly realise that a clip of us is being shown live. We wave and wonder if they’re talking about us. Not long after the interview finishes, Jo comes back out. She heads straight for her car with us shouting thank you. Then Jenn shouts ‘We love you Jo!’. Jo pauses getting into her car, turns around and shouts ‘thank you!’ back. Before we leave, I go over to the lady we’d been talking to to ask her name (Kelly) and she asks mine.
At about 9:15am we traipse off in the direction of The Daily Show to find something to eat. Because we’ve had barely any sleep and something so monumentous just happened, it feels bizarre that it’s only breakfast time (I order burger and fries anyway). We enjoy being indoors sitting in comfy seats and coo over our signed Harry Potter books for a while, and at about 11am we go over to start queuing for The Daily Show. We have tickets reserved but seating isn’t assigned so we want to be the first ones there. Next door there’s a Subway which we use to charge our phones. Suddenly the two who were in Subway at the time (I can’t remember who) come screeching out crying and shouting. The interview from CBS This Morning is up and Gayle King spoke about us to Jo. We all crowd around one phone and try to listen, but can’t hear it very well, so we run, all crying, into Subway and sit down to listen to the rest. In case you don’t want to watch the interview:
Gayle: I have to say I was so touched when I came to work this morning and there were a group of at least 6- when I got here- women who had been here since 8 o’clock the night before waiting for you (Jo: I know, it’s amazing) and I said to them ‘Why are you here?’ and they said ‘Because she changed our lives’ - ‘How?’ ‘She taught us friendship, loyalty, love. It’s something that society’, they said, ‘does not stress, but that’s what she does for us.’ And I was so touched by their love for you.
Jo: (in a wobbly voice) Well that makes me feel very emotional, it really does (Gayle: I can imagine), it’s an incredible thing to hear.
Charlie: That they have love for you, what does that… What do they mean to you?
Jo: Well I mean everything, obviously, you know, it’s… Readers like that, it’s what a writer dreams about, to have people who understand your work to that degree, and these are people who grew up with my books, so they occupy a special place in their lives for that reason.
Gayle: (randomly bringing it up again) I can’t say enough about the women who were out there who said that you literally changed their lives, and I think that for many people, to make that kind of impact on someone… I mean we can go our whole lives and not make a difference, and here you have with millions of people.
Jo: It’s just an amazing thing to hear, when I hear that from people that I meet, I’ve never yet come up with an adequate response because maybe… literally, my heart is too full, to say that- you know, I’ve had people say Hogwarts was a safe place to go, who maybe weren’t having the happiest time, and nothing’s better to hear than that.
You can imagine the state we were all in after listening to that knowing she was talking about us and that she’d said all this by the time she came out to the car and shouted thank you to us.
Anyway, eventually we get into The Daily Show; the queue takes ages, there are loads of people with VIP tickets who get in before us, they make us leave our signed HPs with them, and they split us up (we’re 9 by this point and they won’t allow groups of more than 4 to sit together- when Margaux asks why she gets a rude response). Just before the show starts one of the staff shouts ‘Let’s just make one thing clear, to all you little Harry Potter fans- there will be no autographs’ which insanely pisses off me & Margaux because A) he’s being patronising and B) he seems to think we’re going to get out of our seats, run down to the set and interrupt filming to get the autograph of someone we just got the autograph of, in a book that they’ve just taken off us. But then Jo comes on and she is gorgeous and funny and amazing and everything is ok.
After the show it’s pissing with rain and we can’t tell whether or not Jo has left so we decide not to wait at the stage door, but to protect our books and get inside ASAP. We have dinner and almost fall asleep before we’ve got home.
Tuesday: One of us has to pick up tickets for Jo’s event from the Box Office so early afternoon we go over to Lincoln Center to pick them up. We’re standing outside deciding the best way to get to Serendipity, where we’re going for lunch, when I see someone crossing the street that looks like Steve Kloves. As he walks past us I say this to Margaux, who says she thinks it is Steve Kloves. Immediately Brianna walks over to him, with us following, and the most hilarious conversation ensues.
“Excuse me… Are you Steve Kloves?”
“Yes! How did you know?”
“Um… You look like you?”
“Well, I don’t get recognised very often! I don’t know what to say!”
He asks if we’re going to the event that night and we get his autograph (which he personalises for each of us). While he’s signing I tell him I recognised his camera (which he’s holding) from the DH2 premiere, when he was taking pictures of the crowd. We talk about the premiere for a second, then he asks if he can take a picture of us. He asks us to say our favourite spell instead of saying cheese. Then we get a couple of pictures with him, thank him, and off he goes.
We go for lunch still not quite able to believe that we just bumped into Steve Kloves, and then have a lengthy discussion about whether or not we’d give up sex to spend a day with Jo (reply with whether you would!). We had planned to go to the Mugglenet event in Central Park but we have a few things to buy and we’re starting to get nervous about not being there so we decide to go straight there (via Barnes & Noble). We all split up for a couple of minutes as people have to give people tickets etc. Natasha, Brianna and I find out where Jo will be arriving but Brianna has to go and give someone their ticket. Just after she leaves, up pulls Jo’s car. We don’t go over to her but watch her go into the venue and then go back round to the front.
I spot Sam and talk to her for a few minutes, but then realise everyone I came with has disappeared so go to find them. We’re all back together again at the front of the venue when we see Melissa Anelli walk up. Natasha stops her and asks if we can have a picture. When Melissa sees me she says ‘Hey I know you!’ and chats for a bit while we’re having pictures (still fangirling about this). Melissa goes inside and we move closer to the entrance, but are still waiting outside for someone when up walks Steve Kloves. He recognises us from earlier and stops to chat. I ask him how his afternoon was and he says he was still zoned out from being recognised. He signs Natasha’s poster next to Hermione ‘because I’ve always loved Hermione’ and Brianna asks about his favourite scene (the dancing scene, he says). He asks for one of our email addresses so he can send us the pictures (Margaux gives him hers), he shakes my hand and goes inside.
Finally we go inside and when we get to our seats (we’re not all seated together) we spot Jo’s husband Neil with Steve Kloves in the front row. Margaux and I fangirl over him (and continue to do so every time Jo mentions him during the talk).
The talk itself was probably the best out of the three, because both Mark Lawson and James Runcie had already interviewed Jo so there was a fair bit of repetition at those two events (not that they weren’t amazing). Jo of course looked beautiful, and was funny and moving as ever.
So it comes to the signing and we’re called from our seats in rows; we’re in the third batch called up (two of our friends were in front and two were behind us). The queue moves very quickly so that we barely have time to freak out over it before we’re close to her. Kelly, the lady from the day before, is at the table with Jo. At first I don’t think she’s going to acknowledge us but then she sees me and comes to stand next to me. She asks me how I am etc., and at the same time Margaux and Rosie have reached Jo. Margaux tells Jo that we are the girls from the CBS interview and Jo says ‘I love you girls!’. Then, as I go up to the table, Kelly walks round to Jo and says ‘Jo, this lady is Rebecca!’. I nearly scream. Jo looks up at me and says ‘Ooooh! Hello! How are you?’ I snortlaugh and say ‘I’m very well’, as though I would be anything else, and start my explanation as to why I’m there. I say I was at Cheltenham and the next day was in a car crash. She interrupts with ‘Yeah I heard, are you okay?!’ and I manage to cover up the shock that SHE HEARD!??! enough to say I’m fine, but that it freaked me out and I thought to myself I could die tomorrow, and you can’t spend your money when you’re dead so I came over last minute to see her again. At some point during this she grabs my hand and strokes it with her thumb, and my mind has gone blank as to what she said here because she was holding my damn hand okay. Whatever she said I said something back, and then she said ‘Well I hope you enjoy New York!’, we exchange a few more words and I walk away in shock.
We hang around for a while after the event in which time we say hi to Andrew Slack, and outside find Micah Tannenbaum & Eric Scull and then Alex Carpenter. A couple of people are trying to decide whether we should speak to Micah & Eric or Alex first. I’m Leaky4Lyf so I was more excited to see Alex than the MuggleCast guys, and stayed by him till he’d finished talking to the people he was with. We got pictures and hugs with him and I failed miserably at convincing him to come to the Snow Ball in December. By this point Micah and Eric were really close to us so we got a picture with them too (after Micah had passed us and Natasha had screamed at him to come back). Then after another chat with Melissa The Troll Anelli about LeakyCon we decide we’d better leave. We go to a diner where our waiter is a HP fan, continue the aforementioned discussion on sex vs. a day with Jo, and assign each other characters (the general consensus for me was Dumbledore although Margaux thinks I’m too quick-tempered for him. She may be right).
And thus concludes my JK Rowling in New York adventures.