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J.K. Rowling talks 'The Casual Vacancy, '50 Shades of Grey' at NYC book event
Hudson Buzz intern Janine Bowen attended J.K. Rowling’s book reading on Oct. 16 in New York City, the author's only U.S. public appearance. A lifelong “Harry Potter” fan, she offered her perspective on the event.
Just over one year ago, Lincoln Center in New York City was overtaken by thousands of fans wearing robes and waving wands waiting to catch a glimpse of J.K. Rowling as she promoted the final installment of the “Harry Potter” franchise. Many of those same fans returned to Lincoln Center on Tuesday night, this time to hear Rowling speak about her latest work: “The Casual Vacancy,” a book she called a “novel for grown-ups.”
When Rowling was introduced on stage at the David H. Koch Auditorium, she received a welcome that author Ann Patchett, who moderated the event, described as what one would expect to see “at a Stones concert.”
During the hour-long conversation between Rowling and Patchett, Rowling discussed her writing process for “Vacancy,” including the challenges of switching between over a dozen different narrators, each of which are crucial to the story. Rowling also revealed that even though she has the means to self-publish, she continues to use a publisher because she likes having an editor be the first reader of her work.
Rowling also briefly touched on the EL James bestseller, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Patchett commented that she doesn't like calling “The Casual Vacancy” an "adult novel" because the term refers to books such as "Grey." Patchett also said that she had heard that "Grey" was poorly written, which led Rowling to reply, “but that’s porn.”
Once the Q&A portion of the event concluded, the moment the audience had been waiting for finally arrived: the book signing. Before it began, a woman came out and informed us that we should stay in our seats until our row was called and “anyone who did not wish to have their copy of ‘The Casual Vacancy’ signed was free to leave." Everybody laughed; nobody moved.
I waited two hours before being called down to the signing area, during which time you could hear fans trying to plan what to say to an author who has had such an impact on their lives.
Rowling signed the books quickly, never looking down at the page, but instead making eye contact and speaking to every single fan who came up to the table. When it was finally my turn, I heard the girl in front of me tell the author that she was nervous, to which Rowling replied with a kindness and sincerity she displayed to every fan that night, “don’t be nervous, be happy.”
When I finally came face to face with Rowling, the moment was so overwhelming that I don’t even remember my exact words. She replied that it was wonderful to meet me and said “thank you for waiting.”
Most audience members shared my excitement in meeting the woman whose writing has been a part of their lives for as long as they can remember. The woman created our childhood hero, and in turn, became a hero herself.
“This opportunity means a great deal to me,” said 16-year-old Lily Harty of Irvington. “Being able to have her autograph is more than I could ever have dreamed of. This is the woman who literally created my childhood and her writing has absolutely shaped me into the person I am today.”