Meeting a hero

This is just a short update. There aren’t really words to describe this experience, so I just wrote a couple of paragraphs to try and commemorate it for myself.

Like most kids of my generation, I grew up reading the Harry Potter books. I remember pre-ordering the new releases and attending the midnight screenings of the films, as well reading up on different theories and opinion pieces on the internet and racing around to the filming locations and places associated with the series on my backpacking trips to the UK (I’m a particularly enthusiastic fan, obviously). Since I was nine, the books have been my favourite series, and J K Rowling has been my favourite (living) author. I remember reading Philosopher’s Stone and meeting Hermione Granger, a heroine made for nerdy, bookish girls with big teeth like me. I remember Prisoner of Azkaban blowing my tiny mind with its plot twists and revelations. I remember being in utter and total love with flawed, annoying, wonderful Ron Weasley. I remember reading Deathly Hallows and starting to cry when we lost Dobby and not stopping until forty-five minutes after I’d finished the book. I was crying because it was over, and I missed the characters I’d come to love like they were real friends, but I was also crying because I was so inescapably happy for them, that everything had turned out all right and that all was well. Re-reading the books is one of my most treasured pleasures. Sometimes I listen to Stephen Fry read them, but I have to pull the car over during the sad bits because my glasses fog up and I can’t see the road. These books have been my comfort in awful, dark times of my life and some of my best friends and I and initially bonded over our love for all things Potter. It’s embarrassing to admit but the fact that J K Rowling had lived and written in this city was a partial factor in my decision to move to Edinburgh.

So today, when I saw the lady herself in person, sitting with a coffee and looking at her phone, my heart leapt into my throat and I made myself say hello. I’ve seen authors I love in person before (occupational hazard with the amount of writing festivals and book-related events I frequent), and more often than not, I don’t say hi because I’m embarrassed and don’t want to interrupt them. But this was Jo Rowling, the woman almost singlehandedly responsible for the person I am today – a reader, writer, librarian, and passionate lover of words. So I asked her if she was who I thought she was. She looked at me and smiled and said ‘Probably, yes’. It all became a bit of a blur after that, but I do remember thanking her, and asking if I could shake her hand. I told her that I was a librarian and writer, and that it might not have happened if not for her work. She thanked me – she thanked me – and then graciously agreed to let me take a photo with her. I remember being so nervous that I actually couldn’t remember how to work the camera on my phone and I gabbled about the move to Edinburgh to fill in the time while I worked it out and then I took the photo and said goodbye and thank you. She was so kind and accommodating and gracious, and she looked so lovely. I had to go and sit down afterwards because I was shaking. It meant so much that she gave me those minutes of her time, especially as I’d interrupted her while she was having a coffee. It was brilliant. I don’t know what else to say. I feel so lucky.

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