Yes, we're Harry Potter fans, and as writers we were both extremely interested in what Rowling was up to writing a grown up book about ....
Well at the time we didn't know what it was about. This was back in September, or August, and The Casual Vacancy was still a mystery. Actually, most of us hoped it would be a mystery. What we got instead was a highly serious, literary novel with a million different characters which was funny in parts, impressive in parts, emotional in parts, but hard to like.
Anyways, we were resigned to being in the satellite tent when Carmen's sister got in touch. Would we like VIP tickets?
Turns out a business contact of hers had sponsored the book festival and had a handful of spare tickets. Two to be precise. Carmen's sister was booked to do something else that night, but the contact was happy with the idea of us going.
I really enjoyed myself. Rowling is a highly polished speaker and in person, at a literary event -- and, admittedly, with an interviewer who couldn't have fawned more (Muriel Gray, take a bow, you are in Hufflepuff) -- she comes across as far more relaxed and humane than she ever does on TV.
She has a wicked, almost boozy laugh, too, which was put to good use on discussion of the stronger launguage in the book. Telling one woman that she should "reclaim that word" -- the c-word -- because it is, after all, a reference to part of a woman's body. Also she spoke very passionately about the politics of the book. And she kept the Daily Mail jibes to a minimum, which was probably a good idea. Because by the look of the audience almost all of them were Daily Mail readers.
Actually, the audience was very sweet. Refined certainly -- a cut above that crowd who go to Edinburgh book fest -- and we did have a Duke at the next table during dinner. The Duke, it was his house, you see. But I found the people I spoke to very entertaining.
Lennoxlove is a terrific venue, actually. Small and intimate, but stunning visually. I'd definitely try to go again.