The staff made the snacks, and, as they said, 'We were going to have butter beer, but all the recipes we found on the internet were disgusting and the owner thought firewhisky was taking things a bit far, so it's champers and 'butter' (really ginger) beer floats, plus snacks! Pumpkin pasties were too hard, so we have scones, egg sandwiches, little cakes and cockroach clusters. Which are chocolate covered biscuits and dates.'
I should have taken a camera, or remembered that phones have cameras. Alas, I am a failure at the 21st century. However, there were about 18 people there including the two staff members and after a nervous start (Adult Harry Potter fans? Are these people weirdos or PLU*? seemed to be the general unspoken question) everyone started to chat about Rowling and the series, the films and what they had read since.
It was FABULOUS! I loved listening to their comments on what they loved and did not love. Everyone was a Rickman fan, no one understood people who had only seen the movies and not read the books ('My friend did that, and by movie six she was all "I have no idea what's happening!"' said one.) EVERYONE wanted more of the world, three people suggested chasing down good fanfiction – two of them boys ('Oh, there's a lot of it out there on the internet, you just have to wade through the rubbish.' To which I replied, 'Really? I might take a look.' *Nods innocently*) Dumbledore was seen as a very dodgy bastard, especially by the youngest in attendance (who were both awesome, and one of them plays the ukulele) – I loved the fact that the baby teenager, who looked all of 15, was the one who pointed out 'Dumbledore is happy to sacrifice them and play everyone like pieces for his own ends, and he sends Harry into the forest, all "only one of you can live" and then when Harry gets to the afterlife he's all "Oh, actually, you can totally go back. Up to you. You're not that dead", which just makes me think that he's horrible and that Harry's huge sacrifice, which is totally real because he thinks it's forever, is immediately devalued.'
They make 15 year olds clever in Newtown (their Dad was ACE).
There were five men there, as well as the bookshop boy, and they were well into it all. Most of the boys liked Book 4 the most (me too, I think, though it's subject to change) and one of them was able to explain why it's so satisfying really well: 'The Triwizard tournament gives it a natural structure at the same time as expanding the world beyond Hogwarts. And then in tandem you have the expansion of the problem beyond Harry being in danger to all of the wizarding world being in danger, but it's all happening behind the scenes, like the mechanics of the tournament.'
One of the women, who was small, dark and intense, so, naturally, I loved her, wanted to know more about the politics of what was going on. 'I was really cross when it got to 19 years later: I wanted 'Six months later' to see how they all got over the actual war!'
Conversation continued along this line at length. It really reinforced what I have always believed about the Potter books: there is so much more world indicated than what is filled in that it works to engage the reader, creating strong and close connections, whether they result in people keen to talk about the books with others or write and discuss fanfiction … We seriously could have formed a Potter book club then and there and I'm half-regretful we didn't (but where would I find the time? I already fail at fandom.)
And one of the TV girls (three of them worked for a telly station) confessed that she thought JKR was a brill story teller but not a great writer, which led to us all confessing that we were anxious about The Casual Vacancy. Ms Looks 15 was the only one who knew the release date. Super cool and organised kid!
In terms of book tips, I pimped Frances Hardinge, because the bookshop was already pimping Ben Aaronovitch, and left with two books by Patrick Ness, who came highly recommended. I'll let you know how that goes! I hope my bookshop does this again because Harry Potter people are just the best.
And I have birthday wishes to catch up on for all of August and the end of July, but I have a cold, which is not surprising because everyone in my office has a cold and they have given it to me (the same cold most of Sydney has had. It's passing quickly, I am just snotty and disgusting), and I am knackered after spending 9 hours on Friday editing two chapters of a book I had never seen before, which was a fun challenge but possibly more of one than my febrile brain really needed. So I will catch up on some sleep and then finish the freelance story I was going to hand in on Monday (could possibly still happen …) and then catch up on birthdays with my brain engaged!
* PLU = People Like Us