International Festival of Authors - 2000
Dr. J.K Rowling, O.B.E.
The largest attendance of an author's reading in recorded history!  About 20,000 people attended!

This is the story of one family's visit to the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, Canada.

Thousands of people streamed out of the mist of the city into the warmth of the Skydome.  School uniforms were mixed with dress robes of wizards and witches.  Parents and teachers herded their charges into the seats running high above the stage. In keeping with the educational theme, numerous questions where asked on large screens above the stage.

Various announcement where broadcast over the PA system, or was it simply the Sonorus spell utilized by the stadium announcer?  The 423rd World Cup Quidditch match scheduled for today had to be canceled.  Some poor wolf's bane and a bad cauldron where blamed for the failure of the memory modification spells used to hide the match from Muggles.  It was believed that a number of Muggles had actually entered the stadium.  A reading would take place instead.

Advertisements for a wide variety of goods and services flashed on the screens, intermittent with clips from the audience and wizards doing magic for the entertainment of the gathering crowd.  Rita Skeeter was seen interviewing Muggles.  Fire balls and smoke shot out of the occasional wand, pranks abounded and robes were common.

Before the introduction and during intermission, warnings and requests were spread through out the stadium.  "Please keep your eyes out for the House Elf, Doby."  "A number of fire balls have been spotted in the area."  "Please keep your portkeys in a safe place."  "Please ask your fellow wizards to refrain from the use of magic!"  And there was a warning about cut-price wolf's bane being sold by unscrupulous vendors.

As the time for the program drew near, a young witch stepped out on the stage and began using a Putter Outer to turn off the lights.  As the festival director, Greg Gatenby, began his introduction, fireworks shot out of a box in one of the back corners of the stadium.  Two very identical wizards with red hair could be seen in the glow.  Those Weasley boys!

The first reading was by Kenneth Oppel.  He read the first chapter of his award winning book, Silverwing, the story about a young bat named Shade.  The story is continued in his book Sunwing.  Kenneth Oppel published his first book at age 15, with the assistance of author Roald Dahl. Peg and the Whale, a nautical tall tale, will be published this month (October 2000). 
Tim Wynne-Jones read the second chapter of his newest book, Boy in the Burning House, his new mystery thriller, about a boy who stumbles on a dangerous family secret..  He  is known for his spine-tingling tales of intelligent kids caught in wacky situations. His 19 critically acclaimed books have been translated into seven languages. They include Some of the Kinder Planets and Maestro, both of which have won the Governor General's Award. 

"Lumus and audius!" a booming voice commanded over the SkyDome's sound system a minute or two past noon.As the lights faded for the second portion of the presentation, Harry Potter tip toed across the stage to place a glass of water on the table for his creator, J.K. Rowling.  The lights went out and the audience also obeyed, keeping pin-drop quiet until SHE walked on stage. Then thunderous applause, cheers and screams as she nervously approached the podium.  Her black jacket, complete with tails, flowed out behind her.   "I'm delighted and terrified to be here," Rowling said as she peered out over the crowd, shielding her eyes from the spotlights. "I feel like I should be leading you all into revolution."  She then proceeded to mesmerize the crowd by reading Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

After finishing the reading, she opened a notebook.  "I wanted to keep the feeling of most of my readings, and answer some questions," and preceded to interview herself.  Note:  I have tried to recall these as close to her actual words as possible, but can't vouch for these being entirely verbatim, I checked some newspaper articles and verified with them.. 

"Where do you get your ideas?" 
"From my head.  I know it's not very exciting, but that is where they come from." 

"Will the fifth book be out in July?" 
"No, I have started writing it, but I took a bit of a break after the last one, which I think you will agree I deserved.  And the title will be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I'm not going to keep it a secret this time, it's too much stress." 

"And this spring I will have two shorter books out.  Magical Creatures and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages.  I think you'll recognize the titles.  I'm writing them for Comic Relief and the money will be going to feed starving children in Africa."

"How do you pronounce the name of Harry's best female friend?"
"If I'd known how much trouble people would have had pronouncing Hermione's name, I would have called her Jane."
Note: The proper pronounciation is provided by Krum asking in The Goblet of Fire, is Her-MY-oh-KNEE.

"Do I believe in magic?"
"Not the kind in my books ... Or maybe the Ministry of Magic's forcing me to say that."

"Do my books encourage Satanism?"
"The answer to that is, 'No, you are a lunatic.'

"So you think the movie will ruin the books?"
"No, I think my readers are more intelligent then that."

Finally, Jo bunched together a lot of questions like ``Will Harry marry Cho?'' ``Will Harry meet Voldemort again?'' "Will someone else die?" and ``Will Ron marry Hermione?'' and said we will have to keep reading her books to get those answers!  She left the stage to a roar of applause, after, sadly I thought, shaking her head no to the dozen or so fans waving books at her from the edge of the stage.

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