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Section: News

Thursday 21 July 2005

Publication Weekend!

The Half-Blood Prince has left home at last and set off into the world to meet his fate and, having launched him into society, I'm now back at home with a few more great memories to add to my ever-increasing horde.

The priority for publication day was taking questions from readers, because the more popular the Harry Potter books have grown, the harder it has become to communicate directly with my readership in the way that I used to love. Bloomsbury therefore suggested a press conference comprised entirely of young readers who had won the chance to be there. I loved the idea: there is nothing quite as satisfying as sitting in a room with readers whose faces you can see, answering direct questions about your method of writing, characters and plots.

The midnight reading on Friday and the question and answer session on Sunday both took place in Edinburgh Castle. Nobody had told me that the cover image of 'Half-Blood Prince' was going to be projected onto the frontage of the castle when I arrived at half past eleven on Friday. I hadn't expected that many people to be there when I got out of the car, either. I really must pay better attention in meetings in future, but I'm certainly not complaining, it was wonderful!

Reading live on television is not for the faint-hearted. However, apart from one moment just before I walked into the Great Hall (yes, it's really called that!), when I thought I was going to throw up, it seemed to go all right. The best part, however, was when the cameras were turned off and I was able to talk normally to the 'cub reporters' before giving them their signed books.

On Saturday I had one-on-one interviews with fourteen-year-old Owen Jones from the UK, who had won a televised competition to interview me, and eleven-year-old Emma Coad, who had won a similar competition in Australia. Both did a fantastic job and I look forward to the day when I can boast that I was their first ever interviewee. A little later on Saturday afternoon, I was interrogated by two prominent figures in the world of on-line Pottermania, Melissa of the Leaky Cauldron and Emerson of Mugglenet (and for my account of that interview, head to Extras.)

On Sunday I returned to the castle for over an hour's question and answers with the full complement of cub reporters. Everyone was there on merit; all had won their places, or been nominated for the job because of their talent or in-depth knowledge of Harry Potter. They all did a magnificent job for the newspapers, magazines, television programmes and websites that had sent them and, not for the first time, I felt humbled by my readers.

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