THE WESTON LIBRARY, OXFORD – 1ST NOVEMBER 2018, 7PM
I’ve been to BookCon 2018 and I’ve been to YALC 2017 & 2018 but I had never been to a ticketed author event before; so when I found out that one of my all time favourite authors was going on tour, and not only that – she would be in Oxford, the home of her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches – I had heart palpitations. Because we’re talking about Deborah Harkness here. She’s the genius behind the All Souls Trilogy which has had such a huge impact in the world, that a TV series has blossomed, to which Deborah is an executive producer. I cannot stress enough how this event made me both extremely nervous and excited. Nervous because as I said before, I’ve never been to an event where only one author is present. How many other people would go? What will she talk about? How long will it be? Will she be able to sign my book? Despite my anxiety over the event, I didn’t hesitate to buy tickets to her Oxford event. I wanted to see her in the city that held so much magic in my heart, the city where Diana and Matthew’s lives took off and I wanted to see some of the filming locations for the TV series.
The event was in the evening, starting at 7PM, so to make the most of the day (I live an hour away from Oxford) I arrived early afternoon in the city proper. I won’t bore you with all the details but I pottered about the university, taking pictures and just being in AWE of the buildings. It was such a surreal experience. I’ve been reading about those buildings for a decade and I’ve seen them in the TV show and to physically be there and touch the walls with my own hands was incredible. I had such a silly smile on my face whilst I walked about the city. I was truly happy. One of the places that I went to was Brown’s Café. This was a filming location and I found it purely by accident, but once I saw it, I had to have their All Day Breakfast for dinner. The food was really good and again, it had that surreal feel to it and I kept asking myself: “Am I really here?”
After dinner I strolled about the university buildings some more. It had gotten quite dark by this point and I wanted to see how the light changed the atmosphere and look of the buildings. They become quite creepy but they still had magic clinging to them. I visited the Bodleian Library shop and they had the most amazing items for sale. I bought a tree decoration and recycled bookmark.
Before long it was time to go to The Weston Library where the event was being held. The seats were already half filled but everyone was welcoming and I saw clusters of people engaging in discussions about the book and TV show alike. Seeing this made me feel relaxed and once Deb arrived, my excitement overtook any lingering anxiety about the evening. Deb spoke for roughly 30 minutes about her writing process and what research directions she undertook for her most recent novel Time’s Convert. After this we had a Q&A session – the only topic off limits was Time’s Convert as a few audience members hadn’t finished reading it. The questions varied from publishing advice, to casting decisions and whether she had any other projects going. At 8PM the signing started. I was in the middle of the line but it didn’t take long before it was my turn. I told Deb that I had met her in New York previously to which she replied “I remember you!”
I had taken my copy of Time’s Convert to get signed as well as my first autograph book which Deb christened. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world whilst speaking with her. She’s incredibly inspiring and I left the event not only on cloud nine but also feeling intellectually richer. I hope I never forget this day and I also hope I get to see Deb again.