The FSA Revisited, the Call from Jo, the Past 10 Days

May 13, 2005

Posted by: Melissa Anelli


All right. Here’s where I do what needed to be done in the Fan Site Award post, but sometimes emotions are simply too much:
Thank you. Not only to Jo (we’ll get to you later, my dear), but to all of you who come here every day and have fun with us. We can’t express how much fun it is to share this obsession with you all.

And the Leaky staff… B.K., who came to this site when it was a scrappy start-up and turned it into a news source; Sue, who…who…well, without Sue this site simply would not function, let’s put it plainly; Kristin, who has been such a source of selfless help here; Heidi, whose expertise has been so on-target over the years; Natalie, who brought our design out of the cut-and-paste era; Nick Rhein, who brought us, finally, the outlet our fans were all wishing for, our wonderful forum; the amazing moderators of said forum, who make the Leaky Lounge a place that attracts such “knowledgeable” discussion; Nick Poulden, our newest addition, who has brought us so much technical flair in so short a time he’s nothing short of a godsend, and last but certainly not least, John Noe, who has logged more hours on this site than perhaps any of us, whose endless creativity and dedication to it constantly inspires.

These are a bunch of truly special, wonderful, talented people, and they are responsible for making this site what it is.

And now, the details. The phone call. (As for where to send your million questions, please WAIT, and we will open a thread for you on our forum shortly, so I can sift through all your brilliant thoughts at once.)

Click below for more details on how this all came about, and what has happened since Jo Rowling called my cell phone.

Yep, it was a phone call. Jo Rowling called my cell phone 10 days ago.

It’s a really good thing I was still in bed, because my floors are hard and my bones are fragile.

When my phone rang, I first thought that it was my snooze – my phone doubles as my alarm clock, and it was only 8 a.m. Then I remembered – someone from Team Potter (as I like to call it) had said she was calling that morning. I only knew that there had to be a phone call, that whatever I had to be told had to be told over the phone instead of via e-mail, the way I usually communicate with the Potter crew. As I was under strict orders not to even tell anyone a phone call was forthcoming, I knew it had to be big.

The whole affair and the secrecy was so torturous that I started making up dream scenarios, complete fantastical answers to the “What will this phone call be about?” question, just to amuse myself. Jo Rowling was going to come to New York, I reasoned, and she needed someone to babysit her kids (hey, I totally would). Jo Rowling wanted a fan to screen the manuscript. Jo Rowling was going to invite me Edinburgh to interview her. The last one had me nearly in hysterical laughter, it was such a silly suggestion, but at least it passed the time.

And then there was the idea that my friend at Team Potter had said “I will call you in early May,” and then, the day before, said, “You’ll be getting a phone call tomorrow!”

A very strange change of phrase.

I did suspect. I wondered who, but Jo, would need to call instead of e-mail, and why was it now, “You’ll be getting a phone call,” instead of “I’ll call you”? Was my friend playing tricks on me – would Jo Rowling be on the other end of the phone line? As quickly as that thought came is as quickly as I filed it away, where you tend to shove aside your most prideful thoughts and highest hopes. This one got filed right next to the Pulitzer.

But the suspicion had already crept in, so when the phone rang at 8 a.m., and a female voice cut into my morning haze, all I could first do was push aside the thought that “It’s Jo, it’s Jo, it’s Jo,” and ask if it was who I first was told it would be.

“No – it’s Jo Rowling.”

As I said, my floors are hard, and at that moment my warm and fluffy bed was a huge comfort, because even as I flopped back on it, and my mind was working to understand what was going on, I screamed:


Jo started laughing.


And when the yelling was done she was still there, quite to my amazement. There was Jo Rowling, laughing at the other end of my cell phone.

“Oh my god – how are you – how – I mean – hi! How are your kids?”

Yes, that’s the first thing that came out of my mouth. “Oh my god you’re on my cell phone really and, how are your kids?” I think I shall forever be called Melissa NonSequitur.

In short order, Jo asked if I would be available to come to Scotland to interview her. Between Emerson and myself, she said, we provided fans with the complementary viewpoints, due to our respective ages and audiences, a statement I wholly agreed with. And she kept saying how excited she was about it, how much fun it was going to be, and how nice it was going to be to get to just talk.


We spoke for about 10 minutes – about the book, about the craziness we’ve all been experiencing lately, about HOW MUCH FUN this was going to be. I must have said ‘Oh my god’ 48 times (that’s a low estimate). At one point I just sat on my bed (I had taken to pacing around my room), and just explained, in almost weariness, that it was going to be nice to just talk to her.

In my Christmas card to Jo – which was, strangely enough, the first thing I’ve ever written to her – I promised that, unlike the first two times we met, I would actually form words out of my mouth the third time we spoke. And now I had to explain that, “I know I said I’d have words this time, but you’ve taken them away again! They’re gone!”

And then I was sworn to secrecy. There would be calls from Bloomsbury, and calls from lawyers, and calls from the agency, and things to sign, and all that – but it really came down to a promise to Jo Rowling that I would keep this quiet until now, and so I have, even from the rest of the TLC staff, even from you all, when the idea of your reactions has made me nearly giddy with anticipation.

She explained that she was about to call Emerson, and unlike me, he had NO clue ANYONE was calling, and she was concerned he would hang up on her repeatedly before she convinced him it was her. We said our goodbyes.

And there I was, in my pyjamas, in the middle of my room, with the biggest news of my life and under strict orders not to tell anyone about it.

Except Emerson. Emerson, I could bother. Emerson and I could be each other’s outlets, Jo had specifically said. And so I went to work, and spoke to the lawyers, and to Bloomsbury, and my phone rang off the hook with this lineup of Team Potter, all day long – and every one of them sounded SO thrilled about these events.

And then the wait began.

Now, I know you’re all thinking, “Oh, poor babies, they had to be quiet about getting to interview Jo Rowling.” Trust me, this has been some of the most difficult 10 days of my life. It has been a tremendous secret to keep, especially when I imagined all your reactions.

So I made a little record, to show you all just what has gone on around here in the past 10 days. It took 10 minutes for the initial news to actually hit my bones – I mean truly HIT – and then all I could do was shake my head and laugh in this insane, sort-of-like-Sirius way. I’ve been doing this at odd moments for the past 10 days: at a press conference for work; in meetings; at family weddings; at dinner with my roommate – pretty much everywhere. The looks I’ve gathered have been in the thousands, but I’ve been carrying around a happy little secret, and the stares were just manifestations of it, and therefore part of all the fun.

When a few hours went by and I heard nothing from Emerson, I e-mailed him.

E-mail to Emerson:

…as soon as you know what this email is about.

An hour later, no call. And so, e-mail number two.

What are you DOING, man, you must call me!

An hour later:

You know, I *do* have your number somewhere. I’m going to harass you.

An hour after that, I cracked, and called him.

“EMERSON!” I shouted.

Emerson: “What?!”


Emerson: “WHAT?”

Melissa: “I sent you EIGHT EMAILS TODAY!”

Emerson: “HUH? I’m not home, I’m not getting e-mail!”

Melissa: “…Oh. SO, did you hang up on her? You hung up on her, didn’t you.”

Emerson: “I recognized her voice!”

Melissa: “You did not.”

Emerson: “I did, once she started talking. I’ve listened to a lot of interviews.”

Melissa: “You didn’t hang up on her? Scream? Jump? Faint? Die?”

Emerson: “I keep my emotions in my head.”

Melissa: “I don’t.”

Emerson: “Yeah, I remember. On the set you were bouncing off the walls and almost knocking over the walls. We needed a straightjacket for you.”

Melissa: “Yeah, well…SOOOOOOOOOOOOO?”

Emerson: “Yeah. Oh my god.”

Melissa: “Oh my god.”

Emerson: “Oh my god.”

Melissa: “Oh my god.”

Emerson: “Oh my god.”

Melissa: “Oh my god.”

Emerson: “Oh my god.”

Melissa: “Oh my god.”

Emerson: “Oh my god.”

Melissa: “Oh my god.”

Emerson: “How many times have you said ‘Oh my god’ today?”

Melissa: “Really, what are numbers anyway?”

Emerson: “A lot, huh.”

Melissa: “You should have seen the looks people gave me at work.”

Emerson: “How are we going to do this? 10 days? How?”

Melissa: “We need to keep each other sane.”

Emerson: “Too late.”

Melissa: “Yeah, well. More sane than this.”

Emerson: “I can’t take it.”

Melissa: “Neither can I.”

Emerson: “We can’t tell ANYONE. HOW?”

Melissa: “We can think of ourselves as spies, protecting the welfare of HP fans everywhere with our covert operation. We could wear disguises and say things like ‘DOWN!’ and ‘COVER ME!’.”

Emerson: “Or we can just call each other and scream.”

Melissa: “Yeah. Better plan.”

Later, by e-mail:

From Emerson: Almost 9 days now!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next morning, e-mail:

To Emerson: have you cracked yet? this pressure is too much. I’m going to die.

The reply:
…………………………8 days……………………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can you imagine the fan reaction?

My reply:

I’ve been trying to all day. It’s very hard. I have images of my site melting into a puddly cyber internet heap. I think the readers are going to use so many exclamation points it’s going to look like binary code in the comments. I think my phone is going to ring so hard and for so long that it will explode. I think my “Oh my God”ing is going to quadruple because when I answer my phone each time I’ll have to go through the whole “Oh my god” sequence over and over. And then the questions are going to start pouring in. And I will count how many times someone says “CN U plz ask her if ron & emma will mrry b/c i luuuuuuvvvvvv roooooooon!”

I’m thinking about 99.



And then we found each other on IM, the one venue of exclaiming we hadn’t yet broached:

Melissa: ::deep breath::
color=”blue”>Emerson: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
color=”blue”>Emerson: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
color=”blue”>Emerson: see, I don’t make noise even online!
Melissa: ;djkag;akjdf;asdjf;askjdf;asdjf;asdjf;asdf
color=”blue”>Emerson: I’ve been attempting to learn a foreign language
Melissa: the one of !!!!!!!!!!
Melissa: ?
color=”blue”>Emerson: but every word I see I translates as “who cares”
Melissa: a;fj;lsakjfasf
Melissa: or as “jkrrrrrr”
Melissa: or as “scotland”
Melissa: or as “cute boys in kilts” – no, wait, that’s me.
color=”blue”>Emerson: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Melissa: a;asdkjf;asdfjka;sf
Melissa: see now we’re getting communicative!
color=”blue”>Emerson: yes!!
Melissa: a WORD! he said a word!
color=”blue”>Emerson: !
color=”blue”>Emerson: !!
Melissa: !!!
Melissa: now you do four
color=”blue”>Emerson: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Melissa: or that!
Melissa: Have you also had visions of lawyers listening in on your every move? Like the confidentiality police are all around us? I am paranoid.
color=”blue”>Emerson: I am especially now……………
color=”blue”>Emerson: I look at everyone with shifty eyes
Melissa: Like Mr Higglesworth, the next door neighbor, is really a plant from Bloomsbury sent to spy on your house and listen in on your phone calls. He scales your walls and listens in through the ceiling, or something.
Melissa: I see these people everywhere now. I think my roommate is a plant.
color=”blue”>Emerson: I’m gonna give you a tip
color=”blue”>Emerson: put your AC on full
color=”blue”>Emerson: and fans in every room on high
color=”blue”>Emerson: old fans that make lots of noise
color=”blue”>Emerson: and don’t use your phone or your cell
color=”blue”>Emerson: payphones only
color=”blue”>Emerson: but not ones close to your home/apt
color=”blue”>Emerson: only random ones
Melissa: Ooh ooh we need code names
Melissa: “Exclamation point, this is Straight Jacket”
color=”blue”>Emerson: hahahahhaaha
color=”blue”>Emerson: brilliant!


color=”blue”>Emerson: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Melissa: hahahahha
Melissa: i keep thinking about how long eight days is…
color=”blue”>Emerson: that’s like… 200 hours!!
Melissa: that’s foREVER
color=”blue”>Emerson: I KNOW
Melissa: 199 hours and 59 minutes now
Melissa: i mean, how wll we EVER do this.
color=”blue”>Emerson: we’ve made it through 2 so far…
color=”blue”>Emerson: I don’t know how I’ve managed so far
Melissa: ok, deep breaths…
Melissa: neither do I, to be honest
Melissa: I keep wanting to get up and shout
color=”blue”>Emerson: have you already started writing the post in your head?
Melissa: YES!
color=”blue”>Emerson: me too, but I haven’t gotten past the first line
Melissa: is the first line “!!!!!!!!!!?”
Melissa: Because I think that’s a great opener.
color=”blue”>Emerson: lol
Melissa: ok. ok. i have to take my ridiculously excited butt to bed.
color=”blue”>Emerson: you’re never going to sleep!! resistance is futile!!!!
Melissa:I want to blab all night.
Melissa: I KNOW!
Melissa: you know when we’re not going to sleep – that night.
color=”blue”>Emerson: IT’S TRUE
Melissa: i know, man, i know. we need to sleep BEFORE because…we need energy. LOTS OF IT
Melissa: AND COFFEE!!!!!

The next day, e-mail:
From Melissa, approaching desperation:

All right. It’s time for us to make this a game to pass the time, like when you’re riding in the car.

Ways Emerson and Melissa Can Be Quiet About That Thing They Can’t Even Talk About on Email, and Also Not Lose Their Minds

1) Every time we hear the word “book,” giggle quietly to ourselves and explain that we must be excused from school/work/family obligation for a personal emergency.

2) Open the Harry Potter books to pages that collectively equal the amount of time left before we can talk freely: ie., 200 hours, open the first five books to page 40. Every hour turn a page backwards.

3) Write and rewrite what we plan to say on our sites when the news goes live. Stare at it and try to convince ourselves that it’s not all a big lie, elaborate delusion, or signs of youthful insanity.

4) Make a fort out of all our versions of HP books, build it in the backyard, and go sit there until next Friday, claiming to be communing with nature.

5) Imagine Scottish boys in kilts (no, wait, just Melissa again!)

6) Buy umbrellas, in bulk, as a reminder of Scotland’s likely weather. When asked why, say we’re giving up our schooling and career to peddle merchandise on the street.

7) Lots and lots of candy.

Tag, you’re it.

From Emerson:

8) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
10) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, my mind is incapable of witty dialogue right now.


194 hours and 29 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So, you can see…it’s been a very rough 10 days.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.