Meeting Joanne Harris

On 13 February, 2008, at 4 p.m., British Council in Croatia presented us with British writer Joanne Harris. She had a presentation of her three new books: Runemarks, The Lollipop Shoes and Jigs & Reels. She is also the author of the bestseller Chocolat, which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.
She entered the room, sat down and viewed her not so big, but very interested audience with a friendly eye, while she was being introduced. She didn’t look nervous, but rather eager to start talking herself. Very soon, we found out that she is very easy to follow and humorous speaker who had our full attention for an hour and a half. She started off with the opinion that it is both good and bad to promote three books at once because, on one hand, she did three promotions in one visit, but on the other, it is better to present three books separately because they are very different.

Jigs & Reels is a collection of short stories for which she said were more complicated to write than a novel because of their short composition. Joanne mentioned that people tend to think that short stories are not as good as her novels but she claims that if we liked her novels, we should also read Jigs & Reels and we will surely like them.

The Lollipop Shoes are the sequel of Chocolat, although she said that at first she wasn’t planning to write one. The part that she read from the book has given us a new picture of old characters, who are four years older and very different from what they were before. The main character, Vianne, now wears shoes which are totally different from the ones she had worn before and Joanne said that shoes make the leading part in your appearance, and then added: «I bet you are all looking at my shoes now.» By the way, they were Converse All Star, popular among the youth of the whole nation.

Runemarks is the book which was at first a story for Joanne`s daughter Anouchka, who liked it a lot, so Joanne began to write more and more sequels. Joanne said that she had always been interested in mythology so this novel is about magic, goblins, myths and old tradition. It is both for children and adults and it has been the most fun to write for the author.

Afterwards the listeners asked Joanne questions which she was more than happy to answer. To the question about her ritual before writing she said that she had none. She considers her time for writing as time for relaxation from her usual responsibilities, as time for herself. Everyone was curious about whether she had met Johnny Depp and she said that she had a chance to be on the set during the shooting of Chocolat and that it was a really rare opportunity because writers are usually not welcome at filming. There was also the question about the change that had been made for the film by switching the role of the priest with a mayor; she said that she did not mind, because she knew that it had been done because of American viewers and their belief that there were no priests like the one charcterised in the book Chocolat.

Later she signed the listeners’ just-bought books and that was the end of the event.
All in all, it was very interesting, enjoyable, fun and fulfilling, and it is my opinion that there should be more happenings like this one, because it is a great opportunity for readers to meet the creators of their favourite part of modern literature.