Anelli, Melissa. "A princely Harry Potter adventure was the dream of a lifetime," Staten Island Advance, July 18, 2005.

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- The weekend has been like a dream, complete with the bits of fantasy that usually accompanies one.

Walking up the cobblestoned slope to Edinburgh Castle on Friday night, Emerson Spartz (who represented MuggleNet) and I (representing my site, The Leaky Cauldron) kept pinching each other, and I have the marks to prove it. It seemed too much to believe, that we were in Edinburgh, on our way up to a castle, for a "Harry Potter" launch event at which author J.K. Rowling would give a reading, that following that reading we would receive a book ("Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince") for which we've been waiting two years, that we'd spend all night reading that book and that in the morning we'd be preparing for an afternoon interview of Jo Rowling at her home office.

The pinches were necessary.

At the castle, a projection of the cover art to the British edition of the books -- Harry and his mentor, Professor Albus Dumbledore, at the center of some sort of fiery vortex -- covered the face of the castle, making it look ablaze. A red carpet had been set up between two sets of stadium seats, and reporters swarmed one side of it while fans crowded the other.

We sat in the stadium until Ms. Rowling arrived, huddling against the rapidly dropping Scottish temperature and whooping loudly along with all the fans, who were being worked into a frenzy by an eager emcee.

When it was time to walk into the castle we looked back at the stadium in awe and reverence, and took deep breaths as we entered the dramatically lit location.

About 10 hours later, I finished the book. It is my favorite "Harry Potter" to date -- dark, elaborate, whimsical, fast-paced and humorous, containing shining examples of all the best elements of Ms. Rowling's writing, all braided tightly together in a plot that hurtled me through its depths.

There are few things better than being able to say such things about a book you love, and one of those things is being able to say it to the author's face. Jo asked us immediately, when we met her at her spacious office later that day, if we had read the book and what we thought, and did so earnestly. Considering our situation, it probably sounded disingenuous to rave about it as we did, but there was nothing but honesty in our ebullience.

I had seriously wondered whether I would a) tense up, b) clam up or c) throw up as the interview started, but because Jo is so relaxed and welcoming, the interview -- which was supposed to be one hour but somehow inflated to two -- immediately launched into a funny and calming exchange of laughs and ideas, impressions and exclamations, and best of all, questions and answers. It felt as if we'd been pen pals together for a long time, and had just made the happy discovery that we could be friends in real life, too.

The full transcript of the interview will be posted on throughout this week, and it contains all kinds of tidbits about her life and her books, as well as several satisfying discussions about more sober and serious topics. For years, we as fans have watched journalists who know next to nothing about the books ask her how she got the idea for Harry Potter and whether there will be more than seven volumes in her series, things she has answered so many times, the responses can be recited off by heart by any committed fan. As much as that frustrated us is as big of a relief and welcome change as this interview became. By allowing us to interview her, Jo allowed the fans to skip the basics and go right to the good stuff.

It's the interview we've wanted to read for a long time, and we got to conduct it.

Time for another good pinch.