Melissa Anelli speaking at USF on Harry Potter, November 2010After I finished reading the Deathly Hallows in 3-days of absolute seclusion (no people, no Internet, no outside), I immediately thought that Harry Potter was now the greatest genre franchise in existence. For me from 2001 to 2007 the Harry Potter experience was so rich, so compelling, so intimate, that it became the genre franchise I held in most esteem. It was nearly flawless with no missteps.
Besides reading and rereading the books, in 2005 I started to listen to the Pottercast podcast, which opened up a whole other level of understanding and appreciation for Harry Potter. After years of listening the hosts of Pottercast felt like friends due to their not only talking on Harry Potter, but their own lives, experiences, etc. I had seen pictures of Melissa Anelli, so when I listened to her on the podcast I had some mental image of the person speaking. However, it is really an unusual feeling to finally see someone in person after so many years of just listening to their voice. Double that with my Pottercast experience being a one-way street, meaning I learned so much about Melissa and the other hosts from the podcast that you feel you kind of know them like a regular friend, except just one you never actually talk back to. So when I went to hear Melissa speak at USF Tampa campus last night, I felt like I finally got a chance to see an old friend . . . who had no idea in the world who I was!
Anyway, Melissa is a great speaker. The same personality she displays on Pottercast was exactly what I saw on stage. Her voice sounded exactly the same, so I guess they have really good audio production on the podcast! She must have given the same talk last night dozens if not hundreds of times, but she showed no hint of it giving the appearance of it being the first time she ever told those stories, which to me is the sign of a great speaker.
Melissa records the cheers of Harry Potter fans using her Mac!For a Harry Potter fan, her talk was extremely interesting and fun. I really did not know specifically how JK Rowling came to write the first Harry Potter book and especially not how lucky she was for it to get published. It was great storytelling by Melissa.
I did not bring my 80-200mm lens with me because that would mean bringing my backpack camera case and I wanted to travel light and try to be inconspicuous for a change. I also did not get a seat very close up due to the horrid traffic driving from St. Petersburg to Tampa, so I kind of regret I was not able to get better photographs of the event. Plus the stage itself was not lit much at all, darker than where the crowd was sitting, which is the opposite of how lighting usually is.
This was the perfect way to get ready to see the Deathly Hallows movie on Friday. Thanks very much Melissa for coming to Tampa and sharing your great Harry Potter stories and knowledge!