8:18 AM EST
When it was time to say goodbye, I wrote my email address down for Steve on the back of a torn receipt in my wallet. He read the address, then flipped over the receipt and said, “Penny Black—what’s that?” I said: “It’s the make of the top I’m wearing.” He tucked the receipt away muttering, “I just like knowing stuff like that.” As odd names on scraps of paper are perennially fascinating to me too, that clinched my feeling that I’d met a kindred spirit.
The important thing to know is that I had complete confidence in him, from that one meeting in L.A. He’d said enough during those few hours together to convince me that he had a real connection to the characters. As we subsequently agreed during our decade-plus email conversation about the books, when you strip away all of the diversionary magic, the Potter novels boil down to the characters: our relationship with them and theirs with each other.