A hush fell over the audience at the 34th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes on Friday night when the winner of the mystery/thriller prize was announced -- J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym of "Robert Galbraith" for "The Cuckoo's Calling."
Would the mega-bestselling author herself actually rise to the stage and accept the prize? Heads turned as a woman rose to the stage: not Rowling, but a representative from her publisher, who regretted that Rowling was unable to attend.
Now we may know why. She appears to have been on her way to Patagonia to cover the "2014 Quidditch World Cup," writing in the voice of Mrs. Harry Potter for the newspaper of the wizarding world, "The Daily Prophet."
The fictitious game is all the rage in Rowling's wizarding world. And this week, Rowling's character Ginny Potter (nee Weasley) is sending dispatches from the Argentine desert, covering the matches and Saturday's opening ceremony (registration required) on the Pottermore website.
For the uninitiated, Quidditch is a game in which wizards ride brooms and chase a small ball with wings--in other words it's not a real sport, although some real-world college students compete in a non-flying version of the game.
As in tournaments past (the ones in the novels), the attendees at the Quidditch World Cup used a magical invention of Rowling's to get there.
"A record crowd has been transported by 10,000 Portkeys to the heart of the Patagonian desert from the opening weekend of the tournament…" writes Ginny, who (spoiler alert) marries Harry Potter and starts a family with him in the epilogue of the final book.
In her Daily Prophet dispatch, Ginny describes a chaotic opening ceremony marred by a violent clash and "bloodbath" between team mascots from Fiji and Norway that were released into a magically created lake.
On Sunday, in the World Cup's opening match, Norway defeated Ivory Coast 340-100. "The last time these sides met, the game lasted for five days," Ginny writes. "Today, the final whistle was blown in a little over two hours."
Rowling published the final installment in the seven-volume Harry Potter series in 2007. The books have sold more than 400 million copies.