Assuras, Thalia. "J.K. Rowling Discusses the Adventures of Harry Potter," CBS News: This Morning, 28 June 1999

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" has been on "The New York Times" best-seller list for adults since last December. And just in time for summer vacation here comes "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," a book I'm reading now.

ASSURAS: I guest it goes without saying, that it is not often that a children's book hits the adult best-seller list. But "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" has been on "The New York Times" best-seller list for adults since last December. And just in time for summer vacation here comes "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," a book I'm reading now.

J.K. Rowling is the author of this acclaimed series and we are certainly happy that she could join us here this morning. Good to have you here.


ASSURAS: I must admit, I'm one of those adults who never did really know about these books until just recently. Fill us in a little bit more about Harry Potter. Who is this kid?

ROWLING: Harry is basically a little boy who until he was 11 years old, never realized -- all the strange things he could make happen were due to the fact that he was a wizard.

ASSURAS: A wizard?

ROWLING: Yes. And most of the story is concerned with the fact that he goes off to wizard school and his bench is there.

ASSURAS: He absolutely loves that school, actually.

ROWLING: He does love the school, yeah.

ASSURAS: Why a wizard? I mean, where did Harry Potter pop into your head and why?

ROWLING: I don't know. It really is the weirdest thing. I was on a train journey in 1990 and the idea just came to me out of nowhere. It was really as though it just fell into my head. I have no idea where it came from.

ASSURAS: Now, you started writing the series though at a particularly, perhaps desperate time in your life. Can I put it that way? Is that a fair assessment?

ROWLING: Well, when I started writing the books, no. At that time, life was pretty OK. But life became fairly desperate after a while in that I was a single mother with a tiny baby. I finished the book under difficult conditions -- yeah, that's true. Basically I could only write when my daughter slept.

ASSURAS: The baby is now what?

ROWLING: She's five now.

ASSURAS: Does she read these?

ROWLING: No, she's still a little bit young. I promised her, when she's seven, I'm going to read them to her.

ASSURAS: Really?


ASSURAS: Does she give you any suggestions? She must know what they're about?

ROWLING: She's funny, though, because she can read the words Harry Potter, and she'll walk into book shops ahead of me and say, "Mommy, they've got your book. It's like I've trained her to go ahead of me and announce I'm coming. I stopped her doing it now. It got very embarrassing.

ASSURAS: How do you explain the fact that adults like this book. It really is -- this one that I'm reading is intriguing. I couldn't put it down.

ROWLING: Adults, I've met -- they find them funny. And it is my sense of humor entirely. It's not what I think children think is funny. I think also I never had a target audience in mind. I wrote what I knew I would like to read and obviously, I'm 33, so hopefully that's why adults like it so much.

ASSURAS: Now, it is a series of books, right?

ROWLING: It will be, yes. It will be seven.

ASSURAS: My understanding though is that you already have the outline for the seventh in mind. Is that right?

ROWLING: Yes, they're all plotted. I've actually got the final chapter of book seven written; just for my own satisfaction so I know where I'm going. And children have kind of turned up and come around to my house and start edging towards my study. And I'm starting to feel like I should lock that chapter away in the attic.

ASSURAS: You won't tell us?


ASSURAS: What is it that intrigues you about Harry Potter and magic and all of this?

ROWLING: I could see the comic potential. There is a lot of comic in magic and magic going wrong and also it is a dramatic subject. I like frightening people. The books are getting scarier and scarier as we go.

ASSURAS: Oh, no, why?

ROWLING: Just because -- without giving too much away -- Harry's arch enemy is getting stronger.

ASSURAS: Oh. But as all children's -- I want you to tell me the ending -- as all children's books go, most -- there will there be a happy ending.

ROWLING: Depends whether or not your favorite character dies because there are going to be deaths.

ASSURAS: One final question, you're a really prolific writer. You haven't even gotten to the last book but you have gotten to the last chapter. You love writing, don't you?

ROWLING: Yeah, definitely. I've written all my life. It is like a compulsion for me. I actually don't feel quite write if I haven't written for a few days.

ASSURAS: People will feel quite right if they don't read this. They certainly won't fell quite right.

Thanks so much for joining us. And the J.K. stands for?

ROWLING: Joanne Kathleen.

ASSURAS: Thanks so much.

ROWLING: Thank you.