"Harry Potter author defends her work," Associated Press, October 14, 1999

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) - The creator of Harry Potter, the fictional orphan who attends a school for wizards, says she writes honestly about evil in her three best-selling children's novels that have become the targets of protest from some parents.

"I wasn't going to pretend that an evil presence is a cardboard cutout and nobody gets hurt," J.K. Rowling said Thursday in an interview on NBC television's "Today" program. "If you're writing about evil you genuinely have a responsibility to show what that means and that's why I'm writing them the way I'm writing them."

The British author's books outline the education of young Harry, an English wizard at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but some parents object to what they say are the books' tone of death, hate, lack of respect and evil.

"There are those things in the book because I made a very conscious decision right at the beginning that I was writing about someone evil and I was not going to tell a lie," Rowling said.

A dozen parents persuaded the South Carolina Board of Education earlier this week to review the books, which are suggested materials in public school reading programs. The board said it would look at the series but that it was up to local school boards to decide if the books were appropriate.

"I think they're very moral books. The children the protagonists have to make their own choices. I see all three of them as innately good people," Rowling said. "I see children as innately good unless they've been very damaged. That's where I'm coming from."

"People have an obvious right not to read my books. We all have a right to protect our children from anything that will hurt them," Rowling said. "I personally don't think at all that I'm hurting children."