J.K. Rowling interview transcript, The Connection (WBUR Radio), 12 October, 1999

Transcript Courtesy Sugarquill.net's Transcription Project

What is the secret of Harry Potter?
JKR: I don’t know. That’s the question I get asked most of all, I think and it’s really hard for me to say because as far as I am concerned, this was my private little world. I had been writing about it for 5 years before anyone else read a word of it and I never, I just never expected this. I can’t tell you how unexpected this has been to me.

What did you think of the --- now, now, now, let me just --- I would say as I read these stories, it’s this combination. It’s very Dickinsian in a certain way ---- but hardship to begin with, cruelty and then magic, escape, release.
JKR: A gentleman said to me the other day, you could make a good case, couldn’t you, for Harry actually becoming mentally ill under all of the neglect and the abuse that the Dursleys heap upon him. And this is his whole kind of schizophrenic fantasy he has. That is not what I believe, I mean I don’t want to read that into it at all, but she was saying that and I suppose that in a sense that is true. He does go through this appalling time and then he’s rescued in the most magnificent way any child could possibly be rescued.

Well, it goes back to Hamlet, the death of a parent too.
JKR: Yeah

It begins with the loss in infancy of --
JKR: --both of his parents. They are both murdered.

James and Lily. Exactly.
JKR: Yeah.

Why did He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named, Voldemort, if I can get away, Voldemort, why did he do it?
JKR: Well, that’s a really key question and I can’t answer it because you will find that out over the course of the 7 book series. There are a lot of questions that children ask me that I just have to keep saying ‘Well, you’ll find out in Book 5’ because I don’t want to ruin future plots obviously.

Where did you come by the sort of ---- there is a code --- a sort of a DNA pattern to these stories? Again, the boy who grows up, a foundling, so to speak, in somebody else’s cupboard. He’s treated very badly by this other boy in the house. Where does this start? I don’t want to say formula, but where did the idea, the posture of these stories begin in your own head?
JKR: The funny thing is that Harry came into my head almost completely formed. I saw him very, very clearly. I could see this skinny little boy with black hair, this weird scar on his forehead. I knew instantly that he was a wizard, but he didn’t know that yet. Then I began to work out his background. That was, that was the basic idea. He’s a boy who is magic but doesn’t yet know. So I’m thinking, well how can he not know. You know, so I worked backwards from that point. It was almost like the story was already there waiting for me to find it and it seemed to me the most watertight explanation for him not knowing that he was a wizard was that his parents had been a witch and wizard who had died and that he had been raised by Muggles, non-magic people.

What about the names themselves? Muggles, to begin, but the whole catalog of wizards, Albus Dumbledore, Voldemort, Hagrid.
JKR: I’m big on names. I like names, generally. You have to be really careful giving me your name if it’s an unusual one because you will turn up in Book 6. I collect --- Some of them are invented. Voldemort is an invented name. Malfoy is an invented name. Quiddich is invented. But I also collect them from all kinds of places, maps, street names, names of people I meet, old books on saints. Mrs. Norris, people will recognize comes from Jane Austin. Dumbledore is an old English word meaning bumblebee. Since Albus Dumbledore is very fond of music, I always imagined him sort of humming to himself a lot.

Rubeus Hagrid
JKR: Yeah, Hagrid is one of my favorite characters. He’s the giant kind of gamekeeper at the school. Hagrid is also another old English word meaning if you were Hagrid, it’s a dialect word meaning you’d had a bad night. Hagrid’s a big drinker. He has a lot of bad nights.

Minerva McGonagall
JKR: Yeah, McGonagall is a very, very bad Scottish poet. McGonagall is, I just love the name.

Hermione Granger
JKR: Yeah, Hermione, yes, people will want to know how to pronounce Hermione. I get asked that so much because people a lot of times say Her-me-one which I think is really cute. I wish I had told people right in the beginning it was pronounced Her-me-one. Hermione is a Shakespearean name. I consciously set out to choose a very unusual name for Hermione because I didn’t want a lot of very hard working little girls to be teased if ever the book was published because she is a very recognizable type, to which I belonged when I was younger.

I was going to say, are you a Hermione?
JKR: Yeah. I mean none of the characters in the books are directly taken from life, but real people did inspire a few of them, but of course, once they are on the page they become something completely different. Yeah, Hermione is a caricature of what I was when I was 11, a real exaggeration. I wasn’t that clever. Hermione is borderline genius at points and I hope I wasn’t that annoying because I would have deserved strangling. Sometimes she’s an incredible know-it-all.

You’ve introduced an almost talking Brazilian boa constrictor.
JKR: Yeah, I like him.

I do too. One of the first signs to young Harry that things are not quite what they seem.
JKR: Yeah, that’s right. I’m fond of that scene. That’s the reading I always do. This is the scene, for people who haven’t read the book, where Harry --- until Harry is 11, he is inadvertently making magic happen a lot, but he has no idea what’s going on. This strange stuff keeps happening around him. This culminates in an occasion on his cousin Dudley’s birthday where Harry accidentally sets a boa constrictor on Dudley at the zoo, by releasing it by magic from it‘s tank. That’s my favorite reading to do from Book 1. I could do that one in my sleep.

Maybe we ought to do it while you wait here. We’ll come to that. I’d love you to read some of this. I’d also like for you to see some of --- you say you were writing this in, you know, over tea in shops for 5 years before anybody saw it. People maybe know enough about you and your history. I’m not sure we do know enough though about how you, how you actually composed this.
JKR: When I started writing it, I had never thought of writing for children. I had been writing almost all my life. I mean, the first story I ever finished I was 6 years old. All I’ve ever wanted to be was a writer and I have been writing ever since I was 6. I‘ve never thought of myself as a children‘s writer. But I’ve never been so excited about an idea for a book as I had about the Harry books, so I ended the novel I was working on, and started on Harry. But it is a lot of work to create an entire world and it was about 5 years to finish the first book, to plot the remaining 6 books, because they were already plotted before the first book was published and Book 2 was started before Book 1 was finished. Yeah, so I spent an awful lot of time thinking about the details of the world and working it out in depth.

Are you sticking with that outline of the 7?
JKR: Yeah, but each time I hit a new book, I will find that there’s other stuff I want to do, so you know, I have a basic structure for each book, but sometimes I’ll decide we’ll play around with that middle section because I don’t much like it as much as I did back in 1992 when I originally found it.

Why 7 and what is the contour that you want to complete?
JKR: Well 7 is for several reasons, but I suppose the main one, I was 7 years at my secondary school. That’s kind of standard in England. 7 is also a magical number. I wanted him to come of age at 17. It just seems a good number for a wizard to come of age. So that meant 7 books, that meant 7 years in his life. Also, it will take 7 books to get Harry to the point where he has to face, um I can’t say. But in Book 7, you know, there’s a big climax coming here and it will take that many books to get him there.

Well, you know it is interesting. We asked, you know on our web page we ask people to send us their questions for you and the one sort of main thread of all sorts of things people want to ask, it is this fear that success is going to spoil Harry either in the story or that movies, Warner Brothers are going to Americanize or ---
JKR: Butcher my baby.

Yeah, exactly. Does the 7 year planning, I mean the 7 volume outline of this whole saga protect him from that?
JKR: Yes, it does very much so, because I don’t reach the end of a book and think, ‘OK what will we do with him now?’ That’s already decided. I mean, I’m on Book 4 at the moment. I plotted Book 4 back in 19, well it must have been 1993, I think. I was pregnant with my daughter, in fact, when I was plotting this book. So, it’s already cast. His future is cast. You know people shouldn’t be frightened that there are going to be dramatic changes owing to whatever is happening to him out in the Muggle world because it’s already been planned.

How are you going to protect him on the silver screen?
JKR: Warner Brothers are giving me a lot of input, I feel. I can’t lie to you, I am nervous about it. I think every writer who feels as I feel about their characters is going to be nervous. I’m both nervous and excited. If Warners make the film they are talking about making, I think it will be a great film. And I tell you, the thing I really want to watch is Quiddich. Quiddich being the sport played on broomsticks with 4 balls, 4 flying balls.

For them it’s what soccer is for the rest of England, played up in the air on Broomsticks with 4 balls?
JKR: Exactly. What baseball would be to you. Wizards, all wizards are obsessed with Quiddich.

How is this going to be done? By animation? By special effects?
JKR: No, it’s live action so it will be special effects. I can see Quiddich inside my head very clearly and so that’s not a very normal or perhaps even a healthy thing, but I see it really clearly inside my mind’s eye. Yeah, so the idea of being able literally to see it up on the screen. I mean it would just be the most incredible thing to me, so if they do what they say they’re going to do, it will be a great film and I’ll be a huge watcher. So, I’m hoping.

The Connection Writers out there. All the little girls who want to be writers and who started writing their first story at age 6, give J. K. Rowling a call. That was her ambition and she is --- you may be just far as the planet with the production of these books by the time all 7 volumes are out. They’ve been 1, 2 and 3 on the New York Times best seller list. The adventures of Harry Potter: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and that‘s just 3. There will be a set of 7. They are taking the English speaking world by storm, best sellers in the United States and in England. It’s our moment, Connection listeners to put our finger on the power of these stories (gives phone number to call) The Harry Potter Connection, Billy is on the line.
Hi, I was wondering how you came up with the main ideas for Harry Potter and how you came up with such interesting names for them.

JKR: As I’ve said, I collect names. I’ve always collected names, so I’ve got notebooks full of them. I like inventing names. Quiddich, I, --- the name Quiddich, I, --- it took me ages to find the right name for it, took me about 2 days and I’ve still got the notebook I did it in and you can see Quiddich at the bottom of the last page of this notebook underlined about 50 times because when I stumbled across it I knew it was the right one. As far as the storylines go, some of them are inspired by folklore. I mean there’s some interesting stuff out there that you can use. But mostly it comes out of my head and I know that’s not a great answer, but it’s the best I’ve got. Where do ideas come from? I’ve no idea.

Billy, what’s your favorite name?
I don’t know. I like Quiddich and I like Dumbledore.
JKR: Yeah, Dumbledore, as I said, is an old English word meaning bumblebee. I like Dumbledore, it sounds endearing and strangely impressive at the same time.

These names are important. You know, Henry James’s notebooks are full of names that he wanted to try out.
JKR: Right. I very much identify with that. Names are really crucial to me. Some of my characters have had 8 or 9 names before I hit the right one. And for some reason, I just can’t move on until I know I’ve called them the right thing. That’s very fundamental to me.

You know. It’s fascinating. I heard Jonathan say once ‘what novelist in the world would have dared come up with a name like Daryl Strawberry, the real life outfielder for the Mets and Yankees?’
JKR: Right. Exactly. It’s a really weird thing.

Hannah is on the line.
I wanted to ask you how did your daughter react to the Harry Potter books.
JKR: My daughter, um it’s funny you should ask that because I’ve only recently read her the first book.

How old is she now?
JKR: She’s 6. Initially I had said to her I would wait until she was 7, but she kept asking me and asking me and I thought oh well, we’ll try and it was the most important reading ever in my life. I’ve read to about a thousand people and I read to my own daughter in our sitting room and it was the most incredible reading ever, and it was the most nerve racking. I was more frightened reading to her than I was to a thousand people at a time because obviously, I really, really want her to like what I’m doing. It’s very important. Then she went away and she painted a lightening scar on her own forehead so I assumed that she did like them. Well, in fact I know that she does like them. She asks me all the time to read her more.

Wonderful. Hannah, thank you (gives phone number again) Marcus is on the line.
Hi, my question is who’s the next Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?
There are people cheering here. I can see them through the glass because they wanted you to ask that.
JKR: Oh, should I tell you? Do you really want to know? Will it ruin it?

JKR: Won’t it ruin it if I tell you?

JKR: (JKR laughs)

Will you buy the book anyway?
JKR: It’s not him buying the book, I’m worrying about. I just wondered about ruining things. I’m not going to tell you exactly who it is. I’ll tell you, it’s someone ---- he’s quite a scary character for the first time they get someone quite impressive as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. I will tell you that for the first time you see a teacher who really takes on Draco Malfoy.

JKR: OK, so that’s quite cool. There’s also something very distinctive about the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher’s appearance. He’s got a magical eye. Now, I’ve given you a really big secret. That’s supposed to be a big surprise.

Marcus, thank you. Tell us more about Draco Malfoy. There’s a name that sort of gives it away.
JKR: There’s a name I conjured up.

Draco, bad faith or something.
JKR: Yeah. Exactly.

Harry’s sort of opposite number.
JKR: Yeah. We’ve all met him. He is the bully of the most refined type in that unlike Dudley, Harry’s cousin who is a physical bully, but really not bright enough to access all of your weak points. Draco is, um, he’s a snob. He’s a bigot and he’s a bully, and as I say, in the most refined sense, he knows exactly what will hurt people and the scary thing is, but the predictable thing is that most of the children I meet say that they know him or they know her because you get female Malfoys as well.

Where did you meet the Draco Malfoy of your life?
JKR: Oh, I’ve known about 3. I knew one at school and I‘ve known them since. They don’t seem to disappear as you get older, unfortunately, but that‘s a facet of life that you‘ve got to deal with and I think children actually enjoy watching Harry and his friends deal with it.

What about Snape?
JKR: Snape is a very sadistic teacher, loosely based on a teacher I myself had, I have to say. I think children are very aware and we are kidding ourselves if we don’t think that they are, that teachers do sometimes abuse their power and this particular teacher does abuse his power. He’s not a particularly pleasant person at all. However, everyone should keep their eye on Snape, I’ll just say that because there is more to him than meets the eye and you will find out part of what I am talking about if you read Book 4. No, I’m not trying to drum up more sales, go to the library and get it out. I’d rather people read it.

One of our internet correspondents wondered if Snape is going to fall in love.
JKR: (JKR laughs) Who on earth would want Snape in love with them? That’s a very horrible idea.

There’s an important kind of redemptive pattern to Snape
JKR: He, um, there’s so much I wish I could say to you, and I can’t because it would ruin. I promise you, whoever asked that question, can I just say to you that I’m slightly stunned that you’ve said that and you’ll find out why I’m so stunned if you read Book 7. That’s all I’m going to say.

This is encouraging. (Gives phone number) Joe is on the line.
Yes, hi, it’s nice to speak to you and thank you for writing these books.
JKR: Oh, my pleasure, believe me.

You were just saying how you read it to your daughter, to your 6 year old daughter. When we sat down, we read this chapter by chapter. Every night the kids couldn’t wait for the next night. The characters are so great you can come up with wonderful voices, reading out loud to your kids with Hagrid and Dumbledore. Did you get that with your daughter too? Were you getting into the voices?
JKR: Well, I’m really into the voices and I really let myself go when I read to my daughter. I’m not quite that uninhibited when I’m reading to a lot of people.

Jo, let’s hear what Dumbledore sounds like.
JKR: Well, I use a little Sean Connery production. I put a little shurr into the s’s. (slurred Albus Dumbledore voice) But my favorite was Hagrid. He was more of a Monty Python character. (Does Hagrid voice)

(Laughs) One of the Gumbys
JKR: No, he wasn't gumby wasn’t he?

(Still laughing) No, I don’t really see Hagrid as a gumby though I like your interpretation.
JKR: I had Margaret Thatcher for Professor McGonagall.

OK, that works. Yeah, Margaret Thatcher, very much for Professor McGonagall.
It’s so great. It’s such a great read. We need to get a whole bunch because we’ll be reading all year long.
JKR: There’s nothing better I can hear than that. I really --- the idea of entire families reading the books together is just a wonderful thing because I am, I am convinced that is such a powerful way to get children reading.

And writing, my older daughter just spent the whole weekend writing a poem and creating ideas for Halloween and I think you are inspirational.
JKR: Fabulous. Thank you. That’s wonderful. Wish her luck. That’s how I started.

Jo, you’re a great actor and thank you for calling. I want to hear J. K. Rowling herself do ----
Do Dumble, not Dumbledore, Hagrid
Either one
JKR: Well, Hagrid’s sort of West Country, Yocal, which is where I grew up, the part of Britain where I grew up. I didn’t grow up in Scotland, I grew up on the border with Wales so Hagrid‘s kind of (does Hagrid voice), like that, very slurred words. It’s the accent English people always put on to sound stupid. Hagrid isn’t stupid, but he’s got that kind of very country, you know, way of speaking.

And how about Minerva McGonagall?
JKR: Oh, very clipped and very, very quite upper class and very brisk, a governess. I can’t do it, but I kind of see Dumbledore more as a John Gielgud type. You know, quite elderly and quite stately.

And Harry himself
JKR: I suppose he sounds like me. I always do my voice for Harry when I’m reading to my daughter.

I wonder if you would give us the sound of J. K. Rowling, but maybe the sound of Harry Potter too in that zoo scene.
JKR: The zoo scene, OK this is quite a long reading (reads zoo scene from Book 1)

This is a great privilege, let me say, to all of us in the Connection World to have J. K. Rowling with us live in the studio in Boston, the author of all 3 best sellers.
JKR: All of them, wrote them all myself.

Right, at the top of the New York Best Sellers List, the adventures of Harry Potter, and this is just the first 3 of 7. I’m not sure if there is anything like this since the high watermark of the late, great Charles Dickens. The legend was that when his serialized publication of “The Old Curiosity Shop” was coming to America, the books would come into the New York Harbor and people would be lined up on the docks yelling to people on board “Is Little Nell still alive?” People feel this same way about Harry Potter and she’s with us today (gives phone number and commercial break).
(Introduction after Commercial break)

Just in general, J. K. Rowling, what’s the --- what do you think of as the moral of these stories. I hear a lot of your own sort of reliving school life in the form of Harry who is really gifted beyond his awareness. He could be much more powerful that he actually is. There is something deeply ---- deeply exemplary, moral, good about this young man. What are the stories trying to tell us about goodness?
JKR: Again, this sounds like a huge cop-out, but it’s hard for me to give you the full picture without ruining future plots. Because, there are kids out there so attuned to these books that if I say ‘well, you might just find out X,Y, they’ll think ’Ah right, so and so is going to die, so and so‘s obviously going to learn to do this’, you know. They’ll just know, so I have to be careful about what I say. Harry is someone who is forced, for such a young person, to make his own choices. He has very limited access to truly caring adults and he is guided by his conscience. Now, Harry makes mistakes repeatedly. Harry did things like --- he did steal the flying car. That was a very stupid thing to do, but it seemed like a great idea at the time. We’ve all been there. But, ultimately Harry is guided by his conscience. He is flanked by 2 friends. They work far better as a team than apart though Harry tends to be the one who has to shoulder most of the burden. He is a true hero in that sense. Hermione, who’s really the brains of the outfit and Ron who is also a very brave character. I mean I deeply admire bravery in all forms. That’s why in Book 1, if people have read Book 1, they’ll remember that Neville Longbottom who is a comic, but he’s not a wholly comic figure to me. Neville is actually quite a tragic figure to me as well, because there’s a lot of Neville in me. This feeling of just never being quite good enough. I mean we’ve all felt that atsome point, and I felt that a lot when I was younger. I wanted to show Neville doing something brave. It’s not as spectacularly brave as Harry and Hermione do, but he finds true moral courage in standing up to his closest friends, the people who are on his side, but he still thinks they are doing wrong and he tells them so. So, that’s a very important moment for me too in the first book.

Dumbledore says to Harry at one point that it’s the choices we make that show what we truly are. Choices more than ---
JKR: More than our abilities, yeah, yeah. Well, that’s something I do truly believe and that’s something where --- we see very much with Harry. He is the one who has to make the choices and he genuinely has --- as we say, he has very limited access to adults who can help him. Because most of his friends have parents at home --- OK, they are all existing as wizards --- but they have a safety net. People who have ---children who have loving parents or guardians or family basically, they have a safety net. Harry doesn’t have that so he’s more alone than most children are. And therefore his choices are revealing him as someone who is brave, someone who is trying to do the right thing. Someone who occasionally slips up as we all do.

(gives phone number) Jim is on the line.
Good morning, J.K. What an utter honor it is to speak to you, madame. You are a hero of mine and I’m sure of many other parents. I have a couple of questions. You have such fabulous characters, but they are almost all boys. Hermione is a swot, a very wonderful person, but almost a cop-out in some ways.
JKR: Please don’t say that because she is actually based on me.

Oh, dear. I’ll stop now then. Do you get grief --- do you get criticism that you don’t have enough females in strong positions in your stories?
JKR: Well, in fact, if you run down the staff list at Hogwarts ---. People have said this to me before, I have to say that. There are many things I can say to that. The first thing I should say is that I had been writing this book for 6 months before I myself, it did take me 6 months, stopped and thought ‘Hang on, why is it Harry, why isn’t it Harriet? Why is this a boy?‘ Now, the answer is that Harry came to me so complete, so real that if I had stopped, after 6 months of writing and thought, ‘we’ll change him into a girl, I’m going to be politically correct, I’m going to make a heroine‘, it would have been putting Harry into drag. He was too real to me by then to turn him into a girl. He was a boy in my head and I already had Hermione and I had Ron and I was too fond of them by then to want to tamper with them so that is my answer and I’m sticking by it, I’m unapologetic about it. If you look down the staff list in the school, you will find that it is exactly 50% women and 50% men as teachers. Now, people possibly don’t realize that enough. I see Professor McGonagall, for example, as a very strong female character. I did get an e-mail the other day from someone in America, saying ‘When are we going to see a strong female character?’ and I wrote back and told her I was deeply offended because I think Hermione and Professor McGonagall are very strong characters. But I did say to her ‘but if you mean a nasty female character, wait till Book 4.’

Oh, OK. I have a very serious question as well. Harry is aging about a year per book --
JKR: Yes, he is, yes.

I have a 9 year old who is utterly dedicated to Harry and I have a 7 year old coming on. Harry at 14 or 15 will not relate to my 9 year old, I think in the same way. Is he going to slow down his aging process or is he ---
JKR: No, no I’m not. I’ve given some thought to this and I’ve chosen the way I’m going to do it. If people are unhappy with it, then I’m going to be sorry about that, but, you know, I have to go the way that I think is best to go. And the way I think is best ---- I always wanted Harry to grow up plausibly. You know, we are going to see him --- the plot demands that he ages about a year a book. The plot demands that he comes of age in the final book. Now I have a real moral objection to books that freeze children in prepubescence even though they are actually, in earth years, 16 years old, but they are still behaving as 8 or 9 year olds.

Now, if I get the tone right, I do believe that your 9 year old will still be interested in a 14 year old Harry. Obviously, it is inappropriate in books like these, it would be totally alien to the tone of these books if I got into too brutally realistic of an area ---- you know, we’re not going to be looking at teenage pregnancy here, we’re not going to be looking at drug taking here, you know. This would be totally alien to the spirit of these books. However, I do want Harry to grow up in a realistic way.

Does this mean we are going to see the hormones kicking in?
JKR: Yes, the hormones do kick in in Book 4. You know, the bottom line is I can’t be led by what people want me to write, I have to write what I want to write --- that’s just the way it’s got to be. I’ve got to write what I want to write. If by Book 6, I’m only writing to 6 people and I’ve lost everyone else, yeah, I’m going to be sorry about that, but I will feel that I have to stand by what I want to do.

I sometimes get letters from parents saying ‘well, we love your books, but they’re a little bit too scary, so could you stop doing that’. Well, I’m afraid no, I can’t, I have to write what I want to write. I’m not writing to order here, so I’m going to be sorry if children don’t want to keep up with Harry. I personally believe they will. I do not believe I’m going to be doing anything that will alienate a 9 year old.

I think your readers want you to stay right on it as the writer. (gives phone number) Pete is on the line.
Hi, I have a question about Hagrid.
JKR: Oh, Cool. I like Hagrid. Ask away.

Is he going to be in the rest of the books?
JKR: Yes.

He’s my favorite character.
JKR: Oh, is he your favorite character? I like you because he’s one of my favorite characters. Yeah, if you take away Harry and Hermione and Ron, then I love Hagrid the best definitely. He is going to be around. You are going to keep seeing him. I suspect that the reason you are asking this is because there is a rumor going around that people are going to die in the upcoming books. People are going to die and I’m not going to tell you who is and who isn’t because--- that’s for very obvious reasons.

How do rumors like this get started?
JKR: Because I answer questions honestly and then they get posted on the internet. Someone said to me ‘Is anyone going to die?’ and I said ‘Yeah, there are going to be deaths’ and the next thing you know, there were rumors flying everywhere that I was about to murder Ron in Book 4. You know, these things get blown up.

Pete, did you have more? Did you want to follow up?
Yeah, my other question was the guy who’s the bully, what was his name again?
JKR: Dudley, no, Draco Malfoy, which one?

Malfoy, yeah, him. I read the first book at camp and how did Malfoy feel so strongly against him in the first book?
JKR: Why does Malfoy dislike Harry so much in the first book?

JKR: Well, if you notice the very first time that Malfoy meets Harry and knows that it’s Harry, he makes an effort to be his friend. He does actually want to be associated with Harry because he knows that it would be cool to turn up at the school being Harry Potter’s friend because Harry’s so famous. Well Harry rebuffs him because Malfoy is being so rude about Hagrid and about Ron who Harry likes so much and it’s at that point that Malfoy turns against him. Because Malfoy is, ------- yet again this is so frustrating, I can’t tell you everything I could tell you because it would ruin future books for you. But Malfoy comes from a family who has strong associations with dark magic as you know and you are going to find out more about that in Book 4. So Malfoy is kind of --- he wanted to be Harry’s friend, Harry didn’t want him as a friend and that made him bitter. That‘s the starting point.

Pete, will that help you? I hope it will. (gives phone number) Thank you, Pete. Damon is on the line.
J.K. I have a major question to ask you.<
JKR: Go for it.

First, I want to say “Blessed be”. Are you craft or are you Muggles?
JKR: Am I a Muggle? Yes, I am definitely a Muggle. A Muggle with an abnormal amount of knowledge about the wizarding world.

Because, you do ---- You do your homework quite well.
JKR: Yeah, I know a lot about it, but, no, I’m not in any kind of --- I don’t head up my own coven at all, no.

Damon, which side of the line are you calling from?
Which side of the Muggle line are you calling from?
JKR: Well, he’s definitely wizarding.

Well, put it this way. Since your books came out, my step daughter now talks to me. I’ve had the books and she’s going ‘you got the books, you got the books.’
JKR: Oh, I’m glad, I’m glad. I like bringing people together

I have another question on that. How many more books are there? I had this discussion with my step daughter yesterday. Will there be 7 books for the 7 years of school?
JKR: Exactly, there will be 7 books.

Oh, there is 7. All right!!
JKR: Yeah, one for each of his years at Hogwarts, yeah

And nothing about him after school.
JKR: Probably not. I can’t say more than that, but no, I planned 7 and I’m going to stick with 7, I think.

Damon, thank you. (gives phone number) Chelsey is on the line.
Hi, I wanted to know if Professor Lupin is going to turn up in any of the other stories.

JKR: Professor Lupin, yeah, for people who maybe haven’t gotten that far or haven’t read the books at all, Professor Lupin is the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in Book 3. Now, he is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. Yes, he will be coming --- you will see him again. Quite a few of the characters that crop up in the books do come back because, I mean you know, they are friends of Harry’s now even if they’re not are actually living at Hogwarts. You will see Professor Lupin again in Book 5, not in Book 4. Also Dobby, the house elf who you see in the 2nd book, he also crops up again. So, you’ve got to keep your eye on these characters because they do come back.

Chelsey, I wonder why you asked about Professor Lupin.
Because I liked him a lot.
JKR: Oh, good, I’m glad, because, do you know what? From the moment I started writing Book 1, I’ve been looking forward to writing Book 3 because of Professor Lupin, because I knew that’s he made his first appearance. He’s one of my favorite characters.

People on the internet want to know if Gilderoy Lockhart is going to come back.
JKR: Gilderoy Lockhart, bless him, is currently residing in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries and his memory is still gone. So at the moment, he’s in no fit state to go anywhere. Which I think serves him right.

You didn’t quite answer the question as to whether he will be back or not.
JKR: Yeah, well, you know, you’ve got to sometimes dodge these things.

Chelsey, thank you (gives phone number) Kathleen is on the line.
Hi, how are you? Thank you so much for taking our call. I’m actually calling from my classroom right now ---- it’s a sixth grade class. This is a special treat.
JKR: Hi everyone

Anyway, it’s very exciting. We just love Harry Potter. We’re curious ---- well first of all we can’t wait for Books 4, 5, 6 and 7. But after that, we’re curious as to whether Harry is going to have a life after Hogwarts, or if maybe, Harry might be a Hogwarts teacher.
JKR: Well, because all your kids said ‘hello’ so nicely in the background there, I am going to give you information I haven’t given anyone else and I will tell you that one of the characters, one of Harry’s classmates, though it’s not Harry himself, does end up a teacher at Hogwarts. But, it is not, maybe the one you think, hint, hint, hint. Yeah, one of them does end up staying at Hogwarts, but ----

Do the kids want to guess at it, Kathleen?
JKR: Do you guys have a guess as to who it is?
(Kids shouting in background) Ron

They say Ron.
JKR: No, it’s not Ron. I can’t see Ron as a teacher. No way.
Well, we have just been having such a fun time with Harry Potter and we’re so thrilled that you took our call. We’re just all absolute huge fans. Thank you so much. You make our day everyday.

That’s wonderful to hear. Thank you for calling.
JKR: Kathleen, thank you. (gives phone number) Peter is on the line.

Hi, I really like the books and we already learned a lot about Harry’s father and I was wondering ‘Are we going to learn a lot about his mother?’
JKR: Yeah, you will. It’s ---- yet again ---- you won’t find out ---- OK, in Book 3 you’re absolutely right. You find out a lot about Harry’s father. Now the important thing about Harry’s mother, the really, really significant thing, you’re going to find out in 2 parts. You’ll find out a lot more about her in Book 5, or you’ll find out something very significant about her in Book 5, then you’ll find out something incredibly important about her in Book 7. But I can’t tell you what those things are so I’m sorry, but yes, you will find out more about her because both of them are very important in what Harry ends up having to do.

Peter, what’s your guess about Lily? What’s the real story of Harry’s mother?
I don’t really know, but I’m guessing that, maybe she is going to come back to life, maybe, in the 7th book or something like that.
JKR: Well, it would be nice, but I’ll tell you something. You’ve raised a really interesting point there, Peter, because when I started writing the books, the first thing I had to decide was not what magic can do, but what it can’t do. I had to set limits on it immediately and decide what the perimeters are. One of the most important things I decided was that magic cannot bring dead people back to life. That’s one of the most profound things. The natural laws of death applies to wizards as it applies to Muggles and there is no returning once you’re properly dead. You know, they might be able to save very close to death people better than we can, by magic. They have certain knowledge we don’t, but once you’re dead, you’re dead. So, yeah, I’m afraid there will be no coming back for Harry’s parents.

Peter, do you want to take another stab at the real story of Lily, or not?
JKR: Nah, don’t blame you.

You done good, Peter. Thank you. (gives phone number) Noreen is calling from Winooski, Vermont.
Hi, J.K. This is exciting to actually talk to you. I’m calling from an independent bookstore in Winooski, Vermont.
JKR: Yay, I love independent bookstores.

I’ve read your books. They are so creative and they’re such a wonderful escape. I’ve read all 3 of them. All of us there always look forward to the reader’s copies that we get. We pass them around. And then we sell your books to adults and kids, of course. I’ve heard that you have all of the books basically written and that you have ----
JKR: Oh, I wish, no, not written, no, planned.

You have plans. I’ve heard that you have pieces of the books on scraps of paper and they’re in a box.
JKR: Oh, that’s true, yeah

I’m wondering. It sounds like maybe putting the books together is like fitting a puzzle, the pieces of a puzzle together.
JKR: No, there’s still a lot of writing to do. I mean it’s ---- no, it’s not true that I‘ve ---- that was true about the 1st book. I had this mountain of notes and it was almost like carving a book out of this mass of stuff with Book 1 which required a lot of work. Of course there was a lot of writing involved, rewriting. But as I go on ---- no, I have the bare outline of the books, there are pieces of all of them, sort of snippets of all of them written, ideas I’ve had that I’ve jotted down at some point, entire pages sometimes that I‘ve thought, oh yeah, that‘s how we‘re going to do that bit of Book 4, whatever it might be. But no, I’m not that far on. I do have to sit down and actually write them. But, as I think I said earlier, I never finish a book and then think ’OK, what’s Harry going to do next?’ I always know exactly what Harry is going to be doing next.

The framework
JKR: Yeah, exactly, but still with enough freedom to invent stuff as I go along. Otherwise, it wouldn‘t be nearly as much fun. I mean, I haven’t got every single detail down before I start writing because that would, you know, that would just stop it being, you know ---- I don’t know, just I wouldn’t have the freedom to do what I do.

I have one more kind of self-serving question. Is there any way that we could get you to our bookstore in Winooski, Vermont which is near Wellington, Vermont and how would I do that?
JKR: I’m really, really sorry about this. I’m actually here with someone from my publisher who is having a mental breakdown because the poor woman is having just a deluge of requests. I just don’t have enough hours in the day and I am truly sorry about that.

Thank you very much for answering my question.
JKR: Thank you. It was great to talk to you.

Noreen, thank you. We are very privileged to have you here. I just want to ask you some questions in what time we have left. Who formed you as a writer? People compare you to the greats. I mean, Jane Austin and Dickens, but also in our own century, P. L. Travers, Roald Dahl, E. Nesbitt. What did you read as a child growing up and what is the sort of pantheon in which you sort of find yourself?
JKR: Of the 3 writers you’ve just mentioned there, E. Nesbitt is the one that I’m most flattered to be compared to. I loved and I still love her books. I really love her books. I recently read, I’ve never read them before as a child, I read her fairy tales and it was just ---- I just loved them and they’re ---- in many ways I think they are close to what I do because they is a lot of sort of modern detail among these fairy tales. You have princes advertising themselves for adventures, eligible princes and stuff and it’s a kind of a quirky twist always on the more traditional form. I think there is elements of that in what I do. Roald Dahl, I am very often compared to Dahl in Britain and I think that there is a very basic reason for that, not necessarily a very plausible reason for that. A lot of people when they were first writing about me were not terribly knowledgeable about the world of children’s books, to be honest with you, and I have a feeling that they were thinking ’well, I will compare her to the last person that we have heard of‘, which was Roald Dahl. There are certain similarities. He was great on detail also. You know. He loved putting in these very detailed things, but he‘s not my favorite children‘s writer.

Tolkien, C. S. Lewis?
JKR: I’ve read both of them. Both of them were geniuses. I’m immensely flattered to be compared to them, but I think I‘m doing something slightly different again.

I’m so happy that you welcomed the E. Nesbitt comparison. My 3 daughters grew up on E. Nesbitt and -----
JKR: I’m really glad to hear it and I wish ----

While you’re waiting on the next Harry Potter book, Mom, Dad, kids, try E. Nesbitt. Give them a title to begin with.
JKR: ”The Treasure Seekers”, definitely, I think is an absolute masterpiece.

J. K. Rowling, it’s a real privilege and pleasure to have you on The Connection. Thank you.
JKR: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.