O'Donnell, Rosie. Interview, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, 13 October 1999

Transcription courtesy Laurel of the Sugarquill's Transcription Project

Video available on YouTube: offsitehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKQpCNIyLmE

Rosie: Thanks to our first guest, children and adults all over the world, myself included, have fallen in love with a magical boy named Harry Potter. This is the third and latest adventure, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Please welcome back to the show, best selling author, JK Rowling.

Jo comes out, audience claps and cheers.

Rosie: Well, hi, JK, how are you?

Jo: I'm fine, thank you.

Rosie: Do you prefer Jo or J.K.?

Jo: Jo is good.

Rosie: Now, I just read that in an article recently that you put your initials instead of your name for a specific reason, why was that?

Jo: That was my British publisher. They told me that they thought this was a book boys would enjoy, but they thought maybe if they could see I was a girl they wouldn't like it. And I was so grateful they were publishing my book they could have called me anything.

Rosie: Has anyone ever called you J.K. at all?

Jo: No, no one. My friends call me Jake, now, thinking it's funny, and it's not, by the way.

Rosie (laughing): Okay, I'll just stick with Jo, then.

Jo: Thanks.

Rosie: First of all, congratulations, Time Magazine cover, for a fictional character in a children's novel, pretty amazing. (Rosie is showing the Time cover "The Magic of Harry Potter".) Where were you when you found out about that?

Jo: Someone from Scholastic phoned me and said, "There's gonna be a Time cover," and I said, "ha, ha, ha" and they said, "No, really" -- they do that with me a lot, I laugh hysterically, and then they say, "No, please can you stop thinking we're joking, 'cause we're not anymore."

Rosie: It's a tremendous success, number one, two, and three -- there are three books in the series right now, a total of seven you're going to do -- the first three books are number one, two and three on the New York Times best seller list -- that's never happened with a children's series before. Can you even take in the success?

Jo: No, you know what, maybe it's good I can't take it in. I've got a feeling in ten years time I'll look back, 'cause I try not to read about it, 'cause it's overwhelming and I just want to be getting on writing the books. And then in ten years time probably I'll look back and say, "God, look what happened". But at the moment it's hard.

Rosie: It really is a phenomenon, it really is. Now I heard rumors that in book four someone dies.

Jo: Several people die, actually, but only one you're really gonna give a damn about. (Audience laughs)

Rosie: Really? One dies. Now is it a child, or is it one of the adults?

Jo: I'm not going to tell you.

Rosie: You're not gonna TELL me! 'Cause I thought it could be Hagrid, you know?

Jo: I'm not going to tell you.

Rosie: Am I close?

Jo: Geographically close?

Rosie: Don't make it Ron. Because I love Ron.

Jo: Kids are most worried about Ron, that's really interesting you say that, they're really worried about Ron, and my theory on that is -- they've seen so many films where the hero's best friend gets it, so then the hero -- it's personal.

Rosie: Exactly -- right.

Jo: But I'm not telling you if it's Ron, either.

Rosie: Exactly. Have you had them all planned out, do you know what's going to happen in book five and book six --

Jo: Yeah, I've written the final chapter of book seven, I know where I'm going with this.

Rosie: Excellent. Now we're going to, in book four, to meet other schools of witchcraft and wizardry.

Jo: Yeah, in book four for the first time you find out that there are other schools and you meet people from there.

Rosie: Are you surprised that adults love it as much as children?

Jo: It's great. Am I surprised? I wrote this for me, you know, I never wrote it with a focus group of children in mind. I wrote it totally for me, and I'm obviously an adult, so maybe it's not that surprising.

Rosie: What I loved so much about the third book is the whole thing of the dementors. And the dementors -- if you would, 'cause I love when authors read their own work -- read what a dementor does to people. It really affected me -- even as a metaphor for children.

Jo: Okay, I've never read this bit before, so if I start stammering, just be tolerant.

Rosie: You wrote it, so you can stammer all you want.

Jo: Thanks a lot. (She reads the bit on the train, with Harry describing the dementors.)

Rosie: And WHAT do the dementors do? They suck the life and the goodness out of you.

Jo: They take all happiness -- all recollection of anything cheerful in your past out of you, so you're just left with despair and your worst memories.

Rosie: And there was a part where you describe when they do that in the book that just really got to me, because there are people in my adult life who I feel ARE dementors. Do you know what I mean?

(Jo laughs hysterically at this.)

Rosie: There are people I know who are like that, they suck the soul out of you, you know? And it's very -- it's a wonderful little moral and fable to give to kids. And tell us the worst thing that can happen. What happens when a dementor kisses you?

Jo: Oh, he takes your soul, sucks your soul out of you.

Rosie: And then you have to live the rest of your life soulless.

Jo: Yeah.

Rosie: It is a phenomenal book, and I'm very sad when I get to the end.

Jo: I'm writing as fast as I can.

Rosie: All right, because I literally feel like they're my friends, and when something bad happens --

Jo: That's so great.

Rosie: And can I just ask you about some of the pronunciations? Her-MO-ny? How do you say that?

Jo: Hermione. My favorite pronunciation though is Her-mee-won. A kid said to me, "You know Her-mee-won?" And I said, "What? Oh, Hermione". And then I felt bad because if he wants to call her Her-mee-won who am I to say no?

Rosie: Well, when I read it aloud to my children I call her Her-mony, just so you know. And it's Sirus Black? Or Sirius?

Jo: Sirius.

Rosie: It IS Sirius. Sirius Black. I love the twist that happens with him in this, I don't want to give it away. We have a little nine-year-old boy who wrote me a letter, said that he thinks he can challenge me to Harry Potter trivia.

Jo: Okay -- right.

Rosie: I was wondering if you would ask the questions --

Jo: No problem.

Rosie: I'll be in a soundproof booth --

Jo: Oh, good, this is fun.

Rosie: -- he'll go first, but I'm not gonna give him any slack, because I will kick his sorry butt.

Jo: Okay.

Rosie: Is that a good deal, Jo? All right, we're going to come back with Harry Potter trivia right after this.

Here are the trivia questions Dougie Wydick and Rosie were each given. They both got them all right, with one small exception. (Dougie, by the way, was Rosie's announcer the day that Dan, Emma, Rupert, Robbie Coltrane and Richard Harris were on her show in November of 2001.)

1) What platform does the Hogwarts Express leave from?

2) Name any two of the four houses at Hogwarts. (Rosie said "Ravencliff," costing her the contest.)

3) Who do you give the password to, in order to enter Gryffindor Tower?

4) In the game of Quidditch, what do you need to catch for 150 points?

5) What's Prof. Snape's first name? (Both of them mispronounced this, but she gave it to them anyway.)

6) How did Harry and Ron get to Hogwarts for their second year?

7) Name any one of the DADA teachers (Dougie said Lockhart, Rosie said Lupin).

8) What's the name of the wizard newspaper?

9) Name any three members of the Weasley family. (Both Rosie and Dougie said Ron, Ginny and Percy.)

10) If a hippogriff bows to you, should you bow to it or pat it's beak?

The audience won Cold Fusion Yoyos and the first three Harry Potter Books.

Video available on YouTube: offsitehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKQpCNIyLmE