Fry, Stephen, interviewer: J.K. Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 June 2003.

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Harry Potter and the Magic of the Internet

JK Rowling Webcast on MSN featuring your questions on text and video from around the world June 26th 2003

The webcast was produced by MSN with Bloomsbury, Clear Channel and Initial an Endemol Company with BT Broadband in the UK and Scholastic in the US.

The webcast started with some pre-recorded interviews from outside the venue with children who had been waiting all morning. JK Rowling arrived to huge cheers.

JK Rowling paused to sign autographs while the crowds were being entertained by magicians and jugglers and even a tea-lady on stilts. Inside the Hall they sang a version of the Hogwarts School Song.

At 4.09 exactly we cut live to the show happening inside the Royal Albert Hall. The stage set is a common room at Hogwarts with a fireplace surrounded by framed pictures and a huge moon suspended from the ceiling.

There are giant screens on either side of the stage for video questions filmed by MSN from around the world.

Assistant Caretaker: J K Rowling is here everybody! She’s in the building! Ooh! Ooh! I’m so excited. I’m very, very excited. Hey! Hold on, hold on! I bet some of you are literally bursting with excitement. Oh no! Not literally, not literally - I’ve got enough mess to clear up. Hey! I’ve got to get moving. Let’s get this place ship-shape, she’ll be here.

FX: Eerie noise.

Ooh someone’s coming. Come on you guys look lively, smarten up because She’ll be here soon. I’d better poke the fire. There we go. Ooh! Hey that noise you just heard means there’s a magic portal opening up and we have Muggles from all over the world joining us. Hello, welcome to our show. You’re in for a big, big treat. Oh yes you are!

In a moment we shall meet “She who shall be named” with “He who shall ask the questions” and his name is…he is a marvellous Muggle, called Stephen Fry, who you will know is the voice of the Harry Potter books and he’s here, yes, right now!

Enjoy the show everybody! Goodbye!

FX: Explosion and puff of smoke as Stephen Fry comes out of the fireplace.

Stephen Fry: Oh dear me. Hello! Hello there! Hello, am I in the right place? It’s a long time since I’ve used floo powder and I sometimes end up in the wrong place. Is this the Royal Albert Hall?

Audience: YESSSSS!

Stephen Fry: Good. Now most of you might know why we are here. Have you see an assistant caretaker anywhere? He was supposed to be welcoming me here. With any luck he might have been fired. We are here to meet the most famous and the most popular writer in the whole wide world!

Audience: Cheers

Stephen Fry: Now I have to ask you a question. Are you ready to meet her?

Audience: YESSSS!

Stephen Fry: In that case, let me welcome onto this stage boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen J K ROWLING

Audience: Very very loud CHEERS!

JK Rowling: Hello. Oh Wow!

Stephen Fry: How about that?

JK Rowling: That’s amazing.

Stephen Fry: Shall we go and sit down. There are some questions to ask you. You pop there. Now, as you may know everybody, we are webcasting around the planet and many people have lots of questions to ask

JK Rowling: Good good

Stephen Fry: I have one to start with… what am I going to call you?

JK Rowling: Jo

Stephen Fry: Jo?

JK Rowling: Yes

Stephen Fry: Can we settle a really important question? How do you pronounce your last name?

JK Rowling: It is Rowling – as in rolling pin.

Stephen Fry: Rolling! You now all have to say after me, the word “rolling” boys and girls, 1…2…3…

Audience: ROLLING!

Stephen Fry: If you hear anybody in the future say JK “Row-elling” you have my permission to hit them on the head - not with a copy of the Order of the Phoenix because that would be cruel

JK Rowling: That would kill them :o)

Stephen Fry: No use something smaller than the last book - like a fridge.

JK Rowling (laughs)

Stephen Fry: We’ve got lots of questions to get through so let’s hear our first question which is from a young man not too far away. He’s in Stevenage in Hertfordshire and his name is James Williams.

What kind of books did you read when you were a child? Did it inspire you to become a writer?

JK Rowling: That’s a very good question, a very intelligent question. I would read absolutely anything at all. My favourite writers were E. Nesbit… I liked C.S. Lewis, and I used to read adult writers as well. I would read absolutely anything: the backs of cereal packets – anything.

Stephen Fry: Are you one of those people that can’t eat breakfast cereal without reading the packet?

JK Rowling: I am indeed one of those people.

Stephen Fry: I’m the same. I go mad if I have to eat cereal and there’s no packet anywhere :o)

One of the things I suppose a lot of people always like to know about writers, is the very basic question of what your average writing day is like. Now I’m sure there’s no average writing day. It’s a silly question or may sound silly to you, but people always love to know them… like: Do you use computer or do you write with a pen? Do you drink coffee or tea? Do you listen to music when you write? Those sorts of things. Can you give us a rough example of a day?

JK Rowling: My favourite way to write used to be to go to cafes. I used to love doing that because I find being surrounded by people, even though I can’t talk to them while I’m writing, is very helpful. Being a writer is a very, very lonely job obviously, but these days I can’t write in cafes because too many people come up to me and say “Are you that woman that writes that Harry Potter”? So I write at home now – and I write much more on the computer than I used do

Stephen Fry: Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

JK Rowling: I never listen to music when I’m writing – I find music much too distracting

Stephen Fry: Do you drink tea or coffee?

JK Rowling: I drink both of them - in excessive quantities

Stephen Fry: Just to be really dull. Do you start very early and write till very late? Is it regular?

JK Rowling: I start after I have taken my daughter to school and I keep writing till I’m so hungry I can’t focus on the computer any more – then I go and have sandwich then write till Jessica comes home from school then sometimes I’ll do a bit in the evening.

Stephen Fry: and after about a year or so …

JK Rowling: and after a year or so you finally think “Ooh I’ve finished the book”

Stephen Fry: Do you print it out as you go along and read it on paper?

JK Rowling: I do, yes – waste a lot of paper

Stephen Fry: Good well. Those are the details out of the way

Question from Anna Beatrice de Curia Pierera, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

On video: “Did you find it harder to write now that the whole world is eagerly waiting for the launching of the new Harry Potter book in the series?”

JK Rowling: Umm, I don’t think I did find it harder to write but it can get a little bit scary being published these days. Look where we are! The first reading I ever did; there were two people who’d wandered into the basement of Waterstone’s (UK Book Store) by mistake and were too polite to leave when they saw someone was going a reading and they had to get all the staff in the shop downstairs to bulk out the crowd a bit. I was terrified. I was shaking so badly.

Stephen Fry: Now when you go to a book shop to do a signing people dress up – don’t they…

JK Rowling: They do. Best one I ever saw was one woman in America who dressed up as the fat lady in pink dress and she’d hung a picture frame around herself. She looked fabulous.

Stephen Fry: How wonderful! Particularly in America where they’re more perhaps theatrical than we are about these things – you get boys dressed as Harry and girls as Hermione?

JK Rowling: Many boys dressed as Harry. Lately I’ve noticed people like dressing up as Draco a lot more, which I’m finding a little bit worrying. You’re all getting far too fond of Draco :o)

Stephen Fry: The dark forces are rising Jo :o)

JK Rowling: The dark forces are indeed rising!

Stephen Fry: There’s no question about it! Now to Manchester where there is a question from Jess Wilde:

On video: “What advice would you give to any kids who want to become authors?”

Stephen Fry: Now Jess is of course is a name you like…

JK Rowling: My daughter is called Jessica. I always say the same thing – which is to read as much you possibly can. Nothing will help you as much as reading. Then you’ll go through a phase and imitate your favourite authors and that’s fine - that’s a learning experience too and you are also going to have to accept that you’re going to hate a lot of things you write before you find you like something.

Stephen Fry: There seem to be lots of popular children’s authors around at the moment. Philip Pullman…do you like him?

JK Rowling: Philip Pullman is fantastic. David Almond, Jacqueline Wilson.

Stephen Fry: Lemony Snicket. I like that – I wish I were called Lemony Snicket.

JK Rowling: What a name- I would love to be called Lemony Snicket.

Stephen Fry: Almost better than being called Mundungus.

JK Rowling: Almost…. You know what Mundungus means? Mundungus is an old word for tobacco because, Mundungus’s always smelling of his pipe and other various unsavoury things so that’s why he called Mundungus.

Stephen Fry: I didn’t know that. There we’ve learnt...

Stephen Fry: Now let’s go 6000 miles to Lily Rodseth in Seattle USA.

Video: Which character do you miss most when you finish writing a book?

JK Rowling: I really miss all of them but I suppose I’m going to have to say Harry because you know he is my hero and there’s a lot of me in Harry.

Stephen Fry: People ask me in the reading of them who my favourite character is and I always say Harry. You didn’t choose to make ‘Anyone else’ and the Philosophers Stone or ‘Anyone Else’ and the Chamber of Secrets – its Harry’s story and Harry’s growth as a person.

JK Rowling: It’s Harry’s journey. Harry is the eyes through which you see the world so he’s crucial to the story.

Stephen Fry: Can you remind us how it all popped into your head, almost fully formed?

JK Rowling: I was on a train going from Manchester to London, looking out of window at cows and I just thought “boy doesn’t know he’s a wizard goes off to wizard school”. I have no idea where it came from. The idea were just floating along the train and looking for someone and my mind was vacant enough and so it decided to zoom in there.

Stephen Fry: You played with the idea in your head?

JK Rowling: Exactly. From that moment I thought “Why doesn’t he know he’s a wizard?” It was as though the story was just there for me to discover. His parents are dead he needs to find out they’re wizards and on we went from there.

Stephen Fry: And the names I have to mention the names, you mentioned Mundungus being tobacco…. A lot of the names have very particular meanings; Albus Dumbledore is on the side of light his name means “white” in Latin. Alba was an old name for Britain.

JK Rowling: It also means wisdom in Latin.

Stephen Fry: Yes, “Alb” - What about Malfoy? What does that mean?

JK Rowling: Malfoy is a made-up name but you could say it was old French for bad faith. It really suits him.

Stephen Fry: Bad Faith…Malfoy…perfect isn’t it. I’m sure the boys and girls nave noticed that the Hogwarts School motto is Latin and what is it?

JK Rowling: Well, you’re one of the few people I’ve met who knew what it meant “Never tickle a sleeping dragon”.

Stephen Fry: There never tickle a sleeping dragon, probably the wisest advice you will ever hear. Its good advice

Stephen Fry: It’s like the magic equivalent of “let sleeping dogs lie”

JK Rowling: Exactly!

Question from Neil Sierra Sidney Australia

Video: “Have you ever considered writing a book about Harry 5 or 10 years later - after he’s left Hogwarts?”

JK Rowling: I get asked this question about whether I’m going to write about Harry when he’s grown up. I always say “You’ll have to wait and see whether he survives to be a grown up”

Stephen Fry: Uhn..that’s a frightening thought…isn’t it my goodness!

JK Rowling: Sorry. I’m not saying he won’t but I don’t want to give anything away at this point.

Stephen Fry: He is growing up of course and it’s intriguing about reading these books to watch him and his friends - age. Which do you think he’d fine the more difficult – to fight Voldemort - You’ve got to be able to say it or he’ll have too much power over you to fight Voldemort - or to kiss Cho?

JK Rowling: People who’ve read the Order of the Phoenix will have a fairly shrewd idea of what the answer might be…

Stephen Fry: Were not going to give away too much about the book because not everyone can read that fast. I could read a few telephone directories in a week but not that book. Another thing about the ageing (of the characters growing up) I feel. If you look back now at the first and second books, they almost seem innocent by comparison – they had monsters, they had real villains, everything now is more complicated isn’t it …

JK Rowling: Yes, very much so.

Stephen Fry: They are. Everything is more complicated now as Harry gets older. When he entered the wizard-ing world after a horrible time at the Dursleys he expected Wonderland. He almost immediately he wandered into Draco Malfoy and found out that some wizards are racists. Slowly but surely he found out many people in power in the wizarding world are just as nasty and corrupt as in our world.

JK Rowling: That’s because it’s about human nature and people with less pure motives have wands too. A lot of time is trying to legislate for them.

Stephen Fry: Exactly, politicians and journalists. It’s also true in the real world. People say we haven’t got a magic wand to cure all ills of the world but what you show is that even if you have got a magic wand it doesn’t cure all the ills.

Another question now from Daniel Joseph, Croydon (UK)

Video “How do you decide what the baddies would be like?”

JK Rowling: This is going to sound awful but I’ve met enough people I didn’t like in my life to have a fairly shrewd idea of what I want baddies to be like. I think from letters I get from people your age that nearly all of you here knows a Draco Malfoy and girls will almost certainly know a Pansy Parkinson. We all grow up with those sort of people and certainly as adults we’ve all have met people like Lucius Malfoy and some of the other characters.

Stephen Fry: Malfoy, Goyle and Crabbe are almost irredeemably bad – certainly there’s almost nothing attractive about about Goyle and Crabbe, repulsive – Malfoy is reasonably stylish…

JK Rowling: Malfoy is certainly stylish in the film –

Stephen Fry: Yes, and even in the books there is a certain flair. Most characters like Snape are hard to love but there is a sort of ambiguity – you can’t quite decide - something sad about him – lonely and it’s fascinating when you think he’s going to be the evil one a party from Voldemort obviously in the first book then slowly you get this idea he’s not so bad after all.

JK Rowling: Yes but you shouldn’t think him too nice. It is worth keeping an eye on old Severus definitely!

Stephen Fry: Why does Dumbledore …(simplifies) one of the most awful things in the world when we are young, is injustice – when something’s unfair it makes us so angry. One of the things is I get upset on Harry’s behalf about how people tell lies about him. We know he’s brave and actually saved the magical world on numerous occasions, yet he has to start all over again in each book and do all over again and prove himself again. Dumbledore knows how good he is and how bad the fathers of Deatheaters, Crabbe and Goyle are.

JK Rowling: I don’t want to say too much but Dumbledore is a very wise man who knows that Harry is going to have to learn a few hard lessons to prepare him for what may be coming in his life. He allows Harry to get into what he wouldn’t allow another pupil to do and he also unwillingly permits Harry to confront things he’d rather protect him from. As people who’ve read the Order of The Phoenix will know; Dumbledore has had to step back from Harry to teach him some of life’s harder lessons.

Stephen Fry: You have to push you’re beloved chickens out of the nest so they can fly

Q from Hong Kong – China Korea International School

Video: “Do you believe in magic?”

Stephen Fry: Well there’s a good question, do you believe in magic?

JK Rowling: I’m sorry to say, because often when I answer this question I get a groan, that I don’t believe in magic.

Groan from the audience

JK Rowling: I really don’t in magic the way that it appears in book. I could be slightly corny and say I do believe in other kinds of magic; the magic of the imagination for example, and love, but magic as in waving a wand - no. I’d love to believe in it but I’m afraid I can’t.

Stephen Fry: But it doesn’t matter that it sounds corny … it’s desperately important that the way Harry solves all his problems is really through his courage, his friendship, and his loyalty and stoutness of heart.

JK Rowling: “Stoutness of heart” – is a very good phrase!”

Harry is not a good enough wizard yet to even attempt to take on Voldemort as wizard to wizard. He’s escaped him three, four times if you count the encounter with Tom Riddle. He keeps doing it because there is one thing that Voldemort doesn’t understand and that’s the power that keeps Harry going. And we all know what that power is.

Stephen Fry: Exactly right we now have Natasha Rye, Suffolk

Video “If you could have any magical power for one day what would you have and how would you use it?”

JK Rowling: If I could have a power, I would have the power of invisibility and, it is a little bit sad, but I’d probably sneak off to a café and write all day.

Stephen Fry: I’m just thinking of all the wicked things I would do if I were invisible and they wouldn’t include writing!

JK Rowling I’ve just been asked, on my way here I was asked for the first time when book 6 will be ready so I think you’ll agree I’d better get working soon.

Stephen Fry: It can’t be soon enough for any of us.

Q from Paris, France: Antoine De Dan (in French)

Video: “If you looked into the Mirror of Erised what do you think you would see?”

Stephen Fry: The Mirror of Erised is as everyone knows …what is Erised spelt backwards?

Audience: Desire!

Stephen Fry: Desire spelt backwards.

JK Rowling – Very good. I would, at the moment, probably see myself very much as I am because one of the most wonderful things that could possibly have happened has happened and I’ve had another child – myself and family. I’d also like to see what Harry sees - my mother alive again. There’d be room over my shoulder to see a scientist inventing a cigarette that would be healthy, that would be lovely and I can think of a particular journalist being boiled in oil.

Stephen Fry: If your first book had been a reasonable success and your second book ok too so a few people would have heard your name, and they might have just done well enough, do you think the stories would have developed in different ways? Has some element of the huge and unparalleled fame and success you’ve had, has given you different view of the world and affected the way the books developed?

JK Rowling Mmmm yes that had entered the story. I think that I always thought Harry would feel the pressure of his position both as famous wizard – as in the first book when he enters, you do see that when he walked into the Leaky Cauldron for the first time and he’s stunned that people have been talking about him for eleven years without his knowledge – and I always knew he would meet someone from the Daily Prophet. I think it would be foolish to pretend I don’t write Rita Skeeter with a little more enjoyment these days. I try and avoid reading about myself..

And now here is a question from Amit Ben David from Roshon Israel

Video “What music does Harry Potter listen to?”

JK Rowling That’s a very good question. Well..He has recently heard the wizard super group the Weird Sisters who came to the Yule Ball who had an odd assortment of instruments: bagpipes, cello, and the electric guitar of course so I’d have to say they are his favourite group.

Stephen Fry: Is there no Wizard Rap or House or Hip Hop in the wizard world?

JK Rowling That would have got to be too complicated. He’s sticking with the Weird Sisters and you can make of them what you will.

Stephen Fry: What about you?

JK Rowling: What music do I like? - lots of different things. The Beatles were my favourites. This is the nearest I’ll ever get to being a Beatle - hearing you all shouting. It was really very nice.

Stephen Fry: This lot makes more noise than a Beatles audience don’t you?

Audience YESSSSSS!

Question from a place you know very well indeed, Edinburgh from Janine Kerr

Video: “If you were a teacher at Hogwarts, what subject would you teach?”

Stephen Fry: You’ve been a teacher of course.

JK Rowling: I’ve been a teacher. I would probably teach Charms. I see Charms as a slightly lighter subject than transfiguration which is very hard work. With Charms there would be a little more leeway for a little more personal creativity – transfiguration you have to get it exactly right, transfiguration is more scientific. My daughter would be much better at transfiguration, she’s very scientific.

Stephen Fry: What did you teach?

JK Rowling: French.

Stephen Fry: Do you still read and talk French?

JK Rowling: Very rarely. I don’t have a lot of time to read in French these days because I’m a mother! and free time is spent writing, and then reading a bit in English.

Stephen Fry: Where were you at school?

JK Rowling: In the Forest of Dean – that’s why Hagrid has that accent; He comes from The Forest of Dean.

Audience: Question from Natasha Morrison - competition winner in audience

JK Rowling: Hello Natasha!

Natasha: “How did you think of Quidditch because it’s so unlike any other sport I’ve heard of?”

JK Rowling: Right well, if you want to create a game like Quidditch – what you have to do is have an enormous argument with your then boyfriend, you walk out of house, you sit down in pub and you invent Quidditch. I don’t really know what the connection is between the row and Quidditch except that Quidditch is quite a violent game and maybe in my deepest, darkest soul I’d like to have seen him hit by a ‘bludger’.

Stephen Fry: Do you ever play the computer games?

JK Rowling: I don’t but my daughter plays it - she’s very good. I can’t work Playstations. I’m no good at these things.

Stephen Fry: I never got past throwing the gnomes over the hedges which is level a half never mind level one…so…hello?

Caretaker: Hello Master Muggle. Question from the Muggle machine

Stephen Fry: Of course with everybody watching we’re getting a lot of questions emailed in. Matt is not from a real boy or girl this is from you isn’t it?

Caretaker: No… No ! ..How can you tell?

Stephen Fry: None of the nice boys and girls would want to know if wizards could make farts smell really bad, nor do they want to know what type of underpants Harry Potter wears, or which smells worse Unicorn poo or Dragon pee? You’re a disgrace! Don’t come back until you have a real question…Ridiculous!

JK Rowling: Dragon Pee (smells worse) (laughter)

We still have time to take questions from around the world so keep emailing and Mr Emulsion will bring them in…

Question from Jackson Long in audience competition winner

Jackson: “Professor Snape has always wanted to be Defence Against Dark Arts teacher. In book 5 he still hasn’t got the job. Why does Prof Dumbedore not allow him to be Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher?”

JK Rowling: That is an excellent question and the reason is that I have to be careful what I say here. To answer it fully would give a lot away about the remaining two books.

When Prof Dumbledore took Prof Snape onto the staff and Prof Snape said “I’d like to be Prof of Defence Against the Dark Arts please” and Prof Dumbledore felt it might bring out the worst in Snape so said “I think we’ll get you to teach Potions and see how you get along there”.

Stephen Fry: Now, Snape, we talked about him a little before, there’s something about letter “s”, isn’t there especially with that ”n” with it, you can’t help saying it without sneering or snarling… Snarl, sneer…

JK Rowling: Snake! I could have very easily called him, Snicket instead but it’s a funnier, kinder word so I didn’t.

Stephen Fry: Or sneeze is pleasant and of course and the Founder of the House (at Hogwarts) was Salazar Slytherin - another snaky thing. Snakes feature a lot – is a Parselmouth a real thing or did you make that up?

JK Rowling: Parselmouth is an old word for someone who has a problem with the mouth, like a hare lip.

Stephen Fry: So it is a real word again – very clever. Order of the Phoenix is 766 pages long – that’s a big book by any standards and as I’ve got to sit in front of a microphone and read it all out every word, I’m a bit cross with you. On the other hand it’s extraordinarily good value. You could have written eight books with the words you’ve done in these first five. Did you know it was going to be this long?

JK Rowling: No… I didn’t, I will say this. I had to put in some things because of what’s coming in books 6 and 7 and I didn’t want anyone to say to me “what a cheat you never gave us clues”. If I didn’t mention things in Order of the Phoenix I think you’ve said “well, you sprang that on us”! Whereas I want you to be able to guess if you’ve got your wits about you.

Stephen Fry: To set up surprises..

Stephen Fry: Yes, there are few surprises coming.

Stephen Fry: You are pretty cruel to Harry - he gets such misery heaped on him, you pile on all the injustices, betrayals…against him.

JK Rowling: I do – I think he has the hardest time in this book although there are some scary things coming for Harry. In this book no-one believes him and also he’s a teenager. To have these two burdens in life at once is quite horrible. But from now on at least everyone knows he’s telling the truth. Whatever he has to face in the coming books he doesn’t have to deal with people being so distrustful of him.

Stephen Fry: Are we going to meet Hermione’s parents?

JK Rowling: We’ve seen them briefly but they’re dentists so they’re not that interesting.

Stephen Fry: (Laughter) You’ll be getting so many letters of complaints from dentists

JK Rowling: I love dentists really – I should never have been rude! I take that back– imagine next time I’m having my fillings done. :o)

Stephen Fry: It is another one of the most horrible and brilliant inventions of the books is this snobbery this idea of purebloods and mudbloods and this idea of mingling, mixed breeding which is a reflection of some of the things like racism and intolerance that we have in our world. Is that deliberate or did it come to you in a flash again or did it just suddenly…

JK Rowling: That was deliberate it was always there from the beginning as you saw with Draco – even from first book with Draco Harry discovers him first being rude about Muggles. I was also playing with that when I created Professor Lupin having a contagious disease so people are frightened of him. I really liked him as a character but he also has his failing though he’s a nice man and a wonderful teacher – in fact he’s the one time I’ve written a teacher… the kind of teacher I’d have loved to have had. McGonagall is a good teacher but scary at times. Lupin’s failing is he likes to be liked. That’s where he slips up – he’s been disliked so often he’s always pleased to have friends so cuts them an awful lot of slack.

Stephen Fry: Very true…very true we’re not going to go into the business who dies because not everyone has read the book but did it did cause a stir when you admitted it caused you some distress Do you feel emotional about a lot of the characters you write?

JK Rowling: I do. What I was trying to do with the death in this book was that I wanted to show how very arbitrary and sudden death is. This is a death with no big deathbed scene – it happens almost accidentally. It’s one of the cruel things about death and we’re now in a war situation where that does happen. That’s how it happens – one minute you are talking to your friend and the next minute he is gone, so shocking and inexplicable – one minute they are there but now where did they go? I found it upsetting to write because I knew what it would mean to Harry. [Edited]

Stephen Fry. Luna Lovegood lets talk about Luna Lovegood ……….

JK Rowling: Yes! I don’t know where she came from but I really like Luna – really fun to write. She’s slightly out of step in many ways but she’s the anti-Hermione. Hermione’s so logical and inflexible in so many ways and Luna is likely to believe 10 impossible things before breakfast…

Stephen Fry: Now to go back to one of the most infuriating characters you’ve ever written, Umbridge.

JK Rowling: She’s horrible isn’t she? I’m glad you hate her because I really loathe Umbridge.

Stephen Fry: She is the worst. (To Caretaker) Have we got a real one from the Muggle world?

Internet question from Jessica Wells, originally from Australia now living in London.

Email: “Harry saw his parents die so why hasn’t he been able to see the Thestrals before?”

JK Rowling: I knew I was going to get that one…that is an excellent question. And here is the truth. At the end of Goblet of Fire we sent Harry home more depressed than he had ever been leaving Howarts. I knew that Thestrals were coming, and I can prove that because they’re in the book I’d produced for Comic Relief (UK) “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

These are lucky Black Winged Horses. However, if Harry had seen them and it had not been explained then it would cheat the reader. So, to explain that to myself, I decided you had to have seen the death and allowed it to sink in a bit… slowly…these creatures became solid in front of you. So that’s how I’m going to sneak past that one.

Stephen Fry: Absolutely, I mean if you can’t write new characters in new books that would be a bit hard on you. Can you explain in words of not more that two syllables, What is Arithmancy?

JK Rowling: Well your guess is as good as mine Stephen. Arithmancy is predicting the future using numbers. I’ve decided there’s a bit of numerology in there as well but how you do it I really don’t know.

Stephen Fry: Well that’s very honest of you thank goodness for that. This seems to be all the time we have for questions but I’m pleased to say this is far from the end of the show because very shortly Jo’s going to be reading from her new book

But just before, if there’s anyone here in the RAH in London or around the big blue world who doesn’t know what happened in the first 4 books – I don’t think there can be anybody, but somebody might have had their memory modified by a peculiar charm for example, we’re going to steal offstage while some experts tell you the story so far – see you in a bit.

Children on video clips tell the story do far…

In the beginning: Lord Voldemort tried to kill Harry Potter when he was a young baby, he came around and he killed his parents…he tried to kill Harry, but he just escaped with a scar because his mum loved him a lot. Albus Dumbledore left Harry as a baby on the doorstep of The Dursleys who are Harry’s only living relatives. There’s aunt Petunia Uncle Vernon and their son Dudley.

And his mum was really rude and looked like a horse a bit, Harry was 11 when he just found out he was a wizard.

Hagrid took Harry to Diagon Alley to buy all his Wizard goods and that, like his wand. The wand chooses the owner like the owner can’t choose the wand. So, he was given a few wands to flick about. He got one with a Phoenix feather and it (The Phoenix) had only ever given one other feather to someone and that was to Lord Voldemort, on the train you can get all kinds of different and unusual flavoured sweets (they are magical and can taste like anything) e.g. like bogey flavour.

To get Hogarts you need to get the train at King’s Cross Station is platform 9 and ¾’s.

At Hogwarts they teach all kinds of Magic Like Charms, Defense Against The Dark Arts, Potions err…Spells. There is a “Sorting Hat” that puts them into Houses (These are like Domes or Fraternity/Sorority Houses). There is Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.

The school game is Quidditch – four balls released from the centre, 7 people on broomsticks – snitch caught - game over. Then suddenly Muggle born children (those born from a one non-magical parent) are getting petrified – frozen, all over Hogwarts, There are all sorts of rumours about the Chamber of Secrets. In the Chamber is a big snake called a Basilisk which roams the school and kills Mudbloods. A Mudblood is a really disgusting name for someone who is a Muggle born.

A Muggle is someone who can’t do magic, for instance, the Dursleys. Lord Voldemort, or as I call him Vorldy, he used to call himself Tom Marvolo the real given him by his dad but he just re-arranged the letters.

Sirius Black, a notorious wizard accused of killing 13 people with one single curse, escapes from Azkaban (Prison), but actually it had been another wizard, Pettigrew who had framed him. Pettigrew used his wand behind his back and blew up a street and cut of his finger and joined the sewer rats.

He had been hiding for 12 years as a rat with Ron (Harry’s best friend) to escape from Sirius Black. Pettigrew escapes back to Voldemort and Sirius escapes on a big black winged thing to live happily ever after.

This year at Hogwarts the Quidditch tournament isn’t taking place instead there is the Triwizard tournament. The three champions have already been picked but The Goblet sparks up again and Harry’s name comes out of it

They get to the trophy at the end of the maze, Cedric and Harry decide to take it at the same time and they get transported to the location where Lord Voldemort is. So at the end of the book we have Lord Voldemort where all his followers were back in action and ready to wreak havoc!

Harry Potter watch out Voldemort is after you”

The story continues….

JKR comes back onstage…

JK Rowling: You can imagine how scary it is to read in front of Stephen Fry and I did say – “wouldn’t it be better if he did it”, but they decided I should do it so - sorry about that.

I need to explain to you what I’m going to read. If you have got your book with you and you’d like to read along, as I know some people like to do, I’m reading from page 583 (of the Bloomsbury edition).

It was quite hard to find a bit that doesn’t give too much away if you haven’t finished the book. But this bit is where Harry has to talk about what he might do after Hogwarts, and he has a bit of career advice from Professor McGonagall. As you may remember from the 4th book, “Goblet of Fire”, Harry decided it would be quite interesting to be an Auror which means to work at The Ministry of Magic to catch Dark Wizards. So he’s come along thinking he might do that and this is what happens.

During this reading you might get a hint of what might stand in his way of becoming an Auror apart from The Ministry’s current attitude toward to him, he needs a qualification that can be quite difficult to get… so here we go….

To read this section in full get your copy of the latest adventure, “Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix"

Description: In the section read by JK Rowling, Harry says he would like to work as an Auror with the Ministry of Magic when he leaves Hogwarts.

Professor McGonagall points out that the Ministry of Magic only take on the very best and are so strict that they hadn’t even taken anyone in the “past 3 years”.

The Professor sets out the challenges sternly and identifies exactly what subjects Harry will need to study for this final two years. He’ll need “a minimum of 5 NEWTs,” and nothing under “exceeds expectation” grades in everything. After that it will all be about “character and aptitude”.

However, it is clear Harry will have to study very hard just to be accepted into the classes even at Hogwarts itself! Defence Against The Dark Arts, Transfiguration, OWLs, Charms and Potions all set very high entry requirements.

During the meeting tension rises as Prof Umbridge interrupts Prof McGonagall again and again to undermine Harry’s confidence, pointing up how unlikely Harry will ever have good enough grades.

The Professors disagree and an argument breaks out over Dumbledore! It is clear Harry has many, many obstacles to overcome…


Boys and Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen, just one more time we should thank this remarkable woman who has given so many millions of people such deep, lasting and eternal pleasure… JK Rowling!