Edinburgh "cub reporter" press conference, ITV, 16 July 2005

[Editor's note: this press conference featured "cub" reporters -- fans between the ages of 8 and 16 selected from around the world].

Gillian MacKay for BBC Radio Scotland - Is there a potential question you have not been asked that you would be expected to ask, and what would it be?

JK Rowling: I touched on that the last time I gave a reading from Phoenix at the Edinburgh Book Festival and I said that I had never been asked why didn't Voldemort die when he attacked Harry. Has anyone finished Half­Blood Prince yet? Good going! Well those people will now know the answer. But at the time, no one had ever asked me that, they only ever asked why did Harry survive, and I had said that explicitly the killing curse rebounded on Voldemort that no one thought to say why didn't he die.

Alice Cudmore, The Bookseller - How many hours a day do you spend writing?

JK Rowling: It varies, I think at the end of Half-Blood Prince, I was certainly doing eight hours a day and I would have been doing longer but at that point I was very heavily pregnant and there comes a point when you are absolutely huge, you have to get up and walk around because it literally gets uncomfortable.

I have done ten hour days in the past, which is not that practical any more with a young family, and I used to work all the night, which I really liked doing, but, again, that is not practical with a young family any more.

Edward Hollet representing W H Smith - If Voldemort ever encountered a boggart what would he see?

JK Rowling: The thing that Voldemort fears more than anything else is his own death. It its the quest of his life to cheat death, so we would have to see himself lying dead on the floor.

Bethan Roberts reporting for The Times Educational Supplement - In the second book, if you see a basilisk and you are wearing glasses, will they protect you? And if they do, why did Moaning Myrtle die, and if they don't, why not?

JK Rowling: That is a really good question. And I have been asked that before. I had to decide the glasses couldn't protect you. I just had to, because obviously there would be quite a few people at Hogwarts who were wearing glasses and I thought that might cause me plot difficulties, so I decided that glasses alone wouldn't protect you.

But as you know, I had Justin protected by the camera lens, so I think I am open for criticism there, but the way I explained to myself he was looking through several lenses and wasn't actually seeing the thing directly, it wasn't through his eyeline, when you look through a camera you are looking through the lens, it is a little distorted. You can argue with me on that and I wouldn't blame you but that is how I explained it to my self at the time.

Kirsten Weir for The Scotsman - There has been a lot of speculation about the book considering good and evil. Do you feel Harry Potter is a good role model for a generation?

JK Rowling: I see Harry as someone who is struggling to do the right thing, who is not without faults, who acts impetuously as you would expect someone of his age to act, but who is ultimately a very loyal person, and a very very courageous person. So, in as much as he has qualities that I admire most I would say he is a good role model. That doesn't mean that he is saintly, but then frankly, who is? But I think you do see enough of Harry's inner life, the workings of his mind in the books to know that he is ultimately human, struggling to do the right thing, which I think is admirable.

Michael Artist from the Australian Sunday Telegraph - Does it concern you as it is taking longer to write each book that some of your fans are growing up and growing away from Harry Potter and growing into other book?

JK Rowling: Well honestly I really hope that they are. I'm not saying I want to be abandoned by my fans or anything, but if it is the case that people are moving from Harry to other books then nothing could make me prouder, particularly if those people were not particularly keen readers before they encountered Harry Potter. In fact it is not taking longer to write each book.

There has been a two year gap between the last 3 books, between Goblet and Phoenix and Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. That is because, partly because I took a break at one point because I had been working very hard for about 8 or 9 years and partly because I have had 2 more children and I want to spend time with my children. If I lose fans because of the wait, then I just have to take it on the chin. I have been extremely happy to keep fans as long as I have. That is my choice. I can't really say fairer than that.

Rosa Jenkins for The Observer - What made you want to start writing Harry Potter books?

JK Rowling: I had the idea as I have said many a time before on the train, and I just loved the idea so much I couldn't wait to start writing it, which is the best. Iris Murdoch said writing was like getting married, you shouldn't commit yourself until you can't believe your luck. That is how I felt about Harry.

Alice Gurney for the Daily Herald - In all the other books, it starts off as Harry at the Dursleys and then he was to school but in this book it is not like that. Is there any particular reason for that?

JK Rowling: There is a another book where I didn't start from Harry's point of view which is Goblet of Fire. If you remember you started off at the Riddle house. Without wanting to give too much away to people who haven't yet read Half-Blood Prince I was trying to say in the first two chapters of Half-Blood Prince that this conflict is really widening now, right out into the wizard world. This is no longer just Harry's secret struggle to be believed everyone now knows that Voldemort is back, everyone now knows that a lot of people are being affected and they know who is behind it. So that was a useful device to show that.

George Moore for The Times - How old is Dumbledore?

JK Rowling: I see him as about 150 I have said before that wizards unless they contract some horrible magical disease which does happen... They didn't grow up together, in case you didn't hear that that was a question about whether Flamel and Dumbledore why they were friends if the man was alive 600 years ago. They became friends during Dumbledore's lifetime, they hadn't been friends from boyhood otherwise Dumbledore would be a bit of a rarity.

So how old is he?

JK Rowling: About 150.

Trisha Mittal for the Hindustan Times India - My question is why is the Weasleys' clock set at Mortal Peril?

JK Rowling: Mrs Weasley is right, if you don't know what I'm talking about, the Weasleys have a clock in which each of the 9 hands represents a member of the family and they point at things like at work, travelling and so on. Well at the beginning of this book all 9 hands are pointing at mortal peril. Mrs Weasley is right, she hopes that everyone is now in danger and she is correct. Well if the deaf eaters had clocks their hands wouldn't point at mortal peril. And the Weasley are what are called blood traitors; in other words they are pure blood but don't act that way. They consort and like muggles. Therefore they are in the firing line, they would not be among Voldemort's favourite people?

Cara McKenzie for Radio Forth - Every year since Harry has been to Hogwarts the defence against the dark arts teacher has left Hogwarts or died every year. Does that mean that something will stop Snape from being the defence against the dark arts in book 7?

JK Rowling: Yes. I really can't say more than that. That is because one of those questions that is a very good question and everyone would like to know the answer but it gives a lot away. There must obviously be a new one.

Vhari Leishman for Bloomsbury.com - I was wondering at the end of the seventh book would we get into a glimpse of Harry and Hermione post-Voldemort lives, in an epilogue or accompanying book (assuming they live through the book 7)?

JK Rowling: That is very good that, is assuming that anyone survives, I may kill the whole lot ­ not really, don't write me letters. There is already a chapter written in which you find out about the survivors post Hogwarts fates, so, I will have to re­write it when I get there, because that was written years ago and it wasn't really written on the assumption that I would use it as it is written in the hooks, it is really an act of faith, it was me saying to myself "I will get here and this information is the end point and that is where I'm trying to get to. So yes, there will be.

Rebekah Todd for Teen Titles - Will you write another characterized book?

JK Rowling: I don't know, honestly I really don't know what I will write after Harry Potter. I read recently in the newspaper I'm going to write Detective novels ­­ it was slight news to me but good idea, who knows? Honestly I don't know I have things kicking around in drawers that I may go back to or write something completely different, I couldn't say at the moment.

Kieran Wright for Amazon - As a Bristolian myself I understand from... As a Bristolian myself I understand you came from Winterbourne?

JK Rowling: I did.

Did you base any of the characters or areas from your time in Bristol?

JK Rowling: Let's think. I got the name Potter, which I have said before, from people who lived down the road from me in Winterbourne. Their family name is Potter, there was a boy and a girl in that family and I liked the surname so I took it I didn't take anything else from that family. But we left Winterbourne when I was 9, 8 or 9, and no, I didn't really base any character on anyone in Winterbourne.

Megan Calcott for the Daily Mirror - What are you going to do with your life after you have finished the final Harry Potter book.

JK Rowling: With my life? I have got to find some meaning after Harry Potter. I will enjoy spending some time with my children which I do anyway, obviously, but it would be nice to spend maybe a bit more time with them for a while. I know I will keep writing. But what I will write, I don't yet know. And I think I will have to get over the shock of the fact that Harry is not in my life any more. It really will be a shock, because I have been writing about him for 15 years so far and by the time I finish obviously it will be 16, 17, I don't know when the seventh book will be published. It is going to be a wrench, definitely.

Madeleine Farquhar for the Globe and Mail, Australia - My aunt's a writer, she sticks with one type of book. And if you write any books after Harry Potter, are you going to like stick with fantasy, fantasy books.

JK Rowling: That is one thing I can definitely rule out I don't think I will write any more fantasy books. The reason for that, obviously I have now written a huge long fantasy which will be longer when it is finished and I think I have really put my best fantasy ideas into Harry potter and if I try to write another fantasy I would feel it was second best. And I love the characters I have written in Harry Potter so much, maybe it will feel like a slight betrayal if I did a second fantasy. I would like to just, that to be my one and only brave stab at that genre, I think.

Declan Peter for Scotland on Sunday - What books did you read when you were a child and did they inspire you to write Harry Potter?

JK Rowling: I have said I wrote Paul Gallico and Elizabeth Goudge I read. I read a lot of stuff that my mother handed on to me, for example Enid Blyton, who is not my favourite author but when I was young I did read things like The Famous Five. Lets think, what else? I actually didn't read a lot of fantasy, funnily enough, and although I did read the Narnia books but I never finished the series, I never read the final book and I still haven't read it.

Maybe probably should go back and complete my education there. But I read a lot of adult books, and my mother never forbade me, I what never forbidden from reading anything on the bookshelf so I read everything and anything. I didn't just read children books.

Jasmine Lane for the Sunday Mail from Brisbane - How many pages have you planned for the seventh book and are you thinking of finishing Harry Potter off or leaving the ending open for the future?

JK Rowling: I do not yet know really how long the seventh book will be, although I have a plan, I have not yet plotted it out chapter by chapter, so I cannot really tell you. I do not think it will be as long as Order of the Phoenix, but I am going to reserve the right to make it as long as that if I want to. Am I going to finish Harry off? I cannot possibly tell you that, I'm sorry.

Francesca Donnelly for Borders - In Harry Potter and the Half­Blood Prince, Harry and his friends grew up a lot. How did you feel about this change into adulthood throughout the book and did you regret the loss of childhood innocence?

JK Rowling: I did not regret the loss of childhood innocence because I have always found it slightly sinister when you read children's books in which the children are not allowed any romantic feelings and are not allowed to get angry, in other words are not allowed to be normal human beings.

I think that in Order of Phoenix you have seen them grow up, seen them grow up gradually throughout the series. Certainly one of the three does a lot of growing up, he has always been the most immature in some respects and takes a big leap forward and that was somewhat intentional.

Peter O'Brien for Easons Ireland - Are you going introduce any new characters in the final book?

JK Rowling: There will be some characters who you don't know particularly well, and there may be a couple of new characters, but nobody really major. You know pretty much the cast list by now.

Zoe Brennan for The Sun - If you could choose to be anyone in history, who would you be and why?

JK Rowling: Anyone in history?


JK Rowling: Oh gosh. You see, the people I admire most, people like Jane Austen, I do not think had particularly happy lives, so I would not really want to live their lives. Then you could be selfish and choose to be someone like Henry the 8th who lived for pleasure, but I would not want to do that either.

To be honest with you, I am a very happy person, I can't think of anyone I would rather be at the moment.

Emmy Chahal for CBC, Canada. - I was just wondering what the most valuable piece of advise you would give to an aspiring writer?

JK Rowling: Read as much as you can, I think that there is nothing as important, because that will really show you what makes good writing in your opinion, obviously it's very subjective. You will probably go through a phrase when you imitate your favourite writers and I think that is necessary and a good learning process.

After that, you just have to accept it takes a phenomenal amount of perseverence and the people who deserve to make it ... you probably will not like 90 per cent of what you like, one day you write a single page you like and build on that.

Sam Howells for the Sunday Mirror - Is there a certain person, author or childhood experience that influenced your talent and style of writing in children's books?

JK Rowling: Another author did you say?


JK Rowling: I do not think there is a single author. I have said before, there is a writer called Elizabeth Goudge who wrote The Little White Horse. She described in minute detail the food everyone ate. The fact that the feasts at Hogwarts are fulsomely described I think. I think the fact I know what my characters are eating, I do not know what that says about me. I can't think of anyone who has really, you know, directly influenced it, more than that, really, sorry.

Katie MacDonald for the Edinburgh Evening News - Is there anything that you wrote in books one to five that you wished you could have changed for the plot of Harry Potter and the Half­Blood Prince?

JK Rowling: I have now been writing Harry Potter for 15 years, so have had lots of time to refine the plot, the course of the narrative, so I do not think I would change that.

Ross Cowan for Scotland Today - What was your favourite book when you were a child?

JK Rowling: My favourite book, it varied a lot. There are so many. A book I really liked and that my daughter has really enjoyed ... is Manx Mouse by Paul Gallico, a book for slightly younger children. I still think it is a very good and intriguing book. Give it a look if you fancy something slightly different.

Karis Ronaldson for Historic Scotland Magazine - Do the Harry Potter films meet your expectations?

JK Rowling: Yes, they do. I mean there are obviously things that are not the same as the books but that is because if you did every scene in the book and translated that into films, the films would be about 24 hours each, so they have got to prune and change things slightly. By and large they meet my expectations.

I have spoken about walking into the Great Hall, I have worked with Chris Columbus, the director of the first two films, and he asked me quite a lot about how things looked, it was really like walking into my own head, it was a very peculiar experience.

Helen Carron for ITV - My favourite characters are Fred and George, because, like, they are really funny and I like all the inventions they make, my favourite being the extendable ears. Which Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes inventions from their joke shop do you like best and why?

JK Rowling: From the joke shop, well, my favourite has to be the day dream charm, you know where you sort of plug yourself into this day dream and you escape from your school lesson which I could do without a magical product quite easily and I am sure many of you could, it appeared to be that they boxed a fantasy and you could do it to a boring class. I liked that one the best.

Lizzy Atkinson for The Guardian - Harry's parents died but he was comforted by the Mirror of Erised. Now Sirius has gone but there is no hope of seeing him again, are the books getting darker and closer to real life?

JK Rowling: Well, in a sense, they are because but I think that reflects real life in that Harry is older now so he has more comprehension of what loss means, very young people are sometimes I think anaesthetised, it is not to say it is not extremely painful but they perhaps receive more comfort because of their youth. Harry is very isolated now.

Having said that, I am sometimes surprised people say that the books are becoming darker because obviously Philosopher's Stone started with a double murder and I think there is some very gruesome imagery, the back of the head on Quirrell's head, I still think is one of the creepiest thing I have written, I can't think the first books were devoid of dark things.

Sorley Richardson for Publishing News - Why did you have to kill Sirius when it was the best thing that happened to Harry for years?

JK Rowling: We are back to me being a murderer, aren't we? People have asked me this a lot. I have been repeatedly told Sirius was my favourite character, why did he have to die? You can imagine how bad that makes me feel and in fact after I killed Sirius I went on the Internet and somehow stumbled across a fansite devoted entirely to Sirius and I killed him in the last 48 hours, so that wasn't good.

I think you will realise why he had to go in terms of plot when you read the seventh book. It wasn't arbitrary although part of the answer is the one I have given before. It is more satisfying I think for the reader if the hero has to go on alone and to give him too much support makes his job too easy, sorry.

Harry Malinson for Red House - When you are writing Harry Potter, how often do you find the story taking you somewhere you never expected to go?

JK Rowling: It has happened. It happened much more in the earlier books than it happens now, because these days things are sort of becoming tighter and tighter. I have now plotted the books over such a long time that I don't really have much leeway to stray from my plot and once I reach book 7, there has to be no margin because I know exactly what I have to do now and I am going to go ahead and do it. But in the early days things did wander off and sometimes still characters want to go one way and I want them to go another way and sometimes the best thing to do is write that way out of your system and put it to one side and carry on. Hermione often goes wandering.

Ani Morison for Sunday Star Times New Zealand - My question is why does Harry keep going back to the Dursleys, when he is closer to the Weasleys than he is to them?

JK Rowling: That has been explained in the books to an extent, it has been explained in the books but possibly you haven't yet finished this book when it is made very clear. Harry receives magical protection from his mother's sacrifice as long as he remains close to her blood. In other words, Aunt Petunia. That protection won't continue to hold once he is a man, once he turns 17 - he is no longer given that protective aura by his mother, so Dumbledore wants him to go back one more time to ensure the protection continues to his 17th birthday and after that he really is on his own.

Owen Jones for ITV - What has happened to Umbridge?

JK Rowling: Well obviously we would all like to hear that she met a horrible accident but she is in fact alive and well and working at the Ministry.

Why doesn't she get arrested for trying to use an Unforgivable Curse?

JK Rowling: She has good contacts at the Ministry. She is one of those people, and they do exist in real life, who will always side with the established order. As far as she is concerned authority cannot be wrong so she doesn't question it, and I would go as far as to say that whatever happened and whoever took over at the Ministry, Umbridge would be there, she likes power. So she is going to side with the people who give her the authority.

Sarah Wallace for the Irish Independent - How did you think of the bond between Harry and Lord Voldemort?

JK Rowling: That is another one of those questions that goes right to the heart of the series. I can't answer. It touches way too closely on book 7. Sorry. Good question.

Harriet Falshaw for Tescos - How did you come to think of Harry Potter?

JK Rowling: The basic idea was of a boy who didn't know he was a wizard, and then received this letter out of the blue. So that was the idea that came to me, Harry as a character was very real to me from the start. And as a character was entirely imaginary and he came first. Harry came first and then everything came out from Harry. So I thought: His parents are dead, how did they die? Who killed them? And that is how, and it spread out and from Harry.

David Moulds for the News of the World - How does Aunt Petunia know about dementors and all the other magical facts she knows?

JK Rowling: Another very good question. She overheard a conversation, that is all I am going to say. She overheard conversation. The answer is in the beginning of Phoenix, she said she overheard Lily being told about them basically.

Is that true?

JK Rowling: Yes. The reason I am hesitant is because there is more to it than that. As I think you suspect. Correctly, but I don't want to say what else there is because it relates to book 7.

Amy Rice for the Daily Record - If you could have one more thing, what would it be?

JK Rowling: If I could have one more thing? I don't deserve anything else, I have everything I could possibly want. Do you mean in terms of the books or my life?


JK Rowling: Am I allowed to ask for things like world peace? Obviously, who wouldn't want that? But personally, I would be unbelievably greedy if I asked for anything more. I am a very lucky person.

Alexandra Le Couteur Williamson for the South Australian Advertiser - When you start, do you do a complete plan before you start writing, or do you just have an idea from the start and then just keep writing.

JK Rowling: I do a plan. I plan, I really plan quite meticulously. I know it is sometimes quite boring because when people say to me, "I write stories at school and what advice would you give me to make my stories better?" And I always say ­­ and people's face often fall when I say ­­ "You have to plan," and they say "Oh, I prefer just writing and seeing where it takes me". Sometimes writing and seeing where it takes you will lead you to some really good ideas but I would say nearly always it won't be as good as if you sat down first and thought: Where do I want to go, what end am I working towards, what would be good, a good start? Sorry, very dull.

Stephanie Chapman for Woolworths - If you were placed in a House, which would it be and why?

JK Rowling: Well, I would want to be in Gryffindor and the reason I would want to be in Gryffindor is because I do prize courage in all its various ramifications. I value it more highly than any other virtue and by that I mean not just physical courage and flashy courage, but moral courage.

And I wanted to make that point in a very first book with Neville, because Neville doesn't have that that showy macho type of courage that Harry shows playing quidditch. But at the end, what Neville does at the end of Philosopher's Stone to stand up to his friends and risk their dislike and approval is hugely courageous so I would want to be in Gryffindor. That is not to say I would be there. I think there is a good bit of Hufflepuff in me.

I was wondering, I heard you cried when you killed off Sirius, did you cry at the end of this book.

JK Rowling: I was a bit teary with Sirius, but I was seriously upset at the end of this book.

Joseph Rawlins for the BBC World Service - Which book was hardest to write for you?

JK Rowling: Goblet of Fire.

Is that true?

JK Rowling: Between Goblet of Fire and Chamber of Secrets, that was very hard. At one third of the way into writing it, Philosopher's Stone had this huge success which was totally unexpected. I was happy about that, but it also frightened me because I thought I cannot reproduce this, it is a flash in the pan, I was temporarily blocked in writing Chamber of Secrets.

Goblet of Fire was difficult because by that time I was exhausted. I had been writing as well as being a single mother, as well as trying to hold down a succession of day jobs, I was very tired, Goblet was a bit of a struggle. By the end of that book I really knew I had to take some time off and relax a bit.

Tristan Kent for the Victoria Herald Sun, Australia - Why did you need to kill people that are close to Harry?

JK Rowling: Do you mean - Why are you such an unpleasant woman? Well, I do not enjoy doing it, obviously, but when you have a hero who is growing up and growing to fulfil a certain destiny, which Harry now is, the ruthless answer is it is much more interesting for him to do that alone. So in terms of your story and your plot and also when you are trying to show the journey of a child into a man really which is what Harry is, the next book he is going to come of age within the wizarding world, so legally actually a man, that is a dramatic and poignant way of showing that journey is to strip him of the people closest to him.

That and I am nasty obviously!

Daniella Hayman for the Sunday Times, South Africa - When you started writing the books, did you always plan for Harry Potter to want to be an auror or did you have something else in mind?

JK Rowling: I always planned for him to want to be an auror but that was an ambition he could not have early on in the book because he had never met them and it was much more interesting for him to discover what they are and then conceive the ambition.

I did not have the name auror early in the books. I always wanted to be that, join the ministry and fight, with his feelings at the moment possibly he will not have that ambition in book seven but...

Huw Jones for the Financial Times - As an author, what was your favourite moment whilst writing Harry Potter? What idea pleased you the most?

JK Rowling: That is a really difficult question to answer. In this book, you know when ­­ if you have not read it, have not finished it yet, forgive me, have you finished the book?

Huw Jones: I'm on the last two chapters.

JK Rowling: Then you have got to Luna Lovegood commentating at the Quidditch match, that amused me. The things I often remember best imagining are the funny moments because they tend to come very suddenly, you suddenly think of the joke so that is very satisfying. I also love writing dialogue,... between Harry, Ron and Hermione particularly.

Peter Humphreys for BBC Newsround - Who did Fawkes previously belong to and will he play a vital role in the next book?

JK Rowling: I am not going to answer about the role in the next books, which probably gives you a big clue, and he has never been owned by anyone but Dumbledore. You will notice that when Harry goes back in the Pensieve in this book, Fawkes is never there, and ­­ no, I am sorry, not in this book, I take that back. When Harry has previously seen the study with a different headmaster he saw it with Dippet and Fawkes was not there then. Fawkes is Dumbledore's possession, not a Hogwarts possession.

Imogen Ni Ealai for Dubray Books, Ireland - How has your life changed since you became extremely successful?

JK Rowling: It has changed hugely. For a while I used to, if someone said to me, "What is it like being well known", I used to say, "I'm not well known", because I was in denial and found it quite scary for a while.

In one sense it has been incredible, because I have been to places that I would not have been otherwise. I have travelled a lot. I had never been to America, for example, before 1998 and the first time I went for a book signing, which as incredible.

I have been to Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and the White House. I cannot think how on earth I could have been to all of those places without Harry Potter, so all of that has been incredible.

Catherine Quinn for the Irish Times - If you played Quidditch, which position would you play and why?

JK Rowling: I have to say, there is no way anyone would allow me to play Quidditch, I am sure I would be lousy. I am not a sporty person.

If I absolutely had to play Quidditch, I think I would do least damage ­­ I do not like pain much, so I would say Chaser, but the Bludgers are an ever present danger, I might say could I be Keeper and just, you know, dodge around by the goalposts and keep out of trouble.

Seeker is way too skilful for me. Obviously everyone would aspire to be the Seeker but I couldn't do it, no way.

Lydia Halls for the Funday Times in England - If you were given Veritaserum, what would you be most likely to divulge?

JK Rowling: What a horrific questions that, you are truly a budding Rita Skeeter. I mean that in a nice way.

I hope so.

JK Rowling: I mean deep probing. What I would tell people, you obviously mean something I maybe would like to conceal.

Or like the excuse to tell people.

JK Rowling: I see what you mean, I totally see what you mean. Probably, truthfully, I would tell everyone the plot of book seven, because there is always this huge conflict in my life in that half of me ­­ at least half of me ­­ would love to sit here and talk ­­ it is fun, it would be great to sit here and talk about book seven and enjoy it with you people who really know the other books. That would be so interesting, but obviously the other half of me is well aware I do not think you really want me to do that, you are going to contradict me, but I think you would rather read it, wouldn't you?


JK Rowling: That is a relief.

Scott Ballard for The Bookseller - Will Lord Voldemort ever found out what the prophecy fully said?

JK Rowling: That is one of those very good questions that I don't think I can answer. I am sorry, that is always very frustrating, but the most penetrating questions generally I cannot answer because they could give a lot away, so I would ­­ I am not going to answer that. Sorry.

Ailsa Floyd for the Times Educational Supplement in Scotland - How did you think up the motto "Never tickle sleeping dragons", which appears under the crest? Is there a story about it?

JK Rowling: You know the way that most school slogans are thing like persevere and nobility, charity and fidelity or something, it just amused me to give an entirely practical piece of advice for the Hogwarts school motto.

Then a friend of mine who is a professor of classics - my Latin was not up to the job, I did not think it should be cod Latin, it is good enough for cod Latin spells, that is they used to be a mixture of Latin and other things. When it came to a proper Latin slogan for the school I wanted it to be right, I went to him and asked him to translate. I think he really enjoyed it, he rang me up and said, "I think I found the exactly right word, 'Titillandus'", that was how that was dreamt up.

Richard Wheatley for the RNIB - Blind children everywhere are delighted that they can read this book at the same time as sighted people, would you ever include a blind character in one of your Harry Potter books?

JK Rowling: Funny you should say that because at one point there was a blind character who went by the name of Mopsus, and I will let you look him up because there is a mythological connection there, but he sort of ­­ that was a very early character and he had the power of second sight, in other words he was a bit like Professor Trelawney, he was a very, very early character, this was when I was drafting Philosopher's Stone, the reason I cut him was he was too good. As the story evolved, if there was somebody who really could do divination at the time that Harry was alive, it greatly diminished the drama of the story because someone out there knew what was going to happen.

So that is why Mopsus went and I have never really replaced him, although I suppose Mad-Eye Moody, had some of Mopsus' characterisation. He has one magical eye because he lost an eye in a fight with a Death Eater, so good question.

Hannah Lawson for the Daily Telegraph - What job would you have if you were not a writer?

JK Rowling: There is no job I would particularly like to have after being a writer because I always wanted to be a writer, but the job I did that I liked best after being a writer was being a teacher. I liked teaching teenagers best, that was my forte, I do not think I was a brilliant teacher I have to say up front but I liked that best.

The alternative would be to be what I sometimes did, I worked as a temporary secretary and that was fantastic because it was a fairly dull job in places but I used to type up stories when nobody was looking so now I can confess.

Clare Fordyce for the Scottish Book Trust - What character would you hate most to be stuck on a desert island with?

JK Rowling: Oh my word. That is a good one.

Lockhart would get a little tedious after 30 seconds. Umbridge, Umbridge wouldn't be good. I mean Voldemort would not be good in the sense that he would kill me, but I would rather die than be stuck on an island with Umbridge or Lockhart.

Who else? Vernon Dursley, oh no, in fact I have been places with people like Vernon Dursley, that is uncomfortable. Umbridge and Lockhart just for the ­­ I could not bear it, even thinking about it.

Robert Dawson for Asda - If you were an animagus, what would you like to be?

JK Rowling: This always amuses me this idea. You see, you do not know what you are going to be until you have done it, so you might spend half a decade trying to turn into an animal and then find out you were a slug or something, which would be most unpleasant.

I gave Hermione my favourite animal, which is an otter. If you wanted to be something impressive, you would probably be something like a stag or a tiger, would you not, I just suspect I might be a guinea pig or something which would be so embarrassing.

Emma Wilson for Young Scot - If on that train to London Harry Potter had not popped into your head, what do you think you would be like and what would you do today?

JK Rowling: That is a really strange thought, isn't it? My feeling is that at some point I was going to think of Harry, because he did encapsulate so many things I liked.

I had been writing for years when I thought of Harry. My feeling is that my idea of Harry was going to come at some point. I love freakish names and I have always been interested in folk lore and I think it was a logical thing for me to end up writing even though it came so suddenly. Because of my interests, I probably would have had the idea at some point. The question is what would have happened if I had not persevered with it? Would I have been published with a different idea. Then my life would have been really different, I do not know, so the lesson there I suppose is just to keep working.

Laura Henderson for Sunday Times Scotland - Have you found it harder writing Harry Potter now that it is so famous?

JK Rowling: The actual writing is still nothing but pleasure, although I have said that Goblet was a bit of a stretch, but that was not ­­ well, no, I did feel the pressure during the writing of Goblet, definitely, but during ­­ I absolutely loved writing Half-Blood Prince, it was an enjoyable experience from start to finish, I would say the two books I have enjoyed writing most, and I have been most relaxed in my life at the time, were Azkaban and Prince. So there you are, it depends on a lot of different factors.

Lucy Adams for Radio Five Live - Did you have to rewrite any parts of your newest book?

JK Rowling: You always rewrite while you are writing it and then your editor sees it and will suggest things and I do not think I had to do any major rewriting after my editor had seen it, it was more a question of sometimes things are obvious to me as the writer and my editor will say, that might not be too clear to the reader, so I have to go back and sharpen things up or maybe need a little more exposition there to make people understand what is going on, so it is normally things of that order.

Sam Dordoy for Ottakars - Your books have a theme of racism with the wizards oppressing other races and half­bloods. Do you think this has changed how people think when they read them?

JK Rowling: do not think I am pessimistic but I think I am realistic about how much you can change deeply entrenched prejudice, so my feeling would be that if someone were a committed racist, possibly Harry Potter is not going to be to have effect.

I would hope that it has made people think, I mean I do not write the books thinking what is my message for today, what is my moral, that is not how I set out to write a book at all. I am not trying to criticise or make speeches to you in any way, but at the same time, it would be great if the people thought about bullying behaviour or racism.

The house elves is really for slavery, isn't it, the house elves are slaves, so that is an issue that I think we probably all feel strongly about enough in this room already.

Samatha Scattergood for Waterstones - Which is your favourite member of the Order of the Phoenix?

JK Rowling: I keep killing all my favourite members of the Order of the Phoenix, but there is one member of the Order of the Phoenix that you have not yet met properly and you will ­­ well, you know that they are a member, but you haven't really met them properly yet and you will meet them in seven, so I am looking forward to that.

Chloe Anwyll for the Sunday Express - Voldemort has been involved some way or another in all the books, will he be throughout to the end of book seven or will there be a twist that means Harry books may continue?

JK Rowling: He will definitely be in book seven and that is as far as I am going to go on that.

Michael Farr for Indigo books and music - When is the seventh book going to finally come out because it took two years for this one to come out?

JK Rowling: I am going to say now I think it will be at least another two year wait (audience groans). Sorry, I think it probably will be just being realistic. My plan is to start writing seriously at the end of the year because I still have a very young baby, although I am doing some work on it at the moment.

Eun Ji An for Raincoast.com, Canada - I was wondering why Harry had glasses?

JK Rowling: Because I had glasses all through my childhood and I was sick and tired of the person in the books who wore the glasses was always the brainy one and it really irritated me and I wanted to read about a hero wearing glasses.

It also has a symbolic function, Harry is the eyes on to the books in the sense that it is always Harry's point of view, so there was also that, you know, facet of him wearing glasses.

Hannah Fenwick for Kingdom FM - I would like to know how you have time to write the book because you have got two children?

JK Rowling: I have three children now. Well, I am quite good at prioritising my time so I no longer write a five day week, I write sometimes I do, but most of the... or two and a half days a week, so I sort of work around my children, so I spend a lot of time with them.

Actually I probably more effective considered on a sort of words per hour basis when I have slightly less time. When I was writing Goblet of Fire, I had entire days at my disposal because I only had one child at school, and yet I do not think I was as productive as I am now, funnily enough.

Erin Bower representing the Sunday Herald - Wondering if you have ever written anything before that has complicated something you wrote afterwards? Like A tells B something and B is not meant to know that until later, how did you get around this problem?

JK Rowling: That is a very good question, it shows a lot of insight into the problems of having a very long plot.

I have normally caught things in time. During the writing of Chamber of Secrets, the story line of the Half-Blood Prince in this book was initially incorporated into the second book and I obviously do not want an elaborate on that in case people haven't finished the book and that is why the working title of Chamber of Secrets was the Half-Blood Prince, it became clear to me during the writing of that book that I had two major plots here that really did not work too well together side by side, so one had to be pulled out, it became clear immediately that.

I could have soldiered on, included that information there and that would have been messed up the later plot, as you know if you have. I will be very careful, the revelations about the half-blood, for instance, would have blown a lot of things open...

Source: cBBC News