Anelli, Melissa, John Noe and Sue Upton. "PotterCast Interviews J.K. Rowling, part two." PotterCast #131, 24 December 2007.

Audio: (PotterCast) Direct download (22 MB) | Direct download low-bandwidth (6 MB)
Transcription by Meann Ortiz

[Pottercast Intro. The hosts talk about the latest news, their thoughts about Jo and the interview, and the Pottercast New Year Show. Then they introduce the 2nd part of the interview with J.K. Rowling.]

Sue Upton (SU): We have to ask this or we'll get yelled at. Draco Malfoy...

J.K. Rowling (JKR): Yeah?

SU: Did he graduate? And who did he marry? It wasn't Pansy right, or was it?

JKR: No! God, it wasn't Pansy Parkinson. I loathe Pansy Parkinson. I don't love Draco but I really dislike her. She's every girl who ever teased me at school. She's the Anti-Hermione. I loathe her. Yeah, sorry! Sidetracked there by my latent bitterness. He married Astoria Greengrass.

SU: Really? Check her name, I love it!

Melissa Anelli (MA): That name sounds so familiar.

JKR: Younger sister of Daphne. So she was two years younger than he was at Hogwarts and you-- Anyway, they are. That's who he marries.

John Noe (JN): Hmmmmm....

MA: Speaking of Gryffindor students, do you have the names of those two Gryffindor girls?

SU: The pressure's on!

JKR: Oh, God. I swear to you, I will find the damned notebook and I will put it on my website. I will put it on my website, that will be my gift to you.

JN: Your whole notebook?

JKR: Are you mad? (laughter) That's for The Scottish Book! No! Just the two names. I will put the two names up.

MA: It's so funny because this thing has been-- you know, it's been like five years or something...

JKR: Exactly. We've been talking about that for four years, I think, it is now.

JN: I'm sure it's not gonna shatter the earth, or anything, once we figure out who it is exactly.

JKR: No, to be honest, I really don't think it will 'cause I've never mentioned the girls in the Canon, so...

MA: Yeah, it's just like a funny little, you know--

JN: Yeah. Okay. So, most important question. Did they sample a recording of your dog when they did your website?


JKR: I think they did. My website is really-- that's not my wallpaper. I would really like the opportunity to say my taste is not that bad. That's not good wallpaper. And with no offense to the creator of the design. But loads of it's really accurate. Under the desk... I nearly used a very rude word... all the rubbish on the floor and on the desk was taken from life. They took a photograph of my desk in its actual--

JN: Do you actually have a "Do Not Disturb" sign?

JKR: D'you know what? I now do, because I took one out of the Balmoral Hotel where I finished "Deathly Hallows". So I now have a "Do Not Disturb" sign from that hotel on the door of my study, yeah.

JN: I don't know if you recognized when we gave you that little basket in New York, we had done up some "Do Not Disturb" signs...

JKR: I noticed.

JN: the same design of your site for everybody.

JKR: It was very very very cool, thank you. It was great seeing you all there. That was the best event I've ever done. I loved that event.

MA: It was fantastic just being there for those moments. And you were just on a roll, Jo!

JKR: D'you know, the sense of liberation-- I cannot-- No one, no one, and I mean that-- Maybe Stephen King. Stephen King maybe knows what it feels like, but I think anyone who can im-- I mean, now-- you cannot imagine what it feels like, after 17 years, to be finished. Both in a good way and in a bad way. It was so much part of my life. Now, I know that millions of people feel huge ownership over the world now, and that's a wonderful thing that they do. They simply can't feel it the way I felt it. I know where I was when I wrote every part of those books. I know where I was when I thought of Quidditch, and made up Professor Sprout, and all of these things were inextricably linked with stuff that was going on in my life at the time. And Harry really saved me during some bleak moments in my life, so it's been massive, saying goodbye. But the upside, you saw the upside at Carnegie Hall, and that was-- You can ask me-- Readers can now ask me anything and I don't have to say "You'll find that out in Book 5. I can't tell you that, it's important for the ending of Book 7. Oh, what a good question. What a shame you'll find out in the next book." You know, all that rubbish, which-- No author wants to be constantly putting people off when it's very flattering that they want to know. But equally, you know, the author knows how much pleasure you'll be ruining if you do spill the beans 3 years early. But that night, I was on a roll, you're right, because I had the best questions and the most amazing crowd turned up. That was a really magical night for me. Magical. The adjective that is most often used in connection with Harry Potter, it's such a cliché, but it was. That night was.

SU: Well, we have a lot of questions, though, for you Jo. Like stuff about that mysterious Department of Mysteries. Can you tell us, what was in the Love Room?

MA: It wasn't called the Love Room.

JKR: Well, there was that mysterious room, we don't know what it is in the Love Room. Yet it was the-- (laughter, overtalk) What's in the Love Room. It's the place where they study what Love means. So that room, I believe, would have at its center, a kind of fountain or well containing a love potion, a very powerful love potion. You know that the first time they ever enter Slughorn's Potions class, and he starts talking about Amortentia, the Love Potion, and he says it's the most dangerous one in the room. That's what they would've found in the Love Room. So you would see wizards and witches taking it, they would study the effects. The room, of course, has to be locked. And you know, again, there's this thread running through the books, what Love does, and it raises people to the heights of absolute heroism, as in Lily, Harry, Neville. And it also leads them into acts of foolishness and even evil, which is Bellatrix and also Dumbledore. He became foolish. He lost his center, his moral center, when he became infatuated. So that's what it does, that's what makes it dangerous. And Bellatrix, was, as I think is clear-- you know, I doubt that people will be particularly shocked to hear, 'cause I'm sure they've deduced, that Bellatrix is madly, romantically in love with Voldemort. This is-- you know, that's the obsession of her life. And I believe that Helena Bonham Carter had to be asked to tone it down after she-- (laughs) The producer called me and said, you know, give me some background on Bellatrix so we can tell Helena about it. And I said, well of course, it's a sexual attraction. She's madly in love with this man, and obsessed by him. (laughs) Apparently, they had to ask her to bring it down because she was being a bit too sexy.

SU: That's so awesome. You know, you mentioned the movies. Somebody who's most amazing in those movies is Alan Rickman as Snape.

JKR: Yeah, definitely.

SU: He's so good. How soon did you tell him about his character? How much did he know?

JKR: He knew very early on that he'd been in love with Lily. 'Cause I told him so. We needed to have a conversation early on. He needed to understand, I think, and does completely understand and did completely understand where this bitterness towards this boy, who's living proof of her preference for another man, came from. Yeah, I told him that. He was the only person who knew that for a long, long time.

SU: Snape is so amazing. Was he truly meant to be in Slytherin? Snape?

JKR: Yes! God, yes! Definitely! At the time when he was sorted-- I believe what Dumbledore believes when he says to Snape in the very last book, "Sometimes I think we sort too soon." To judge someone at the age of 11, to judge them, to set their future course so young, seems to me to be a very harsh thing to do. And it doesn't take into account the fact that we do change and evolve. A lot of people are, at 40, what they were at 11, having said that. So I think the Sorting Hat is shrewd. But Snape does redeem himself and it fails to take that into account. But then again, you can turn that on its head and say, "but maybe, with these people being sorted into Slytherin, someone with the capacity to change themselves also has the capacity to change Slytherin."

JN: And how much is it that being sorted into Slytherin is sorted into good guys and bad guys...

JKR: They're not all bad. I know I've said this before. I think I said it to Emerson - they are not all bad and-- well, far from it, as we know, at the end-- they may have a slightly more highly developed sense of preservation than other people, because-- A part of the final battle that made me smile was Slughorn galloping back with Slytherins. But they've gone off to get reinforcements first, you know what I'm saying? So yes, they came back, they came back to fight. But I'm sure many people would say, well that's common sense, isn't it? Isn't that smart, to get out, get more people and come back with them? It's the old saying, there is no truth, there are only points of view.

JN: Sue, you'd started to get into the movies, and Jo's talking about being involved here and there, and things... One of the things that I know a lot of fans are talking about, and something that should sustain all the excitement and fun from Harry Potter, is the upcoming theme park attraction in Orlando.

JKR: How strange you mentioned that. I was just looking at something to do with that just right before the Auction happened this morning, so I've been looking at something to do with that today.

MA: Care to share?

JN: We've all been wondering how involved-- you know, where you've been involved with. There's been rumors about some kind of theme park sort of thing happening for years, and they announced this one when they did, recently, and everybody's dying to know what to expect and how much of it is gonna have the Jo Touch.

JKR: I would have to say a lot of it is going to have the Jo Touch, because I've been very very very involved, which has been amazing. And Universal-- I think I'm right in saying, and I know I may sound confused, but it is a very confusing issue, but I think I'm right in saying that these rights were Warner Brothers' and not mine. However, Warner Brothers asked me, did I want it to happen? And I think they have been amazing in that respect, you know, as the underlying creator, as it's known in legal terms-- as the underlying creator of the series, they came to me and they asked me what I felt about it and we-- there were few things that I really wanted to happen if it went ahead. And the key thing for me was if there was to be a theme park that Stuart Craig, who was the production designer on the films, would be involved, I mean, more than involved. That he would pretty much design it. Because I love the look of the films, they really mirror what's been in my imagination for all these years. And I just think he's done an incredible job. He's an Oscar-winning, very well-known guy in the industry, so it's not just me who thinks that. And he did consent to get involved, so I truly think that walking into the theme park will be as close as you will ever get to walking onto the film set, or to walking into Hogsmeade. Better, of course, because it's 3D and you can walk around the corner and look at the back and, you know-- it's gonna be quite incredible. I really believe that. Personally, I think it will be the best thing in the world of its type, having seen what I've seen.

JN: Definitely. We've been studying those pictures that they put out, that artwork, and we're all very very excited.

JKR: It's extraordinary, you know-- Obviously I can't go into detail about what they're gonna do but there-- I've really seen a lot of stuff, and I think it's gonna be wonderful and very well done, and I think fans will not at all be disappointed, quite the reverse.

JN: Awesome.

MA: Jo, as long as you put in a good word for us to be the bartenders at The Leaky Cauldron?

JKR: Yeah, it's gonna be a difficult job, though. I think there's gonna be a fair amount of traffic, you may want to rethink that one.


MA: Yeah.

SU: For like a day.

MA: We'll make some Butterbeer, take a picture, and it'll be done. I have to ask this little thing that's been on my mind... what happened to Florean Fortescue?

JKR: Uh, he was killed.

JN: Awwww.

JKR: Yeah, I know. I didn't want that to happen. Bizarrely, my best friend, after I named Florean Fortescue, she went and met, and is soon to marry, a guy called Florean, which is very bizarre, because it isn't exactly a common name, is it? Because of him, I was very attached to Florean Fortescue but no-- Yeah, he died. He died.

MA: He was just an ice cream man, wasn't he?

JKR: The Scottish Book will reveal there was more to that than subsequently made it into the books. It was one of those little sub-plots that had to be sacrificed because it was not really leading anywhere, but I did have a sub-plot planned for Florean. And it was to do with the Elder Wand, so I will definitely put that into the Encyclopedia.

MA: Speaking of the Elder Wand...

JKR: Yeah?

MA: Can we talk about wandlore a little bit?

JKR: Oh, absolutely. Oh, thestrals-- I noticed there was immediate angst about the fact that there was a thestral hair in the middle of the Elder Wand. People were saying, "but Hagrid bred thestrals," but no, he didn't. He just bred the Hogwarts thestrals. Just to make that clear.

JN: Come on, people, there's a bigger world out there than Hagrid's backyard.

JKR: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. The only thing that Hagrid has ever created are Blast-Ended Skrewts, and I think we should all agree that he should never attempt to create a species again. So he didn't create dragons or thestrals. But he may have bred particular species-- members of the species.

JN: I've been told my Patronus is a Blast-Ended Skrewt.

SU: That's what I think it is.

JN: I don't know what that says about me...

JKR: I can think of one thing that might say about you, but I've never been in a room long enough with you to--


MA: But wand lore. Can you go into-- in a more detailed fashion, the way that the wands change hands and how different the Elder Wand is because fans are confused.

JKR: I am going to put up another update on my website about this, and I have one half-written. Essentially, I see wands as being quasi-sentient, you know? I think they awaken to a kind of-- They're not exactly animate but they're close to it. As close to it as you can get in an object because they carry so much magic. So that's really the key point about a wand. Now, the reactions will vary from wand to wand. The Elder Wand is simply the most dispassionate and ruthless of wands in that it will only take into consideration strength. So one would expect a certain amount of loyalty from one's wand. So even if you were disarmed while carrying it, even if you lost a fight while carrying it, it has developed an affinity with you that it will not give up easily. If, however, a wand is won, properly won in an adult duel, then a wand may switch allegiance, and it will certainly work better even if it hasn't fully switched allegiance for the person who won it. So that of course is what happens when Harry takes Draco's wand from him, and that's what happens when-- But you know what I mean. Oh, yeah, Ron. The blackthorn wand from the snatcher. So that would be sort of rough and ready, common, or garden, a wand favoring the person who had the skill to take it. It would favor them. However, the Elder Wand knows no loyalty except to strength. So it's completely unsentimental. It will only go where the power is. So if you win, then you've won the wand. So you don't need to kill with it. But, as is pointed out in the books, not least by Dumbledore because it is a wand of such immense power, almost inevitably, it attracts wizards who are prepared to kill and who will kill. And also it attracts wizards like Voldemort who confuse being prepared to murder with strength.

JN: Interesting.

JKR: Does that clarify anything?

JN: It did quite, and we look forward to reading your thing or two, I hopefully didn't...

MA: Step on it too badly.

JKR: No, I don't think so. I have been asked a lot of times, well what about Duelling Club and so on? Well I think it's clear there that in practice, where there's no real weight attached to the transference of a wand, where it's almost all for fun or purely for competition, there's no enormous significance attached in either wizard's mind to a wand flying out of someone's hand. But there are situations in which the emotional state of wizards where a lot hangs on a duel, that's something different. That's about real power and that's about transference that will have far-reaching effects in some cases. So I think the wand would behave differently then.

JN: Very cool. One thing I wanted to make sure that we got to ask you. In fifteen years' time with the release of "Albus Severus and the Return to the Dark Forest" comes out--

JKR: Yeah, "Albus Potter and the book they said would never happen"

SU: Yeah, exactly.


JN: Oh well now I actually had a question but __?__ I wasted everybody's time.


JKR: Go on.

JN: I'm fired.

JKR: Go on.

JN: Come on, Melissa, save me.

MA: How much of the next generation do you have worked out?

JKR: You'll see if you watch, or when you watch, the documentary that I've been doing, yeah...

JN: Very cool!

JKR: ...that I've been filmed for. Because I do talk quite a lot about that. I have a lot of the next generation worked out. You know, it's me, how can I not have?

MA: That's great. We can't wait to see that.

JN: That's just too fun.

JKR: I hope you enjoy it. The reason for doing it was a lot of people had come to me and said, "We want to do a 10 Years of Harry Potter special program," and you know, they had all these different things. And for once, I was ahead of the game, and a year previously, I had found a guy who I thought would just do a great documentary. A very honest documentary. Someone I got on with well, which is James Runcie, and he's also an author, so he really understood my life at a certain level that some interviews don't. So we were filming for a year, and it was good. Because this is a situation where I felt as I do with The Scottish Book, that if you're going to do it then it should be done right. And I wanted to do something honest, and it was very nice to be able to answer questions on-screen, looking back at the full experience, rather than still living the experience as it was going on.

SU: Well, I can't wait to see it. I think it's fabulous. I think people will just be thrilled. Thank you for doing it.

JKR: Thank you. I think it will answer some questions, which will be good. And it's good to look behind the scenes, in a way, and you see my haircut change a lot in years. Very weird, looking back.

MA: We know that you're short on time, so--

JKR: I'm sorry.

MA: No--

JN: Don't you dare apologize for anything, this has been amazing.

JKR: I've really loved it.

MA: Wanna tell you one quick thing. We had a test before Book 7 came out. We found 400 questions and we asked them to guess what would happen in the "Deathly Hallows". And out of 400 questions, our top winner got 350 of them correct. And he says his name is Ricky Carter and he's from Edinburgh, but for a moment, it might just have been your husband, but now, after what you told us about the W.O.M.B.A.T....

JKR: No, there's not a chance it was Neil. (laughs) And I know he won't mind me saying that.

MA: But yeah. 350 questions out of 400.

JKR: That is very very impressive.

JN: What was his name, Melissa?

MA: Ricky Carter?

JN: Oh, okay. Good job, Ricky Carter.

JKR: Yeah, good job. No, that's excellent. You know, it would've been-- I mean, (sighs) people should have been able to guess a lot, otherwise, I haven't done my job properly or I've cheated the reader. The clues were there. A lot of the clues were there. But I think there were surprises. I don't think many people expected Dobby. But I had very good reasons for doing it, you know.

MA: Hedwig.

JKR: Oh, I'm sorry.

JN: Hedwig's alive! Hedwig was part-phoenix. Haven't you heard any of this?

JKR: But d'you know what? That is the thing-- I gotta say, I have virtually never read fanfiction. It's a tricky area, generally for me, but it's those fanfictions-- because I've seen opening lines-- those fanfictions that begin with "My name is Lily Potter. You thought I was dead. You were wrong."


JKR: So they were so many that start like that out there. There must be one out there somewhere: "My name is Hedwig. As I fell through the icy night sky..." Yes.


MA: You were wrong.

JKR: You were wrong.

MA: There's a lot of theories about Hedwig. All in fun. All in the idea that, yes, you know, she's--

JKR: The fun stuff is very very very funny. I have frequently laughed myself stupid reading some things. Letters I get-- Yeah, they're amazing.

MA: Well, Jo, will you promise that you'll come back?

JKR: D'you know what, I will promise that, because I would love to come back. I've had so much fun.

SU: Thank you so much.

JN: We've had an awesome time.

JKR: It's been great. I've had an awesome time, too. So I wanna wish you a very Merry Christmas, or whichever other religious festival you are keeping.

JN: Thank you. Well, you know how we usually wrap this show up, Jo. We took a little inspiration from you and we end it like we end the Potterwatch.

JKR: Aww. Did you like Potterwatch?

JN: We had very big grins on when we read about Potterwatch.

JKR: Poor Fred.

MA: Poor Fred! Jo!

JKR: I know...

JN: Poor Fred fans! We didn't even bring up Fred. Whatever. Next time.

JKR: Whatever!


MA: I've got my hands over my face and John's like, "Whatever".


JN: I love Fred.

SU: He has a pet armadillo named Fred, even.

JKR: I know...

JN: I mean, I was torn up about Charity, after all this, but.

JKR: (laughs)

JN: Until next time, guys, keep twiddling those dials.

JKR: The next password will be: "Horcri".

SU: Keep each other safe.

MA: Keep faith.

ALL: Good night!

Original page date 28 Dec 2007; last updated 28 Dec 2007.