The J.K. Rowling Index

List of all J.K. Rowling's writings.

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Foreword: Bibliography

Index ID: FWBBL — Publication date: April 23rd, 2015

Note: Foreword for the book "J.K. Rowlin: A Bibliography 1997 - 2013" by Philip W. Errington, published by Bloomsbury.

As someone who respects comprehensive research, I am in awe of the level of detail and amount of time Philip Errington has dedicated to this slavishly thorough and somewhat mind-boggling bibliography. Even in my most deluded moments, I could ever have anticipated that an idea that occurred to me on a train to Manchester could have spawned this amount of verbiage and prose in every language under the sun. I am humbled and deeply flattered.

J.K. Rowling
Edinburgh,
November 2014


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Contribution: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

Index ID: LETDM — Publication date: October 15th, 2009

Note: Contribution for the book "Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self" by Joseph Galliano, published by Simon & Schuster.

Dear Jo (16),

I’m forty five. We’re forty five! And, believe me, that is far from the strangest thing that has happened to us.

This must be a lot weirder for you than it is for me; after all, I know you. I also really like you, which you will find impossible to believe, given that you are racked with insecurity and self-loathing. Jo, give yourself a break. You’re not the only one who feels smll and inadequate; you’ll realise eventually that everyone is the wizard of Oz. Time spent dreading and regretting realy is time wasted (whereas time spent daydreaming, inventing words and writing stories is time very well spent. Keep that up.)

There’s so much I could say to try and prepare you for hat I know is coming, oth the wonderful and the not-so-wonderful. The trouble is that the more I think about it, the more I realise that you need to just plough straight ahead and make all the big mistakes, because out of them will come some of your greatest blessings. Just know that there has never yet been a situation so awful that we haven’t been able to wring some good out of it (and that is about the proudest statement I’ve ever made in my – sorry, our – life.) Everything you most want will come to you; some of what you most fear will also happen, but the world will keep turning, and you will be fine.

A few pieces of advice that I think I can give, without upsetting the cosmic balance:

– Bright red, baggy dungarees from Miss Selfridge will be a bad idea, even in 1983.
– White-blonde hair, while a fantastic look on Debbie Harry, will not work on you.
– Do not have your ears pierced by a hippy at a music festival. That was one nasty infection.
– Never bother trying to impress anyone who thinks that other people ought to try and impress them.
– Stop smoking NOW.
– Stick up yourself a bit more.
– Forgive yourself a lot more.
– Avoid bass players. All of them.

In a year’s time, one o the best friends of your life will arrive in that porta-cabin they use for the sixth form. You will know him by his Ford Anglia, his love of Elvis and his ability to make you laught until you are unable to breathe. You might want to persuade him to hang onto the car. It could come in handy for, say, a film.

Never cut short a phone call with your mother. Never forget to say ‘I love you.’

One last thing.

One day, you will not only meet Morrissey, but he will know who you are.

I KNOW!

With lots of love,

Jo (45)

{Deathly Hallows symbol} ← One day that will make sense to you.


The following images are related to this writing


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Foreword: Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

Index ID: FWDM — Publication date: October 15th, 2009

Note: Foreword for the book "Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self" by Joseph Galliano, published by Simon & Schuster.

This is an extraordinary little book, based on a simple but wonderful idea: What would you say to yourself if you came face-to-face with the sixteen-year-old you?

One of the many things that delighted and touched me as I read the letters that follow is the commonality of our human experience. Nearly everyone who wrote, whether their letter is jolly or poignant, seems to have looked back on their younger selves with compassion, remembering how vulnerable and dangerous an age sixteen is, for all the fun and freedom it is supposed to entail.

The overwhelming message of this body of letters seems to be: Be yourself. Be easier on yourself. Become yourself, as fully as possible.

Attempting to isolate those life lessons I could pass back to the girl I used to be was a truly illuminating exercise. It made me look at my seventeen-year-old daughter and remember, in a more powerful way than ever before, just how raw and vivid life is for her, in a way that it has been only intermittently for me as an adult. I would not go back to sixteen for anything you could give me, and yet I still recognize that she has something I have lost along the way—something I had to lose, to stay sane.

You might have picked up this book out of interest in some of the fascinating people who have contributed. I don’t think you will be disappointed. The great thing about these letters is that they are extraordinarily revealing, whether short, long, full of practical advice or metaphyisical musings.

Whatever your motives in buying this book, thank you. One dollar a copy will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Finally, let me urge you to use the blank pages at the end of the book to write your own letter to yourself, aged sixteen. I think you’ll find it just as thought-provoking and worthwile as we all did.


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Foreword: The Tales of Beedle the Bard Auction

Index ID: FWBBA — Publication date: November 16th, 2007

Note: Foreword included in the Sotheby's catalogues for The Tales of Beedle the Bard manuscript auction.

When I conceived the idea of writing The Tales of Beedle the Bard in full, I was intrigued to discover how wizarding fairy-tales would differ from those told to muggle children. In the latter, witches and wizards are relegated to walk-on, if pivotal, roles; within The Tales of Beedle the Bard, they themselves are the heroes and heroines.

You might think that magic would solve any fairy-tale dilemma, but it transpires that there is always somebody who can cast a more powerful curse, or a creature who will not yield to one’s best enchantments. Then, the intractable and eternal human predicaments of love, death and the pursuit of happiness are not necessarily resolved any more easily by the possessors of wands.

So these wizarding fairy-tales have much in common with their muggle counterparts: they exist to express human hopes and fears, and to teach a lesson or two. There are, however, a few important differences: witches tend to save themselves, rather than waiting around for a man to do it, and young wizards are warned, not against the dangers and temptations of the outside world, but of their own magical powers.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is really a distillation of the themes found in the Harry Potter books, and writing it has been the most wonderful way to say goodbye to a world I loved and lived in for seventeen years.


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Foreword: Reading Round Edinburgh: A Guide to Children’s Books of the City

Index ID: FWEDIN — Publication date: August, 2007

Note: Foreword for the book "Reading Round Edinburgh: A Guide to Children’s Books of the City" by Lindsey Fraser and Kathryn Ross, published by Floris Books.
Only the beginning of this text can be displayed here for research purposes. I apologize!

All writers dread the question “where do you get your ideas from?”.


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Acknowledgements

Index ID: ACK — Publication date: July 20th, 2007

Note: Published on her official website before the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Within hours you will know what happens to Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest in their final adventure. All the secrets I have been carrying around for so long will be yours, too, and those who guessed correctly will be vindicated, and those who guessed wrongly will not, I hope, be too disappointed! As for me, I feel a heady mixture of excitement, nerves and relief. ‘Deathly Hallows’ remains my favourite of the series, even after several re-reads; I cannot wait to share it with the readers who have stuck with me through six previous books.

There is only one thing left to do: acknowledgements! Here are the people who have joined me at various stages of the seventeen year journey I have taken with Harry, who (if you laid their brains end to end) could tell a story much stranger than fiction, of how weird and wonderful the world of Harry Potter became as it expanded way beyond all of our wildest dreams.

I am, firstly, deeply indebted to my agent, Christopher Little, who has been with me from the beginning and who took a chance on an unknown author whom he sweetly advised not to give up the day job, before working tirelessly to make sure that I never needed to teach French irregular verbs again. I bless the day his name caught my eye in the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book; thank God he wasn’t christened Vernon. Everyone at his (now considerably expanded) agency deserves my deepest thanks, but in particular Emma Schlesinger, who has become an irreplaceable walking encyclopaedia of Potterania, and Neil Blair, who has fought so many battles on Harry’s and my behalf, and will, hopefully, get his weekends back now.
My eternal gratitude goes to Barry Cunningham, the editor at Bloomsbury Children’s books who accepted Philosopher’s Stone for publication, but who did not remain at the company long enough to garner all the plaudits that were rightfully his. I had been turned down by a fairly long list of publishers before Barry discerned some merit in Harry; he is a great editor and I will never forget his patience with a writer who was simultaneously struggling to be a teacher and a single mother.

Barry was succeeded by Emma Matthewson, who has been my editor and friend for the subsequent six Harrys, whose arbitration I have awaited with bated breath every time I delivered a manuscript, and without whose calmness, honesty and sound judgement I would have been lost. The editing of ‘Deathly Hallows’ was, in particular, hugely emotional for me, and I cannot think of anyone I would rather have shared it with.

Everyone at Bloomsbury Children’s Books has been fantastic to me and worked so hard for Harry, but Rosamund de la Hey and Sarah Odenina were with me from the start and have been staunch friends throughout. Nigel Newton, Chief Executive of Bloomsbury, has been hugely supportive from the very beginning, long before Harry began to sell in vast numbers, because his children were fans of the books; he has been a constant source of enthusiasm and generosity.

A turning point in my life was the day I spoke to Arthur Levine for the first time. He was the American editor who had just out-bid three other publishers for the first Harry book. I felt terrified as I picked up the telephone to speak to him; the first thing he said was, ‘are you terrified?’ I think I loved him from that moment. He, too, has become a real friend and confidant, and the memories I have of seeing San Francisco with Arthur on my first American tour are among my happiest of the whole Potter experience.

The other person at Scholastic whom I must thank is the preternaturally efficient and completely lovely Kris Moran, who has shepherded me through two American tours, and sundry other press events, and whom I adore for her loyalty, her ability to locate coffee in an apparently moisture-free environment and her corner-of-the-mouth-while-opening-books-for-signing quips.

I also want to thank booksellers everywhere, but particularly in the UK, because they were crucial to Harry’s initial success, which was built, not on clever marketing, but on word-of-mouth recommendations by the highly knowledgeable people who staff our bookshops. Harry has become hard work for booksellers in later years, with embargoes and crowds making the whole business much more fraught, and much less intimate, than it used to be (though many still throw themselves into the spirit of midnight openings); I am deeply grateful.

Harry Potter is now published in 64 different languages. I am constantly mindful of the fact that so many people are involved in the production of the books across the globe, from China to Canada and most places in between. The arrival of foreign editions is always a real thrill, and I am so grateful to all the people involved, some of whom I have met, but most of whom I have not. I would like to send a little cyber-wave and my warmest thanks to Christine, Yuko, Allan, all the Klauses, Pedro and Sigrid. To list everybody would take up twelve pages, so please forgive me…

Dotti Irving, Mark Hutchinson, Rebecca Salt and Nicky Stonehill at Colman Getty PR have made my life so much easier it makes me wince to remember how it was BCG. Bizarre Potter press stories will fade out of our lives now, and we’ll probably miss them once they’re gone…

Here in my office at home are Christine and Angela, who have dealt expertly and sensitively with my Harry-mail for years, making sure I see the letters I ought to, bringing calm where once there was chaos. I am so glad I found both of them, and that they are still hanging in there.

It is hard to know what to say about my indefatigable, invaluable, indispensable PA, Fiddy, whose job has swollen beyond recognition since I first had lunch with her and told her it would probably fill an afternoon a week. She has stood valiantly between me and a tidal wave of demands for years now, enabling me to write books and look after my children, and barely a day goes by when I don’t thank God I have her.

And so to my family. For a long time, my sister Di was the only one who really saw what it was like at the eye of the storm, and on at least one occasion she picked me up, dusted me down, and talked me back to sanity. She understood that, for all the incredible benefits Harry brought me, there came a time when the pressure and the attention I had not sought became a little overwhelming, and she was the one who saw me through that period, and enabled me to find some perspective.

No writer ever had a better spouse than my husband. I still cannot believe how lucky I am to have married Neil; I don’t think writers are supposed to be this happy. His support has made the writing of the sixth and seventh books, in particular, a complete joy.

As for my children, my two youngest do not really know what Harry Potter is all about yet. Looking forward to sharing the books with them when they are old enough keeps me from feeling too sad at having finished.

The very last person to be thanked is the most important person of all, the one to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude. I wrote the final draft of the first three chapters of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ while pregnant with my eldest daughter, Jessica. She has never known what it is like to live without Harry Potter; even before he was published, he was a presence in our house as I typed away frantically in the evenings or broke off conversations with her to scribble on bits of paper. Jessica has never once complained about the attention I devoted to her fictional brother, never reproached me for the fact that Harry Potter has sometimes been a bane rather than a boon in her life. It has not always been easy to be J K Rowling’s daughter, yet if I had decided to stop before the seventh book it would have been Jessica’s disappointment that I would have feared the most. The fact that ‘Deathly Hallows’ will sit beside Jessica’s bed until it becomes dog-eared and falls apart means more to me than anything else, more than the huge print run, more than all the publicity in the world. So thank you, Decca. (And tidy your room. It’s disgusting. Mum X)


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Diary (Desktop Website)

Index ID: DIADW — Publication date: May 15th, 2004 to December 7th, 2007

WELCOME!

Until very recently, JKRowling.com was a list of links to my publishers – boring, I think you’ll agree. So I thought I’d liven it up a little.

I receive so many thousands and thousands of letters these days that it is impossible to read, let alone answer, them all. A proper website seems like a great way to communicate directly with Harry Potter fans. Everything on here was written by ME, J. K. Rowling. This is where I can tell you the truth about rumours or news stories, where I can share the extra information I haven’t put in the books, where I can give you hints and clues about what’s going to happen to Harry next, and where I can announce I’ve finished book seven… and no, that’s not going to happen very soon.

Occasionally the Dark Mark will flash at you. This is a SPOILER WARNING. It refers only to information hidden in book five, The Order of the Phoenix – if you haven’t yet finished reading the other four, proceed at your peril!

Anyway, I really hope you enjoy wandering around my desk (which was specially tidied for your visit). Don’t knock anything over, please. And watch out for Peeves.

With love from JK Rowling
(Jo to you)

DECEMBER 25th

That tired old welcome page was starting to bug me, so I thought I’d give you something new for Christmas. I’ve tried keeping a diary many times in the past and never got much further than January 15th, but I’ve been feeling the need for a place to put everyday updates that don’t qualify as real ‘news’. As ever, if there is a quiet spell you should not take it as a sign that I’ve given up diary writing, but rather that I am working hard on something a little more eagerly anticipated…

For 2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series. I contemplate the task with mingled feelings of excitement and dread, because I can’t wait to get started, to tell the final part of the story and, at last, to answer all the questions (will I ever answer all of the questions? Let’s aim for most of the questions); and yet it will all be over at last and I can’t quite imagine life without Harry.

However (clears throat in stern British manner) this is no time to get maudlin.

I have been fine-tuning the fine-tuned plan of seven during the past few weeks so that I can really set to work in January. Reading through the plan is like contemplating the map of an unknown country in which I will soon find myself. Sometimes, even at this stage, you can see trouble looming; nearly all of the six published books have had Chapters of Doom. The quintessential, never, I hope, to be beaten Chapter That Nearly Broke My Will To Go On was chapter nine, ‘Goblet of Fire’ (appropriately enough, ‘The Dark Mark’.)

As for this website, I’ve got plans… you’ll find out what they are in due course (constant vigilance, my friends). In the meantime, happy holidays to everyone, and if Father Christmas has already squeezed down your chimney, I hope he left something good.

JANUARY 5th

New Year’s Writing Resolutions

  1. Muck out my study.
    My study is easily the messiest room in the house, and probably our street; I won’t say in the whole of Edinburgh, because there must be a squat somewhere that’s worse. Frankly, I shudder to think what I will find when I finally reach the bottom of all these teetering piles of garbage. However, as I currently have to negotiate an assault course just to reach my desk I think the time has come for my annual tidy-up.
  2. Do not lose any more notebooks.
    After a somewhat panicky few weeks I have finally located a missing notebook. As always when I mislay these things, I had been ‘remembering’, in its absence, that it contained notes so essential and ideas so imaginative that I would never be able to duplicate them, and the whole of the next book would be impoverished if they were never found. Now that I have said notebook beside me on this desk, however, I see that it contains few useful nuggets amid a lot of complete dross. Nevertheless, the stress I endured while believing it to be the notebook equivalent of the Holy Grail was enough to remind me that I must take better care of my working materials.
  3. Be ruthless about protecting writing days
    , ie, do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.
  4. Follow advice from critics on how to be a better writer.
    I always try to act on constructive criticism. When I fail, I attempt to embrace my faults and call them my ‘style’.
  5. Try and keep children healthy.
    As we leave behind the sickliest winter ever known in this family, I pray that none of my kids develops a runny nose for at least a week, thus enabling me to set about serious writing with at least a few hours’ sleep behind me.

JANUARY 25th

Sometimes writing goes so smoothly that you feel as though you are simply taking dictation from your muse. In my case, this often happens after a period where I am unable to write, such as over the Christmas period (compounded this year by the children’s colds mentioned in the previous diary entry). It is as though all the ideas that ought to have leaked out in the usual intermittent fashion over the preceding couple of weeks explode out of my pen once I have a few hours in which to work. I am usually most productive when I have, or have recently had, limited time.

Of course, this heavenly state of affairs will not last, it never does. I’m bound to get all snarled up in a plot tangle, or else find myself temporarily stranded on the edge of a large hole in the story. Until then, however, I shall enjoy floating along on this flood of inspiration.

FEBRUARY 28th

This always happens. I make a plan, it looks nice and neat, then I get to actually write the book and realise that Harry can’t possibly do all that in just one chapter. So what I thought were going to be two chapters have now become four. I still don’t think the book will be as long as ‘Phoenix’, but if that keeps happening… no, it won’t. I’m looking at the plan, and it can’t. Surely. Please.

Nothing else I can tell you at the moment. Well, there’s LOADS I could tell you at the moment, but I can’t. Sorry.

APRIL 5th

There is only one thing that annoys me about living in Edinburgh – well, two, but I’m pretty much resigned to the weather now. Why is it so difficult to buy paper in the middle of town? What is a writer who likes to write longhand supposed to do when she hits her stride and then realises, to her horror, that she has covered every bit of blank paper in her bag? Forty-five minutes it took me, this morning, to find somewhere that would sell me some normal, lined paper. And there’s a university here! What do the students use? Don’t tell me laptops, it makes me feel like something out of the eighteenth century.

The book’s still going well, I’m sure you’re pleased to hear, lack of paper notwithstanding. There was a small interruption last week so that I could go down to London for the British Book Awards, a.k.a. the Nibbies, which was a lot of fun, and rather thrilling as Half-Blood Prince won Book of the Year. I also took the opportunity to visit Leavesden (the studio where they make the Potter films), which I hadn’t done in ages due to being pregnant/having tiny babies for what feels like ages. It was exciting to see some of the new Order of the Phoenix sets, but most of all to see the actors again – slightly unnerving to realise that nearly all of them are taller than me now (I speak, of course, of the teenagers; Michael Gambon was always taller than me, and very lovely he looked in his new robes, too.) Apart from the pleasure of seeing Tom Felton, Devon Murray, Alfred Enoch, Sitara Shah (and waving through the door at Bonnie Wright, who was busy being tutored), I had a great time talking to Dan and Matthew about books, Rupert about how his sisters never wind him up, Oliver and James about how difficult they find it to wind each other up, and Emma about Hermione’s love life. Also met, and had a long chat, with Evanna Lynch (Luna), about whom there is only one possible thing to say: perfect.

MAY 10th

Be careful what you wish for, it might come true. Since complaining that I had difficulty finding anything to write on after running out of paper while working in town, I have been deluged with paper. Some of you sent single sheets, others entire pads, one enterprising paper merchants sent a large stack of notebooks embossed boldly with J K ROWLING, which I might not use in public, but which are very lovely all the same. Others took a different approach, telling me exactly where you can buy writing paper in Edinburgh; some even enclosed maps. Anyway, I’ve now got enough paper to write several book sevens, so no excuse there.

I’ve been having house-elf trouble this week, though I think I’ve got them sorted out now. I’m all for house-elf rights, but the author is dictator and the sooner they accept that, the better.

SEPTEMBER 13th

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I know it’s been a very long time since I was last in touch. I’ve been writing a novel, you see.

My readings in New York with Stephen King and John Irving were so much fun. It’s not often that I do something like that and wish I could do it all over again, but I would have happily done a third night. If you were there, and yelling, thank you: the crowds, both nights, could not have been more wonderful.

I did mess up one answer, though. I was asked, ‘what question have you never been asked that you ought to have been asked?’ – or something very similar – and my mind went blank. Blame long years of trying not to give away the plot. But it occurred to me almost as soon as I got off stage that there IS a question I’ve always been surprised nobody’s put to me, and that I really should have said it while I was still on-stage. I can’t make amends to the girl who asked, but it is in tribute to her that I give the answer, belatedly, under ‘Miscellaneous’, Extras section.

SEPTEMBER 29th

Sitting at my desk trying to invent a word yesterday brought back memories of the last time I did so. I had tried for days and days to hit upon the right name for ‘the receptacle in which a Dark wizard has hidden a fragment of his soul for the purposes of attaining immortality.’ Finally, after much transposition of syllables, I scribbled ‘Horcrux’ on a piece of paper and knew it was The One. But what if somebody had already used it? With some trepidation I typed ‘Horcrux’ into Google and, to my delight, saw what I was looking for: ‘Your search – “Horcrux” – did not match any documents.’

So anyway, yesterday I Googled ‘Horcrux’ again. 401,000 results. As you might imagine, this gave me something of a lift as I went back to scribbling nonsense words on the back of a takeaway menu.

OCTOBER 31st

I’ve now got a third title. I’ve been thinking back, and I know that I’ve had more titles than this for a couple of the previous books, so I’m not too worried by this. Title three currently ahead by a short nose, or perhaps that should be a vowel and two consonants.

I’ve just had a great writing week. There are few feelings more joyous than reading back over the week’s work and thinking ‘that’s not bad at all’, as opposed to the all-too-frequent, ‘it’s rubbish, I’ve wasted a week and I’ll have to re-write the lot.’ And if you think that’s an exaggeration or false modesty, you are very, very wrong. It’s perfectly possible to put in eight hour days and have nothing to show for them but a single idea that, if reworked completely, might be passable.

Congratulations on your W.O.M.B.A.T. scores, incidentally. You’re getting pretty good.

DECEMBER 19th

The long lack of updates has been due to some very hard work. I’m now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more. I don’t think anyone who has not been in a similar situation can possibly know how this feels: I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don’t want, to finish this book (don’t worry, I will.)

For years now, people have asked me whether I ever dream that I am ‘in’ Harry’s world. The answer was ‘no’ until a few nights ago, when I had an epic dream in which I was, simultaneously, Harry and the narrator. I was searching for a Horcrux in a gigantic, crowded hall, which bore no resemblance to the Great Hall as I imagine it. As the narrator I knew perfectly well that the Horcrux was jammed in a hidden nook in the fireplace, while as Harry I was searching for it in all kinds of other places, while trying to make the people around me say lines I had pre-arranged for them. Meanwhile waiters and waitresses who work in the real café in which I have written huge parts of book seven roamed around me as though on stilts, all of them at least fifteen feet high. Perhaps I should cut back on the caffeine?

I made another daytrip to Leavesden a few weeks ago, where I saw twenty minutes of Order of the Phoenix, which looks fantastic. Also got a chance, before they all took off in their different directions (it was the last week of live actor filming) to talk to Dan, Rupert, Emma and Evanna, which is always wonderful. Dan has changed his theory on Snape; he says he doesn’t want to be like one of those people who are photographed, beaming, next to mad dictators.

FEBRUARY 6th

Charles Dickens put it better than I ever could:

‘It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years’ imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever.’

To which I can only sigh, try seventeen years, Charles…

I always knew that Harry’s story would end with the seventh book, but saying goodbye has been just as hard as I always knew it would be. Even while I’m mourning, though, I feel an incredible sense of achievement. I can hardly believe that I’ve finally written the ending I’ve been planning for so many years. I’ve never felt such a mixture of extreme emotions in my life, never dreamed I could feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric.

Some of you have expressed a (much more muted!) mixture of happiness and sadness at the prospect of the last book being published, and that has meant more than I can tell you. If it comes as any consolation, I think that there will be plenty to continue arguing and speculating about, even after ‘Deathly Hallows’ comes out. So if you’re not yet ready to quit the message boards, do not despair…

I’m almost scared to admit this, but one thing has stopped me collapsing in a puddle of misery on the floor. While each of the previous Potter books has strong claims on my affections, ‘Deathly Hallows’ is my favourite, and that is the most wonderful way to finish the series.

MAY 14th

A couple of weeks ago (April 28th, if you want to go and search the archive) the Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron posted an editorial on potential spoilers for “Deathly Hallows”. It made me laugh, but I was also incredibly moved and grateful.

We’re a little under three months away, now, and the first distant rumblings of the weirdness that usually precedes a Harry Potter publication can be heard on the horizon. The Leaky Cauldron’s early mission statement on spoilers (ie, don’t, and we’re not putting them up if you do) is deeply appreciated by yours truly.

I add my own plea to Melissa’s for one reason, and one only: I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are they going.

Some, perhaps, will read this and take the view that all publicity is good publicity, that spoilers are part of hype, and that I am trying to protect sales rather than my readership. However, spoilers won’t stop people buying the book, they never have – all it will do is diminish their pleasure in the book.

There will always be sad individuals who get their kicks from ruining other people’s fun, but while sites like Leaky take such an active stance against them, we may yet win. Even if the biggest secret gets out – even if somebody discovers the Giant Squid is actually the world’s largest Animagus, which rises from the lake at the eleventh hour, transforms into Godric Gryffindor and… well, I wouldn’t like to spoil it.

JULY 18th

We are almost there! As launch night looms, let’s all, please, ignore the misinformation popping up on the web and in the press on the plot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’d like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day. In a very short time you will know EVERYTHING!

DECEMBER 7th

Where did the last four months go? It feels as though Hallows was published, and then I slipped through some strange time portal in which everything went at double-quick time, only to be spat out in early December.

People keep saying to me, ‘I expect things have calmed down now you’ve finished?’ to which my answer some days is a fairly humourless laugh. I have been exceptionally busy since July, what with the US/Canadian tour, Beedle the Bard, assorted charitable commitments, a massive post-publication mountain of correspondence, plus those three children I insisted on bringing into the world. Consequence: neglect of website! However, I am putting up a few updates today in News (where you will see that I have also been busy with a documentary), FAQs and Extras. I hope to put up a few more titbits in due course.

The US/Canadian tour was my favourite ever. If anybody reading this was in the audience for any of those events, thank you, because they were only as wonderful as they were because of the brilliant questions and the overwhelming warmth of those present.

Delving even further back into the Lost Four Months, the launch of ‘Hallows’ at the Natural History Museum in London was also my favourite of all time, and to all those who queued so long and patiently, you were incredible, and I loved meeting every single one of you.

‘Deathly Hallows’ remains my favourite book of the series. I hope that, even if it is not yours, you understood, at least, that this was where the story was always leading; it was the ending I had planned for seventeen years, and there was more satisfaction than you can probably imagine in finally sharing it with my readers.

As for mourning Harry – and I doubt I will be believed when I say this – nobody can have felt the end as deeply as I did. The writing of Harry Potter has been inextricably linked with my life for seventeen years, and saying goodbye has been just as tough as I always knew it would be. So I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has written to me since publication, saying such wonderful things about what the books meant to them, because your words meant the world to me at this very bittersweet time.


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News (Desktop Website)

Index ID: NEWSDW — Publication date: March 2004 to October 2008

Monday 15 March 2004
Progress on Book Six

Book six is well underway, hooray, though I am still at the stage where I have a large and complicated chart propped on the desk in front of me to remind me what happens where, how, to whom and which bits of crucial information need to be slipped into which innocent-looking chapters. I started writing Harry Potter Six before my son David (who has just turned one) was born, but then took a bit of a break during the serious sleep-deprivation phase of his babyhood. I am really enjoying writing this book, though for the first time I am conscious that I am approaching the end of the series. So much of what happens in book six relates to book seven that I feel almost as though they are two halves of the same novel. Regular visitors to this site will find information about what’s in book six if they can work out where to look. Patience is the key.

Monday 15 March 2004
Mugglenet Chatroom Uninterested in JKR’s Theories

A few weeks ago I did something I’ve never done before and took a stroll into a Harry Potter chat room: specifically, MuggleNet’s chat room. Although I was concerned to find that many of the moderators feel their spiritual home is Slytherin, this is a great site. Nobody was remotely interested in my theories about what’s going to happen in book seven, though. In the end, I gave up trying to impart any gems of wisdom and joined in the discussion about SpongeBob SquarePants (don’t ask). I would like to take this opportunity to say that the practise of calling Lord Voldemort ‘Voldie’ must stop, as must the insistence that with a bit of therapy ‘Voldie’ would be a real sweetheart. I might drop in again some time to check that you’ve done as you’ve been told. Look out for ‘Squidward’.

Monday 15 March 2004
Forged JKR Signatures

If you or any of your loved ones is thinking of buying a ‘signed’ Harry Potter book, please be careful. The number of forged signatures has increased greatly over the last few years. You should be particularly suspicious of signed copies of ‘Order of the Phoenix’. I have never done a book signing for ‘Phoenix’, so signed British copies are very rare, American copies even rarer and other foreign editions (so far) virtually non-existent. Any copy of ‘Phoenix’ purporting to have been signed at the ‘Picadilly’ signing is highly likely to be a fake, for instance. I sign books for charity and in special circumstances but, as explained in the FAQ section, I can no longer begin to keep up with the demand for signed books. Unfortunately there are unscrupulous people who are only too ready to step into the breach and exploit Harry Potter fans.

Wednesday 2 June 2004
Reaction to JKRowling.com

Watching Harry Potter fans spread the news about this site, work out all the riddles in about ten minutes, collect all the prizes, then proceed to hack the site apart looking for more clues… well, I must say I never dreamed that sitting in front of a computer could be so much fun. I can see that this site is going to be a great source of entertainment and amusement to me. I would like to make two points: firstly, as I said in a recent interview, if there is ever a time when I am not doing updates, it is because I am writing hard. Either way, you win! Secondly, since the updated website went live, many people have been enthusiastically emailing Christopher Little, my agent, Colman Getty, my PR firm, and even Lightmaker, who run the site. None of these people can answer such emails, nor will they be passed to me. As I say in my ‘welcome’ note, this website has been created precisely because I cannot answer fans individually any more. You will find my response to some of the rumours about the site in (where else?) Rumours.

Wednesday 2 June 2004
London Premiere of Prisoner of Azkaban

I first saw ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ a few weeks ago when it was barely finished. I loved it immediately: it is my favourite Harry Potter film so far, so I was looking forward to seeing it again on Sunday. The premiere was fun, as always. It was the first time I had met Gary Oldman, David Thewlis and Michael Gambon, all of whom do a really magnificent job in the film. And it was, as ever, great to see Dan, Rupert and Emma, who get taller and better looking (and in Emma’s case, more beautiful) every time I see them, and are still, miraculously, the most grounded, least egotistical teenage actors you are ever likely to meet. The last time I saw Dan at the after-premiere party he was encircled by a group of determined female fans who were not keen on letting anyone else near him, and that included passing writers, but we managed to shout a few words at each other… Somebody from Warner Bros. offered me one of the giant, blow-up Aunt Marges that they had tied around the front of the cinema, but I thought it would have been more fun to untie them and let them drift over the country for the next couple of days. Pink Floyd did it with that giant inflatable pig… but most of the people reading this will be too young to know what on earth I’m talking about.

Tuesday 29 June 2004
Title of Book Six: The Truth

Well, the door opened at last and I showed you the title of book six – the genuine title, the title that will appear on the published book, the title I have been using in my head for ages and ages. Unfortunately, however, the door opened on the very same day the ‘Pillar of Storgé’ hoaxer struck, which left a lot of Harry Potter fans bemused as to whether I was having a joke at their expense by posting another fake title to ‘teach hoaxers a lesson’, something I certainly wouldn’t do, as it would simply frustrate, confuse or annoy the 99.9% of you who aren’t hoaxers! I tried to give a clear hint that the title behind the door was the real one by making the ‘Toenail’ joke as well (see ‘Rumours’). But just to clear up matters once and for all… Information you take directly from this site will be truthful and accurate (I might occasionally joke, but as time goes on, you’ll learn to tell when I’m joking). Do not trust anybody else claiming to have found information on this site that you cannot access, however seemingly convincing the images they provide to support their story. I never post information on the site that I do not want fans to read immediately. In other words, anybody claiming to have ‘discovered’ a message that wasn’t due for release yet is lying. There was never anything meaningful behind the door until the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign came off! The ‘Pillar of Storgé’ was never my title, and I did not change it at the eleventh hour because I was ‘found out’ (I nearly fell off my chair giggling when I read this). I was delighted to see that a hard core of super-bright fans knew that the real title was once, in the long distant past, a possibility for ‘Chamber of Secrets’, and from that deduced that it was genuine. Certain crucial pieces of information in book six were originally planned for ‘Chamber of Secrets’, but very early on (first draft of Chamber) I realised that this information’s proper home was book six. I have said before now that ‘Chamber’ holds some very important clues to the ultimate end of the series. Not as many as six, obviously, but there is a link. Anyway: if you continue to exercise patience, you will find that the Do Not Disturb Door opens again… and again… giving you further hints about book six. But as a little bonus, and compensation for having been messed around by Mr. or Ms. Storgé, I shall tell you one thing without making you shift any bricks at all: the HBP is neither Harry nor Voldemort. And that’s all I’m saying on THAT subject until the book’s published.

Saturday 10 July 2004
JKR APPEARING AT EDINBURGH BOOK FESTIVAL

I will be reading and answering questions at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 15th August this year. This will be my fifth appearance at the Edinburgh Festival; there have been readings for each of the first four Potter books, and this time my appearance will coincide (roughly) with the UK publication of ‘Order of the Phoenix’ in paperback. I am looking forward to this event very much, because there will be a relatively small audience, which means I can see faces and take questions directly from the fans. Of course, events such as the readings at the Toronto Skydome and the Albert Hall are incredible, but nothing can replace the pleasure of interacting with enthusiastic readers, as opposed to waving at a sea of skin coloured blobs. As the number of tickets is restricted, they will be available by ballot rather than on a first come, first served basis. To apply for tickets, buy the Herald newspaper on Saturday 10th July or the Sunday Herald on 11th July to get a ballot form, or visit Bloomsbury’s website at www.bloomsbury.com, where you can apply online from Monday 12th July.

Saturday 24 July 2004
JKR EXPECTING THIRD CHILD

I am really delighted to say that I am expecting a third baby, who is due next year. I always wanted three children, so I could not be happier. Now, I know that many Harry Potter fans’ first reaction will be what does this mean for the timing of book six? (I’m not maligning you… I’m sure you’re happy for me… but I know you really want that book!) So let me reassure you that book six remains well on track and, fingers crossed of course, I don’t foresee any baby-related interruptions or delays. I still can’t say for sure when it will be finished, but I have written a lot and I really like it (a reckless challenge to fate, that; I bet the next chapter goes horribly wrong now).

Sunday 15 August 2004
J K Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Lindsey Fraser: Well, we must be the luckiest five hundred people in Edinburgh today. My name is Lindsey Fraser and I am delighted to congratulate you, on behalf of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, on getting up so early on this Sunday morning. Welcome to this very special event. Of course, J K Rowling does not need an introduction, so my job is really very easy today. Thanks to the Harry Potter books, her life has changed dramatically— I am sure that you know how the story goes. Thanks to the Harry Potter books, our lives have changed as well. We are part of an international readership and that is reflected in the fact that some of the people here today have travelled from far and wide. It is like a huge reading club that is immersed in the world that she has created. She does not often talk directly to her readers these days, and no wonder. She is too busy writing huge thick books to get out much, but she has made an exception today, first to read from her latest novel and then to take some of your questions. I know that you want to show how very pleased you are to see her today. Ladies and gentlemen, Jo Rowling. J K Rowling: Morning. I am going to do a very short reading for you from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and then I will take some questions. Is there anyone here who has not finished reading the book? I know that there is someone at the back, because I know her and she told me. They seem to be mainly grown-ups: would that be right? If there are any younger people who have not finished reading the book, we need to be careful not to give away the big ending, if you know what I mean. If you have questions about the big ending, maybe you could save them for when you get your book signed afterwards. I try not to ruin people’s appreciation of the book if they are still reading it, so I have chosen a reading from quite early on in the book, just before Harry goes back to Hogwarts. He and Ron get quite a surprise—for Harry, it is quite an unpleasant surprise, I have to say. J K Rowling read an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Questions from the audience Out of all your books, which one is your favourite? It varies. I would have to say that it is probably Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, although at the moment—it is unfair of me to say it—Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is my favourite book. Sorry. I am the only one who has read it and I think it is rather good. I am normally like this when I write a book. Usually when I am just over halfway I normally love it, but by the time I finish it I completely despise it and think it is worthless rubbish. At the moment, I really like how the sixth book is going. A lot happens in the sixth book and a lot of questions are answered. I really have a sense that we are nearly there and it is time for answers, not more questions and clues, although obviously there are a few clues as I am not quite finished yet. I hope that that is sufficiently frustrating for you, knowing that you can’t read it yet! Which books did you read when you were a child and which books do you read now? When I was a child, I would read absolutely anything. My favourite books for younger people would be I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, which I really love, The Little White Horse, all the classic children’s books… I love E Nesbit—I think she is great and I identify with the way that she writes. Her children are very real children and she was quite a groundbreaker in her day. I also read a lot of adult books. The last novel that I read was Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, which I have been meaning to read for years. It is a cracking read. I have just been on holiday and, for the first time in five years, I did not take any Iris Murdoch with me, because it is so depressing. I was just about to put one in my case and I thought, “Why do this? Why put yourself through this?”, so I didn’t bother. I read Wilkie Collins instead and it was a much better experience. All the paintings we have seen at Hogwarts are of dead people. They seem to be living through their portraits. How is this so? If there was a painting of Harry’s parents, would he be able to obtain advice from them? That is a very good question. They are all of dead people; they are not as fully realised as ghosts, as you have probably noticed. The place where you see them really talk is in Dumbledore’s office, primarily; the idea is that the previous headmasters and headmistresses leave behind a faint imprint of themselves. They leave their aura, almost, in the office and they can give some counsel to the present occupant, but it is not like being a ghost. They repeat catchphrases, almost. The portrait of Sirius’ mother is not a very 3D personality; she is not very fully realised. She repeats catchphrases that she had when she was alive. If Harry had a portrait of his parents it would not help him a great deal. If he could meet them as ghosts, that would be a much more meaningful interaction, but as Nick explained at the end of Phoenix—I am straying into dangerous territory, but I think you probably know what he explained—there are some people who would not come back as ghosts because they are unafraid, or less afraid, of death. Who is your favourite character in the books? I have loads of favourite characters. I really like Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid and Dumbledore. I love writing Snape—even though he is not always the nicest person, he is really fun to write. I love writing Dudley. If I could meet anyone, I might choose Lupin. I really like him. My favourite new character is Luna—I am very fond of her. Is Aunt Petunia a Squib? Good question. No, she is not, but—[Laughter]. No, she is not a Squib. She is a Muggle, but—[Laughter]. You will have to read the other books. You might have got the impression that there is a little bit more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye, and you will find out what it is. She is not a squib, although that is a very good guess. Oh, I am giving a lot away here. I am being shockingly indiscreet. How do you think of all the names, like Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs? Those names all came out of the creatures that they turned into. I had a lot of fun with those. Wormtail was the most difficult one. My sister loathes rats and her problem with them is their tails, so that is what gave me the idea. You actually know how I get some names because I stole your Mum’s maiden name, didn’t I? You have to be careful if you get friendly with me because you tend to turn up in my books, and if you offend me, you often turn up as a nasty character. I found the name McClaggan the other day, which I think is a great name. There is a McClaggan in book six because I thought that it is a surname that is too good to waste. In your stories, will Harry Potter ever grow up as a wizard? Well, I don’t think it is giving too much away to say that he will survive to book seven, mainly because I do not want to be strangled by you lot, but I am not going to say whether he grows any older than that because I have never said that. You are good at putting me on the spot! Are any of your characters based on real people? The only character who is deliberately based on a real person is Gilderoy Lockhart. [Laughter]. Maybe he is not the one that you would think of, but I have to say that the living model was worse. [Laughter]. He was a shocker! The lies that he told about adventures that he’d had, things he’d done and impressive acts that he had committed… He was a shocking man. I can say this quite freely because he will never in a million years dream that he is Gilderoy Lockhart. I am always frightened that he is going to turn up one day. He is just one of those people from your past whom you feel you have never quite shaken off. I will look up one day at a signing and he will say, “Hello, Jo”. [Laughter]. Other people have contributed the odd characteristic, such as a nose, to a character, but the only character who I sat down and thought that I would base on someone is Gilderoy Lockhart. It made up for having to endure him for two solid years. Have you written any other books apart from the Harry Potter books? No. I have written other things that have not been published, which I assure you is no great loss to the world. I have written all sorts of different things but nothing else has been published. Some of it might be published one day—I don’t know. There are some unfinished things that I would quite like to finish but I do not know that I would want them to be published. Of the many, many characters in your books, whose personality is most like yours? There is a theory that every character is an extension of the author’s character, which makes me one of the most disturbed people, I think. [Laughter]. I do not know how many characters I’ve got, but it is nudging up towards 200, so I am really in trouble. Hermione is a bit like me when I was younger. I did not set out to make Hermione like me but she is a bit like me. She is an exaggeration of how I was when I was younger. Harry is a bit like me. If you squeeze together Harry, Ron and Hermione… I find them quite easy to write, and I think that that is because they are a bit like different parts of my personality. When you get to someone like Dolores Umbridge, no way—I am absolutely not like her. She is a horrible woman. What form does Dumbledore’s Patronus take? Good question. Can anyone guess? You have had a clue. There was a little whisper there. It is a phoenix, which is very representative of Dumbledore for reasons that I am sure you can guess. What will the seventh book be called? I think you have been put up to that. [Laughter]. I was asked about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix live on American television by a boy who was just as good looking as you and just as cute. I just said it. I had said no to all the journalists, then a little boy just like you put up his hand and said, “What is the name of the next book?” I said, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”! But I am not going to tell you, I’m sorry. You have no idea of the trouble that I would be in if I did. My agent would have me hunted down and killed, so I am not going to say. Why is the barman of the Hog’s Head vaguely familiar to Harry? Is he Dumbledore’s brother? Ooh—you are getting good. Why do you think that it is Aberforth? [Audience member: Various clues. He smells of goats and he looks a bit like Dumbledore]. I was quite proud of that clue. That is all that I am going to say. [Laughter]. Well yes, obviously. I like the goat clue—I sniggered to myself about that one. Are you happy with the films that have been made? I am happy with the films. Of the three, Azkaban is my favourite. I thought it was really good for a lot of different reasons. I thought that Alfonso Cuaron, the director, did a fantastic job and Dan, Emma and Rupert, who play Harry, Hermione and Ron, were really wonderful in the film—I told them that. How do you make up the weird names for the potions? Sometimes invention gives out. I was writing the latest chapter of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and I needed to come up with another name for another potion. I sat for ten minutes at the keyboard then I just typed “X”. I thought, “I’ll go back and fill that in later.” Sometimes you really want to get on with the story. Sometimes names just come to you, which is a great feeling, but sometimes it is difficult and you have to batter your brain for a while. Sometimes it comes to you while you are washing up or on the loo or something. My husband is quite used to me saying, “Wait!” then running up stairs and writing something down. What do you do in your spare time? I have no spare time at all. [Laughter]. When I’m not writing or looking after the children, I read and sleep. To be totally honest with you, at the moment sleeping is probably my very favourite thing in the world to do. I know that is a bit of a depressing answer. I would like to say I was partying with Mick Jagger—well, I wouldn’t want to be partying with Mick Jagger, that is a complete lie, but it would be a more interesting answer to give you here at the festival. Who was the first character that you invented? Harry. He really is the whole story. The whole plot is contained in Harry Potter; his past, present and future—that is the story. Harry came to me first and everything radiated out from him. I gave him his parents, then his past, then Hogwarts, and the wizarding world got bigger and bigger. He was the starting point. Does Hermione have any brothers or sisters? No, she doesn’t. When I first made up Hermione I gave her a younger sister, but she was very hard to work in. The younger sister was not supposed to go to Hogwarts. She was supposed to remain a Muggle. It was a sideline that didn’t work very well and it did not have a big place in the story. I have deliberately kept Hermione’s family in the background. You see so much of Ron’s family so I thought that I would keep Hermione’s family, by contrast, quite ordinary. They are dentists, as you know. They are a bit bemused by their odd daughter but quite proud of her all the same. Does Harry have a godmother? If so, will she make an appearance in future books? No, he doesn’t. I have thought this through. If Sirius had married… Sirius was too busy being a big rebel to get married. When Harry was born, it was at the very height of Voldemort fever last time so his christening was a very hurried, quiet affair with just Sirius, just the best friend. At that point it looked as if the Potters would have to go into hiding so obviously they could not do the big christening thing and invite lots of people. Sirius is the only one, unfortunately. I have got to be careful what I say there, haven’t I? If you could be one of the characters for a day, who would it be? Definitely not Harry, because I would not want to go through it all. I know what is coming for him so there is no way that I would want to be him. At the moment, I would not want to be any of them, because life is getting quite tough for them. It would be a laugh to be someone like Peeves, causing mayhem and not bothering. Will Ron and Hermione ever get together? Well—[Laughter.] What do you think? [Audience member: I think they will]. I’m not going to say. I can’t say, can I? I think that, by now, I’ve given quite a lot of clues on the subject. That is all I’m going to say. You will have to read between the lines on that one. Have you always wanted to be a book author? Yes. I know that I wanted to be a writer when I was six because I wrote a book then. It was a work of towering genius about a rabbit called Rabbit. I gave it to my mother and she said, “That’s lovely”, as a mother would, “That’s very, very good.” I stood there and thought, “Well, get it published then”. That’s a bit of an odd thing for a child of six to think. I don’t know where it came from. I thought, “Come on, then. Proofs? Galleys?” I obviously really wanted to do it. No one in my family wanted to write. My sister writes very funny letters but they are always about one paragraph long. She does not keep it going in the way that I do. Can you tell me more about Rita Skeeter? I love Rita. You know when Harry walks into the Leaky Cauldron for the first time, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Everyone says, “You’re back” and he realises for the first time that he is famous. In a very early draft, Rita, a journalist, was there and she ran up to him. For some reason she was called Bridget—I forget why. Anyway, she detained him too long in the Leaky Cauldron and I really needed to get him moving, so I thought that I would not put her there. As I was writing book one, I was planning the rest, and book four was supposed to be where Harry’s fame became a burden to him. It really starts to weigh on him when he is exposed to the wider wizarding world so I thought that that would be the perfect place for Rita to come in. She was still called Bridget at the time. I didn’t realise that by the time I wrote book four I would have met quite a lot of Ritas and people would assume that I was writing Rita in response to what had happened to me, which was not in fact the truth. However, I am not going to deny that writing Rita was a lot more fun having met a few people I had met. I actually quite like Rita. She is loathsome—morally, she’s horrible—but I can’t help admiring her toughness. She is very determined to do the job and there is something quite engaging about that. There is more to come on Rita. It is really enjoyable to write her and Hermione because they are such very different people. The scene in which I had Hermione, Rita and Luna together in the pub was really fun to write because they are three very different women with very different points of view. You have this very cynical journalist, you have Hermione, who is very logical, upright and good, and you have Luna, who is completely out to lunch but fantastic. I really like Luna. You have these three people who are not on each other’s wavelengths making a deal. It was fun to write. You have probably had a lot of people trying to get information out of you about the books, but what is the strangest thing, or maybe the slyest thing, anyone has done? Have you ever slipped up? Well, you are pretty sneaky. People ask questions like, “Will there be an eighth novel and will Harry be in it?” There are questions that I simply can’t answer. Fans are very good at that, and I have to be very awake. I think that you want to know but you don’t want to know as well. You would all like me to tell you exactly what happens in books six and seven and then to erase your memories so that you can read them. I know, because that is how I feel about things that I really enjoy. I would kind of like to do it, but at the same time I know that I would ruin it for everyone. I thought that I would give you something though, rather than get to the end of today and think that I have not given you a lot. There are two questions that I have never been asked but that I should have been asked, if you know what I mean. If you want to speculate on anything, you should speculate on these two things, which will point you in the right direction. The first question that I have never been asked—it has probably been asked in a chatroom but no one has ever asked me—is, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” Not, “Why did Harry live?” but, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” The killing curse rebounded, so he should have died. Why didn’t he? At the end of Goblet of Fire he says that one or more of the steps that he took enabled him to survive. You should be wondering what he did to make sure that he did not die—I will put it that way. I don’t think that it is guessable. It may be—someone could guess it—but you should be asking yourself that question, particularly now that you know about the prophesy. I’d better stop there or I will really incriminate myself. The other question that I am surprised no one has asked me since Phoenix came out—I thought that people would—is why Dumbledore did not kill or try to kill Voldemort in the scene in the ministry. I know that I am giving a lot away to people who have not read the book. Although Dumbledore gives a kind of reason to Voldemort, it is not the real reason. When I mentioned that question to my husband—I told Neil that I was going to mention it to you—he said that it was because Dumbledore knows that there are two more books to come. As you can see, we are on the same literary wavelength. [Laughter]. That is not the answer; Dumbledore knows something slightly more profound than that. If you want to wonder about anything, I would advise you to concentrate on those two questions. That might take you a little bit further. Will Hagrid ever succeed with his plans for his brother? In a limited way, yes. Grawp is obviously the very stupidest thing that Hagrid ever brought home. In his long line of bringing home stupid things—Aragog, the Blast-Ended Skrewts—Grawp is the one that should have finished him off, but ironically it might be the one time that a monstrous something came good. By the next book, Grawp is a little bit more controllable. I think you got a clue to that at the end of Phoenix, because Grawp was starting to speak and to be a little bit more amenable to human contact. How did Dumbledore get his scar in the London Underground? You may find out one day. I am very fond of that scar. How do you think up the names of the books? Sometimes it was really easy and the title came naturally out of the plot. Sometimes it was a bit of a struggle. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had different titles. In fact, as everyone now knows, it was once called Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, but then I removed a whole storyline that did not work at all. It gave too much information too early, so I pulled it out and it became a major part, but not the only part, of book six. There is no trace of that storyline left in Chamber of Secrets. People have been speculating that book six is a spinoff of book two, but it is not. I was really upset when Sirius was taken… No, no, we can’t. We’ll talk about it afterwards. I think we have given it away anyway, but never mind. It has recently been confirmed that Blaise Zabini is in fact a male character. Will we see more of him in the next few books? That’s correct. You do. Also, will we see more of Snape? You always see a lot of Snape, because he is a gift of a character. I hesitate to say that I love him. [Audience member: I do]. You do? This is a very worrying thing. Are you thinking about Alan Rickman or about Snape? [Laughter]. Isn’t this life, though? I make this hero—Harry, obviously—and there he is on the screen, the perfect Harry, because Dan is very much as I imagine Harry, but who does every girl under the age of 15 fall in love with? Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. Girls, stop going for the bad guy. Go for a nice man in the first place. It took me 35 years to learn that, but I am giving you that nugget free, right now, at the beginning of your love lives. In the fifth book, Harry can see the Thestrals. Can you? Yes, I can, definitely. That is a really good question, because it enables me to clear up a point. The letters that I’ve had about the Thestrals! Everyone has said to me that Harry saw people die before could see the Thestrals. Just to clear this up once and for all, this was not a mistake. I would be the first to say that I have made mistakes in the books, but this was not a mistake. I really thought this one through. Harry did not see his parents die. He was one year old and in a cot at the time. Although you never see that scene, I wrote it and then cut it. He didn’t see it; he was too young to appreciate it. When you find out about the Thestrals, you find that you can see them only when you really understand death in a broader sense, when you really know what it means. Someone said that Harry saw Quirrell die, but that is not true. He was unconscious when Quirrell died, in Philosopher’s Stone. He did not know until he came around that Quirrell had died when Voldemort left his body. Then you have Cedric. With Cedric, fair point. Harry had just seen Cedric die when he got back into the carriages to go back to Hogsmeade station. I thought about that at the end of Goblet, because I have known from the word go what was drawing the carriages. From Chamber of Secrets, in which there are carriages drawn by invisible things, I have known what was there. I decided that it would be an odd thing to do right at the end of a book. Anyone who has suffered a bereavement knows that there is the immediate shock but that it takes a little while to appreciate fully that you will never see that person again. Until that had happened, I did not think that Harry could see the Thestrals. That means that when he goes back, he saw these spooky things. It set the tone for Phoenix, which is a much darker book. Apart from Harry, Snape is my favourite character because he is so complex and I just love him. Can he see the Thestrals, and if so, why? Also, is he a pure blood wizard? Snape’s ancestry is hinted at. He was a Death Eater, so clearly he is no Muggle born, because Muggle borns are not allowed to be Death Eaters, except in rare circumstances. You have some information about his ancestry there. He can see Thestrals, but in my imagination most of the older people at Hogwarts would be able to see them because, obviously, as you go through life you do lose people and understand what death is. But you must not forget that Snape was a Death Eater. He will have seen things that… Why do you love him? Why do people love Snape? I do not understand this. Again, it’s bad boy syndrome, isn’t it? It’s very depressing. [Laughter]. One of my best friends watched the film and she said, “You know who’s really attractive?” I said, “Who?” She said, “Lucius Malfoy!” Is there more to Dudley than meets the eye? No. [Laughter]. What you see is what you get. I am happy to say that he is definitely a character without much back story. He is just Dudley. The next book, Half Blood Prince, is the least that you see of the Dursleys. You see them quite briefly. You see them a bit more in the final book, but you don’t get a lot of Dudley in book six—very few lines. I am sorry if there are Dudley fans out there, but I think you need to look at your priorities if it is Dudley that you are looking forward to. [Laughter]. Has your original plan for the seven books changed along the way? It has changed, but only in details. In all important respects, it has stayed the same, and the ending will be exactly what I planned before 1997. The story has taken little twists and turns that I maybe didn’t expect, but we are still on track. Each book has broadly done what it was supposed to do in taking you towards the final conclusion. There is a lot of Latin in the spells in your books Do you speak Latin? Yes. At home, we converse in Latin. [Laughter]. Mainly. For light relief, we do a little Greek. My Latin is patchy, to say the least, but that doesn’t really matter because old spells are often in cod Latin—a funny mixture of weird languages creeps into spells. That is how I use it. Occasionally you will stumble across something in my Latin that is, almost accidentally, grammatically correct, but that is a rarity. In my defence, the Latin is deliberately odd. Perfect Latin is not a very magical medium, is it? Does anyone know where avada kedavra came from? It is an ancient spell in Aramaic, and it is the original of abracadabra, which means “let the thing be destroyed”. Originally, it was used to cure illness and the “thing” was the illness, but I decided to make it the “thing” as in the person standing in front of me. I take a lot of liberties with things like that. I twist them round and make them mine. Will there be a book about Harry’s Mum and Dad, about how they became friends and how they died? So it would be “Harry Potter: Episode One”. [Laughter]. No, but a lot of people have asked that. It is all George Lucas’s fault. You won’t need a prequel; by the time I am finished, you will know enough. I think it would be shamelessly exploitative to do that. I am sure that Mr Lucas is doing it only for artistic reasons, but in my case I think that by the time you have had the seven books you will know everything you need to know for the story. Has Voldemort or Tom Riddle ever cared for or loved anyone? Now, that’s a cracking question to end with—very good. No, never. [Laughter.] If he had, he couldn’t possibly be what he is. You will find out a lot more about that. It is a good question, because it leads us rather neatly to Half Blood Prince, although I repeat for the millionth time that Voldemort is not the half blood prince, which is what a lot of people thought. He is definitely, definitely not. Thank you for your excellent questions. [Applause]. Lindsey Fraser: They were absolutely brilliant questions and I think you will agree that it has been a fantastic event. Please join me in thanking J K Rowling.

Friday 10 December 2004
No News is Good News

I don’t know about you, but I got sick and tired of seeing that old Edinburgh Book Festival headline on my desktop and thought I’d change it, however dull the fresh story. So: I have nothing noteworthy to report, because I have been spending nearly all my time sitting in front of my computer writing, re-writing and taking the occasional break to bang my head off the desk in frustration or else rub my hands together in fiendish glee (I think the latter has happened once). Meanwhile, the distance between the keyboard and yours truly increases day by day as my third child races Harry’s next adventure into the world. I will soon need extendable fingers to type.

Wednesday 22 December 2004
‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ to be Published 16th July 2005

So now you know! Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be available from July 16th 2005 (and I do hope you consider it a decent birthday present, Delleve-who-posts-at-the-Leaky-Cauldron… not that I was watching the fansites on Monday night or anything…) I have a great feeling of release in being able to talk freely about the fact that the book is finished; it has been a weighty secret to carry around, as you can imagine. But finally sharing it with you was wonderful: much more fun than wrapping presents and tidying the house before the family arrives, which is what I am supposed to be doing at the moment. P.S. Anyone interested in the ‘hidden meaning’ of the riddles and questions you had to answer before getting the message behind the door should head straight for the ‘Rumours’ section.

Tuesday 25 January 2005
JKR gives Birth to Baby Girl

Neil and I are absolutely delighted to say that our new daughter arrived on Sunday evening. Her name is Mackenzie Murray (middle names Jean Rowling) and she is ridiculously beautiful, though I suppose I might be biased. Thank you all so very much for your kind congratulations on various fansites, they mean more than you can know. I was planning to do a few more updates to this site when events overtook me on Sunday, so when I’ve got past the next feed or two, and maybe caught up on a little sleep, I shall make a few more tweaks. In the meantime, I hope you’re all having as good a week as I am!

Monday 31 January 2005
Harry Potter e-Book Scam

As many of you will know from reputable Harry Potter fan sites who reported this story, a site called www.harrybooks.info (now closed) has been offering what it alleged to be an e-book version of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ – my thanks go to the Leaky Cauldron, in particular, for promptly warning fans what was going on. You should NEVER trust any Harry Potter e-books offered for download from the internet or on P2P/file-trading networks. Setting aside the fact that these books are illegal (there are no authorised HP e-books to date), they may infect your computer with viruses, leave you vulnerable to the dangers of hacking and/or credit card fraud and may also contain content that has nothing to do with Harry Potter, to say the least. I would bet the original manuscript of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ itself that this will not be the last attempt to con HP fans before the publication of book six on 16th July. Please, please protect yourselves, your computers and your credit cards and do not fall for these scams. The only genuine copies of Harry Potter remain the authorised traditional book or audio tapes/cassettes/CDs distributed through my publishers. Similarly, the only sources of release news you should trust are this website or official spokespeople such as representatives of my publishers or agent (details in ‘Links’ section). CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

Friday 13 May 2005
Harry Potter Children’s Press Conference Weekend

Over the weekend of publication on Saturday 16th July, I’ll be taking part in a wonderful (for me, anyway) launch event for ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. Seventy aspiring reporters will be attending the Harry Potter Children’s Press Conference Weekend on behalf of English-language newspapers across the world. On the stroke of midnight on Saturday 16th I’ll be giving the very first reading from the book at Edinburgh Castle for the cub reporters, who will each be given a signed copy of the book. The reporters will then have the weekend to read the book in a specially created Reading Room at Edinburgh Castle, before attending the Children’s Press Conference on Sunday 17th July to grill me about it. Newspapers from Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada will run competitions from 14th May onwards to select their own reporter. Bookshops and libraries in the UK and Republic of Ireland will also be running a competition. The internet will not be neglected, either – the brains behind two of the most popular Harry Potter fansites, Melissa from the Leaky Cauldron, and Emerson from Mugglenet, will also be coming to Edinburgh to interview me for their respective readers. The results of this three-cornered chat will be posted on our separate websites. For more details on how to become one of the reporters at Edinburgh Castle on 16th July, check this weekend’s newspapers, or go to www.bloomsbury.com/harrypotter. You never know, I might be meeting you, too! Good luck!

Thursday 26 May 2005
As Publication Draws Nearer…

Well, here we go again! The gossip, the non-stories, the ever-wilder speculation… Please remember that allegations of ‘leaks’ concerning deaths in ‘Half-Blood Prince’ are very easy to make. Any comment I make on such rumours would be a spoiler, so I’ll just repeat: keep those barrels of salt handy. Speaking of which… I have been alerted to the fact that I am supposed to have posted in the ‘comments’ section of a couple of different fan sites recently. I never post on fan sites and it is important that you all know this, because the last thing I would want is for any of you to be misled or otherwise manipulated by somebody posing as me online. JKRowling.com is the only place I ever post. Lest you think I’m protesting too much, please ask yourself whether I would really want to reveal my email address on a fan site. Love you all though I do, I don’t really want to wake up tomorrow and have to download 21,956,038 new emails, all demanding the identity of the Half-Blood Prince.

Thursday 21 July 2005
Publication Weekend!

The Half-Blood Prince has left home at last and set off into the world to meet his fate and, having launched him into society, I’m now back at home with a few more great memories to add to my ever-increasing horde. The priority for publication day was taking questions from readers, because the more popular the Harry Potter books have grown, the harder it has become to communicate directly with my readership in the way that I used to love. Bloomsbury therefore suggested a press conference comprised entirely of young readers who had won the chance to be there. I loved the idea: there is nothing quite as satisfying as sitting in a room with readers whose faces you can see, answering direct questions about your method of writing, characters and plots. The midnight reading on Friday and the question and answer session on Sunday both took place in Edinburgh Castle. Nobody had told me that the cover image of ‘Half-Blood Prince’ was going to be projected onto the frontage of the castle when I arrived at half past eleven on Friday. I hadn’t expected that many people to be there when I got out of the car, either. I really must pay better attention in meetings in future, but I’m certainly not complaining, it was wonderful! Reading live on television is not for the faint-hearted. However, apart from one moment just before I walked into the Great Hall (yes, it’s really called that!), when I thought I was going to throw up, it seemed to go all right. The best part, however, was when the cameras were turned off and I was able to talk normally to the ‘cub reporters’ before giving them their signed books. On Saturday I had one-on-one interviews with fourteen-year-old Owen Jones from the UK, who had won a televised competition to interview me, and eleven-year-old Emma Coad, who had won a similar competition in Australia. Both did a fantastic job and I look forward to the day when I can boast that I was their first ever interviewee. A little later on Saturday afternoon, I was interrogated by two prominent figures in the world of on-line Pottermania, Melissa of the Leaky Cauldron and Emerson of Mugglenet (and for my account of that interview, head to Extras.) On Sunday I returned to the castle for over an hour’s question and answers with the full complement of cub reporters. Everyone was there on merit; all had won their places, or been nominated for the job because of their talent or in-depth knowledge of Harry Potter. They all did a magnificent job for the newspapers, magazines, television programmes and websites that had sent them and, not for the first time, I felt humbled by my readers.

Wednesday 7 September 2005
E-Bay Users Once Again

A recent perusal of the e-Bay stocks of ‘signed’ Harry Potter merchandise was quite alarming for the person who allegedly signed these stacks of books, posters and even, in one case, an unauthorised biography that I would never, and have never, put my signature to. As far as I could tell on the day I dropped in, only one of the signatures on offer appeared genuine. There seem to be a lot of people out there trying to con Harry Potter fans. The same is true in respect to the huge number of unauthorised Harry Potter e-Books and audio digital files that users of e-Bay have offered for sale to Harry Potter fans. E-Bay seem unable to control or to take preventative steps to avoid users of their site offering forged Harry Potter merchandise for sale to innocent fans who might wish to purchase such goods; they also continue to refuse to accept any responsibility for allowing forged Harry Potter merchandise to be offered for sale on their site (while, of course, profit is made from the sale of said merchandise). So it remains for me to warn you personally: ‘bonded certificates of authenticity’ do not guarantee that I have ever been on the same continent of the book in question, let alone signed it. As far as I can tell from watching the ‘signed’ Harry Potter merchandise on e-Bay, for every (as far as I can tell) genuine signature there are six to ten fakes. Therefore, I am now advising Harry Potter fans in search of rare and/or signed editions that it is much safer to buy from reputable / authorised book dealers rather than e-Bay and other similar auction houses. I would be delighted if the online community of Harry Potter fans canvassed e-Bay directly, asking that they be protected against this exploitation; you might succeed where I have so far failed.

Wednesday 7 September 2005
Harry Potter Goes Digital

Today sees a new Harry Potter launch: audio digital files are now available through Apple iTunes in the US, Europe and Japan (English language)! Many Harry Potter fans have been keen for digital access for a while, but the deciding factor for me in authorising this new version is that it will help combat the growing incidents of piracy in this area. There have been a number of incidents where fans have stumbled upon unauthorised files believing them to be genuine and, quite apart from the fact that they are illegal, the Harry Potter content of these can bear very little resemblance to anything I’ve ever written!

Monday 12 September 2005
Ebay Latest

Ebay has responded to this news item in the press. On the one hand, they have said that they rely on consumers to police their site. On the other, a spokesman called Hani Durzi says that ‘it is the responsibility of the copyright owner to report any listings that violate their rights.’ Ebay might be interested to learn that most Harry Potter fans are children, whose ability to verify the authenticity of signatures is not to be entirely trusted. Meanwhile Hani Durzi seems unaware that I have advised Ebay repeatedly, through my legal representative, that many signatures for sale on their site appear to be fake, but have yet to see any reduction in the number of forgeries on offer. The same is true in respect to other pirate Harry Potter merchandise offered for sale by Ebay users, such as e-Books where we have pointed out to Ebay that 100% of the items being offered for sale are fake. What I am calling for is prevention rather than cure (which has had limited effect here in any event). After all, reputable booksellers and auction houses take steps to ensure that signatures are genuine BEFORE they put them up for sale. The current situation has Ebay profiting from the Ebay users relentless scamming of Harry Potter fans while, in effect, telling them that they have no-one but themselves – or me – to blame.

Wednesday 25 January 2006
Launch of the Children’s High Level Group

On the 25th and 26th of this month I will be in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, to help launch the Children’s High Level Group. This will be a brief ‘fact-finding’ trip during which I will also help raise funds for the Group at a charity dinner. In 2003 I read an article in the British Sunday Times about the use of ‘cage beds’ in psychiatric institutions in the Czech Republic. The article alleged that children as young as two were being kept in these beds, without physical contact or comfort, for the majority of the day and night. The photograph that accompanied the article – of a very young boy staring through wire mesh at the camera – is still branded on my memory; in fact, it was so disturbing that when my eyes first fell on it my immediate instinct was to turn the page quickly so as not to have to look at it. However, immediately ashamed of my cowardly impulse, I smoothed the newspaper out again and read the article from beginning to end, swearing that if the text matched the picture in horror, I would try and ‘do something’ about the issue. Needless to say, the story detailing the plight of disabled and mentally handicapped children locked in cages in ‘care homes’ made dreadful reading. So I started writing letters, firstly to all the Scottish MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) and then to the Czech Ambassador, Czech Prime Minister and Czech President. This flurry of epistolary activity led me to a meeting with Baroness Emma Nicholson, who has been working on similar issues in Romania for many years, resulting in substantial improvements in child welfare and protection in that country. She asked me to join the Children’s High Level Group, which will work on a much wider scale to enforce children’s rights as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards in force. The social problems that lead to the placing of children in institutions are complex and will not be resolved quickly; however, that is a good reason for making a start as soon as possible. There is now widespread agreement among child health experts that irreparable, long-term damage is caused to young children who are institutionalised without a parent. The Children’s High Level Group will share the knowledge and experience accumulated in recent years in the field of the protection of child rights and will work with other international bodies to bring about meaningful change for as many institutionalised children as possible. PS: But none of this means that I have given up writing book seven… just in case you were wondering!

Wednesday 10 May 2006
JKR to read in New York with John Irving and Stephen King

On the nights of the 1st and 2nd August 2006 I will be reading at Radio City Hall in New York, alongside John Irving and Stephen King, in “AN EVENING WITH HARRY, CARRIE AND GARP”. All proceeds from the event will go to The Haven Foundation (an organization that helps performing artists whose accidents or illnesses have left them uninsured and unable to work) and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries). Tickets ranging from $12.50 to $100 will be available through Ticketmaster from May 12, 2006 at 10 a.m (which is 3 p.m. in the UK). Telephone numbers: 212-307-7171 (New York City) 212-307-1000 (MSG/RCMH hotline) 201-507-8900 (NJ) 845-454-3388 (Westchester) 631-888-9000 (Long Island) 203-368-1000 (Connecticut) (Limit 8 tickets per purchase) Pairs of prime orchestra seats will also be available via a Ticketmaster auction online. A limited number of “Family Packages” which will include 4 premium orchestra seats and a set of three signed books – one from each author – will also be on sale at that time for $1,000. Anyone who purchases a ticket will have the opportunity to submit a question for the authors via email. This is the first reading I’ve done in America since 2000, so I’m looking forward to it very much and hope to see some regular jkrowling.com visitors there!

Wednesday 13 September 2006
Book 7 Update

Now that I’m back from New York, the only real news is that I’m continuing to work hard on the book. I’ve done quite a lot, and I’m really enjoying it, though every now and then I look up and realise that it’s THE LAST ONE. You might think I’d have got used to that idea during the sixteen years I’ve been planning seven books, but it still keeps hitting me… no more Harry after this… and then I bury myself in book seven again and tell myself I’ve still got plenty to write. The heightened security restrictions on the airlines in August made the journey back from New York interesting, as I refused to be parted from the manuscript of book seven (a large part of it is handwritten, and there was no copy of anything I had done while in the US). They let me take it on, thankfully, bound up in elastic bands. I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t; sailed home, probably. I am currently trying to decide between two possible titles. I was quite happy with one of them until the other one struck me while I was taking a shower in New York. They would both be appropriate, so I think I’ll have to wait until I’m further into the book to decide which one works best.

Friday 29 September 2006
eBay – the Usual!

Yes, we’ve been here before, but having strolled over to eBay (come on, I’ve got to have a break sometimes) I note that the forgers aren’t getting any better at my signature. Frankly, some of them are barely trying. So please bear in mind that these ‘certificates of authenticity’ are not worth the paper they are written on.

Friday 29 September 2006
Banned Books Week

Once again, the Harry Potter books feature on this year’s list of most-banned books. As this puts me in the company of Harper Lee, Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger, William Golding, John Steinbeck and other writers I revere, I have always taken my annual inclusion on the list as a great honour. “Every burned book enlightens the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday 1 February 2007
Publication Date for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be published on Saturday 21st July 2007 at 00:01 BST in the UK and at 00:01 in the USA. It will also be released at 00:01 BST on Saturday 21st July in other English speaking countries around the world.

Wednesday 23 May 2007
The Moonlight Signing

On July 21st 2007, I shall be doing a mammoth signing through the night! 1700 Harry Potter fans will have the opportunity of having their copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ signed by me at the Natural History Museum in London. They will receive a free copy of the seventh Harry Potter book, courtesy of Bloomsbury, my UK publishers. 500 of these fans will also be randomly selected to hear me read from the book at midnight. To receive tickets for this event, you will need to enter a ballot via the following websites: bloomsbury.com (for UK and Ireland residents) and scholastic.com (for the US). Other English-speaking publishers may also be allotted tickets; keep an eye on their websites. It has been a long time since I’ve done a signing and had the chance to speak to readers individually, so I’m delighted that we are launching the book in this way. It will be wonderful for me to get the chance to speak to people who have already read a few chapters while in the queue! Good luck if you’re applying for tickets, and if you’re successful, I’ll see you shortly after midnight on July 21st!

Thursday 14 June 2007
The Open Book Tour, October 2007

In October I will be touring the USA for the first time since 2000. The Tour will include four events, three to be held for schoolchildren in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City and one event in New York City for any U.S. Harry Potter fan who wins a ticket through a sweepstakes to be held by Scholastic, my US publishers. At each event, I will read from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, answer questions about the entire series, and sign copies of the latest book. I will be appearing at the Los Angeles Kodak Theater on Monday, October 15th; in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Auditorium at the Convention Center on Thursday, October 18th; and at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Friday, October 19th. In September, at the beginning of the 2007/2008 school year, Scholastic will select schools in each of the three cities to send students to the events. Each selected school will then be given a Sorting Hat to place in their school where they will have their own random drawing of students and classes to attend the events. In addition to these three events for schoolchildren, there will be an event on the evening of October 19, 2007 in New York City, open to fans of all ages. One thousand readers will be selected in a sweepstakes and will receive a pair of tickets to the event at Carnegie Hall on Friday October 19 at 7 p.m. Scholastic will launch the J.K. Rowling and the Open Book Tour Sweepstakes on July 30, 2007. Visit www.scholastic.com/harrypotter beginning July 30 for information on how to enter and complete rules.

Wednesday 31 October 2007
Companion Books

It’s common knowledge that I love genuine Harry Potter fansites, which is why I created my own award to recognise their creativity and ingenuity. It’s also old news that I hope one day to write the definitive Harry Potter encyclopedia, which will include all the material that never made it into the novels, and that I will give the royalties from this book to charity. I cannot, therefore, approve of “companion books” or “encyclopedias” that seek to pre-empt my definitive Potter reference book for their authors’ own personal gain. The losers in such a situation would be the charities, that I hope, eventually, to benefit.

Wednesday 31 October 2007
Companion Books

As is now widely known, a complaint has been filed in the name of Warner Bros and myself against the publisher of a proposed Lexicon, written by Steven VanderArk. This decision was reached, on my part, with immense sadness and disappointment, and only because direct appeals for a reasonable solution failed. I never dreamed, in the light of our previous good relations – including giving the Lexicon a Fansite Award – that this situation would ever arise. From what I understand, the proposed book is not criticism or review of Harry Potter’s world, which would be entirely legitimate – neither I nor anybody connected with Harry Potter has ever tried to prevent such works being published. It is, we believe, a print version of the website, except now the information that was freely available to everybody is to become a commercial enterprise. It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author’s hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else’s work, it does not become theirs to sell.

Thursday 1 November 2007
Auction of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”

When it came to finding “thank you” presents for the people who have been most closely involved with Harry Potter over the years, nothing shop-bought seemed personal enough. I therefore decided to hand-write a limited number of copies of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”. As this idea came to me only after I had finished writing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, I was left with the task of writing stories for the three titles Ron mentions in that book: “The Fountain of Fair Fortune”, “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” and “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump” (and if anyone thinks it was easy coming up with a tale called “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump,” let me disabuse them here.) I’ve added a new story (“The Warlock’s Hairy Heart”) and completed the collection with the only fable already told, “The Tale of the Three Brothers”. There were really six people I wanted to honour – the real insiders – but it had to be seven copies, not six. I have therefore decided to auction the seventh book for The Children’s Voice, a campaign run by the Children’s High Level Group, the charity I co-founded to campaign for the rights of institutionalised children. Each of the seven copies of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” has a different dedication; all are leather-bound and embellished with silver and different semi-precious stones. The seventh book (the Moonstone edition) will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London on December 13th 2007. The book will be on display to the public for a short period before the sale, and catalogues will be sold, all profits going to the Children’s Voice.

Friday 9 November 2007
Lexicon Continued

As you may have read, on 8 November, 2007 a judge in New York granted an order against RDR Books in respect to the proposed book The Harry Potter Lexicon, such order applying to any proposed licensing of the book worldwide. Judge Patterson has imposed a restraining order on the publishers of the Lexicon, which will remain in place until at least February 2008. This means that the book can not be completed, published or marketed until the court has had time to decide whether it would break the law if published in its present form. I take no pleasure in the fact that publication has been prevented for the present. On the contrary, I feel massively disappointed that this matter had to come to court at all. Despite repeated requests, the publishers have refused to even countenance making any changes to the book to ensure that it does not infringe my rights. Unless their position changes, we will all return to court next year. Given my past good relations with the Lexicon fansite, I can only feel sad and disillusioned that this is where we have ended up.

Friday 7 December 2007
J.K.Rowling – A Year In The Life

For the last 12 months I have been filmed for a documentary by James Runcie, who apart from making films is also a fellow novelist. The documentary follows my life over the last year of writing Harry Potter and includes footage of me working on ‘Deathly Hallows’, on tour, at the launch and much more. The documentary will be shown in the UK on Sunday 30th December 2007, on ITV.

Friday 21 December 2007
Auction of ‘the Tales of Beedle the Bard’

As you may already know, the seventh copy of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ raised a staggering £1.95 million at auction, which will be donated to the Children’s Voice campaign (see Links). It is fortunate that nobody was filming my reaction while the bids climbed higher and higher. Fiddy, Angela, Christine and I were sitting around Fiddy’s laptop in our office (the aforementioned being my PA and the invaluable assistants who deal with the postbag), watching a live link to Sotheby’s. Once the amount hit a million, I kept swearing loudly with every successive bid, and when we reached the final amount, the air turned a lovely shade of blue… I am delighted that Amazon bought the book, and would like to thank them for their huge generosity, which will help the Children’s Voice reach many, many more institutionalised children. I am also thrilled to think that the moonstone Beedle will not be mouldering alone in a vault, but will be setting off on a tour of children’s libraries. Taken all in all, I could not have wished for a better outcome!

Thursday 29 May 2008
Waterstones Charity Auction

A few months ago a number of authors were invited to handwrite cards for auction by Waterstones, on June 10, all proceeds to go to English PEN, the writers’ association, and the Dyslexia Action. After playing around with a number of different ideas I decided to write a short (for me!) excerpt from a prequel to the Potter series. It is about 800 words long and the action takes place around 3 years before Harry is born. Although I did feel a bit like a relapsing addict as I sat down to write – the words poured from my pen with frightening ease – I am NOT working on a prequel. Indeed, I’ve written that clearly at the bottom of the card itself. I just thought that this was the best way to make money for two extremely worthwhile charities. The good news for Potter fans who will not be able to bid at the auction is that you will be able to read the short story (along with amazing contributions from Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Tom Stoppard, Irvine Welsh, Sebastian Faulks, Axel Scheffler, Lauren Child, Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman, Lisa Appignanesi, Richard Ford, and Michael Rosen) by purchasing a book of facsimiles, which will be available in August. The proceeds from this book, too, will go to the charities.

Thursday 31 July 2008
The Children’s High Level Group to publish “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” on 4th December 2008

There was understandable disappointment among Harry Potter fans when only one copy of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” was offered to the public last December. I am therefore delighted to announce that, thanks to the generous support of Bloomsbury, Scholastic and Amazon (who bought the handwritten copy at auction) – and with the blessing of the wonderful people who own the other six original books – “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” will now be widely available to all Harry Potter fans. Royalties will be donated to the Children’s High Level Group, to benefit institutionalised children in desperate need of a voice. The new edition will include the Tales themselves, translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger, and with illustrations by me, but also notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore, which appear by generous permission of the Hogwarts Headmasters’ Archive.’ ‘Dumbledore’s commentary on the Tales, which was discovered among his papers after his death, includes some historical notes, personal reminiscences, and insights into that most mysterious branch of magic: wandlore. I very much hope that readers coming to these classic wizarding fables for the first time will find his commentary both entertaining and helpful.

Tuesday 28 October 2008
Launch of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’

As some of you will already know, I will be helping to launch ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ with a Beedle tea party at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh on 4th December. I’m delighted that the book will now be available to everyone, with the net proceeds of sales going to the Children’s High Level Group, the charity I helped found which works with vulnerable children across Eastern Europe. I’m afraid we did have to limit the attendance to the launch, so it will be for 8-11 year-olds from primary schools in the Edinburgh area, who will be chosen by a random ballot run by the local newspaper. Also, some tickets are available via competitions being run by Scholastic, Bloomsbury and Amazon – see their websites for details. One of the seven original handwritten copies of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’, kindly loaned by my first editor Barry Cunningham, will be going on show for a month at the National Library of Scotland from 5th December to 4th January 2009, so anyone visiting Edinburgh will be able to see it. Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children in Eastern Europe are living in appalling conditions in large, residential institutions. Contrary to popular belief, fewer than 4% of them are orphans, but are in care because they are considered disabled or their families are poor or from ethnic minorities. The Children’s High Level Group is publishing ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’, in collaboration with my English language publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic, my foreign publishers throughout the world and also the online bookseller Amazon, who are producing a Special Limited Edition version, all of them to raise money to fund our work in helping these children out of institutions and in to loving families or community care homes. I hope that ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ will not only be a welcome Christmas present to Harry Potter fans, but an opportunity to give these abandoned children a voice. See my links page for CHLG.


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Once upon a time, when I had no money

Index ID: ONUPT — Publication date: October 21st, 2001

Note: Published on Sunday Times.

In 1994, when I was 29, I set out to obtain a Postgraduate Certificate in education in Modern Languages. I felt cautiously confident; I was, after all, a languages graduate with a couple of years’ experience teaching abroad. True, I did not expect to plunge back into Higher Education with the ease of my 18-year-old self. In 1983 the procedure had been very straightforward: you just had to fill in the UCCA form, achieve the required a-level grades, pick up your grant cheque at the start of term, and lie to your parents about the state of your overdraft until the next cheque came. It never occurred to me at 18 that I might not get the education I wanted; in fact, I took it for granted that I was not only going to get a degree but also make fascinating friends, meet devastatingly attractive men, write a novel, join the feminist society, drink and smoke and wear ludicrously large earrings.

Eleven years on, however, higher education had no frivolous attractions for me at all. The qualification I needed to get back to teaching seemed to be my one and only hope of escaping a situation in which I had never dreamt I would find myself. I had returned to Britain just before Christmas 1993 following the break-up of my marriage, with a baby daughter in one arm and a suitcase-full of clothes and Harry Ootter drafts in the other. By January the last of my savings had gone on a deposit to rent a flat, a cot, a highchair and a pushchair: my daughter Jessica and I were facing life on slightly less than £70 a week. I certainly wanted to finish my novel, but I did not feel that this was the moment to give up the day job – or, at least, give up looking for one; it is one thing to choose to starve for your art, quite another to force your six-month-old baby to as well. As I saw it, the PGCE was my way out; it would lead to work, an income, bills paid, decent accommodation, everything that I had until so recently taken for granted, everything that was last on my mind when we were all 18, when debts were easily repaid by summer jobs, and privation meant not being able to afford the suede pixie boots on which I had (tragically) set my heart.

I look back on the innocent optimism with which I filled in my application forms for teacher training colleges with nostalgic pity. The reality of my situation had yet to sink in. Perhaps that was all to the good, because if I had known then the obstacles that lay in my way to employment, I might have ripped up the forms there and then. Instead I ploughed on, getting some satisfaction from the mere form filling, feeling that I was doing something vaguely akin to work in itself. I received a letter in due course from the teaching college of my choice giving me an interview date and I distinctly saw the speck of light at the end of the tunnel widen into a beam. But then, as so often happens in life, I found myself waistdeep in a problem I hadn’t seen coming, though how I could have missed it is still incredible to me. I can only say in mitigation that I was an utter novice at being a single parent and that I was still happily convinced that people who wanted to work would be encouraged, if not assisted, by the state. I had several sharp lessons coming to me.

The teaching college in question was my preferred option because I had been told that it had a student creche. It was during an unrelated telephone call to the college in question that a secretary told me casually that this had closed two years previously. I had the sensation of having been hit very hard over the head with a blunt instrument. When the initial effects of this blow had subsided I began to make appointments with everybody I could think of who might be able to show me the way to procure fulltime childcare on a student grant. Still punch-drunk, I refused to accept the answer until I had run out of telephone numbers. Then I had to face it: if I couldn’t afford childcare then I could not take my PGCE. It had simply never occurred to me (and here we plumb the depths of my naivety) that the state was not prepared to help with a year’s childcare costs in exchange for never having to pay me a penny’s benefit again. Now, at last, the reality dawned on me: the reason I was trying so hard to claw myself out of poverty – my daughter – was going to be the very thing that kept me there. Or it would have been, had I not been extraordinarily lucky.

A friend, finding me desolate after the last fruitless telephone call, offered to lend me the money for a private nursery. Neither of us ever thought I would be in a position to pay the money back within two years. My friend was simply sparing my pride in calling it a loan, when it was far more likely to be an outright gift. So I went off to teacher training college for what was the toughest year of my life in terms of sleep deprivation and unremitting work. I was terrified of further debt and did not take out a student loan until my second term, when it became impossible to keep myself in bus fares and books without one. the college had hardship funds, too; I felt sorry for the poor people who needed them until another student pointed out bluntly that I was exactly the sort of person for whom the fund was designed. I was past feeling humiliated by this point and meekly trotted off to fill in yet another form. I completed my PGCE in the summer of 1995 and started teaching the following autumn.

As it turned out, I only taught for a year before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. so was it all a waste of time? Well, no – the taxpayer got a good deal as I never needed benefits again and, if you take the broad view, my PGCE enabled me to pay back all the benefit i’d ever been given because without the open access computers I would never have been able to type out the manuscript. (I say this with a certain amount of shame, because there was a notice on the wall saying to be used for college work only). My story, of course, has an almost indecently happy ending. I had three years of real financial hardship, but I was luckier than many lone parents, not least in having friends who could afford to step in. Even so, I will never forget the feeling of absolute hopelessness that results from the knowledge that however much you want to retrain, however badly you want to work, your opportunities are limited and in some cases denied completely.


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A Good Scare

Index ID: GDSCR — Publication date: November 6th, 2000

Note: Published on Time Magazine.

I consciously wanted the first book to be fairly gentle-Harry is very protected when he enters the world. From the publication of Sorcerer’s Stone, I’ve had parents saying to me, “My six-year-old loves it,” and I’ve always had qualms about saying, “Oh, that’s great,” because I’ve always known what’s coming. So I have never said these are books for very young children.

If you’re choosing to write about evil, you really do have a moral obligation to show what that means. So you know what happened at the end of Book IV. I do think it’s shocking, but it had to be. It is not a gratuitous act on my part. We really are talking about someone who is incredibly power hungry. Racist, really. And what do those kinds of people do? They treat human life so lightly. I wanted to be accurate in that sense. My editor was shocked by the way the character was killed, which was very dismissive. That was entirely deliberate. That is how people die in those situations. It was just like, You’re in my way and you’re going to die. It’s the first time I cried during the writing of a book, because I didn’t want to kill him. It was the cruel-artist part of me who just knows that’s how it has to happen for the story. The cruel artist is stronger than the warm, fuzzy person.

My daughter has read all the books now, and I said to her about the ending of Goblet of Fire, “When you reach Chapter 30, Mommy’s going to read it to you, all right?” Because I thought, I’m going to have to hug her, and I’ve got to explain the stuff. And when the character did die, I looked at her to see if she was O.K., and she went, “Oh, it’s not Harry.” She didn’t give a damn. I was almost thinking, “Is this not scary at all?” She was just like, “Harry’s O.K., I’m O.K.” She’s a feisty little thing. In some ways, I think younger children tend to be more resilient. It’s kids who are slightly older who really get the scariness of it. Possibly because they have come across more intense stuff in their own lives.

Is evil attractive? Yes, I think that’s very true. Harry has seen the kind of people who are grouped around this very evil character. I think we’d all acknowledge that the bully in the playground is attractive. Because if you can be his friend, you are safe. This is just a pattern. Weaker people, I feel, want that reflected glory. I’m trying to explore that.

It’s great to hear feedback from the kids. Mostly they are really worried about Ron. As if I’m going to kill Harry’s best friend. What I find interesting is only once has anyone said to me, “Don’t kill Hermione,” and that was after a reading when I said no one’s ever worried about her. Another kid said, “Yeah, well, she’s bound to get through O.K.” They see her as someone who is not vulnerable, but I see her as someone who does have quite a lot of vulnerability in her personality. Hermione is me, near enough. A caricature of me when I was younger. I wasn’t that clever. But I was that annoying on occasion. Girls are very tolerant of her because she is not an uncommon female type-the little girl who feels plain and hugely compensates by working very hard and wanting to get everything just so.


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