Atear slowly trickles down J K Rowling's cheek.
She is sitting in her large and comfortable drawing room in the
Morningside area of Edinburgh, recalling the most traumatising
moment of her life.
It was the day her mother, Anne, died aged 45 after a 10-year
battle against multiple sclerosis. A small part of her agony is that
her mother never knew she was writing Harry Potter, let alone that
she would become the most successful author on earth.
"The night she died I had been staying with my
boyfriend's family, the first time I had ever spent Christmas
away from home. I had gone to bed early, ostensibly to watch The Man
Who Would Be King, but instead I started writing.
"So I know I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my
mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter.
"Dad called me at seven o'clock the next morning and I
just knew what had happened before he spoke. As I ran downstairs, I
had that kind of white noise panic in my head but could not grasp
the enormity of my mother having died."
It was New
Year's Day 1991 and Joanne Rowling, then 25, and her boyfriend
piled into his car and drove to her parents' home in Wales.
"I was alternately a wreck and then in total denial. At some
point on the car journey, I can remember thinking: 'Let's
pretend it hasn't happened,' because that was a way to get
through the next 10 minutes."
Rowling is startled by
her tears. She is naturally reserved and very private. She is also
very ordered and in control. She dabs a proffered napkin to her eyes
and pauses before continuing: "Barely a day goes by when I do
not think of her. There would be so much to tell her, impossibly