BBC "Red Nose Day" Online Chat Transcript

Via BBC, March 12, 2001


How do you choose the names for your books?
With difficulty... I've changed my mind a few times, that was a problem with Goblet of Fire which was originally called 'The Doomspell Tournament'.

How old is Prof. Dumbledore and Prof. Snape?
Dumbledore's about 150 years old... Wizards have a longer life expectancy than us Muggles. Snape's 35 or 36.

What's the favourite Harry Potter Book that you've written so far?
Probably Goblet of Fire, though it's very hard to choose. It's usually the book you've done most recently.

Will the Weasley twins open their joke shop, where and when?
Come on... do you really really think I'm going to tell you that?!

When will book 5 be released?
Don't know, sorry! It's not finished yet.

What do you think about Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"?
I read it when I was about twenty I think and I liked it a lot, though I've never re-read it, which is revealing (usually with my favourite books I re-read them endlessly). But he created a whole mythology, an incredible achievement.

How do you choose the names for the creatures in your stories?
I make up most of them, but some of them are obscure old English words I like and merrily abuse by applying them to some horrible creature. I also get a lot of names from maps. I don't imagine I'm very popular in Dursley.

Do you need a Wand to do Magic?
You can do unfocused and uncontrolled magic without a wand (for instance when Harry blows up Aunt Marge), but to do really good spells, yes, you need a wand.

What do you think about the mass marketing of Harry Potter merchandise to tie in with the movie? Do you like any of it, and do you think it is a good idea to have a 'universal Harry' image rather than keeping that which has become specific in different countries?
Well, we always knew there would be merchandising along with the movie, and Warner Bros. have given me a lot of input on it. As for a general view of Harry, I think most people's idea of him comes from the different book covers around the world at the moment and they're not changing. We'll have to see what happens once people have seen Dan Radcliffe, I suppose!

Does it bother you that in America they changed the names of your books?
They changed the first title, but with my consent. To be honest, I wish I hadn't agreed now, but it was my first book, and I was so grateful that anyone was publishing me I wanted to keep them happy...

Has Harry got a middle name and if so what is it?
Yes, he has, it's James, of course!

How do you cope with the aggravation from strongly religious people against witchcraft?
Well, mostly I laugh about it. I ignore it... and very occasionally I get annoyed, because they have missed the point so spectacularly. I think the Harry books are very moral, but some people just object to witchcraft being mentioned in a children's book. Unfortunately, that means we'll have to lose a lot of classic children's fiction.

How carefully do you plan your books?
So carefully I sometimes feel as though my brain is going to explode.

Do you feel that the Harry Potter film will take away the imagination and magic from the book?
Well, obviously I hope not! I'm excited about seeing the film, but then no film could ever ruin my favourite books for me.

What is your favourite book ever (not including Harry Potter)?
Let's see... there are loads... probably 'Emma' by Jane Austen... or 'The Van' by Roddy Doyle... there are so many.

Why were there no pictures in your books?
Actually, I drew some pictures for book one, and the publishers didn't want them. They felt that putting in pictures implied the books were for younger children, but I drew the pics for Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts, so that was fun.

What is the approximate value of a galleon?
About five pounds, though the exchange rate varies!

If you could travel to Hogwarts for an hour, what would you do there?
Go straight into a certain room, mentioned in book four, which has certain magical properties Harry hasn't discovered yet!

How many rough copies do you have to do before you get it right?
Loads and loads and loads. The worst ever was thirteen different versions of one chapter (chapter nine in Goblet of Fire). I hated that chapter so much; at one point, I thought of missing it out altogether and just putting in a page saying 'Chapter Nine was too difficult' and going straight to Chapter Ten.

You have mentioned that there are wizard schools all over the world. Is there any possibility that you may write about some of them?
Well, as you'll know if you've read Goblet, I've already written about a couple of them, but a whole series, no... I'm loyal to Hogwarts!

Are you looking forward to the film premiere?
I'm looking forward to seeing the film, very much indeed, but I never look forward to anything that involves loads of cameras pointed in my direction. I think I'll go in disguise. Look out for the person in the purple turban, that'll be me.

Which character do you most enjoy writing for?
Good question... Gilderoy Lockhart was loads of fun, but he was a bit of a one-joke character, and I think I did as much as I could with him. I love writing Hagrid and the Dursleys, too. Oh, and Fred and George... all of them, now I come to think of it.

I love the idea of Harry getting older, do you think you might be tempted to write books about Harry when he is working and has a family of his own?
Hmmmmmm... yet another person who is convinced I'm not going to kill him off! Where you people get the idea I'm soft-hearted I don't know. I'm joking. Or am I?

Did you read the Narnia books when you were a child?
Yes I did and I liked them, though all the Christian symbolism utterly escaped me. It was only when I re-read them later in life that it struck me forcibly.

Is J.K. Rowling your real name or is it your 'writers' name?
My real name is Joanne Rowling. My publishers wanted another initial, so I gave myself my favourite grandmother's name as a middle name 'Kathleen'.

When is Ron's Birthday?
First of March, in case you're thinking of sending him a card, and Hermione is the nineteenth of September.

What was Professor Trelawney's first genuine prediction?
You'll find out! The best questions - the ones from really attentive and thoughtful readers-- are always the ones I can't answer-- they give too much away!

Have any of the Hogwarts professors had spouses?
Good question-- yes, a few of them, but that information is sort of restricted-- you'll find out why.

Will Harry ever notice the long-suffering Ginny Weasley?
You'll see... poor Ginny, eh?

What's your most hated book of all time?
That I've ever read? It's probably a Jeffrey Archer. I made myself read one to find out whether it was as bad as I thought, and it was.

Does Hermione like Ron as more than a friend?
The answer to that is in Goblet of Fire!

Do we find out more about James Potter's family history in the next books?
Yes, you do...

Where did you get your idea for the house elves?
House-elves exist in folklore. I didn't invent the tradition that if you present them with clothes they will leave. I thought it would be funny if they thought clothes were a disgrace. Except, of course, for Dobby.

What happened to Neville's Toad?
He's still lurking.

Don't you think Stephen Fry has the best voice for your books?
Yes I definitely do, he's perfect. The moment they said he might be available I said 'GET HIM!!!'

What or who would you send into Room 101?
Cats - I don't like them, and certain journalists.

What would you say to those people who think that Harry Potter is too scary for children?
Well, I think it's foolish to try and 'protect' children from Harry. I can't think of any surer way to make them desperate to read the books! And as I've already said, I think of them as very moral.

If you could pick your own wand core what would it be?
Phoenix feather and... let's see... possibly walnut. I love walnut wood.


This transcript courtesy of the HP Galleries.


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