A chat transcript when J.K Rowling chatted with Scholastics can be found here. This link has been sent in by Alicia.
The long one following this is the chat transcript when J.K Rowling chatted with AOL members.
Hello Joanne and a huge welcome to AOL. Before we take a look at the first of many, many questions, would you like say to a few words?
JK Rowling: Erm.... nitwick, oddment, blubber & tweak, for example? That's an in-Harry Potter joke by the way.
Where did you get your inspiration and ideas for the Harry Potter books?
Aaaaaaaaargh...... the most difficult question because the honest and boring answer is, I don't know. I've got no idea where inspiration comes from, it just does. In this case, it came on a train, if that's any help.
How long, from start to finish, did it take you to develop your characters and produce the finished product?
Between having the idea for the books and finishing the first book was five years but that included the plotting of the whole seven book series and the invention of the magical world -- or my magical world. Also, I was working full-time mostly as a teacher at the same time, so I had limited writing time!
Why did you focus on magic?
It chose me! I never really sat down and thought 'what shall I focus on' and in fact, I don't really read fantasy. It's not my favourite genre.
Your first Harry Potter book will be made into a movie...how much control will you have over how it's portrayed?
Warner Bros. are giving me a great deal of input. In fact I've just come back from LA.
Did you model any of your characters on people you know?
Hmmmm..... on thin ice here.... Ron is a lot like my oldest friend, a boy I was at school with (now man, obviously) -- that's Sean Harris, to whom 'Chamber of Secrets' is dedicated. Gilderoy Lockhart had his roots in a real person too but I'll say no more there! And Hermione is a kind of caricature of me when I was younger.
Did you realize that the story would touch as many adults as it has?
I didn't expect it... I didn't really expect anything. I looked as far as publication and no further. But I wrote the books for me and I was 30 when 'Philosopher's Stone' was published so I wasn't shocked that adults liked them.
What is your next book called?
Aaaaaaaaah, the BIG question. And you know what... I'm not going to tell you. Sorry! I like a mystery, as you might have guessed.
What made you start writing?
I've wanted to be a writer since I was six years old. I couldn't think of any better way to make a living and truthfully, I think it's the only thing I'm any good at. So it's a relief I turned out not to be deluded.
Tell us about 'Rabbit.'
Rabbit was a rabbit who got the measles and was visited by his animal friends, who I seem to remember were a bee, a pig and a fox. I'm negotiating the film rights now... not!
In the American books, Dean Thomas loves soccer. Is it talking about American soccer or football? I can't tell.
Football, naturally... Is there an American soccer team called 'West Ham?'
Does all of this fame affect your home life?
In patches. The first time a journalist turned up on my doorstep was a
experience but it's been quiet for a while now (touch wood).
Where can I audition for the Harry Potter film? Who do I contact?
You contact Warner Bros. But I've got to warn you... you're in a long queue! Warners are really looking for British actors. On the other hand, if you can do a really good British accent...
Is it true that the title of the fourth book will be 'Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament?'
No, it's not true. The book's working title was 'Doomspell Tournament' but that is not the title of the finished book. 'Chamber of Secrets' was called something different until I had almost finished, too.
How many Harry Potter books do you envision writing before the series ends, and how old will he and his friends get?
There will be seven books, one for each of his years at Hogwarts and he'll turn seventeen at the start of book seven.
Do you believe in witches and wizards and magical happenings, which so often Harry finds himself getting stuck in the middle of?
I don't believe in magic in the way I describe it in my books. I mean, I don't believe in the wand waving sort of magic. But I'd like to... I'd love it to be real... And the starting point for the whole of Harry's world is 'what if it WAS real?' And I work from there.
Do you plan on writting more children's books after the Harry Potter series?
I might write more children's books, I really don't know. I should say, however, that I do not feel I have to write my 'serious' adult book to be a 'proper' author! The idea comes first, not the target audience.
If you had one wish, what would it be?
Let's see... I'd probably try & protect the health & happiness of everyone I love. But I wouldn't mind being able to drive (I can't) without having to learn or take the test.
Will you be doing a book signing tour in the US any time soon?
I don't know whether I'll be signing next time I'm in the US. Things got a bit crazy last time... weight of numbers and too many people disappointed.
Do you feel that with the incredible success of the Harry Potter series thus far that you will be able to end the series with just seven books?
Yep, definitely. I always said there would be seven. If there's ever an eighth, it will be because ten years down the line I had a burning desire to do just one more, but I don't presently think that will happen. However, I think I might write a kind of Harry Potter Encyclopedia and give the royalties to charity, so ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
Did any writers inspire you to write the books? If so who?
Well, I read a lot but I can't think of anyone who directly influenced the
Potters. Perhaps Elizabeth Goudge, she wrote 'The Little White Horse,' which was my favorite book when I was about eight and which is also a blend of magic with the workaday.
What do your initials J. K. stand for?
Joanne Kathleen, but everyone calls me Jo. Except my bank manager who calls me Joanna, for some reason!
Is Harry Potter anything like you?
A bit like me in some ways and better than me in a lot of ways. I identify with his close relationship with his friends. I would be lost without mine. But Hermione is probably closest to me as I was when younger.
Do you think young people like your books because the stories are full of mysterious and inventive people and creatures, or/and is it the basic plot that is intriguing?
I know it sounds disingenuous, but I never analyze my books in that way. I think if you go down that route, you are perilously close to trying to find the 'formula' and I don't think good books are written to a formula. Judging from their letters, I would say the primary attraction is the characters, closely followed by plot.
I have five jirds (large gerbils) and have named three of them after the characters Harry, Hermione and Hagrid in the Harry Potter books. Do you have any pets? If you do, are they named after any characters?
I am VERY flattered to think Harry, Hermione & Hagrid have gerbil namesakes. I have a very friendly guinea pig called Jasmine (not my fault, he was named when he came) and a mad and violent black rabbit called, very inappropriately, Jemima. I blame my daughter for that one! And I've got some great tropical fish.
In a past interview, you said that the only way to show how evil it is to take a life is to kill someone the reader cares about.....does this mean someone will die in the 4th book?
Erm.... well..... yes. There are going to be deaths. (Sorry, sorry, sorry.) And they start in book four. Sorry...
As Harry matures, does a love interest develop between him and Hermione?
Harry & Hermione... d'you really think they're suited?
Why did you pick a lightning bolt to be the symbol on Harry's forehead?
It had to be something that suggested the intensity of the pain that Voldemort was trying to inflict upon him, but a simple and plausible shape for a scar.
I was wondering after all the rumors about Ravenclaw's ghost being not there are true? Or has she/he not appeared yet?
Actually, she has appeared but you haven't noticed! She's The Grey Lady and she walked past Harry once. I'm not telling you where, find it yourselves!
You have also talked about books you wrote when you were young, will we ever see those books in print? (Especially the one about seven cursed diamonds!)
Did I really talk about that?! No, you will definitely not be reading the novel about the seven cursed diamonds. I wrote it when I was twelve and it lacks a certain something... like any believable characters or anything in terms of plot!
Out of the three books that have been published, which is your favorite?
It's a real cliche, but that is just like being asked to choose between your children. 'Philosopher's Stone' will always be very dear to me, it was the first thing I ever got published. I prefer 'Chamber of Secrets' as a novel, though. And I love Professor Lupin, so I was looking forward to writing 'Azkaban' for ages.
Why did you want to make a Harry Potter book series?
Because I thought it would be incredible fun to write. And I was right.
Do you ever go to schools to visit?
I've done a lot of school visits, but the last year has been so busy, mainly with writing HP4, that I haven't done any. You see, Harry 4 is by far the longest book and I was working very long hours, for months.
Did you enjoy writing at school?
I loved it, it was my favorite subject by far. My least favorite was metalwork, I was terrible.
What age were the books supposed to be geared for?
My publishers in Britain said the books were appropriate for children of eight years and older.
Do you find that the words come rushing out onto the paper, or do you have to think hard?
Both! Sometimes the ideas come so fast I can't write fast enough. Other days I feel as though my brain is bleeding as I pore over the paper and produce nothing but doodles. There doesn't seem to be a happy medium.
Did you go to boarding school like Harry?
No, I didn't go to boarding school. I went to a comprehensive, which means a state school.
I have read a few articles saying Christians object to the 'occult' themes in your stories. I was just wondering, what are your spiritual beliefs?
<deep sigh> Well, as it happens, I believe in God. But there's no pleasing some people!
Will something happen to the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher again this year?
Hmmm. Well, a number of things happen to the DADA teacher, as you would expect.
Your Harry Potter books remind me of JRR Tolkien's 'Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. Are you a Tolkien fan? Did his work influence the Harry Potter series?
Well, I love 'The Hobbit' but I think if you set aside the fact that the
books overlap in
terms of dragons and wands and wizards the Harry Potter books are very different, especially in tone. Tolkien created a whole mythology. I don't think anyone could claim that I have done that. On the other hand... he didn't have Dudley?
Where do you get your most inspiration in writing?
Let's see... cafes, usually but I can write anywhere. I came up with the names of the Hogwarts houses on an aeroplane. I've still got the sickbag I wrote them on. (Empty, I need hardly add!)
Is it true that Harry Potter started out as a bed time story for your children?
Er... no! I started writing the Harry books four years before I had a child. And I've still only got one daughter!
Thank you very much for joining us this evening, Joanne.
I've really enjoyed it! Sorry if I couldn't answer your question. Hope you all enjoy 'Harry Potter and the.....' still not telling!
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