New Interview with J.K.Rowling on Deathly Hallows Pt.1July 30, 2007
Another interview! Yay! The interview is really long so I’m breaking it into 5.
WARNING: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK AND DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED.
In the historic great hall of Edinburgh Castle, home to Scottish royalty of old, the reigning queen of the publishing world sat down with me and 14 young fans.
J.K. Rowling: Has anyone finished it? Did you like it?
Child’s voice: Yes.
Meredith Vieira: It’s– it’s finally done.
J.K. Rowling: I know.
Meredith Vieira: How does that feel?
J.K. Rowling: Incredible.
Meredith Vieira: Incredible good? Incredible bad? A little bit of both?
J.K. Rowling: At the moment– it feels great, to be honest with you. It feels– it’s a really nice place to be. Yeah.
For J.K. Rowling, known to friends and family as “Jo”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and last book in the Harry Potter series, means that while the writing may be done, it is not exactly farewell.
Meredith Vieira: Do you feel like you’ve had to say “goodbye” to Harry?
J.K. Rowling: Yes and no. Because I … It sounds too corny for words, but I– I feel as though I know what he’s doing now. And I– so he’ll always be a presence in my life really.
Always careful about keeping the plot under wraps, Jo was initially reluctant to say too much in front of the young fans who have not quite finished.
Meredith Vieira: Because I know how you feel about the spoilers and– (OVERTALK) –have been many of them along the way. Absolutely.
J.K. Rowling: It’s for people who have who’ve read six novels and really want to enjoy a seventh novel and get there on their own, I think it– that’s fair enough. And no one has the right to take that away.
But now: fair warning. When we are about to discuss details of book seven, we will put up a spoiler alert signal. If you haven’t finished the book yet, turn down the sound and keep it down until the warning goes off screen.
Because Jo Rowling ultimately did open up on who lives, who dies, and her reasons for the decisions.
Meredith Vieira: You know, you left us hanging a little bit.
J.K. Rowling: A little. But I have to say that I– it would have been humanly impossible to answer every single question that comes up. Because I’m dealing with a level of obsession in some of my fans that will not rest until they know the middle names of Harry’s great-great-grandparents.
Meredith Vieira: (LAUGHTER) Well, yeah, people have gotten a little obsessive.
J.K. Rowling: Yeah, I love it. I’m all for that. I’m delighted they feel that way. But, you know, this is– it’s a book. You know? Maybe one day there’ll be an encyclopedia and that would be a different– a different kettle of fish. But within a novel, within a novel, you have to resist the urge to tell everything
Meredith Vieira: One thing some anxious readers — including myself — couldn’t resist, though, was starting at the end of the book to find out the answer to the question everyone wanted answered: Does young wizard Harry Potter live or die?
J.K. Rowling: Yeah. Had anyone skipped to the last page before– reading? (GASP) (LAUGHTER)
Meredith Vieira: I did. I couldn’t– I could not wait.
J.K. Rowling: But I hate that. I hate that.
Meredith Vieira: Really?
J.K. Rowling: Yeah. I should have published the last chapter separately. Forced you to read it.
Meredith Vieira: I went back. It’s not like we didn’t go back. But you built up– you know it’s your fault.
J.K. Rowling: You created a whole– I mean, not just a world but a language. You have Quidditch, you have Muggle, you have polyjuice.
J.K. Rowling: Do you have a favorite of all of them?
J.K. Rowling: I really like “Quidditch.”
Meredith Vieira: You guys do, too?
Various voices: Yeah.
J.K. Rowling: Quidditch probably still my favorite.
Meredith Vieira: And how did you get that?
J.K. Rowling: You know, I really don’t know. I– I think I’ve still got the notebook where I kept scribbling it. For some reason, I definitely wanted it to begin with a Q. So there were a lot of Q words. I think probably Quidditch because it– it rhymes with “pitch.” You know, it felt– that felt nice to be able to say Quidditch pitch.
Did you ever want to or did you ever consider killing Harry or Hermione or Ron?
J.K. Rowling: Yeah, definitely.
Meredith Vieira: You did?
J.K. Rowling: That was a– it was felt to be a possibility that the hero would die. And that’s what I was aiming for, that you really felt that anyone was up for grabs. And because that’s how– how it would be, you know? If you’ve got a character like that who’s determined to kill– Voldemort I’m talking about, of course, not Harry– then that’s how it would be. No one– no one’s safe. It could come to anyone.
Meredith Vieira: So what happened there? Why did he get the reprieve?
J.K. Rowling: Well, I swapped him for someone else, and I don’t want to say who for the people who haven’t– read. But I– I made a decision as I went into writing Phoenix that I was going to reprieve Mr. Weasley and I was going to kill someone else. And if you finish the book, I– I expect you probably know and someone else who is a father.
And I wanted there to be an echo of– of Harry’s loss of parents. And you probably know who I’m talking about if you’ve finished the book. But– so there are two characters who are killed in (book) Seven. So Mr. Weasley did get attacked, as you know, in Five. But he would have died if I’d have stuck to the original plan. But he survived. I had to keep him alive partly– partly because I couldn’t bear to kill him.
Meredith Vieira: But there were two that weren’t supposed to die that did end up dying.
J.K. Rowling: Yeah, yeah. I swapped them for Mr. Weasley. But they didn’t then die until Seven.
Meredith Vieira: So as an author, then, there were certain characters you couldn’t bear to part with?
J.K. Rowling: Well, yeah. If there’s one character I couldn’t bear to part with, it’s Arthur Weasley. And I think part of the reason for that is there were very few good fathers in the book. In fact, you could make a very good case for Arthur Weasley being the only good father in the whole series.
Jo was especially reluctant to lose Mr. Weasley because Harry had already lost so many father figures, including his godfather Sirius Black and Hogwarts school headmaster Dumbledore.
They were victims in the struggle against evil arch villain Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents when he was just a baby.
Meredith Vieira: But did you worry at all– Jo, when you’re writing the book, that you have so many fans, kids, writing and saying, “Please don’t take Harry,” that you might have–
J.K. Rowling: Well-
Meredith Vieira: –just devastated a lot of kids by taking Harry or Hermione or Ron?
J.K. Rowling: Of course that affects you. I can remember just before– just before Phoenix came out– no, yes. Phoenix of course. Meeting a boy who said to me, “Please, never ever, ever, ever, ever kill Hagrid, Dumbledore, or Sirius.” Oh, my god. And he was a really nice boy. And he– who had some problems in his own past. And he was out– he was definitely saying, “Don’t kill any of these people who have been fathers to Harry.” And I knew I’d already done it. I’d already killed Sirius and I can’t pretend that looking at him I didn’t feel quite awful.
Meredith Vieira: But it’s got to be painful, as you said, when a young man comes up to you and– and begs, “Please don’t.”
J.K. Rowling: Well, it was. People have come up and really pleaded for their favorite characters.
And now, here comes a huge spoiler alert.
In book seven, Jo killed off Harry Potter’s close friends Lupin and Tonks, and in doing so, left their newborn baby an orphan, just like Harry.
J.K. Rowling: I wanted there to be an echo of what happened to Harry just to show the absolute evil of what Voldemort’s doing. The fact that you leave orphans and you leave children who then have to make their way in the world uncared for and unprotected. And– so that’s why I killed the two that, you know, you know about in this book. Which I hated, hated doing because I love them both as characters.