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JKR Quotes: JKR and Her Writing

JKR Quotes: JKR and Her Writing

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"Issues" in the Books

There are difficult things that we see Harry go through; bereavement is a very obvious one, but it's not an "issues" book in the sense that you would sit down after reading it and think about what this book deals with, what it attempts to explain. American Library Association Book Links interview (July 1999)

Romance and Growing Up

I want them eventually to be truly 17 and discover girlfriends and boyfriends and have sexual feelings - nothing too gritty. Sydney Morning Herald article (November 2001)

[How overtly concerned are you with the idea of Harry's growing up in the books?] I do want him to grow up. I want them all to grow up, but not in a way that's unfaithful to the tone of the books, i.e., I feel it would be inappropriate-- in these books-- were Hermione to have an underage pregnancy or if one of them were to start taking drugs, because it's unfaithful to the tone of the books. It's not at all that I don't think those themes can be explored superbly in children's literature. It's just that in the Harry Potter books there isn't a place for those particular issues. In book four, there is the most evidence so far that they're getting older, in that they start getting interested in boys and girls. Although there's been a hint of that in book three, this time it's out in the open. Newsweek article (July 2000)

Everyone is in love with the wrong people [in GoF]. Let no one say my books lack realism. Barnes & Noble chat (September 1999)

Part of the reason it's so much fun to write is that they're discovering their hormones. And they're mainly in love with all the wrong people, just to make it lifelike. article (July 2000)

[So there will be some pairing up, will there, in this book (OotP)?] Well, in the fullness of time. [Unlikely pairings? Not Hermione and Draco Malfoy or anything like that?] I don't really want to say as it will ruin all the fan sites. They have such fun with their theories ... and it is fun, it is fun. And some of them even get quite close. No-one has ever - I have gone and looked at some of it and no-one's ever ... There is one thing that if anyone guessed I would be really annoyed as it is kind of the heart of it all. And it kind of explains everything and no-one's quite got there but a couple of people have skirted it. So you know, I would be pretty miffed after thirteen or fourteen years of writing the books if someone just came along and said I think this will happen in book seven. Because it is too late, I couldn't divert now, everything has been building up to it, and I've laid all my clues. BBC! Newsnight Interview (June 2003)

Death and Evil

There's a bad death in it [Book 5] that I haven't enjoyed writing. Newsround Interview (November 2002)

Harry has already dealt with death, of course. He lost his parents very young. In book four, he witnessed a murder, which is a very disturbing thing. So this is not news to anybody who has been following the series, that death is a central theme of the books. But, yes, I think it would be fair to say that in book five he has to examine exactly what death means, in even closer ways. But I don't think people who have been following the series will be that surprised by that.CBC interview (October 2000)

You have a choice when you're going to introduce a very evil character. You can dress a guy up with loads of ammunition, put a black Stetson on him, and say, "Bad guy. Shoot him." I'm writing about shades of evil. You have Voldemort, a raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to other people's suffering, and there ARE people like that in the world. But then you have Wormtail, who out of cowardice will stand in the shadow of the strongest person. What's very important for me is when Dumbledore says that you have to choose between what is right and what is easy. This is the setup for the next three books. All of them are going to have to choose, because what is easy is often not right.Entertainment Weekly interview (August 2000)

I wanted to depict the ambiguities of a society where bigotry, cruelty, hypocrisy and corruption are rife, the better to show how truly heroic it is, whatever your age, to fight a battle that can never be won. And I also wanted to reflect the fact that life can be difficult and confusing between the ages of eleven and seventeen, even when armed with a wand. Prince of Asturias award speech (October 2003)

Following the Plan

[For the next five years Rowling worked on Book One and plotted out the whole series, which will consist of seven novels, one for each year Harry spends at Hogwarts.] Those five years really went into creating a whole world. I know far more than the reader will ever need to know about ridiculous details. Time Magazine article (September 1999)

Harry as a character came fully formed, as did the idea for his sidekicks, the characters of Ron and Hermione, who is the brains of the threesome. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head. It was an excitement I'd never known before. But it took me six years to write the book. Boston Globe article (January 1999)

Rowling, a natural stoic, said she has total "blockage power." She said when it comes to Harry and the gang, she has a one-track mind not easily swayed by hype or public opinion. "I'm really still loving the writing," she said. "My Holy Grail is to end the seven-book series and know I was really true to what I wanted to write." However, in the Harry Potter books, I don't think it's going to be very faithful to the tone of the books if Hermione goes off and finds herself pregnant at age 13. No. Because they're not that kind of books. Frankly, Harry, Ron and Hermione have quite enough to deal with without starting to dabble with illegal substances. You know, they're up against other things. Houston Chronicle article (October 2000)

[To what extent did you conceive Harry Potter as a moral tale?] I did not conceive it as a moral tale, the morality sprang naturally out of the story, a subtle but important difference. I think any book that sets out to teach or preach is likely to be hard going at times (though I can think of a couple of exceptions). World Book Day chat (March 2004)

[How long does it take you to plan a book before you even start writing? Or do you just plan as you go along?] It's hard to say; book six has been planned for years, but before I started writing seriously I spent two months re-visting the plan and making absolutely sure I knew what I was doing (learning from my mistakes - I didn't check the plan for 'Goblet of Fire' and had to re-write a third of the book. World Book Day chat (March 2004)

Connecting the Stories

It's becoming more of a challenge to keep new readers up to speed with every new Harry book… Maybe I'll just write a preface: 'previously in Harry Potter...' and tell readers to go back and read books 1 - 4! Scholastic Interview (Fall 2000)

Key things happen in book two. No one knows how important those things are... yet. There's a lot in there. And I know how difficult it was to get it all in there without drawing too much attention to the clues. FilmForce interview (November 2002)

No I didn't [know OotP would be this long]. I will say this. I had to put in some things because of what's to come in Books Six and Seven, and I didn't want anyone to say to me: "What a cheat. You never gave us clues." Because if I didn't mention certain things in Order of the Phoenix, you could have said: "Well you sprang that on us." Whereas I want you to be able to guess if you've got your wits about you. There are a few surprises coming. Royal Albert Hall (June 2003)

Altered Plots and Titles

[What was the original working title of Chamber of Secrets?] Harry Potter and the Half Loved Prince. I quite liked that title, unfortunately the story bore no relation whatsoever to the title by the time I'd finished. Newsround interview (July 2000)

The first three books, my plan never failed me. But I should have put that plot under a microscope. I wrote what I thought was half the book, and "Ack!" Huge gaping hole in the middle of the plot. I missed my deadline by two months. And the whole profile of the books got so much higher since the third book; there was an edge of external pressure. Entertainment Weekly interview (August 2000)

There were many different versions of the first chapter of 'Philosopher's Stone' and the one I finally settled on is not the most popular thing I've ever written; lots of people have told me that they found it hard work compared with the rest of the book. The trouble with that chapter was (as so often in a Harry Potter book) I had to give a lot of information yet conceal even more. There were various versions of scenes in which you actually saw Voldemort entering Godric's Hollow and killing the Potters and in early drafts of these, a Muggle betrayed their whereabouts. As the story evolved, however, and Pettigrew became the traitor, this horrible Muggle vanished.... JK Rowling Official Site (Click the link to continue reading!) (May 2004)

Possible Other Books

[Any thoughts about a prequel series?] No, no prequels here. You won't need them by the time I've finished, you'll have all the back story you'll need! World Book Day chat (March 2004)

[Are there any plans for any more background books like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages in the future?] Possibly. If I do them, it will be for charity like the first two. World Book Day chat (March 2004)

[Could there please be a book of Hogwarts spells?] Hmmm... well, I've got no plans to write one, I'm afraid. There really aren't special 'Hogwarts' spells, in any case, just general wizarding spells such as any accomplished witch or wizard could perform if they'd consulted the right textbook. JK Rowling Official Site (May 2004)

[Could there be some Harry Potter magazines produced?] Sorry, but that's not going to happen. I really think books and films are enough to be going on with! JK Rowling Official Site (May 2004)

I don't think I'll ever publish my notebooks. Too many revealing doodlings! World Book Day chat (March 2004)

[Are you going to write books about Harry after school?] Probably not, but I'll never say never because every time I do I immediately break the vow! World Book Day chat (March 2004)

I'm not going to say I'll never write anything to do with the world of Hogwarts ever again. I have often thought [if I wrote] book eight, it would be right and proper to be a book whose royalties go to charity entirely. It could be the encyclopaedia of the world [of Hogwarts] and I could rid myself of every last lurking detail. But no, not a novel. "Harry and Me" BBC special, quoted in The Independent (December 2001)

JKR and the Mirror of Erised

[What would you see in the Mirror of Erised?] I would probably see my mother, who died in 1990. So, the same as Harry! Yahooligans chat (October 2000)

I would see myself [in the Mirror of Erised] very much as I am. One of the most wonderful things that could happen to me has happened and that's to have another child so I would see myself and my family but there would be room in the background for a lot of other things. I always say I would see what Harry sees, which is my mother alive again and a scientist over my shoulders inventing a cigarette that would be healthy and I can think of a particular journalist I'd like to see being boiled in oil over my other shoulder. Royal Albert Hall (June 2003)

Fantasy and Escapism

I think kids need a bit of escapism, but I don't think Harry Potter is divorced from reality. Herald article (June 1997)

It had to be a boarding school to sustain the fantasy. He had to go somewhere that's an enclosed world to have his adventures. Kids are incredibly powerless because everything is determined for them, so a rich fantasy life in which they do have power is almost inevitable. And a middle-class boarding school is a world where they are free of their parents. Being an orphan is very liberating in a book. I think it's a common fantasy of children that somehow these parents aren't their parents.Sunday Times interview (June 1997)

Other Aspects of the Series

[If Harry Potter was a girl, do you think his adventures would have been different?] Yes, I do think they would be different. I imagined Harry as a boy from the start, so I've never thought about 'Harriet Potter', but I'm sure lots of things in the books would change, Ron for a start, he'd have to be Ronalda. World Book Day chat (March 2004)

Well, if you want to create a game like Quidditch, what you have to do is have an enormous argument with your then boyfriend. You walk out of the house, you sit down in a pub and you invent Quidditch. And I don't really know what the connection is between the row and Quidditch except that Quidditch is quite a violent game and maybe in my deepest, darkest soul I would quite like to see him hit by a bludger. Royal Albert Hall (June 2003)

I admire bravery above almost every other characteristic. Bravery is a very glamorous virtue, but I'm talking bravery in all sorts of places. It was brave of Harry to answer back to the Dursleys [his aunt and uncle]; they had all the cards, and he was standing up for himself even then. That's why I love him so much. He's a fighter.Time Pacific Article (December 2000)

Her parents met at the age of 19 (and married at 20) on a train as it left King's Cross - Rowling claims it is the most romantic station in the world. Times Interview (June 2000)

Weird Stuff Out There

[What do you think of the Harry Potter fiction on the websites? Have you been on the internet to have a look?] I've only ever been into it twice. A friend of mine told me what was out there and I skimmed through it and it scared me so much - there's some weird stuff out there. I thought, well, no, I didn't want to delve too deeply. SWNS Online interview (July 2000)

Literary Ideals

"I love a good whodunnit and my passion is plot construction. Readers loved to be tricked, but not conned," Rowling says, warming to her theme. "The best twist ever in literature is in Jane Austen's Emma. To me she is the target of perfection at which we shoot in vain."Reader's Digest British Edition (October 2002)

... I had a woman tell me it was clear to her that Harry was so abused that he becomes schizophrenic, and that everything that happens from the point of the arrival of the letters about Hogwarts is his own escape into a sort of torture-fantasy. I tried to be polite and say something like, "Well, that would be one way of looking at it, I guess." But I was kind of scared. One of the nicest things about writing for children is that you don't find them deconstructing novels. Either they like it or they don't like it. American Library Association Book Links interview (July 1999)

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