Harry Potter Charms a Nation

Interview with the Electronic Telegraph. (transcript on Accio Quote)

Interesting facts and notes

She was late for the interview and said "It did cross my mind in the taxi that some Floo powder would have been hugely handy."

"People have said the humour is very adult, but I do think they underestimate children. Certainly, some of the kids I've met have got every joke and even if they haven't, it doesn't actually matter. It annoys me that people think you have to dumb down for children."

"I've had letters from entire families saying there have been squabbles at bedtime because the mother wanted to finish reading the chapter and then took it away and read the whole thing herself."

"I was conscious that when I looked in the mirror, I would see exactly what Harry saw. But it was only when I'd written it that I fully realised where it had all come from. It is an enormous regret to me that my mother never knew about any of this, second only to the fact that she never met my daughter."

"The morals tend to come quite naturally, often as I approach the end I realise what I've been writing about. But I don't think my books are preachy - Harry breaks rules quite routinely."

"My most vivid memory of childhood is my father sitting and reading [Wind in the Willows ]to me. I had measles at the time, very badly, but I don't remember that; I just remember the book."

She loved C. S. Lewis and E. Nesbit, but was not such a fan of Roald Dahl. As for the Enid Blyton books, Rowling says she read them all, but was never tempted to go back to them, whereas she would read and re-read Lewis. "Even now, if I was in a room with one of the Narnia books I would pick it up like a shot and re-read it."

Rowling went to her local comprehensive, where she was "a snotty, swotty little kid and very insecure". Hermione, a character in her books, is closely modelled on herself. "She is a caricature of me: I was neither as bright nor as annoying as Hermione. At least, I hope I wasn't, because I would have deserved drowning at birth. But she, like me, lightens up. As I went through my teens, things actually got better. I began to realise that there was more to me than just someone who got everything right."

"I'm someone who's definitely got happier as they've got older. I feel more and more comfortable with myself and I've always had this feeling that in my forties, I will finally hit serenity. I really hope it's true because I could do with a bit of serenity. I definitely wouldn't go back and do childhood again. I don't look back on it as a phase of blissful happiness at all."

"I was at rock bottom. I arrived back in Britain about a month before John Major made his infamous 'single parents are the root of society's ills' speech. I was fighting very hard to keep my head above the water and I thought it was a despicable thing to say, victimising people who are already incredibly vulnerable. Most of them have no escape route. I was very lucky, I was a graduate and I had some very sellable skills so it didn't last for long."

"I reached a point where diffidence was a luxury I couldn't afford any more. I thought, 'What is the worst that could happen?' Every publishing company in Britain could turn me down: big deal."

"The main thing is this profound feeling of relief. I no longer have the constant worry of whether she will outgrow a pair of shoes before I've got the money for the next pair. Until you've actually been there, you've no idea how soul-destroying it is to have no money. It is a complete loss of self-esteem."

"I really know who my friends are because there was a period when there was absolutely no kudos in being my friend. People really helped me - I'm not talking about money, I'm talking about just being there when I was miserable."

Since her success, a couple of fairweather friends have crawled back out of the woodwork. "I didn't pick up the phone. I just thought, 'Don't now decide that I was a fantastically interesting person all along, when for a year I wasn't interesting at all.'"

"I have what I always wanted and amazingly it completely lives up to my expectations. All I wanted to do was to write and to make some money out of it. And I have a dream child in Jessica. My life is very fulfilled: I don't look around and think, 'Now let's get Mr Perfect in.' If Mr Perfect came along no one would be happier than me, but it's not the top priority."

Although she says it will feel like a "bereavement" when she finishes the Harry Potter series, she is determined that once he leaves school that will be the end. "There will be no Harry Potter's midlife crisis or Harry Potter as an old wizard."

"I think it's wrong to think of adult books as 'real literature'. Real literature can be for people of nine and that's what I'm trying to write."

Memorable lines

"Even now, if I was in a room with one of the Narnia books I would pick it up like a shot and re-read it."

Harry Potter Charms a Nation
Abbreviation ET


Pensieve (Comments)

Tags: C.S. Lewis


The Harry Potter Canon