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March 9, 2007: I just heard on NPR's Marketplace that J. K. Rawling is now a BILLIONAIRE!!! .Yay, J.K.! .
Hey, don't worry about that. It won't change her. She will put the money to good use!
Harry Potter Celebration Page
Magic, Mystery and Mayhem: An Interview with J.K. Rowling
Divorced, living on public assistance in a tiny Edinburgh flat with her infant daughter, J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in stolen moments at a cafe table. Fortunately, Harry Potter rescued her! In this interview, Rowling discusses the birth of our hero, the Manchester hotel where Quidditch was born, and how she might have been a bit like Hermione when she was 11. Did you want to be an author when you were younger?
JK Rowling: Yes, I've wanted to be an author as long as I can remember. English was always my favorite subject at school, so why I went on to do a degree in French is anyone's guess. How old were you when you started to write, and what was your first book?
Rowling: I wrote my first finished story when I was about 6. It was about a rabbit called Rabbit. Very imaginative. I've been writing ever since. Why did you choose to be an author?
Rowling: If someone asked for my recipe for happiness, step one would be finding out what you love doing most in the world and step two would be finding someone to pay you to do it. I consider myself very lucky indeed to be able to support myself by writing.
Rowling: My first two novels--which I never tried to get published--were for adults. I suppose I might write another one, but I never really imagine a target audience when I'm writing. The ideas come first, so it really depends on the idea that grabs me next! How long does it take you to write a book?
Rowling: My last book--the third in the Harry series--took about a year to write, which is pretty fast for me. If I manage to finish the fourth Harry book by the summer, which is my deadline, it will be my fastest yet--about eight months. Where did the ideas for the Harry Potter books come from?
Rowling: I've no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out, it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms. How do you come up with the names of your characters?
Rowling: I invented some of the names in the Harry books, but I also collect strange names. I've gotten them from medieval saints, maps, dictionaries, plants, war memorials, and people I've met! Are your characters based on people you know?
Rowling: Some of them are, but I have to be extremely careful what I say about this. Mostly, real people inspire a character, but once they are inside your head they start turning into something quite different. Professor Snape and Gilderoy Lockhart both started as exaggerated versions of people I've met, but became rather different once I got them on the page. Hermione is a bit like me when I was 11, though much cleverer. Are any of the stories based on your life, or on people you know?
Rowling: I haven't consciously based anything in the Harry books on my life, but of course that doesn't mean your own feelings don't creep in. When I reread chapter 12 of the first book, "The Mirror of Erised," I saw that I had given Harry lots of my own feelings about my own mother's death, though I hadn't been aware of that as I had been writing. Where did the idea for Quidditch come from?
Rowling: I invented Quidditch while spending the night in a very small room in the Bournville Hotel in Didsbury, Manchester. I wanted a sport for wizards, and I'd always wanted to see a game where there was more than one ball in play at the same time. The idea just amused me. The Muggle sport it most resembles is basketball, which is probably the sport I enjoy watching most. I had a lot of fun making up the rules and I've still got the notebook I did it in, complete with diagrams, and all the names for the balls I tried before I settled on Snitch, Bludgers, and Quaffle. Where did the ideas for the wizard classes and magic spells come from?
Rowling: I decided on the school subjects very early on. Most of the spells are invented, but some of them have a basis in what people used to believe worked. We owe a lot of our scientific knowledge to the alchemists! What ingredients do you think all the Harry Potter books need?
Rowling: I never really think in terms of ingredients, but I suppose if I had to name some I'd say humor, strong characters, and a watertight plot. Those things would add up to the kind of book I enjoy reading myself. Oh, I forgot scariness--well, I never set out to make people scared, but it does seem to creep in along the way. Do you write by hand or on a computer?
Rowling: I still like writing by hand. Normally I do a first draft using pen and paper, and then do my first edit when I type it onto my computer. For some reason, I much prefer writing with a black pen than a blue one, and in a perfect world I'd always use "narrow feint" writing paper. But I have been known to write on all sorts of weird things when I didn't have a notepad with me. The names of the Hogwarts Houses were created on the back of an aeroplane sick bag. Yes, it was empty. What books do you enjoy reading?
Rowling: My favorite writer is Jane Austen and I've read all her books so many times I've lost count. My favorite living writer is Roddy Doyle, who I think is a genius. I think they do similar things--create fully rounded characters, often without much or indeed any physical description, examine normal human behavior in a very unsentimental and yet touching way--and, of course, they're FUNNY. What books did you read as a child? Have these influenced your writing in any way?
Rowling: It is always hard to tell what your influences are. Everything you've seen, experienced, read, or heard gets broken down like compost in your head and then your own ideas grow out of that compost. Three books I read as a child do stand out in my memory, though. One is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, which was probably my favorite book when I was younger. The second is Manxmouse by Paul Gallico, which is not Gallico's most famous book, but I think it's wonderful. The third is Grimble, by Clement Freud. Grimble is one of funniest books I've ever read, and Grimble himself, who is a small boy, is a fabulous character. I'd love to see a Grimble film. As far as I know, these last two fine pieces of literature are out of print, so if any publishers ever read this, could you please dust them off and put them back in print so other people can read them?
Here's the lady who wrote the books! J. K. Rowling at the famous Hogswart Express, July 10, 2000 * (see note about this amazing lady at the end of the article)
Fans turn out at London station to bid farewell to J.K. Rowling
By Alan Cowell 
(from The New Y ork Times on the Web)
Near Oxford, England, July 8:
J. K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, insists that she does not regard herself as a celebrity. But the assertion rings a little hollow when you are traveling in a style once reserved for royalty, in a personal train full of plush and brocade, crisscrossing Britain.
Of course this train -- the Hogwarts Express, named for the train that takes Ms. Rowling's blockbuster creation to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in all four Harry Potter books -- is the centerpiece of a publicity stunt timed to celebrate and feed the frenzy stirred by the latest in the series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," published to great hullabaloo today. And the apparent luxury -- dining car resplendent with white linen and crystal, sleeping car for Ms. Rowling and the entourage from Bloomsbury, her British publisher -- is not quite the magical ride of the novels.
The train rocks and rattles and wheezes. Its 57-year-old steam engine develops a fault and has to be towed behind a diesel locomotive. The antique cars make so much din that a reporter's tape recorder is overwhelmed with white noise during a tightly scheduled 30-minute interview in an observation car. The train's itinerary is to trundle for four days from book signing to book signing at railway stations large and small where the Harry Potter aficionados await a glimpse of the person who gave them their hero.
And at the center of all this stew of hype, stress, adulation and ever-changing deadlines stands Joanne Kathleen Rowling, a slight, 34-year-old writer from Britain's university-educated middle-class, a onetime single mother on welfare now credited with being No. 3 among Britain's top-earning women, with a reported $22 million-plus already gathered from a lightning career.
But the moment is not all triumph, and in a way this rolling monument to success says as much about modern Britain as it does about the phenomenon of Harry Potter. There is an expectation, for instance, that her success automatically entitles the world beyond the Hogwarts Express to bestow the familiar trappings of celebrity -- photographers' popping flashes, glamour to feed dreams -- as if acclaim for her writing made Ms. Rowling the same kind of public property others might only yearn to be.
And there has been a possibly curmudgeonly reluctance in the broader literary world to allow Harry Potter -- and Ms. Rowling -- to pass by without pointing out that however Harry Potter may be drawn as a fictional persona (one respected literary editor called him a "cipher"), Huck Finn he ain't. Even as the cash registers have been ringing across the Atlantic, Ms. Rowling's work has lost out on two prestigious prizes: the Whitbread, for book of the year, and the Carnegie, the top British prize for children's writers. ("She was thrilled to bits just to be short-listed," said a Bloomsbury publicist, Rosamund de la Hey.)
Ms. Rowling's books, said the author and Whitbread jurist Anthony Holden in The Observer a few weeks ago, are "Disney cartoons written in words, no more." (The United States reaction seems more "celebratory," Ms. Rowling observed in the interview. "It's a horrible cliché, but Americans do regard success differently.")
Of course the publication of the fourth book has been mercilessly hyped. And with Warner Brothers planning to begin filming the first Harry Potter movie in the fall, directed by Chris Columbus of "Home Alone" and "Mrs. Doubtfire" renown, the exploitation of the dream world Ms. Rowling spins around the boy wizard is only beginning. But will that lead to an anti-commercial backlash? It is an issue, Ms. Rowling implies, on which she is ready to take a stand.
"I would do anything to prevent Harry from turning up in fast-food boxes everywhere," she said. "I would do my utmost. That would be my worst nightmare."
From approving the script for the forthcoming movie to the spinoffs it produces, Ms. Rowling seems to be ready to defend her vision of Harry Potter to the last. In conversations with the director Steven Spielberg about a possible Spielberg movie of Harry Potter, she said, as the train chuffed and hooted its way past the hedgerows and meadows of central England, the project never went anywhere because "this film would be my vision, and I think he felt he would be hampered in giving his imagination free rein."
And on the commercialization of the fourth book, she said, "I'm quite clear in my mind what I would like to be out there and what I wouldn't."
On a track to book signings and more book signings.
Ms. Rowling has sought to maintain similar control over public access to her personal life, but that has not always been possible and, much as she sought in the earlier years of her success to pretend to herself that acclaim would not change her life, it has.
Earlier this year, for instance, Britain's tabloids tracked down her ex-husband, a Portuguese journalist named Jorge Arantes with whom she had a brief marriage in the early 1990's. Ms. Rowling has brought up their daughter, Jessica, single-handed. But suggestions that her ex-husband may have helped in the creation of Harry Potter rankle with her. "He had about as much input into Harry Potter as I had into 'A Tale of Two Cities,' " she said tartly.
After the breakup of the marriage in Portugal, she returned with Jessica to Edinburgh, weighted by depression and poverty. "If you have been through three or four years of worrying on a daily basis about the money running out," she said, "you are never going to forget what that's like."
She acknowledged that she shook her depression in 1994 only with nine months of counseling, realizing later that her continued ability to write during this period was "a sign that I wasn't very badly depressed."
Finding a publisher for the first Harry Potter book was not easy either, she said, and she is still at a loss to explain what, precisely, has propelled sales of more than 30 million, most of them in the United States, a landscape remote from the boarding-school culture of Hogwarts.
"I can't explain it," she said. "I don't have an answer."
But, offering an oblique riposte to those who have criticized her use of language or the depth of her characterization, she said: "I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself. I never in my wildest dreams expected this popularity." "There's no formula," she added later.
With the arrival of the fourth book this weekend, of course, popularity has turned into feeding frenzy. Hundreds of children and their parents have waited at the railside stops, forming lines for book signings. Batteries of television cameras at King's Cross station in London -- where the Hogwarts Express departed for its four-day perambulation ending in Perth, Scotland, on Tuesday -- were so intrusive that her fans had a hard time glimpsing her. In a nation that celebrated Diana as the People's Princess and is obsessive about celebrity from soccer players to soap stars, did she feel she had joined those illustrious ranks?
No, she said. She has sometimes been recognized and has been photographed writing in her favorite cafes in Edinburgh. ("The first draft is always in longhand," she said.) But "I can go completely unnoticed down any street in Edinburgh," she said. "Celebrity is not a word I would even apply to myself at all."
Of course her life has changed: just giving interviews on a personal train underscores the transformation from obscurity. Television news has charted the sales, in Britain, of the entire record first print run from warehouses to bookshops: 1,027,000, said Bloomsbury's chief executive, Nigel Newtown.
A promotional tour in the United States is to follow in the fall. "But then I go home, and life will resume its normal pattern," she said. "It's not particularly interesting -- seeing friends, working, raising a daughter -- the most important thing in my life, Harry included."
Her newest book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," is arguably her most ambitious. It is the longest -- 734 pages in the American edition from Scholastic -- and that is longer than even she imagined. She was late delivering the manuscript. She worked 10-hour days to produce it. She had, she said, to start over from midway through when she realized that part of the plot had not been set up to reach the conclusion she wanted. Not only that, the fourth book was designed as the culminating point to which the first three had been leading. (There are supposed to be seven, meaning three more are due.)
For the first time she touches on themes like political involvement, jealousy, fame, romance and the death of a Potter ally: all rites of passage.
"It's the end of an era in the context of the whole series of books," she said. "For Harry his innocence is gone."
She intimated that as the series progresses the mood may darken. The death of one character in the fourth book, she said, is "the beginning of the deaths."
Oddly enough, though, death was not the most difficult theme to handle. "I don't want to disturb children," she said, "but I don't want to write about death as if it's something that doesn't happen." And after all the whole series begins with the death of Harry's parents.
So what was the hardest part?
The answer was a character called Rita Skeeter, a hard-bitten journalist with a liking for fabrication and scoops, usually blending the two into one. "I knew people would assume that this was my response to what's happened to me," she said. But she decided to go ahead with the character anyhow.
One question that begs asking after Ms. Rowling's success in the United States is why none of the characters are Americans. In the latest books the reader is introduced to European wizards, and there is even a passing reference to African and American wizards. But Ms. Rowling, who calls herself "a very British person," insists that "you are not going to get an American exchange student brought in at Hogwarts."
"I don't think it would be faithful to the tone of the books to have somebody brought in from Texas or wherever it might be," she said.
*I don't ordinarily condone advertising for particular companies, but I make an exception in this case. Here is an E-mail note (MML) I received as of March 2, 2001:
Dear Amazon Customer,
As someone who has purchased Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, you might like to know that she has ghostwritten two new books--"Quidditch Through the Ages" and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"--to be released March 12. You can pre-order your two-book set by following the link below:
Kennilworthy Whisp's "Quidditch Through the Ages" and Newt Scamander's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"--charmingly reproduced as if they were textbooks from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry--will be available March 12 as 64-page paperbacks. Scholastic Inc.'s net proceeds from the sale of these books will go to the Harry's Books fund established by Comic Relief U.K. to help disadvantaged children in the poorest countries of the world. J.K. Rowling is donating all royalties to which she would be entitled. Work your wizardly magic to help kids around the world!
Visit our Harry Potter Store for recommended reading, stationery, journals, audiobooks, and more: Also, visit our children's bookstore for more fantasy recommendations for Potter fans: Happy reading!
Karin Snelson
Editor, Children's Books
Potter witchcraft accusation hits Pa. town
January 24, 2002 Posted: 11:47 AM EST (1647 GMT)
PENRYN, Pennsylvania (AP) -- The police department has refused to direct traffic at a YMCA triathlon because it says the club promotes witchcraft by reading Harry Potter books to children.
Penryn Fire Police Capt. Robert Fichthorn said the eight-member force voted unanimously to boycott the 20th running of the triathlon, scheduled for September 7.
"I don't feel right taking our children's minds and teaching them (witchcraft)," Fichthorn said. "As long as we don't stand up, it won't stop. It's unfortunate that this is the way it has to be."
The Lancaster Family YMCA began reading chapters of the Harry Potter books to children enrolled in an after-school program in November.
In a letter to the township and the YMCA, Fichthorn challenged the religious integrity of the YMCA, and questioned whether it was "serving the will of God" in using the books.
The wildly popular children's books by J.K. Rowling chronicle the fictional adventures of the young Harry Potter as he attends a boarding school for wizards and battles his nemesis, the evil sorcerer Voldemort.
The YMCA's executive director, Michael Carr, said he was disappointed by the department's decision, but doesn't expect it to stop about 600 triathletes from participating in the race.
Township Supervisor Ronald Krause said the YMCA may have to hire police from another community to direct traffic for the race, which includes a swim, a bicycle race and a run. Penryn is a small community located about 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Philadelphia.
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
BUT I DID IT ANYWAY, didn't I! Hm. Wonder which of my transgressions will be punished first, promoting witchcraft through this page ... or including the AP article illegally? They're just going to have to stand in line, I guess.

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