J.K. Rowling: The “Harry Potter” Series Was an “Explosion of Color”

In a new interview with the Guardian, published today, November 28, J.K. Rowling is in conversation with DJ and writer Lauren Laverne. The interview covers a breadth of topics, from fame and success to Twitter and Robert Galbraith.

One of the many things Jo touches on in the interview is her recently published work as Robert Galbraith and what the publication journey for those stories was like.

Do you mean choosing a male pseudonym? I feel quite sexless as I write. Gender doesn’t impinge at all. But it was a great liberation thinking, ‘No one will know that it’s me.’ I was so thrilled with every rejection letter; you have no idea. It just felt so real; it was all about the writing. There was one publisher who said, ‘Look, we really like this, but we’ve just taken on another guy who’s working in the same geographical area’ – and I was delighted. I’m not going to say I was as excited as any first-time author would be, because it’s not the same. Any first-time author would be very cast down: ‘You liked it – and you’re not going to take it on!’ I was just, ‘You liked it! That’s great!’ I wish it could have gone on a bit longer.

Jo further spoke about her confidence in the Harry Potter story, right from the start.

I can say this now – I was quite diffident about saying it for a long time – but I did have a belief, with Harry, that the difficult thing would be persuading someone to take it, because it didn’t fit. People said children’s books had to be half the length, and what an old-fashioned subject, a boarding school. I did have this feeling that the difficult thing would be persuading someone to publish it – but that if it was, people would like it.

Jo also spoke about how success feels and what it means to her.

Some people would assume that you’re sitting around feeling simply marvellous and shining your baubles. But I remember, a week after I got my American deal, which got me a lot of press, one of my very best girlfriends rang me and said, ‘I thought you’d sound so elated.’ From the outside, I’m sure everything looked amazing. But in my flat, where I was still a single mum, and I didn’t know who to call to do my hair, everything felt phenomenally overwhelming.

On creating the Harry Potter world itself, she says,

 It was like an explosion of colour, and I could see lots of detail about the world. Of course the whole seven-book plot didn’t come at once, but the basic premises were there.

Jo also comments on the Italian study done last year, showing the correlation between empathy and Harry Potter readers.

Of course I love it! Who wouldn’t love that? I was out with a group of friends the other night, and one said to me, ‘The book still means so much to these twentysomethings!’ And I said I really understand it because I know how much it meant to me to meet Morrissey. […] And the people who mean something to you at 16, 17 are the people who are getting you through stuff. So I absolutely understand why someone who is hanging on to Harry Potter as a safe place at 13 is excited at 21 to talk about what [Hogwarts] House they’d be in. I don’t think it’s infantile.

Finally, Jo shared her thoughts on Twitter and why she uses it so much.

You’re swimming in your own medium. Twitter for me has been an unmixed blessing, trolls included. Because there came a point where Harry became so enormous that, at a reading, there were 2,000 people. You can’t answer everyone’s question. Twitter gave that back to me. No one has to buy a ticket. It’s very democratic.

Well, we’re certainly not complaining!

This is one of those interviews that deserves to be read in its entirety since it’s so jam-packed with detail and comment, as things always are with Jo. You can read the full interview here.

What was your highlight from the interview? Let us know in the comments!