AOL Online Chat Transcript
Â© AOL, October 19, 2000
Good evening. This is a real treat-- the most popular writer in the world. Welcome, J.K. Rowling.
Ms. Rowling, do you think that making a Harry Potter movie will help people understand the books better or will it ruin the imagination for the books?
I don't think people need help understanding the books. I hope the film will be really good and not disappoint the fans. Personally, I can't wait to watch Quidditch.
Ms. Rowling, why did you write about witchcraft and wizardry?
I had the idea of a boy who was a wizard and didn't yet know what he was. I never sat down and wondered, "What shall I write about next?" It just came, fully formed.
When people trade in Muggle money for Wizard money, what does Gringotts do with the Muggle money?
Those goblins are sneaky people. They manage to put the Muggle money back into circulation. They are like "fences"-- British slang, do you understand it?
What did James and Lily Potter do when they were alive?
Well, I can't go into too much detail, because you're going to find out in future books. But James inherited plenty of money, so he didn't need a well-paid profession. You'll find out more about both Harry's parents later.
If YOU went to Hogwarts, which house would they put you in?
Good name, Wizard. Well, I'd hope for Gryffindor, obviously, but I suspect they might want to put me in Ravenclaw.
Ms. Rowling, where do you come up with the names of the characters, like Quidditch?
Quidditch is a name I invented. I just wanted a word which began with the letter 'Q' (I don't know why, it was just a whim). Many of the names are taken from maps-- for instance, Snape, which is an English village.
Ms. Rowling, have you ever made a map or blueprint of the school?
No, because all those staircases keep shifting around and rooms pop out of nowhere, and stuff just moves too much. But I have got a notebook that reminds me what floor everything is on, just to keep track. Of course, if anything moves, I can blame it on magic, not my mistakes.
What do you think of the people who want to ban your books?
I think they are... uh... what's a good word? Misguided. I think these are very moral books. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not to impose their views on others!
Does the animal one turns into as an Animagi reflect your personality?
Very well deduced, Narri! I personally would like to think that I would transform into an otter, which is my favorite animal. Imagine how horrible it would be if I turned out to be a cockroach!
Is it hard being famous?
Sometimes it's wonderful, like now, when I get to meet lots of readers. Other times it's hard, when, for instance, journalists come banging on my front door, especially when I'm cooking.
When is Hermione's birthday?
Hermione's birthday is September 19th.
Did you consider having a girl be the main character?
Well, I didn't-- purely because Harry came to me as a boy. And after I'd been writing about him for a few months, he was too real to me to change. However, Hermione is such a good friend too, that I don't feel I have short-changed girls!
There are so many people with "Harry Potter" screen names! One asks: Why did Dumbledore have a look of triumph in his eyes at the end of book four?
Good question... excellent question, in fact, and like all the best questions I get asked, I can't answer it! Because it would give too much away. However, well-spotted. Have fun guessing... someone's bound to get it right!
Why do some wizards/witches become ghosts and others don't?
Another superb question, and this time I can tell you that you will find out much more about that in book five.
Ms. Rowling, after the first book, you stopped converting English words to American words. Is there any reason for this?
Actually, we didn't stop, but the number of words that were changed has been greatly exaggerated! We only ever changed a word when it had a different meaning in "American," for instance, the word "jumper," which in England means "sweater" and here, I believe, is something that only little girls wear!
I think the color of Harry's eyes will matter in the books to come. Yes?
Ms. Rowling, will Voldemort ever die?
Do you really, really think I will answer that?!
Where did James get his Invisibility Cloak?
That was inherited from his own father-- a family heirloom!
Does everyone have a little magic in them? Even if they are Muggles? And if not, how did magic start?
I think we do (outside the books), but within my books-- do you really think there's any magic in Uncle Vernon? Magic is one of those odd talents which some have and some don't.
Ms. Rowling, what's your favorite spell?
My favourite spell (so far) is "expecto patronum"-- the spell that conjures the Patronus.
Is there ever going to be female Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher?
Emily, I can exclusively reveal (because I'm feeling guilty I'm not answering so many good questions) that there WILL be.
Ms. Rowling, will Voldemort's evil ways rise again, such as Muggle killings?
Well, his temper hasn't exactly improved while he's been away, has it? So I think we can safely say, yes.
I like the products. Could there be sweater patterns for us knitters?
Sweater patterns?!!!! Now I've heard everything. I really don't know... I'll have a word with Warner Bros.!
Why stop at seven books when you could make up Harry's whole life?
I notice you're very confident that he's not going to die!
And lots of people want to know what you do for the holidays.
Christmas I'll be at home, watching my brother-in-law cook the turkey (he's a chef), and for New Year, I'll be on holiday!
Why did you make Quirrell the bad guy instead of Snape?
Because I know all about Snape, and he wasn't about to put on a turban.
Is there a reason Fleur's name means "flower of the heart"?
Ah, Narri, you're nearly there... in fact, it means "flower of the court," like a noblewoman. Heart is "coeur." (I used to be a French teacher, sorry.)
When does the next book come out?
I don't know! It isn't likely to be next July, but you shouldn't have too long a wait. I am writing it already.
Ron and Hermione give Harry gifts... does he ever give them birthday presents?
Yes, Harry does buy presents back! But I've never focused on their birthdays yet-- there hasn't been room!
Ms. Rowling, which character besides Harry is your favorite, and why?
I think that would have to be Hagrid-- but I love Ron and Hermione too, and I also love writing characters like Gilderoy Lockhart, Snape, the Dursleys... it's such fun doing horrible things to them.
Will we be seeing Lupin anytime soon?
Yes, Harry will be seeing Lupin again. He's another of my favourite characters.
Will Harry time-travel again?
Can you say ANYTHING about the next book?
Yes... it probably won't be as long as book four. It will be scary. Harry finds out a lot of things he hasn't stumbled across so far.
Ms. Rowling, have you ever been inspired by another author?
The author with whom I identify most is E. Nesbit. She did some great, funny fairy tales.
Ms. Rowling, while we're waiting for the next book, what other books do you recommend (besides your own)?
Excellent question! Read "Clockwork" by Phillip Pullman or "Skellig" by David Almond or... let's see... anything by Paul Gallico, or "The Little White Horse" (for girls!) by Elizabeth Goudge or... ANYTHING! Just keep reading!
In fact, you're doing two SHORT books that are coming out in March. Tell us about them.
Yes, I've written "Quidditch Through the Ages" and "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them." All proceeds will go to Comic Relief UK to help famine relief and other projects in Africa. They'll be available in March of next year, so book early!!! You'll be saving lives... good magic!
This transcript courtesy of the HP Galleries.