J.K. Rowling Interview
The Oprah Winfrey Show
October 1, 2010
- Rowling recalls how she changed her name so J.K. Rowling would appeal more to male readers.
- On why the Balmoral Hotel to finish Deathly Hallows: Rowling said she had so much going on at home and realized, "I can throw money at this problem," and went to find a quiet place to finish the book.
- End of the series was a "bereavement." When it ended she was in a state of shock. She cried as she only ever cried once before in her life - when her mother died.
- She always had Potter for 17 years and now it was over. "I had to mourn Harry."
- She changed the last word of Deathly Hallows from scar because she wanted it to be "...ever after."
- "I could easily write an eighth or ninth. I feel I am done, but you never know."
- On if she felt she had to succumb to the pressure of writing Potter: "At the time I felt a need to deny how great the pressure was - that was my way of coping. There were times I was barely hanging by a thread."
- "I went from utter obscurity - it was like being a Beatle."
- Stand-out moment when she realized the series had caught on: her second book tour in the United States at a Barnes & Noble, she had to sign 2,000 copies and the queue was still out the door.
- Oprah: "Isn't it funny in 'Sorcerer's Stone' when Harry is being dropped off at his Uncle's that it says 'one day everybody will know his name.'?"
- "This one thing in my life I believed. I believed I could tell a story."
- From five or six, Rowling always wanted to be a writer.
- Potter came to Rowling on a delayed train from Manchester to London.
- Oprah: "The greatest thing the 'Harry Potter' series has given the world is the freedom to use our imaginations."
- On backlash from religious figures: "I am not pushing any belief system. The scene in [Hallows] was an allusion to a belief system I was raised on. I think it [the evil] makes it legitimate for parents to say that this a little old for my child."
- On the idea that you must not discuss witchcraft: "That's non-sensical." Rowling believes in the future another book series will come along with witches and magic. It has been a part of our history.
- 12 publishers turned down Sorcerer's Stone.
- On being the first billionaire author: "I dress better [laughing]. The single biggest thing money gave - and obviously I came from a place where I was a single mother. If you've ever been there you will never take for granted having to worry. I don't want to get complacent. I don't want to take things for granted. I do still worry - not all the time. Mostly, I feel great."
- On money: "Money frees you. The luxury of being able to sit down and say where should we go for a holiday and not be anyway limited."
- Rowling does not drive. She occasionally has a driver, but takes the bus often.
- On the success of it all: "I was not prepared for this."
- On if she has made peace with her relationship with God: "Yes, but I struggle with it."
- On love: "It's the concept that runs through all the major religions with no exception. If you asked me what I believed before I wrote it, I probably couldn't tell you."
- On if she believes in a higher power: "Yes."
- Rowling calls first marriage "short and catastrophic." On what she learned about herself never to be repeated: "I am proud that it taught me that I had a strong survival instinct. I had a very tiny baby and walked right into poverty and depression. I did a lot of thinking after that marriage ended."
- On being estranged from her father: "That's never an easy thing to do in the public eye, but there you are." She doesn't think she will ever make peace and she has her reasons. "It wasn't a good relationship for a very long time."
- On if she regrets her father not being more a part of her success: "The estrangement happened post-success so he was there for a while. I regret much more that my mother didn't see any of it."
- Rowling never shared Harry Potter with her. "The books wouldn't be what they are if she hadn't died. At least half of Harry's journey is dealing with death. It's there on every single page. If she hadn't died I don't think it is too strong to say there wouldn't be Harry Potter."
- The Dementors were created from Rowling's own personal depression.
- Rowling used the good, the bad, and the ugly from her life in writing Harry Potter.
- "Cold absence of feeling, that's what the Dementors are and it was because of my daughter, I was able to upheld."
- Her speech at the Harvard Commencement felt "'very exposing.' Public speaking I have gotten better, but there are still things that scare me."
- "Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I've met people who don't want to try for fear of failing."
- On being reluctant to increase the empire: "It could be so much worse. Michael Jackson wanted to do the musical. I love the films. I love the books. And there are elements really fun around it. I only wanted to do the theme park if it was incredible. If I was a reader of the books I would want to go there."
- On what she knows for sure: "I definitely know that love is the most powerful thing. I remember thinking about when 9/11 happened and the last phone calls people made. What's more powerful than that?
- On 9/11 Rowling e-mailed Arthur Levine (her editor) and he got back to her almost immediately. The last line of the e-mail read: "And they say we shouldn't teach children about evil."
- On her dream of happiness. She references Dumbledore's quote to Harry: "The happiest man alive would be able to look into the mirror and see himself exactly as he is." - "I'd have to say I am pretty close [to that]."
- On if she'll write more: "Oh God, definitely. I literally I can't stop. You could tie my hands to my sides. I need it for my mental health. I can't stop."
- Oprah and Rowling discussed an article about Michael Jackson "chasing the phenomenon" of Thriller. They both agreed they were content with their successes. "I am proud that I did it [Potter], but this is a new phase."
- Has there been a part of you that says I have to top Harry: "No. People don't ask me that. They tell me that. I really truly don't think that. It was amazing, it was insane at times. I am so grateful I had it on so many levels. I love the people who read the books. I dedicated part of the last book to them - the ones who have stayed with Harry the whole time."
- 20-something girl recently came up to Jo on the street and told her: "You are my childhood."