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Video and Quotes from an Early Interview with J.K. Rowling: "Very Happy with Book Two"

JKR Interviews
Posted by: Rosi
January 04, 2011, 08:16 PM

Leaky reader Miriam has brought our attention to a very early interview with J.K. Rowling seemingly conducted in 1998 in Edinburgh's "The Elephant House" café. In the interview, the Harry Potter author talks to STV about why she thinks the first book is popular, agent Christopher Little's now famous words of warning that there is not much money in writing children's books and about a month of struggle whilst writing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

You can watch the interview here on YouTube, or embedded below; quotes from the interview can be found below the embedded video. Many thanks for the heads up Miriam!

On the idea:

  • "I had been writing for years intending to write for adults but never tried to get anything published before. When this story came to me, it was a children's story, it came to me rather than the other way around. I never sat down and thought, 'right I'm going to write for children now'."
  • "In some ways it's a very traditional story, you have several classic elements, a small child that has powers no other child has. I think that's a very common fantasy for children. The idea that you escape - he comes from a very horrible background and he escapes and I think that's a very perennial fantasy, to escape. There isn't much adult control, the school he goes to is seriously haunted and quite a dangerous place but it's also fun, a lot of fun."
  • "I know there will be [many more Harry Potters]. I always planned it as a series of seven books which would see Harry into being a fully trained wizard at 17. I've written two so far, the second one has been sold and I'm writing book three at the moment."
  • "I think it's funny and... I think it's frightening. [...] Judging by letters I've received I'd say I've succeeded in that and that's all I wanted."
On the success of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
  • "It sold very well, which wildly overshot my expectations, I have to say, because it sold about 30,000 copies in the U.K. which is phenomenal. To me it's phenomenal. To me more than anyone else, probably! It won the Smarties book prize recently which was fantastic, mainly because [...] you're shortlisted by adults, but children vote the gold, silver and bronze medals. So children have a say in that."
  • "You dream of supporting yourself through writing."
  • "My realistic side has not allowed me to dream half of what's happened to me."
  • The American deal with Scholastic is described as "the big one, unprecedented for a first time children's book."
  • The success "scared the hell out of me, truthfully. It really scared me. I was halfway through the second book and became blocked and panic-stricken. I became very self-conscious about what I was writing. I did get over that, it took about a month to relax again and sort of force myself to believe I was just writing for me again and I did and I'm very happy with book two."
  • "I love the idea of being able to say 'I'm big in Finland!'"
  • "Hopefully, after Harry, I'll still be publishing, that's what I want."
On a film version of Harry Potter:
  • "The interest is there [for a film] which is amazing, but nothing has been signed."
  • "If it were done right, I think it could make a great film. And if it was done right, yes that would be wild, that would be wonderful to see it as a film. But I wanted to write books, do you know what I mean? So my absolute ambition was not Hollywood."
On Scotland:
  • "I'm a quarter Scottish by blood, on my mother's side. My parents met and married in Scotland and then settled in the Forest of Dean in England and for some odd reason my sister and I have both gravitated back to Scotland. I have to say too, I've always imagined... Harry starts off in London, or near London in Surrey, but he ends up in Scotland, the haunted school for wizards I always imagined to be next to a loch, this big gothic thing set in all the mountains of Scotland. That's never made clear in the books, that's just left open, but in my imagination it's in Scotland."
  • Interviewer: "In further books do you think we will see Harry in Scotland?" JKR: "I think it is likely that it will be slightly more identifiable, it's identifiable if you know your geography! He travels due north from London for a day so where's he going to end up?"

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126 Points

Hey, first! What fun to look back and see the ideas of success forming!

Posted by Maestra2 on January 04, 2011, 08:39 PM report to moderator
730 Points

Wow, what a great find! It’s so odd to hear her talking about not being totally sure there would be seven books, and I love the part about the Forest of Dean!

Posted by RavenclawDancer on January 04, 2011, 08:42 PM report to moderator
660 Points

I love that she is so humble and grateful that PS sold 30,000 copies in the U.K., won the Smarties, that her works were being published in 8 countries, that Scholastic picked it up and that they were talking about a movie deal.

My favorite part: “Hopefully, after Harry, I’ll still be publishing, That’s what I want!”

Posted by Noble Birth Descending on January 04, 2011, 08:48 PM report to moderator
388 Points

Indeed it is great! I love this, thanks for posting it. :)

Posted by CassieLeigh on January 04, 2011, 09:04 PM report to moderator
83 Points

I love that her parents moved to the forest of Dean!!!!
I just love the interview over all, I love looking back so long ago and seeing how far it’s come and how what she wanted to happen, happened….GREAT INTERVIEW, THANKS

Posted by Srose on January 04, 2011, 09:17 PM report to moderator
1072 Points

This is the type of interview I have been waiting to see one before she was really secretive about what she would say! I also got the part about the Forest of Dean and I’m glad she put that location as the one the Hermione mentions in book 7 when she says Hermione came camping there with her parents.. When in fact Jo’s parents lived there! Great video to look back at! Thank you Leaky

Posted by Astoria Lane *Hermione* on January 04, 2011, 09:26 PM report to moderator
2417 Points

Excellent find – always great to see Jo and her reaction to her success – she’s so real and humble

Posted by Hagrid 713 (ROAR) on January 04, 2011, 10:20 PM report to moderator
341 Points

SO so charming! I heart JK Rowling, as do we all.

Posted by ScottMan on January 04, 2011, 10:58 PM report to moderator
75 Points

If she only knew the impact the films would have…let alone the phenomenon that she was about create with the rest of the books!

Posted by PotionsMaster7 on January 04, 2011, 11:15 PM report to moderator
27 Points

It’s really funny read this interview, some years later!

Thank you so much, J.K.!

…Please, friends, can you help us?

Read this thread:

Posted by CaputDraconis80 on January 05, 2011, 01:41 AM report to moderator
1040 Points

Simply amazing, what a great find. That was so fun to watch with the hindsight we can all bring to it now. No one deserves her successes more than JK Rowling, every time I see older footage of her I am just so thrilled for her all over again, and for us. What a gift she gave us with Harry. Thank you Jo!

Posted by Headmistress LemonFaerie on January 05, 2011, 01:48 AM report to moderator
5389 Points

That was amazing thanks for posting here

Posted by Azaad Potter The Chosen One [ROAR] on January 05, 2011, 03:22 AM report to moderator
189 Points

Aw, I love Ginger Jo. :)

Posted by DorisCrockford on January 05, 2011, 06:29 AM report to moderator
5503 Points

Wowza!!!! That’s some find. I cannot believe they just found it but at least they did. :)

Posted by ksddancer... ROAR!!!!!!! on January 05, 2011, 06:58 AM report to moderator
121 Points

I love her comments about Scotland because I love that country and visited a lot of places from the film even before they were filmed. Especially Loch Shiel where Hogwarts is nestled.

Posted by ginnyshiel on January 05, 2011, 07:37 AM report to moderator
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