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Hint, Hint: Jo Rowling Speaks about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

A compilation and summary of 10 years of interviews (weighted for importance)

Commentary and rankings by Lisa Bunker; interview summaries by Deborah Skinner

Page One | Page Two | Page Three
Read the archived discussion of this essay here.

J.K. Rowling has been planning the Harry Potter series since 1990 and talking about it to reporters since 1997. For those of us who want to know more about what might happen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the 240+ Rowling interviews archived on the Accio Quote! Website are a gold mine. You can read all 240 of them, of course, or you can read this chapter where we have summarized everything Jo has said about Book 7 during the nearly 10 years that she has been speaking to reporters and fans about her world.

There is still a lot to read and think about. Sometimes Jo tells us what to pay attention to, but not always. So I have made a stab at putting the statements in rough groupings of importance along with information on context and a bit of analysis. Hopefully my comments are just enough to help you focus and develop your own ideas.

How did I rank them? My guesses about importance are based upon comparisons with hints Jo gave about previous books, the context of the interview, and my own instincts.

One caveat—Jo doesn’t lie to us, but she loves to tease, toss us red herrings, and give us ambiguous answers. Happy clue hunting!

CATEGORIES

I. Why Some of these Statements May Not Be True Anymore
II. Fan Theories
III. High Importance
IV. Important
V. Could Be Huge, Could Just Be an Interesting Plot Device
VI. Interesting, But Probably Not Crucial
VII. Obvious Stuff: Things We Can Guess from the Books or That are No Big Surprise
VIII. Unimportant to the Big Picture?
IX. Characters We Will See Again (In Addition to the Obvious Ones)
X. Denials

How to use this guide:

A statement like this...

Jo has the whole series planned out but she allows herself small digressions.

...is a careful paraphrase of Jo’s words written by Deborah Skinner (‘Madam Scoop’). You can read the exact quote online at Accio Quote.

A statement like this...

JKR: “The final chapter is hidden away, although it has now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve, but I have to say two [main characters] die that I didn’t intend to die.”

...is an exact quote from the interview with some clarifications (in brackets) by Accio Quote! Staff.

Main Source:

Accio Quote!, the largest archive of J.K. Rowling interviews on the web. A member of the Floo Network. (Email)

Why Some of these Statements May Not Be True Anymore

Jo says she has the whole series planned out but she allows herself small digressions.

Stephen Fry. “Living with Harry Potter,” BBC Radio4, December 10, 2005.

JKR: “I’ve never, to my knowledge, lied when posed a question about the books. To my knowledge. You can imagine, I’ve now been asked hundreds of questions; it’s perfectly possible at some point I misspoke or I gave a misleading answer unintentionally, or I may have answered truthfully at the time and then changed my mind in a subsequent book.”

Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. “The Leaky Cauldron and MN interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three,” The Leaky Cauldron, July 16, 2005.

Jo says she is someone “who loves to pull the wool over her readers’ eyes.”

Blake, Carrie. “Inspirational Women: J.K. Rowling, Author,” Girl Guiding Scotland (August, 2005?)

JKR: “The final chapter is hidden away, although it has now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve, but I have to say two [main characters] die that I didn’t intend to die.”

Madeley, Richard and Judy Finnigan. “J.K. Rowling,” Richard and Judy Show, Channel Four Corporation (UK), June 26, 2006.

JKR: “I’ll probably leave some loose ends hanging.”

An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp: Readings and questions #1," August 1, 2006.

Fan Theories

Jo loves fan-theories. People have been very close to figuring out things and some people have even figured out part of Book 7.

Maybe she is talking about you!

Uncorroborated fan posting [interview by Owen Jones], O/T forum, July 17, 2005.

Jo gets “cold shivers when someone guesses at something that’s very close” but enough ideas are “off the wall” that she doesn’t really worry; the ending is “clearly not that obvious.”

Devious Jo, who loves nothing better than to pull the wool over our eyes. What are we missing?

Stephen Fry. “Living with Harry Potter,” BBC Radio4, December 10, 2005.

High Importance

The fact that Harry has his mother’s eyes is very important to a future book.

Well, we know now that this wasn’t in books 1-6, so Jo must have meant Book 7. But what does she mean by this? Is there special magic about his eyes? Is it simply that Harry powerfully reminds people like Snape and Voldemort of his mother? Or, perhaps is Jo being metaphorical here and making a parallel between the way they both see the world: with compassion and tolerance?

Loer, Stephanie. “All about Harry Potter from Quidditch to the future of the Sorting Hat,” The Boston Globe, October 18, 1999.

We will find out the significant information about Harry’s mother in two parts: Book 5 and Book 7. Both are “very important in what Harry ends up having to do.”

It seems that more than just her eyes are important, folks. The Book 5 information might refer to chapter 28, “Snape’s Worst Memory,” where Lily is the only one to defend Severus from James’s hazing, and Severus responds by calling her a “Mudblood.” Book 7’s “incredibly important” information may be related to this scene, or it may be something entirely different.

We know so little about Lily. Why did she change her mind about James? Did Snape ever apologize? What was her relationship with Petunia like? What did she do for work after finishing Hogwarts? Why was Voldemort willing to let her live?

Lydon, Christopher. J.K. Rowling interview transcript, The Connection (WBUR Radio), October 12, 1999.

Jo says a question we should be asking is “why Dumbledore did not kill or try to kill Voldemort in the scene in the ministry.” Dumbledore did not give the real reason.

In chapter 35 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore responds to Voldemort’s third attempt at an Avada Kedavra curse with a wordless, forceful spell that makes Harry’s hair stand on end even though he is some distance away. Voldemort deflects it in time with a “silver shield.” Although we are not told what it was, Voldemort recognizes the spell and knows that Dumbledore is not trying to kill him. Dumbledore explains to Voldemort that “Merely taking your life would not satisfy me,” but according to Jo, that’s not the real reason.

Now that we have read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we know that Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort used Horcruxes to stay alive. That night at the ministry, Dumbledore hadn’t obtained the Horcrux ring yet, but he probably knew that Voldemort was still unkillable.

Another possibility is simply that there is a reason that Harry needs to be the one to destroy Voldemort.

What was the spell, and what would it have done if Voldemort hadn’t blocked it? According to Dumbledore’s Chocolate Frog card, he “defeated” Grindelwald (not “killed”), so Dumbledore’s spell may be one he has used before against another dark foe.

Rowling, Joanne. “J K Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival,” JKRowling.com (News section), August 15, 2004

Dumbledore’s “gleam of triumph” will be enormously significant to Book 7.

Specifically, the “gleam of something like triumph” (Goblet of Fire, chapter 36) when Harry told him how Voldemort made Harry’s blood part of his rebirth potion—and could touch him afterward. What did Dumbledore know that Voldemort didn’t?

Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. “The Leaky Cauldron and MN interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three,” The Leaky Cauldron, July 16, 2005.

We will learn more about Dumbledore in Book 7. It is possible that one of the things we will find out is what spell Dumbledore was trying to cast on Voldemort in the Ministry.

This is a paraphrase of Jo’s answer when Melissa asks her specifically about the spell mentioned above. However, who will provide this information to Harry? Did Dumbledore leave a Pensieve archive? Aberforth? Some other member of Dumbledore’s family? Voldemort himself?

Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. “The Leaky Cauldron and MN interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Two,” The Leaky Cauldron, July 16, 2005.

Jo says an important question we should be asking is: “Why did Dumbledore have James’ Invisibility Cloak at the time of James’ death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?”

If it was just for safe-keeping, this wouldn’t be “important.” Jo seems to be hinting here that James lent Dumbledore the cloak for someone else to use. Someone else who had gone into hiding? Perhaps someone spying for Dumbledore? In the “Rumours” section of her website, Jo has also told us that Snape was not hiding under the Invisibility Cloak on the night the Potters died.

Rowling, Joanne. “NAQ,” JKRowling.com (Extra Stuff section), September 13, 2006.

Jo won’t answer if Snape is evil or not because it will have such a huge impact on what will happen when Harry and Snape meet again: “I love the theories.”

Forget for a moment about fans not knowing—what she implies here is that it is important for the story that Harry also not know the truth of Snape’s loyalties and motivations. What will Harry do when they meet next? Does Harry need to overcome his hatred and trust Snape against all appearances, or arm himself against Snape’s trickery and betrayal? We’ve heard Snape defend himself to Bellatrix; what will he tell Harry if given a chance? Should Harry listen?

Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. “The Leaky Cauldron and MN interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part One,” The Leaky Cauldron, July 16, 2005.

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Read the archived discussion of this essay in Unfogging Deathly Hallows!