Transcript of Part 1 of PotterCast’s JK Rowling Interview
Dec 23, 2007
Thanks to our wonderful transcription elves, you can now read the transcript of the first part of our Harry Potter podcast, PotterCast‘s interview with J.K. Rowling (to hear it yourself, just click the play button on the right side of this page, or visit this link for all the appropriate information or just:
And now, enjoy! The audio for part two will be up later tonight or early tomorrow. HUGE thanks as always to our fabulous elves.
John Noe (JN): Sue, which Bit-by-Bit are we doing this week, anyway?
Sue Upton (SU): Oh, I don’t know. But you know what, John? I still keep thinking about what you were saying the other day about the House Elves. Jo specifically said that they were- (JN: I remember this.) what?
JN: I remember this just as well as you.
SU: No. She said that just as Dumbledore gave refuge to Dobby, they were free. They- so, too, did Helga. She did not enslave them, she did not.
JN: There’s this big elaborate thing with every House Elf there with a Malfoy-like master, (SU: What?) that they were all given socks by some other Harry-type person. (SU sighs) That’s a whole unique event with Dobby. (SU: No!) All these other creatures, (SU: They could’ve…) they probably came in wagons to the castle. (SU laughs)
Melissa Anelli (MA): Okay, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys. (JN: Oh, hey, Melvin.) Oh, my go- hi! How you doing?
SU: Oh, hi. Hi Melissa!
JN: We’re about to start the show, I guess.
MA:Yeah I know, but you just won’t do it. There must be an end somewhere to this argument.
JN: This is all very obvious now. She confirmed this to me on Skype.
SU: What? She did not.
JN: What? She did. We chat all the time, Noelover42, are you new here?
SU: I am not new here. (MA laughs) But, I don’t believe you.
MA:Okay, guys, guys. Look, look. There will never be another PotterCast again if we don’t get to the bottom of this. I’m going to call someone, okay?
JN: Oh, you got a number now, huh?
MA:Yeah, yeah, I got a number now. (phone beeps)
JN: All right, what’s this all about? (phone rings)
JN: Oh, it’s ringing, good. (MA laughs)
Telephone Operator: Greetings. Thank you for calling the Hogwarts Muggle Liaison Office. (JN: The what?) (MA:Yeah, guys.) If you know your party’s extension, please enter it now, at any time.
JN: Where did this come from you guys?
SU: (laughs) This is awesome.
MA:Just hang on.
Telephone Operator: If you are the parent or guardian of a child currently attending Hogwarts, please press one now. If you are calling in regards to last week’s incident with the Giant Squid, press two now. If you are calling to check on the current status for tickets to any of the upcoming Quidditch matches, (JN: Oh! I want to…) please press three now. (SU: I’m going.) For all other inquiries, please press four, or stay on the line and your call will be connected with a House Elf in the order it was received.
JN: House Elves? (laughs)
SU: No! Poor House Elves, no!
MA:You guys, what was that? Shh, I’m trying to figure it out.
Telephone Operator: For the Faculty Directory (MA:What? What was that?) press naught.
JN: Press zero, I think.
MA:Press zero? Okay. (JN: Go ahead.) (phone beeps) Okay, Okay.
Telephone Operator: Welcome to the Faculty Directory. (JN: Yay!) Please use your numeric keypad to spell out the last name of the staff member you wish to reach.
MA:Oh, I know what to do.
JN: Okay, I got this. I got this. I got this. (MA:You got it?) I got it. (phone beeps)
Telephone Operator: Thank you. Please stay on the line. (phone rings)
Alan Ricman: Good afternoon.
SU and MA:Ah!
SU: No way! (JN laughs)
MA:Get away! Get away! Stop!
SU: Hey, sexy man!
MA:Hang up! Hang up! John! Sue! Hang up, hang up. (JN laughs) John, why’d you do that?
JN: That’s too fun.
Telephone Operator: Thank you for calling the Muggle Liaison Office. If you know your party’s extension, please enter it now, at any time.
MA:Okay guys, seriously, we have to do the right numbers now, okay? Hang on. (phone beeps)
Telephone Operator: Thank you, code accepted. Please stay on the line.
JN: What was that number?
MA:It’s just a number. (phone rings)
MA:Fiddy! Oh! Thank god.
Fiddy: Oh, who’s that?
Fiddy: Oh goodness. (laughs) Is that Melissa?
MA:It is. Hi, how you doing?
Fiddy: Hi Melissa. It sounds like you’ve got John and Sue with you.
MA:I do. (JN: As usual.) Well…
Fiddy: As usual. (laughs)
MA:They’re at it again, and we just- I’m just going to go crazy, ugh.
Fiddy: Oh, no. Not the House Elves and Hufflepuff thing again, is it?
SU: Woo hoo! Yes!
Fiddy: Oh no. Well I think we should sort it out. The best way is probably by asking the expert.
MA:I think you’re right.
Fiddy: Well, let me see if we can get a hold of her. Hold on. (phone rings)
JN: Oh, man.
J.K. Rowling (JKR): This had better not be about House Elves.
MA:Jo, it is, I’m sorry!
SU: It is! Hey, Jo! Hello!
JN: Hey Jo!
JKR: Hi! (laughs) Well, House Elves, go on then.
MA:Still, still. They are still arguing about this and I’m sick of it. And we need you to answer it so bad.
JN: What I’m telling Sue is that if she remembered from when we talked about this in New York, (JKR: Yes.) Jo said that Helga Hufflepuff was a plantation owner (SU: No! She gave them refuge! Refuge! R-E…) of House Elves…
JKR: (laughs) Refuge!
SU: (whispers) Refuge. (MA: Oh, Jo.) She didn’t enslave them.
JKR: Yeah, it’s a complicated issue. I would say that Hufflepuff gave- Hufflepuff did what was the most moral thing to do at that time, and we are talking about over a thousand years ago. So that would be to give them good conditions of work. There was no kind of activism there, so no one’s going to say, “Here’s an idea, let’s free them. (SU: Yeah.) Let’s pay them.” It was just, “Well we’ll bring them somewhere they can work and not be abused.”
SU: Yeah but- see? She did not go around with a whip and say, “Yah! You must work in the kitchens!” (MA:Sue!) Right?
JKR: No, definitely not. That would not be- no. No. (SU: See?) Definitely not, John.
SU: Thank you, Jo!
MA:(sighs) Okay, okay. Well, let’s go into this further. (SU laughs) Jo, we are about ready to get ready to start a recording here. We can talk about this for longer if you want. Do you want to join us for a show?
JKR: (sighs) Well, I’ve got nothing better to do. (JN laughs)
JN: All right, you heard her, guys. Leaky and PotterCast are proud and excited to bring you a very special interview with the one and only J.K. Rowling.
JKR: Welcome to PotterCast, your number one source for news, theories, discussion, and interviews, with people from the Potter books and films. I know a small amount myself, having written the books. My name is J.K. Rowling. I am now happy to introduce your hosts, Melissa, John, and Sue.
SU: Yay, Jo! Okay. (All laugh)
MA:Jo, I can’t tell you how long we’ve joked, in a total outer space fashion, about you doing that intro one day.
JKR: Do you know what my favorite bit was? Melissa, when you posted the thing about, “Anyone got extra questions? (MA:I know!) What loose ends would you tie up?” And the very first comment was, “Yeah, that’s a strange thing to ask us, Melissa. Almost like someone was coming on who could answer those questions.” I really liked that.
MA:I’m glad you brought it up, because I have to apologize to the reader of our site (SU: Yes.) called nimbus xl, who actually said that, and I actually came the closest to lying (SU: Yeah.) that I’ve ever done on Leaky, when I told everybody, “Calm down, we’d tell you if it was Jo, everybody relax!” (MA and JN laugh)
JKR: Melissa Anelli, you filthy, filthy liar. (SU: Yes.) (JN laughs) (MA:That’s me.) Previously respected webmistress.
MA:(laughs) Yeah, no more, I hand it all in, I’m done. (JN laughs) Oh gosh, but we wanted to save the surprise, and Jo that’s what this hopefully is, a nice pre-Christmas surprise (JKR: Cool.) for everybody, so- I’m more excited than anything that John and Sue now have the chance to get- and to hear and talk.
JN: We’re gonna give it a shot. I was stunned silly the last time I saw her, I could hardly say anything. (JKR: Oh, you were completely lovely.) But I can’t really see her right now, so¦
JKR: Oh, you’re missing nothing I tell you, I’m not looking good at the moment. (JN and SU laugh) (JN: We’re all in our PJs.) A couple of weeks of Christmas shopping and a lot of really hectic life has taken it out of me.
SU: And you’ve had quite a banner day (JN: Oh, gosh.) already, with the auction, too, and everything. It just been amazing for Mr. Beedle the¦
JKR: I feel kind of shell shocked at the moment. We just watched the auction live- this is of Beedle the Bard in case anyone doesn’t know what the hell we’re talking about- and yeah, it went for 1.95 million pounds. And I can’t tell you what that means, it’s unbelievable. Yeah. I’m really staggered and I’m so excited. It’s just gonna make a really big difference to the charity, and also it was a means of raising awareness of the charity which was at least as important as the money, so it’s really done that job. God I’m so happy, can’t tell you.
SU: Well that’s just brilliant. But we’re all so curious, though, Jo, is there any little tidbits you can reveal now?
JKR: What, about Beedle the Bard? (SU: Mm-hm.) The stories thereof? (SU: Mm-hm.) Well, I can tell you I- let’s think. Wizard and the Hopping Pot, is kind of a- the moral really, it’s to teach young wizards and witches that they should use their magic altruistically. (SU: Oh, okay.) Then, Fountain of Fair Fortune is my favorite one, and that’s really about the qualities you need to achieve your heart’s desire, and the moral being that magic, ultimately, is not the best weapon. Warlock’s Hairy Heart is really, quite gothic, it’s quite dark that one, and Voldemort would’ve done well to know that story (SU: Yeah.) before he set out on his campaign of terror. Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump is the stupidest title ever written by man or beast (SU and JN laugh) and of course when I wrote it, I never- I had not, at the point, when I gave Ron that title, I didn’t imagine for a second that I was actually going to write the story. (SU: Yeah.) And I did have a small- there was this kind of margin of time where I knew I was going to write Beedle the Bard and the book wasn’t published. We were still editing, and I could’ve gone back and changed the titles. And I really liked the idea of keeping those titles and then finding out what the stories were, but Babbity Rabbit was a challenge. (JKR and SU laugh) But I did get there and it’s a story about revenge. One witch’s sort of cunning way of revenging herself for persecution, for Muggle persecution. And then you know The Tale of the Three Brothers. (JN: Hm.) (SU: Yeah.) Which is the last one in the book, so I’ve just given them to you chronologically as they appear in the book. I loved writing them. I really, really loved writing them. But I have to say that before I had the idea of producing the books to say, “Thank you,” to these key people, I (laughs) imagined there would be about thirty tales of Beedle the Bard, (SU: Oh, wow!) and after I had the idea of writing them out by hand (SU laughs) seven times, turns out there were just five.
SU: Yeah. (SU and MA laugh)
JN: And I can’t thank you enough for that copy, Jo. (SU: Oh!) I’ve been reading it to the girls here over the weeks, and¦
JKR: Yeah, did you like it? The diamond encrusted version? (MA laughs)
JN: It was amazing, and the cover was beautiful!
JKR: You don’t think it was a bit too bling? (SU laughs)
JN: Well no, I have a lot of that stuff on my wall already, (JKR: Uh-huh.) so it just kinda fits right in perfectly. (JKR: John, it was my pleasure.) So¦
JKR: Thank you for the inspiration. (MA and SU and JN laugh)
JN: It was a pleasure to read it. You know, I did what I could, so¦
JKR: And did you like the dedication? “You were right all along about Horcri?”
SU: Oh no! (MA:Ah! Jo!) There’s that word!
JN: Nobody would believe me. (MA laughs)
MA:Oh, he’s never gonna let it stop!
JKR: I did write him a letter, and I did say that actually Horcri is- it occurred to me it really would have been a more correct plural, but I already had Inferi and I didn’t want to have too many Dark Arts weapons ending in -ri. So it was a kind of stylistic choice, really. I like Horcruxes as a plural.
JN: It’s grown on me, too.
JKR: As a linguist- (laughs) oh, thanks, John! (All laugh) See, this is why I give him copies of Beedle the Bard. He’s a generous man. (MA laughs)
SU: (laughs) Oh, yeah. (JN: Yes.) Oh, but Jo, those Horcruxes, though, I tell ya. There’s so much to ask still about those. Okay, we have to know. Who created the first Horcrux? Was it Grindelwald? Salazar? Who did that?
JKR: Do you know what? I got a feeling it was Herpo, (SU: Oh!) which is H-E-R-P-O. (SU: Herpo the Foul?) I think I called him Herpo the Foul. Exactly, yeah. Yeah. But, you know, wizards would have been looking for ways to do exactly what Voldemort did for years. And some of the ways they would have tried would’ve killed them. So, I imagine it- well, they’re huge parallels- splitting the atom would be a very good parallel in our world. Something that people imagine might be able to do be done, but couldn’t quite bring it off and then people started doing it, with sometimes catastrophic effects. So that’s how I see the Horcrux.
SU: Right. Because you said that Tom Riddle said that there’d been- or Dumbledore did- somebody said that there was only one person. (MA:Slughorn.) And we were just¦
MA:As far as Tom Riddle knew.
JKR: Yeah, but I do imagine that other people are going to have tried. I think it would be naive not to think that people have been trying for a long time, and thought they succeeded and hadn’t, or else maimed themselves or killed themselves in the attempt. It’s such a dangerous thing to do.
SU: Oh. Evil thing. You know, just…
MA:What is the process? Do you- is there a spell? Is there a- what do they have to do?
JKR: I see it as a series of things you would have to do. So, you would have to perform a spell. But you would also- I don’t even know if I want to say it out loud. (SU: Yeah.) I know that sounds funny, but I did really think it through. There are two things I think that are too horrible, actually, to go into detail about. (laughs) One of them is how Pettigrew brought Voldemort back into a rudimentary body. (SU: Yeah.) ‘Cause I told my editor what I thought happened there and she looked as though she was gonna vomit. (SU and JN laugh) And then the other thing is how you make a Horcrux. And I don’t even like- I don’t know. Will it be in the encyclopedia? I don’t know if I can bring myself to- I don’t know.
SU: Oh, Jo! You mentioned the “e” word!
JKR: Oh, God, yeah. God, yes I did. (MA laughs) We should call it something like “The Scottish Book.” (All laugh)
JN: The Scottish Book!
MA:Oh, jeez. You don’t want to curse it now, Jo.
JKR: It must not be mentioned live on air.
MA:(laughs) Yeah, exactly. We can’t wait for that. We hope you get on to that as soon as you feel comfortable doing so.
JKR: Yeah. Would it be okay if that’s ten years? (SU gasps) (MA:We’ll be around.) No one laughed. (All laugh) No, listen, I absolutely intend to do it, but I can’t pretend that I’m in a hurry right now. It’s gonna be a hell of a lot of work. But I have- I’ve kept everything and I know where things are and yeah, at some point I will get myself together and do it.
JN: I was gonna offer, just in case you needed help on that particular chapter, (SU: John!) I’ve got a lot of baby pictures (JKR laughs) and childhood anecdotes for the Dawlish chapter (SU: Oh, here we go!) that might just help fill things in a little bit.
JKR: You know what? Again, John, you’re always there when I need you. (JN laughs) That’s great, that would be great.
SU: Jo, he idolizes a man, an Auror, who got pwnd by an old lady wearing a dead bird on her head. You know, on her hat. Now, come on! (laughs) You know?
JN: Now, they don’t understand this, Jo. I know we’ve talked about this, (JKR and SU laugh) they don’t understand the night that this, they call it a duel, it wasn’t a duel. At least in my mind, anyway. I think it needs a little explaining of how somebody as skillful as Dawlish could’ve (JKR: Yeah. You know…) got taken down like this. And feel free to let all the air out of my sails. That’s fine.
JKR: Listen. (MA:John maintains that she suckerpunched him.) You know what? (JN: Yeah, she suckerspelled him.) I find it so incredibly endearing that you like Dawlish. (All laugh) And that’s why his name is now John Dawlish, as we know. (SU: Oh!) In tribute to you, and that will indeed be a note in the encyclopedia, (SU: Oh, my god.) or “The Scottish Book” as we are now calling it. (JN: Yes.)(MA laughs) Dawlish had to be good. He had to be good, because he became an Auror. There’s no denying that. But he has his weaknesses and Dumbledore knew how to exploit them. (JN: Oh!) And let’s face it; anyone going up to Dumbledore pre-trying on the Horcrux, pre-maiming his hand- anyone is going to be in trouble going up against Dumbledore. Even Voldemort didn’t want to do it. So, it’s no dishonor to Dawlish.
JN: Well, certainly. Was Dumbledore involved in- (JKR: In weakening him?) they said it was Mrs. Longbottom. (All laugh)
JKR: Well, that’s after- by the time Augusta Longbottom got to him, he had been- (JN: Oh, right, oh right.) several people had attacked Dawlish. (laughs) I think he was a bit punch-drunk by that point. (All laugh) He had become a favorite with the- a favorite punchbag of the Order of the Phoenix by then. So, I don’t think he was firing on all cylinders.
JKR: So I don’t think he was firing on all cylinders, but no, (JN laughs) I really saw Mrs. Longbottom as a powerful witch. (SU: Yes, yes!) So, sorry. (JN: I suppose.) I went down to Leavesden recently and I saw Michael Gambon with his withered hand. That was quite exciting. Yeah.
MA:There was just a funny report about Michael Gambon, and we’re pretty sure he was joking, (laughs) about that he was scandalized to learn that one of his lines was lifted directly from the book (SU laughs) and he was railing around cursing and throwing things.
SU: Like, how dare they use your words, Jo. (laughs)
JKR: Listen, Michael has a very good, very good and dry sense of humor. (SU: Mm-hm.) And you should really…yeah, he’s a funny man. And you should bear that in mind, and not take things as they may appear flat on the page.
MA:Yeah. Speaking of Dumbledore. (SU: Mm, yes.) (JKR: Bless his little heart.) We want to talk about Dumbldeore so bad. We know you created worldwide intrigue when you said that he’s gay. (JKR: Yeah.) But I wanted to ask you about homosexuality in the Wizarding world in general. Is it a taboo?
JKR: Now, there’s something I never thought of. I would think that that would be- it would be exactly what it is in the Muggle world. But, the greatest taboo in the Wizarding world is- well, for some wizards. If we’re talking about prejudiced people within the Wizarding world, what they care most about is your blood status. So I think you could be gay, pureblood, and totally without any kind of criticism from the Lucius Malfoys of the world. I don’t think that would be something that would interest him in the slightest. But, I can’t answer for all witches and wizards, because I think in matters of the heart, it would be directly parallel to our world.
JN and SU: Hm.
MA:Yeah. It’s inter- the reaction was so astronomical to that.
JKR: Well, I said it to you, Melissa, before, I think, that to me it’s wrong not to answer a question honestly. I just think that’s immoral. (MA:Right.) And I was asked that question by a young woman at Carnegie Hall who prefaced her question by saying, “These books have helped me be more fully myself.” Well, that’s just one of the most wonderful things anyone has ever said to me about the books. And then she asked, “Has Dumbledore ever been in love?” Now, I- so I was absolutely honest about how I saw the character. I always imagined that Dumbledore was gay. How relevant is that to the books? Well, it’s only relevant if you considered that his feelings for Grindelwald, as revealed in the seventh book, were an infatuation rather than a straight full friendship. That’s how I think- in fact, that I know- that some, perhaps, sensitive adult readers had already seen that. I don’t think that came as a big surprise to some adult readers. I think a child would see a friendship and a very devoted friendship. But these things also occur. So I- how relevant is it? Well, to me it was only relevant in as much as Dumbledore, who was the great defender of love, and who sincerely believed that love was the greatest, most powerful force in the universe, was himself made a fool of by love. That, to me, was the interesting point. That, in his youth, he was- he became infatuated with a man who was almost his dark twin. He was as brilliant. He was morally bankrupt. And Dumbledore lost his moral compass. He wanted to believe that Grindelwald was what he wanted him to be, which I think is what particularly a young person’s love tends to do. We fill in the blanks in the beloved’s personality with the virtues we would like them to have. So Dumbledore was wrong and his judgement was entirely- was very suspect in that time. And of course it was more than being infatuated. Grindelwald appeared to be offering him a solution to this horrible dilemma. Dumbledore was not cut out, to his shame, to be a carer. He was cut out to go out on the world stage and be a brilliant man. He knows that about himself and he’s ashamed of it. So it’s a complicated issue, but yeah, that’s the way I always saw Dumbledore. It wasn’t a particularly big deal to me. And I’d never once before been asked at an event about Dumbledore’s romantic life. I’d been asked other things about him, but I have to say until Hallows was published, people were mostly interested in the trio’s futures and Dumbledore’s backstory. In fact, I remember, Melissa, when you and Emerson interviewed me after Half-Blood Prince was published. We were talking about what fans should be asking, and I said Dumbledore’s family. I didn’t want to say Dumbledore’s past, but Dumbledore’s family would be a profitable line of inquiry, because I always knew that he had this tragic story from his late teens. There. That was a long answer.
SU: No, it was brilliant.
JKR: But it was a full answer.
MA:No, we love full answers. (MA and JKR laugh)
JN: I guess- oh, people are going to yell at me. (JKR: Like you care. Come on.) Okay, all right…(MA:We love when he starts sentences that way.) (laughs) Just trying to save a little face. I know a few people out there had been wondering if Madam Hooch had ever been in love.
JKR: (laughs) You know what? Madam Hooch really did not have any kind of romantic backstory. Well, not of my invention. We’ll have to go and trawl the fanfic for that.
MA:I’m sure we’d find it, Jo.
JKR: Yeah, I bet we would. (laughs)
JN: I think there’s categories of it, actually.
SU: So we were talking about ships, though. Can we talk about romance at all?
JKR: Yeah, we can talk about romance.
MA:I don’t know. Last time we did this, Jo, quite a lot of hubbub followed.
MA:(laughs) You remember.
SU: You know.
JN: But it’s fun! It’s fun hubbub!
MA:Yes, it is fun.
JKR: Yeah, okay.
MA:Before we get too into romance, I wanted to get something cleared up.
MA:After we got back from Carnegie Hall, we brought back your message of “Harry is kind of not really a Horcrux.” (SU: Oh, yeah.) And I don’t want to dwell too long on Horcruxes, but I’d love to hear you talking about how he is or isn’t, or wasn’t.
JKR: Well, I’ll tell you- do you know what? This will not end the discussion. (MA:Yeah.) (laughs) I know that, and you know that, but here is the thing: for convenience, I had Dumbledore say to Harry, “You were the Horcrux he never meant to make,” but I think, by definition, a Horcrux has to be made intentionally. So because Voldemort never went through the grotesque process that I imagine creates a Horcrux with Harry, (SU: Mm-hm.) it was just that he had destabilized his soul so much that it split when he was hit by the backfiring curse. And so this part of it flies off, and attaches to the only living thing in the room. A part of it flees in the very-close-to-death limbo state that Voldemort then goes on and exists in. I suppose it’s very close to being a Horcrux, but Harry did not become an evil object. He didn’t have curses upon him that the other Horcruxes had. He himself was not contaminated by carrying this bit of parasitic soul. The only time he ever felt it stirring and moving was in Order of the Phoenix, when he himself goes through a very dark time. And there’s a moment where he’s looking at Dumbledore, and he feels something rear like a snake inside him, and of course, at those times, it’s because the piece of soul inside him is feeding off his emotions. He’s going through a dark time, and that piece of soul is enjoying it, and making its presence felt, but he doesn’t know what he’s feeling, of course. Also, I always imagine that the Sorting Hat detected the presence of that piece of soul (JN: Yeah!) when Harry first tried it on, because it’s strongly tempted to put him in Slytherin. So that’s how I see it. (JN: Wow.) Now, I know that won’t end the debate, but I do think that the strict definition of “Horcrux,” once I write the Scottish Book, will have to be given, (SU: Yeah.) (JN: Yes.) and that the definition will be that a receptacle is prepared by Dark Magic to become the receptacle of a fragmented piece of soul, and that that piece of soul was deliberately detached from the master soul to act as a future safeguard, or anchor, to life, and a safeguard against death. So that doesn’t really clear anything up. Well, I think it- (JN: It does quite a bit.) It at least states what I believe,(MA laughs) but I don’t think it’s necessarily going to convince people who have a strong feeling one way or the other on the matter. You know what? That’s been the case with most of Harry Potter. (JN laughs) I give my explanation, and it just fuels more debate.
JN: Okay, I was thinking, as you were talking about that just a second ago, I’ve just been reading Philosopher’s Stone. There was a chapter when Harry goes to sleep for the first time, and he’s in his dormitory, and he has a dream that you wrote he never remembers again, and it was being tempted, “Go to Slytherin.” I thought maybe at that point that might have also been that little piece of Voldemort in there, wreaking havoc on his dreams really early on.
JKR: Well, of course the pain he feels whenever Voldemort’s particularly active is this piece of soul seeking to rejoin the master soul. When his scar is hurting him so much, that’s not scar tissue hurting him. That’s this piece of soul really wanting to get back out the way it entered. It really wants to- it entered this boy’s body through a wound, and it wants to rejoin the master. So when Voldemort’s near him, when he’s particularly active, this connection, (JN: Oh, my gosh!) it was always there. That’s what I always imagined this pain was. Yes, so there you go. There’s a moment when Dumbledore casts a charm, and you see a two-headed snake split. (SU: Yes!) Do you remember that?
MA and SU: “In essence divided?”
MA:That’s in his office, right? “In essence divided?”
JKR: Yeah, it’s in Dumbledore’s office, and he suddenly does these strange- (MA:Mm-hm.) he performs this strange piece of magic in which he watches images, and these are his- And the snake dividing, that’s the way he sees Voldemort’s soul dividing. So he’s playing through his own theory about what’s happened, and his theory is, of course, correct, that Voldemort, as summed up by the snake, divided. So Harry never understood what the two-headed snake was all about, but that’s what it was.
SU: You know, you just answered a question that people have been asking about, talking about, that “essence divided,” what that meant. So yes, thank you, Jo.
JKR: “In essence divided,” exactly, the “essence” being the soul. So Dumbledore knew all along that he must have- well, he suspected until Chamber of Secrets, and then at the point where he saw what was clearly the remains of a Horcrux, in other words, the diary, he thinks, “Okay. There you go. And not only has he definitely done it, but he’s got to have more than one, because he’s treated this one very casually.”
SU: So, can I ask this? This is kind of a random question, but if Harry had this Horcrux in him, sort of, would he actually have died, say, when the dragon could have killed him, or when he was falling during Quiddich, or anything? Could he actually have died?
JKR: Well, you’ve got- if his body had been irreparably destroyed. (SU: Yeah) He has to die to get rid of that piece of soul. His body has got to be irreparably damaged. So a lot of people asked, and I think I’ve answered this since, but a lot of people immediately said, having finished Hallows, (gasps) “But then, that means in Chamber of Secrets, when he was pierced by the basilisk…” (SU: Oh, right) but no, no, no, no, he didn’t die! He didn’t die. (JN: Yeah) That was stated right in the beginning with the Horcrux, the receptacle has got to be destroyed. His body wasn’t destroyed! He got a bit poisoned, and then he got the antidote, immediately. So that’s not going to drive out this piece of soul. Sorry if I sound frustrated, but occasionally…
JN and MA:No!
SU: No, no, no! (JN laughs) That cleared it up! That’s awesome!
JKR: You know what, occasionally, you feel some frustration. People, please, just read the book, because it’s there. (MA laughs) And then ask something that’s not there. That would be- which plenty of people do, don’t get me wrong. But on that one, I felt- there was a certain feeling of weariness.
JN: Gosh. Now I’m nervous. (all laugh)
JKR: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, don’t be nervous. It was- yeah. Because I was so careful with this stuff and it’s- I don’t know if you’ve seen, on my website, I recently did a small number of updates.
SU: Yes. Thank you!
JKR: One of the things on there was- it’s about the end, and how Harry survived right at the end, when he doesn’t fight, and Voldemort uses the Killing Curse on him. Well, it was important for me to say on the website, I never saw this- as in the finale, the denouement, the moment when Harry faces Voldemort, is prepared to die, and yet doesn’t die- that isn’t like a scientific equation. Harry- it’s not guaranteed. There has to be space, to make Harry truly heroic, for free will. It has to be his choice. The whole thing’s his choice. He chooses to sacrifice himself, just as Lily chose to sacrifice herself. He chooses to pull himself back to life. And that’s his own will and courage. So ultimately, those things, all of them were more important than the magic.
JN: Wow. My brain is firing in so many different directions right now!
SU: I know. I’ve got, like, ten questions. (MA laughs)
JN: Because I’ve got, like, a thousand questions.
MA:And I’m sitting here biting my tongue.
SU: Because I want to ask you about your website, and I want to ask you about love. And it’s like…
JKR: And we were going to talk about romance and then we got sidetracked.
SU: I am no Ravenclaw, and I read these books just because I love them and I’m just enamored of the world you’ve created. (JKR: Thank you.) And the one character I do see in myself is someone named Neville Longbottom.
JKR: I love Neville.
JKR: Oh, I love Neville so much. Always loved Neville. And I always saw, I always had big plans for Neville. And he really was the boy it could have been. Because, as you know, (SU: Yeah.) as I make clear, he was born hours before Harry. He was born on the thirtieth of July. Voldemort singled him out as the other possibility. But the great thing about Neville’s story for me, the over-arching story about Neville, is that he proves himself to be a boy who could have done it, too! Yeah, Harry had the scar, and arguably Harry had an edge more talent, because Harry, he has an extraordinary instinct for the right thing to do. He’s just got the right instinct and that’s what would make him, in due course, a phenomenal Auror. But Neville was, I think, amazing in the final battle, (SU: Yes.) and proved himself a hundred times over worthy of being a Gryffindor, his parents son, despite the very difficult childhood he had at the hands of his very pushy grandmother. And I know she loves him and he loves her but she’s not an easy person to be raised by. (JN: Yeah.) So yeah, that, for me, was the big thing about Neville. He was a- he’s not, on the surface- I suppose he’s not as cool, when it comes right down to it. Though, Harry, of course, (SU: Yeah.) made himself cool. He was a scrawny little kid in glasses, (JN laughs) and he comes through, and becomes the guy everyone wants to know.
SU: Yeah. You know, the scene- you’ve written so many brilliant scenes, but I personally think that one of your most powerful scenes (JKR: Thank you) was when Neville goes into St. Mungo’s, and I understood, when I was listening to that scene, that Neville probably never had the love of his mom and understood that, like hugs. All he got were these wrappers.
JKR: Yeah. All he got were these elderly relatives, (SU sighs) who just wanted him to match up. “Why aren’t you matching up?” The trouble is, I think, that they would be the kind of people who forget what being young is like, and want him to be- imagine themselves to have been prodigies and expect him to match up to really an impossible standard. So I felt so sorry for Neville from the word “go” but I knew that he was going to have a comparable journey to Harry’s, and he does. And bizarrely, Matthew Lewis, who plays who plays Neville, (SU: Yeah.) has undergone a bigger physical transformation (MA:Yes!) than any other person who works in those films, to the point that, when I went to the read through of (b)Half Blood Prince(/b), that we were all sitting in this great square, they put all the tables from the Great Hall into this big square so everyone’s facing inwards for the read through. (JN: Cool.) And facing me were Dan, and Rupert, and Emma, and Evanna, and Bonnie, and the main lot. And there’s this really big cool guy sitting there, with a bit of stubble, (SU: Yeah.) and wearing this woolen hat, and a leather jacket, (JN laughs) and I didn’t recognize him, and my eyes pass on, and I sort of thought, “That will be the guy they’ve got playing McLaggen.” (all laugh) And then I thought, “Where’s Matthew?” (SU: Awesome!) And I looked at him, and my God, when did that happen? (all laugh) So he’s really a very cool dude, and yeah. (MA:Yeah.) He and Devon and Evanna and Bonnie all came to my reception for Beedle the Bard last Monday, and it was great to see them. It was just so nice.
SU: Can we just ask a kinda sad thing, though? What did the Longbottoms do that they earned that wrath from Bellatrix? Such, their three times, like the Potters, (JKR: They were efficient!) thrice defying the Dark Lord.
JKR: They were efficient. That’s all they needed to be to earn her wrath. They were-They had rounded up Death Eaters. They were very good Aurors. They knew what they were doing. They were responsible for a lot of captures and arrests and imprisonments. And so there you are.
MA:What about the three times, the thrice defying of Voldemort?
JKR: Of James and Lily?
MA:Of Neville’s parents. Well, James and Lily too.
JKR: Well it depends how you take defying, doesn’t it? If you’re counting, which I do, (JN laughs) any time you arrested one of his henchmen, any time you escaped him, any time you thwarted him. That’s what he’s looking for. (SU: Yeah.) And both couples qualified, because they were both fighting. Also James and Lily turned him down. That’s established in Philosopher’s Stone. He wanted them, (SU: Wow.) and they wouldn’t come over, so that’s one strike against them before they were even out of their teens.
SU: Rock. That’s so cool. I was glad to hear more about them, the night of their murder in Deathly Hallows, but there’s still a little bit of confusion about those twenty four hours, Jo. (laughs) How did Dumbledore find out about what happened in Godric’s Hollow?
MA:And what happened? There’s this whole twenty four hours that people have been fantasizing about for years.
JKR: Yeah, I know. I’ve got a bit of problem with this myself, because every time I think it straight in my head I go back and look at what the fans are theorizing about, and I think “Yeah, maybe they’ve got a point.” Dumbledore- Well there’s an easy answer to how would Dumbledore know. Because you can- He? (laughs) You can. One can.
MA:Yeah. Yeah. (SU laughs)
JKR: Forgive me if I speak as though it’s all real for a moment. (clears her throat)
SU: It is real! What do you mean it’s not?
JN: That’s what we all feel.
JKR: I know, exactly! That’s how I feel as well. Yeah, so okay. Obviously Dumbledore could cast a spell on a dwelling that would immediately alert him if something happened to it. (SU: Oh.) So he could know instantaneously. That’s not a problem at all. And then he could dispatch Hagrid and so on. I think The Scottish Book will have to answer that question. ( SU, MA, and JN laugh) I’m gonna have to really go back through notes and either admit that I lost twenty four hours or I don’t know, hurriedly come up with some back story to fill in. (SU laughs) Either way, you either get to be right, or you get more story. So you can’t complain.
JN: Now I have to ask, (JKR: Uh huh?) and ah. I don’t know if it’s something that- You probably haven’t even decided it yet. But when you do go back and you do, in ten years, so be it, (JKR: Mm-hm.) do The Scottish Book, are you thinking more in line of a- Like an account of events, or more like small stories for things?
JKR: Well, to be honest John, at the moment, I’m not going to say “Don’t hold me to this,” but I’m just gonna say “This might change,” but I imagined it as half of it, maybe on facing pages, but that might be difficult just through layout. But the ideal would be to have, say on the left-hand side, you’ve got a page showing all your back story, extra details on characters, or an entry on wands, showing what every character’s wand was, and all of this stuff. (MA and JN: Mm-hm.) And I think also it might be interesting to have information about the actual writing, and what I discarded. So on one side it’s acting as though the whole world is true, and it’s giving you extra information on that real world, (SU: Yeah.) (JN: Yes.) and on the other side we’re admitting that it’s actually fiction ,and I’m showing discarded plots, characters that didn’t make it, problems in the plot. I think both lots of information are interesting, so it would be nice to unite both of them
JN: Absolutely. That sounds like a student’s textbook. (JKR: Yeah. Yeah.) Where in the margins they have (MA laughs) fact tables and things, and then there’s also snippets of stories that they rescued from things, and then-
JKR: Well, exactly, to be honest, I think the only- The point of doing it, if I’m going to do it, it’s about doing the absolute definitive, giving-people-everything guide. (SU: Yeah.) I mean, everything. Could I ever give everything? But everything that I’ve got, put it that way. That’s what I aspire to do at the moment. It might, for practical reasons, not be possible to do both sets of information in that way but I would like to. That would be the ideal.
JN: I think fans would wait ten years (MA:Yeah.) for something like that, to be honest.
JKR: If that’s the case then I’m delighted, because I don’t- What I really, I don’t wanna get into, God knowa I do not this near Christmas (SU: Yeah.) want to talk about legal stuff. It’s just too depressing. But I think there’s no point in me doing it unless it’s amazing. And I think there’s no point in writing it unless it is everything, and the last thing that I want to do is to feel that I have to rush something out because- (SU: Right.) Do you know what I mean? My hand is being forced, or I’ve got to rush it out, because there’s demand and other people will fill it first. I think, I just want to do it right, or not do it at all. And I really do want to do it right.
SU: Well I’ll wait ten years, if you give me a little bit of the history of Hufflepuff, and then I’ll just be a happy camper.
JKR: Yeah, well, (JN laughs) I will definitely. (MA:(laughing) Oh god.) That’s, all of it, yeah.
JN: It’s been a hundred and thirty some weeks, and we’ve managed to get you on the show, so ten years, what’s it matter?
JKR: Yeah what’s it matter? That’s the spirit, John!
MA:You guys are being very permissive about this ten years thing. (laughs) I don’t know, man. Let’s not expand it. No, I’m just kidding. Since you mentioned Hufflepuff, I wanted to ask a sort of specific question about Hannah.
JKR: Hannah Abbott?
SU: Yes, (MA:Yeah.) yes.
JKR: Oh, I like her.
MA:There’s a line in Deathly Hallows when Harry (SU: Yeah.) see someone that he thinks might be Hannah Abbott’s long-lost relatives. What’s her deal? Is she a Muggle-born? Is she- Did she lose her family?
JKR: Oh, you mean the grave?
JKR: No. She’s not Muggle-born. She’s- No, I’m pretty sure Hannah’s a pureblood. I know her mother died.
MA:In an old documentary, you showed a picture that had like all the family associations, and Hannah appeared to be Muggle-blood in the (JKR: Did she?) fan’s carefully constructed image of that picture.
JKR: Because I’ll tell you what. If that’s the- I’ve got that notebook, and that’s one of my cornerstone notebooks. In that case, then I’ve been mis-remembering that, because I thought she was pureblood. Hm, interesting.
JKR: Beause I’ve certainly (MA:Okay.) written about her, and thought about her for years now (MA:Mm-hm.) as pureblood, so that’s interesting. (laughs) Maybe we’ll just split the difference and call her half-blood. (MA and JN laugh) Yeah, that’s how decisions are taken in the fairly random world of J.K. Rowling. (MA and JN laugh)
SU: I didn’t care though, because Hannah goes on to become landlady at the Leaky Cauldron, my favorite pub. And I was-
JKR: Damn right she does, and I think that’s a very cool- I think that’s (JN laughs) a pretty cool career, and I think that makes Neville quite cool (JN: Yeah.) that he married her, don’t you think?
SU: Yes it does. (claps) Woohoo.
JKR: Thank you. (JN laughs)
SU: Thank you, Jo.
JKR: My pleasure.
SU: I loved it. You know, I love your website. You made Hufflepuff, and when you did the (MA laughs) four founders and you had all that stuff- So we were really, really grateful to learn about all those things, so (JKR: Thank you.) bring it on.
JKR: I know that the website’s been really quiet lately. I said in my diary entry, people around me keep saying, “Oh it must be really quiet now.” They have no idea. The second half of (MA laughs) 2007 has been insane and manic and strange, (SU: Right.) and full of stuff that I’d really rather not deal with. And I’m afraid to say the website’s one of the things that kind of went by the by. I hoped (SU: Oh.) by starting the website, which I’ve enjoyed so much. It’s been a great way to directly communicate with the fans, and definitely the most effective way I could have found. I was getting a lot of pressure, or a lot of requests to do a fan club. From people (SU: Oh, yeah.) who wanted to run it, and people who wanted to have a fan club. And I really didn’t want to do a fan club, because I thought that they’re nearly never as good as they promised to be. (SU: Right.) And they’re never free, and you’ve got to pay, and then a lot of material needs to be generated. And so I thought doing the fan site, creating that, at least it would be free, and people would feel that they were getting something. So if there was a quiet phase, then it wouldn’t matter too much. I do need to update, and I will. I will.
SU: Yes, because we’re dying about those W.O.M.B.A.T.’s, you know.
JKR: Oh God! Listen, (MA and SU laugh) I’ve got to tell you, the W.O.M.B.A.T.’s are done. I’m sorry.
JKR: There are no more W.O.M.B.A.T.’s.
JKR: I’m sorry.
JKR: I did- You know, I worked really hard on those W.O.M.B.A.T.’s.
SU: What was the purpose of them though? Just for fun? Just to do those? I mean, why did you- We felt like, oh man!
JKR: I’ll tell you what it was. And this is kind of sad. (SU: Yeah. I was told that it would be very unwise to put hints about Hallows on my site, because we’ve had enormous trouble in Half-Blood Prince, because I had put hints about it. And then it was argued in court by people who wanted to put the whole book on the Internet, or (SU: Oh!) press people who had (MA laughs) gotten hold of it, and wanted to put it out early. And they would- An argument would be, “Well, you put it on your site, so we have the right to put it up as well.” So I was told it would be very foolish to start putting chapter headings and so on up. I would be weakening my own case against people who wanted to do spoilers. So then I started looking for something that I could give fans that wasn’t foreshadowing. Although, I hope you noticed- Sorry, I’m going off on a slight tangent.
JKR: I was going to say, to give fans stuff that wasn’t foreshadowing Book Seven. But in fact, if you were (MA:Mm-hm.) paying attention, W.O.M.B.A.T. Three had loads of stuff from Book Seven in it. (laughs) And no one knew, (SU: Yeah.) and no one realized (MA, SU, and JN laugh) including the lawyers. Yay! So I win. (MA laughs)
SU: Yay! And Jo wins! Yes, you do. You go, girl! That’s awesome.
JKR: Thank you.
MA:Jo against the lawyers. Oh, that’s funny.
JKR: Actually there was a whole lot of stuff in W.O.M.B.A.T. Three that was taken from Seven. And people picked up on it, on some of it. I had some stuff in there about Gryffindor’s sword and a few other things. So.
MA:Will you put up the answers so that people can kind of figure it out?
JKR: You know, I could. I could put it. Would you like that? Would that-
SU: Yes, please!
MA:Oh, we’d love that.
JKR: That would be fun? (JN laughs) Okay, that would be cool. But it did amuse me. I can’t remember, someone gave- Wait, wait. Some site gave a guide to what you should be putting, and I think people who followed their advice were not getting the top marks, so…(JN laughs) Anyway, they-
JN: I mean, I got an O on all of mine. (SU: He didn’t! MA:Uh-huh. John, I’m sure.) So I didn’t really need the answers.
JKR: Did you? Well the embarrassing thing is my husband only got Acceptable, and he was in the room while I was writing the questions. (MA and SU laugh) And was listening to me telling him the answers, so (SU: (laughing) That’s awesome.) what that tells about how much my husband listens to me, I shudder to think.
JN: That sounds very much like a Hermione-Ron kind of thing.
MA:Yes it does.
JKR: We have our moments, believe you me. Yeah. So he (JN laughs) got an Acceptable, and then got discouraged, and didn’t take another one. (laughs)
MA:Oh, that’s very Ron.
SU: Oh, (MA:Well, did…) speaking of Ron and Hermione-
JKR: Yeah, did they graduate from Hogwarts?
SU: Yes. Did they?
JKR: Harry and Ron didn’t go back. Hermione did.
SU: (gasps) Ooo!
JKR: Did you bet right? I mean, come on, nobody’s going to think Hermione wouldn’t go back.
SU: I predicted. Yeah.
JKR: Of course she’d go back. She has to get her N.E.W.T.s. Ron was really done with schooling (laughs). I think that (SU: Yeah.) it would be kind of tempting to go back just to mess around for a year and have a break, but he goes (JN: Yeah.) into the Auror Department. He’s needed. Anyone who was in that battle the right side. Kingsley would want them to help clean up the- I mean anyone who’s old enough to do it, who’s over age (JN: Hm.), but Kinglsey would have wanted Ron, Neville, Harry, and they would’ve all gone, and they would’ve all done the job. And I think that would’ve been a good thing for them too, because to go through that battle, and them be relegated to the sidelines, I think they would’ve felt a need to keep going, and finish the job. So that would’ve have been rounding up the corrupt people who were doing a Lucius Malfoy, and trying to pretend that they really weren’t involved.
JN: Wow. Yeah, we had all been thinking perhaps these big complicated- Well we always over complicate things. Like (JKR: Yeah you do (laughs) do that.), they do this distance learning kind of thing (JKR laughs) where (JKR: Kwikspell course!) they finish school from home (JKR: (laughing) Yeah.). Yes, exactly.
SU: And with Filch.
MA:We were imagining Hermione on the back of the dragon on the Deluxe Edition doing her N.E.W.T.
SU: Yeah we did!
SU: It was funny.
JKR: No, she would definitely, definitely go back. And she would want to graduate, and I think that she was- I mean,I love Hermione. She went with Ron and Harry because she has a really good heart. That’s not about brain. Ultimately, she had a bigger heart than she had a brain and that’s saying something for Hermione. But did she- Was she naturally drawn to battle? No, she wasn’t. She’s not a Bellatrix. She’s not a woman who actually wants to be hurting, fighting, killing. Not at all. She would be glad to go back to school, be glad to get back to study, and then would join them at the Ministry.
JN: Now, you know what I’m curious about now (SU: Mm-hm.), is that one of the neatest things about the Hogwarts tradition is the entrance ceremony, from the whole riding the boats to the castle to the sorting ceremony. What kind of traditions is there for graduation, and leaving Hogwarts?
JKR: Do you know, John, I’m really glad you asked that, because I felt a huge sadness that I wouldn’t write a graduation scene.
JKR: Yeah, I really did. I knew, I mean I knew from early days that we were never going to see them graduate. I knew that he would, well not he, but they, all three of them would not- We would not see them at school during what should’ve been their final year of education, but I really, during the final book, kept thinking it would’ve been- It felt sad that the book wasn’t going to end with that feast scene, the graduation scene, but it couldn’t, it just couldn’t. That’s not the way it could’ve ended. It would’ve felt far too trite, and a lot of people felt the epilogue was too sentimental. I think to have a graduation scene on top of what just (SU: Yeah.) happened would’ve been absurd (SU laughs) (JN: Aw.) anticlimax.
JN: Did you have ideas for kind of traditions they would do, like ride the boats back out of Hogwarts (JKR: Oh yeah definitely!) or something? Because I know I’m not as good as thinking these things.
JKR: The boats would’ve been the most poetic and beautiful way to for them to leave, and symbolic in that they- Harry would have seen the Threstrals again. You know what I mean? It would’ve been a return to innocence really, and passage of water is so symbolic, in history of magic. So yeah (JN: Yeah.), I think it would’ve been great.
MA:Jo, you just hit on something that happens all the time here on PotterCast. John says- He throws out some nonsense thing he just thought of off the top of his head…
JKR: And then it turns out to be accurate.
MA:And then it’s the perfect thing, and it turns out to be accurate. I can’t tell you how much he got right in Deathly Hallows.
JKR: I think I find that very interesting because I- It’s often those things that strike you like lightening that are the right things. Sometimes you have to work very hard for something, and finally something shifts in your brain, and you just say, “Yeah! Yes, of course, that’s it,” but I love it, and there’s no better feeling when it just comes out of nowhere, and you think, “Ah perfect! Thank you.”
JN: Don’t forget to tune in next week guys for Part Two with J.K. Rowling.
Harry Potter: We’ve missed it!
John from Michigan: Dobby is freeee!
Voldemort: I confess myself…disappointed.
Hermione Granger: Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.
Lockhart: Great Scott! No wonder look at the time we’ve been here nearly four hours. Spooky how the time flies when one’s having fun. Heh.
JN: This weeks PotterCast was produced by the PotterCast trio and Stede Bonnet. Thanks as always to our awesome Transcription Elves for transcribing this and all our other episodes on PotterCast.com. For more information about the show and how to contact us and be apart of future episodes, visit PotterCast.com.
Draco and the Malfoys Song “The Leaky Cauldron”
Eww…there’s something leaking out of your cauldron.
It’s getting all over my shoes.
This cauldron’s got a hole in it,
It’s where the news leaks out.
It’s got a really big whole,
Because there’s a lot of news!
The Leaky Cauldron!
The Leaky Cauldron!
Just go to the-leaky-cauldron.org!
Or Google it if you can’t remember.