New J.K. Rowling Interview: Confirms Working on “Scottish Book,” Reflects on Dumbledore, Homophobia, Fundamentalism, Future Writing Projects and More
Mar 08, 2008
J.K. Rowling has given a new interview with the Edinburgh “Student” newspaper, where the Harry Potter author gives her thoughts on future writing projects, the reaction to the news on Dumbledore’s sexuality, religious fundamentalists, and much more. In this lengthy interview, Jo confirms she is indeed compiling information on the “Scottish book,” or the encyclopedia involving the world of Harry Potter as she says “…I am working on it in fact. I just don’t want to have to work to a deadline, but I am slowly piecing it together.” The article mentions that the children’s book that Jo is currently working on as well is still not finished and one that is for adults “may never see the light of day at all.” Jo declined to elaborate further on these books noting “The minute I say anything, immediately my life becomes more complicated.” She does go on to say that she “aways wanted to write a novel about a stand-up comedian. That is not what I am writing though, so if something comes out next week, that’s not me, I’m not doing it! But for ages, I’ve had a real thing about it.”
In a wide ranging conversation, Jo gives her thoughts on such things as dealing with depression and the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (“I would recommend it highly”), fame and recognition by her readers (“people coming up to me in Starbucks are always charming, Always”) and whether she reads her own books (“The only one I’ve gone back and re-read since publication is the seventh book which is my favorite.”) Jo Rowling also discusses at length two subjects which have generated much conversation among her fans: the repeated attempts of Laura Mallory to have the Harry Potter books banned in Georgia, and the large reaction to the news last October that Jo always felt her character of Professor Dumbledore was a gay man.
Regarding the Harry Potter book banning issue Jo says quote:
“I can cope with a bad review. No one loves a bad review but a useful review is one that teaches you something. But to be honest the Christian Fundamentalist thing was bad. I would have been quite happy to sit there and debate with one of the critics who were taking on Harry Potter from a moral perspective. In a sense we have traded arguments through the media. I’ve tried to be rational about it. There’s a woman in North Carolina or Alabama who’s been trying to get the books banned-she’s a mother of four and never read them. And then- I’m not lying, I’m not even making fun, this is the truth of what she said-quite recently she was asked [why] and she said ‘Well I prayed whether or not I should read them, and God told me no.’ Rowling pauses to reflect on the weight of that statement, and her expression one of utter disbelief.
“You see, that is where I absolutely part company with people on that side of the fence, because that is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is, ‘I will not open my mind to look on your side of the argument at all. I won’t read it, I won’t look at it, I’m too frightened.’ That’s what’s dangerous about it, whether it be politically extreme, religiously extreme…In fact, fundamentalists across all the major religions, if you put them in a room, they’d have bags in common!” she laughs loudly before sobering. “They hate all the same things, it’s such an ironic thing.”
On the matter of Dumbledore, Jo candidly states the following:
“I had always seen Dumbledore as gay, but in a sense that’s not a big deal. The book wasn’t about Dumbledore being gay. It was just that from the outset obviously I knew he had this big, hidden secret, and that he flirted with the idea of exactly what Voldemort goes on to do, he flirted with the idea of racial domination, that he was going to subjugate the Muggles. So that was Dumbledore’s big secret.
Why did did he flirt with that?” she asks. “He’s an innately good man, what would make him do that. I didnt even think it through that way, it just seemed to come to me, I thought ‘I know why he did it, he fell in love.’ And whether they physically consummated this infatuation or not is not the issue. The issue is love. It’s not about sex. So that’s what I knew about Dumbledore. And it’s relevant only in so much as he fell in love and was made an utter fool of by love. He lost his moral compass completely when he fell in love and I think subsequently became very mistrusting of his own judgment in those matters so became quite asexual. He led a celibate and bookish life.”
Clearly some people didn’t see it that way. How does she react to those who disagree with a homosexual character in a children’s novel? “So what?” she retorts immediately “It is a very interesting question because I think homophobia is a fear of people loving, more than it is of the sexual act. There seems to be an innate distaste for the love involved, which I find absolutely extraordinary. There were people who thought, well why haven’t we seen Dumbledore’s angst about being gay?” Rowling is clearly amused by this and rightly so. “Where was that going to come in? And then the other thing was-and I had letters saying this-that, as a gay man, he would never be safe to teach in a school.”
An air of incredulity descends on the room as if Rowling herself still can not believe this statement. She continues: “He’s a very old single man. You have to ask: why is it so interesting? People have to examine their own attitudes. It’s a shade of character. Is it the most important thing about him? No, it’s Dumbledore for God’s sake. There are 20 things that are relavant to the story before his sexuality.” Bottom line then: he isn’t a gay character; he’s a character that just happens to be gay. Rowling concurs wholeheartedly.
You can see scans of this long new interview here in our galleries. Many thanks to Catherine for sending this in! UPDATE The author Adeel Amini let us know he has the article now available on his website in a very clear pdf format- here. Thanks Adeel!