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JKR: Snape and Dumbledore Two of the Most Important Characters in "Deathly Hallows"

JKR Interviews
Posted by: sue
April 03, 2008, 03:10 PM

Back in February, we told you Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was a guest at the James Joyce Awards in Dublin, Ireland. Thanks to La Gazetter du Sorcier there is a new report online containing a many of her remarks at this event. Answering a range of questions, Jo again says she intends to “write an Encyclopaedia which would hopefully incorporate a lot of back story I couldn’t… or flesh out back story that wasn’t in the books.” JKR was also asked if she thinks of the actors when she writes. Jo said “to be honest no, the only actor or actress who has ever, ever intruded while writing was Evanna Lynch, who is absolutely perfect as Luna. And I must admit I have heard her voice in my head when I wrote the book.”

Specifically on the topics of the books, J.K. Rowling reflected on the theories that she heard while writing the series and mentions several in particular, notably ” when Neville visits his parents in St Mungo’s and his mother presses sweets wrappers on him, which I always saw as a poignant moment… There was a theory that she’s passing secret messages on the sweet wrappers. There have been loads of them. But Dumbledore being Harry from the future is definitely my favourite of all the insane theories. But then you have people, I had people as early as Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book. I remember a woman saying to me : “I think Snape loves Lily”. I was “Oh my God what the hell did I give away ?”. But so people, people got stuff very unnervingly right. Often. Yeah.”

Jo also says she would like to go back and tighten up “Order of the Phoenix,” (“I must admit I was feeling the strength of the pressure a bit during that phase, and I think it shows in the book”) and mentions one hurdle she had to deal with when writing the series, stating : “The one thing, the difficulty I did sometimes have was I made a rule so tight it was sometimes hard to navigate around it myself. So not being able to Apparate in and out of Hogwarts was a pain in the back. Because it was necessary, I had to put that limit to make it a safe place. But finding a way to get in and out of Hogwarts was always a bit of a challenge. I was quite proud of Aberforth again, the tunnel. I like Aberforth. And his goat. [laughing] Yeah, Dumbledore pales into insignificance.”

Of interest are her comments regarding the plot lines and several of the characters. The Harry Potter author said some of the less crucial story lines were not always planned right from the begining and evolved as she went along, “But the big ones, the Dumbledore storyline, the Snape storyline were always there because you — the series is built around those.” Further comments on the importance of Snape and Dumbledore came from a question about the development of their story lines. Jo said:

“with Dumbledore quite deliberately, you find out little about Dumbledore’s own private life because his interactions with Harry are always about Harry, which sets up the fact that in the seventh book Harry thinks “but why did I never ask ?” He’s gone now and he’s never even thought of saying : “so how about you ?” you know, at the end of one of those conversations which I think is something that happens after the grief, the regret that he didn’t ask. And I think also that Dumbledore had always been such an almost god-like figure to Harry in some ways, that he felt he couldn’t ask him personal questions.

Snape, on the other hand, I had to drop clues all the way through because as you know in the seventh book when you have the revelation scene where everything shifts and you realize why Snape was… what Snape’s motivation was. I had to plot that through the books because at the point where you see what was really going on, it would have been an absolute cheat on the reader at that point just to show a bunch of stuff you’ve never seen before, you know… “Oh by the way, in the background this was happening.” So I did know. It was a complicated plotting process but by the time Philosopher’s Stone was finished, I definitely knew all the big things about Snape and Dumbledore because in many ways they’re the two most important characters in the seventh book… Well, other than the trio, Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Thanks to Alexandre!

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