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

Jan 04, 2011

Posted by: John Admin

JKR Interviews

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?”

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.