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


Jan 04, 2011

Posted by John Admin

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?”

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

Avatar ImageLiderc says: Very coolAvatar ImageMaestra2 says: Hey, first! What fun to look back and see the ideas of success forming!Avatar ImageA Chocolate Frog says: Wow, what a great find! It's so odd to hear her talking about not being totally sure there would be seven books, and I love the part about the Forest of Dean! Avatar ImageNoble Birth Descending says: I love that she is so humble and grateful that PS sold 30,000 copies in the U.K., won the Smarties, that her works were being published in 8 countries, that Scholastic picked it up and that they were talking about a movie deal. My favorite part: "Hopefully, after Harry, I'll still be publishing, That's what I want!"Avatar ImageLiderc says: Very coolAvatar ImageCassieLeigh says: Indeed it is great! I love this, thanks for posting it. :)Avatar ImageSrose says: I love that her parents moved to the forest of Dean!!!! I just love the interview over all, I love looking back so long ago and seeing how far it's come and how what she wanted to happen, happened....GREAT INTERVIEW, THANKSAvatar ImageAstoria Lane says: This is the type of interview I have been waiting to see one before she was really secretive about what she would say! I also got the part about the Forest of Dean and I'm glad she put that location as the one the Hermione mentions in book 7 when she says Hermione came camping there with her parents.. When in fact Jo's parents lived there! Great video to look back at! Thank you LeakyAvatar ImageHagrid 713 says: Excellent find - always great to see Jo and her reaction to her success - she's so real and humbleAvatar ImageScottMan says: SO so charming! I heart JK Rowling, as do we all.Avatar ImagePotionsMaster7 says: If she only knew the impact the films would have...let alone the phenomenon that she was about create with the rest of the books! Avatar ImageCaputDraconis80 says: It's really funny read this interview, some years later! Thank you so much, J.K.! ...Please, friends, can you help us? Read this thread: Avatar ImageLemonFaerie says: Simply amazing, what a great find. That was so fun to watch with the hindsight we can all bring to it now. No one deserves her successes more than JK Rowling, every time I see older footage of her I am just so thrilled for her all over again, and for us. What a gift she gave us with Harry. Thank you Jo!Avatar Imageazaadpotter says: That was amazing thanks for posting hereAvatar ImageDorisCrockford says: Aw, I love Ginger Jo. :)Avatar Imageksddancer says: Wowza!!!! That's some find. I cannot believe they just found it but at least they did. :)Avatar Imageginnyshiel says: I love her comments about Scotland because I love that country and visited a lot of places from the film even before they were filmed. Especially Loch Shiel where Hogwarts is nestled.Avatar ImageJoRowlingRocks says: Awww ginger Jo! There's hardly any footage of ginger Jo! Can you imagine her doing an interview slumped with her chin in her hand now hahah! Ahh I've sat at that table I wonder if it's still the same one =P I thought she'd like that table because of the view of the castle out the window! I wish the interviewer had asked more questions about the plot of the books it would have been fun to see how things have changed since then!Avatar Image2tal says: What a lovely flashback. It is inspiring to see her then knowing where it would go.Avatar ImageRedbeard says: It seems she had a bit of a lisp back then. You can actually see her tongue's a bit lazy.. I wonder if she had speech therapy for that.. Avatar ImageButterfly_Boy says: How wonderful and humble Jo is. She is amazing! It's a delight to find an old interview from a time when Harry Potter was still emerging!Avatar ImageFresca says: The success could not have happened to a nicer person. I hope that she does continue writing after Harry, or more about his world. That would be awesome!Avatar ImageGinnyW. says: I love her being so normal. Still now, after all her success :)Avatar ImageWinkyxx says: Go JO!=D <3Avatar ImageWant to be a Weasley says: I loved reading this, JKR is amazing!Avatar ImageGiant Squid says: Wow! Thats so interesting to here what she thought would happen then! Especially about the movies! And she had nothing to worry about, the films are AMAZING!!Avatar Imagesessionka says: I loved this... I'd love to see a collection of all Jo's interviews. It's hysterical (now) to think that selling 30,000 books was considered "phenomonal". The last four of her books probably sold that in an hour at midnight. I love her red hair. Now I see another connection with Lily Potter.Avatar ImageFragesteller says: Deathly Hallows sold about 30,000 copies within the first three minutes after it went on sale (15 million copies in the first 24 hours).Avatar ImageRedbeard says: I love that she's actually been consistent in her opinions over the years. She still talks about the phenomenon in the same way now. Her answers aren't calculated to make her look good, she just tells what the truth. Otherwise her opinions would have probably changed over the years.Avatar ImageMoviegoer says: I'm Harry Potter surper fan,I'm very insteresting in how J.K. Rowling write the good books.She is a genius woman.!Avatar Imageeccentricalice says: Wow, she must have been pinching herself for the last 12 years! She is so humble in this, and so grateful, and I think she's an amazing woman and a total inspiration, and totally deserves to have all that she does now. I love the connection with the Forest of Dean as well!Avatar Imagedevilskinn says: I love her hair like this: red and curly!Avatar Imagejhangelgurl says: This is a really nice interview to hear before her success..or at least huge success. Avatar Imagehewy says: What a great interview. She really has been consistant in her answers over the years to all questions. In later interviews she will sometimes elaborate on a particular point but by and large nothing has changed (answer wise.) Her new look is so different, would love to see her with the red hair it was becoming to her skin color. What a truly humble and inspirational person she is and she deserves all the success, accolades, awards and respect she has gotten.Avatar ImageRedbeard says: I really like the red hair, but I don't think it would be very very becoming on her nowadays. She gotten a little older, and the blond hair keeps things fresh ;) Avatar ImageNot Slytherin says: Cool. Thanks so much for posting this!Avatar ImageRubeusHagrid says: If she thought 30,000 copies in the UK was phenomenal..Just imagine what she thought about 400 million copies worldwide ^_^ Gotta love Jo!

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