Interview with JK Rowling After HBP – Part 3

Jul 28, 2007

Posted by: John Admin


The Leaky Cauldron and MN Interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling

July 16, 2005: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince publication day
Edinburgh, Scotland

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

JKR‘s report here!
Melissa’s report here!
Discussion here!

WARNING: The entirety of this interview is colored by book six – which means if you don’t yet want to be spoiled or haven’t yet read Half-Blood Prince, reading this interview will not be good for your health. Be warned!

MA: One of our Leaky “Ask Jo” poll winners is theotherhermit, she’s 50 and lives in a small town in the eastern US. I think this was addressed in the sixth book, but, “Do the memories stored in a Pensieve reflect reality or the views of the person they belong to?”

JKR: It’s reality. It’s important that I have got that across, because Slughorn gave Dumbledore this pathetic cut-and-paste memory. He didn’t want to give the real thing, and he very obviously patched it up and cobbled it together. So, what you remember is accurate in the Pensieve.

ES: I was dead wrong about that.

JKR: Really?

ES: I thought for sure that it was your interpretation of it. It didn’t make sense to me to be able to examine your own thoughts from a third-person perspective. It almost feels like you’d be cheating because you’d always be able to look at things from someone else’s point of view.

MA: So there are things in there that you haven’t noticed personally, but you can go and see yourself?

JKR: Yes, and that’s the magic of the Pensieve, that’s what brings it alive.

ES: I want one of those!

JKR: Yeah. Otherwise it really would just be like a diary, wouldn’t it? Confined to what you remember. But the Pensieve recreates a moment for you, so you could go into your own memory and relive things that you didn’t notice the time. It’s somewhere in your head, which I’m sure it is, in all of our brains. I’m sure if you could access it, things that you don’t know you remember are all in there somewhere.

ES: Our other “Ask Jo” question (the one about James and Lily’s sacrifices), was from Maria Vlasiou, who is 25, of the Netherlands. And then the third is from Helen Poole, 18, from Thirsk, Yorkshire – also one of the “Plot Thickens” fan book authors. It’s the one about Grindelwald, which I’m sure you’ve been gearing up for us to ask.

JKR: Uh huh.

ES: Clearly –

JKR: Come on then, remind me. Is he dead?

ES: Yeah, is he dead?

JKR: Yeah, he is.

ES: Is he important?

JKR: [regretful] Ohhh…

ES: You don’t have to answer but can you give us some backstory on him?

JKR: I’m going to tell you as much as I told someone earlier who asked me. You know Owen who won the [UK television] competition to interview me? He asked about Grindelwald [pronounced “Grindelvald” HMM…]. He said, “Is it coincidence that he died in 1945,” and I said no. It amuses me to make allusions to things that were happening in the Muggle world, so my feeling would be that while there’s a global Muggle war going on, there’s also a global wizarding war going on.

ES: Does he have any connection to—

JKR: I have no comment to make on that subject.


MA: Do they feed each other, the Muggle and wizarding wars?

JKR: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Mm.

MA: You’ve gone very quiet.

[All laugh; JKR maniacally.]

MA: We like when you get very quiet, it means —

ES: You’re clearly hiding something.

MA: Our next winner question is from Delaney Monaghan, who is 6 years old, via her mother, Vanessa Monaghan. They’re from Canberra, Australia. “What is the significance, if any of the gum wrappers that Mrs. Longbottom keeps giving Neville?”

ES: Quick, go on the record [with what you think] before she answers —

MA: I think they’re a sad mark of an insane woman.

JKR: That was also asked of me this morning. That idea was one of the very few that was inspired by a real event. I was told what, to me, was a very sad story by someone I know about their elderly mother who had Alzheimer’s, and the elderly mother was in a closed ward. She was very severely demented and no longer recognized her son, but he went faithfully to visit her twice a week, and he used to take her sweets. That was their point of connection; she had a sweet tooth, she recognized him as the sweet-giver. That was very poignant to me. So I embroidered the story. Neville gives his mother what she wants, and (it makes me sad to think of it) she wants to give something back to him, but what she gives back to him is essentially worthless. But he still takes it as worth something because she’s trying to give, so it does mean something, in emotional terms.

But, the theories on the sweet wrappers, are really out there.

ES: You can’t blame them.

JKR: I mean she’s not trying to pass him secret messages.

MA: She’s not really sane —

JKR: No. You’re right. But that’s a classic example of, “Let’s just shut that one down,” because it doesn’t really lead anywhere very interesting even if they’re wrong.

MA: It’s probably one of the most touching moments in the books.

JKR: I think it is important as a character moment.

MA: Our third winner question is from Monique Padelis, who’s 15, of Surrey. How and when was the veil created?

JKR: The veil’s been there as long as the Ministry of Magic has been there, and the Ministry of Magic has been there, not as long as Hogwarts, but a long time. We’re talking hundreds of years. It’s not particularly important to know exactly when, but centuries, definitely.

MA: Was it used as an execution chamber or just studying?

JKR: No, it’s just studying. The Department of Mysteries is all about studying. They study the mind, the universe, death…

MA: Are we going back to that room, that locked room?

JKR: No comment.

ES: Dumbledore is unrivaled in his knowledge of magic –

JKR: Mmhm.

ES: Where did he learn it all?

JKR: I see him primarily as someone who would be self-taught. However, he in his time had access to superb teachers at Hogwarts, so he was educated in the same way that everyone else is educated. Dumbledore’s family would be a profitable line of inquiry, more profitable than sweet wrappers.

MA: His family?

JKR: Family, yes.

MA: Should we talk about that a little more?

JKR: No. But you can! [Laughter.]

MA: What about Harry’s family — his grandparents — were they killed?

JKR: No. This takes us into more mundane territory. As a writer, it was more interesting, plot-wise, if Harry was completely alone. So I rather ruthlessly disposed of his entire family apart from Aunt Petunia. I mean, James and Lily are massively important to the plot, of course, but the grandparents? No. And, because I do like my backstory: Petunia and Lily’s parents, normal Muggle death. James’s parents were elderly, were getting on a little when he was born, which explains the only child, very pampered, had-him-late-in-life-so-he’s-an-extra-treasure, as often happens, I think. They were old in wizarding terms, and they died. They succumbed to a wizarding illness. That’s as far as it goes. There’s nothing serious or sinister about those deaths. I just needed them out of the way so I killed them.

MA: That sort of shuts down Heir of Gryffindor [theories], as well.

JKR: [Pause.] Yeah. Well – yeah.

MA: Another one bites the dust.


JKR: Well, there you go. See, I’m aware that “Half-Blood Prince” will not delight everyone, because it does shoot down some theories. I mean, if it didn’t, I haven’t done my job right. A few people won’t particularly like it, and a lot of people aren’t going to like the death very much, but that was always what was planned to come.

We still don’t know whether there was a genuine leak on that, or whether it was speculation that happened to be accurate.

ES: With this book?

MA: Remember the bets?

ES: Oh yeah –

JKR: Yeah, the betting scam. Well, we’re now 50/50. If you remember, on “Phoenix,” the betting went for Cho Chang, and it was exactly the same thing. Suddenly someone put up something like £10,000 on Cho Chang to die, and you wouldn’t think someone would waste that kind of money, so we think that they thought they had inside information. On the Dumbledore one, we still don’t know. Was there a genuine leak or did someone just guess, and get it right?

ES: I remember actually putting a poll up on MuggleNet asking people if they thought he was going to bite it.

JKR: And what was the result? That’s really interesting.

ES: The majority thought he was going to die in book six — well, six or seven. Most thought it was going to be in seven.

JKR: Really. Yeah.

ES: It was probably 65/35, but definitely, most thought he was going to die.

JKR: Yeah, well, I think if you take a step back, in the genre of writing that I’m working in, almost always the hero must go on alone. That’s the way it is, we all know that, so the question is when and how, isn’t it, if you know anything about the construction of that kind of plot.

ES: The wise old wizard with the beard always dies.

JKR: Well, that’s basically what I’m saying, yes.


MA: It’s interesting, because that moment — I think we all sort of felt like he was going to die as soon as he started imparting these huge swallows of wisdom.

JKR: Mm.

MA: And the moment when Harry said, ‘I realize this, and my parents realized this, and this is about this choice,’ we stopped, and we said, “All right, let’s let everyone catch up, and talk about this, because a) Dumbledore is dying, b) this is the flag that signals that we’re going to power through to the end.” I feel like that was a defining moment of the entire series. Do you tend to agree?

JKR: Yes, definitely, because I think there’s a line there between the moment in “Chamber of Secrets” when Dumbledore says so famously, ‘It’s our choices that define us, not our abilities,’ straight through to Dumbledore sitting in his office, saying to Harry, “the prophecy is significant only because you and Voldemort choose to make it so.” If you both chose to walk away, you could both live! That’s the bottom line. If both of them decided, “We’re not playing,” and walked away… but, it’s not going to happen, because as far as Voldemort’s concerned, Harry’s a threat. They must meet each other.

ES: I remember thinking when I read “Order of the Phoenix,” what would happen if Harry and Voldemort just decided to —

JKR: Shake hands, and walk away? We’ll agree to disagree!


ES: What if he never heard the prophecy?

JKR: And that’s it, isn’t it. As I said, that’s what I posted on my site –

ES: I’m glad you put that up.

JKR: It’s the “Macbeth” idea. I absolutely adore “Macbeth.” It is possibly my favorite Shakespeare play. And that’s the question isn’t it? If Macbeth hadn’t met the witches, would he have killed Duncan? Would any of it have happened? Is it fated or did he make it happen? I believe he made it happen.

MA: If everyone would just shake hands and play a round of golf, everything would be fine.


MA: There are a lot of intense loyalty and bravery issues that are really tied to self-sacrifice — specifically in book three, “You should have died rather than betray your friends.” And then, there’s a ton of that throughout. That’s a pretty intense message to pass to, say, an 8-year-old, or a 10-year-old, who is reading the book, saying we should die for our friends.

JKR: Obviously I imagine it in the context of a very highly charged situation. God forbid — I hope that in the general run of things, an 8-year-old would not be required to die for anyone, but we’re talking here about a fully grown man who was in, what I consider to be, a war situation. This was a full-fledged war situation. I think the question really is do you, as readers, believe that Sirius would have died? Because Sirius is saying that.

ES: Oh, absolutely.

MA: Yeah.

JKR: Right, well, that’s what I believed. Sirius would have done it. He, with all his faults and flaws, he has this profound sense of honor, ultimately, and he would rather have died honorably, as he would see it, than live with the dishonor and shame of knowing that he sent those three people to their deaths, those three people that he loved beyond any others, because like Harry he is a displaced person without family.

You’re right, it is an intense message, but I am ultimately writing about evil, and I have said before, I think, that I’m surprised when sometimes people say to me, “Oh, you know, the books are getting so dark.” I’m thinking, “Well, which part of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ did you think was light and fluffy?” You know, there is an innocence about it, Harry is very young when he goes to the school, but the book opens with a double murder. The possibility of death, I think, is present throughout “Philosopher’s Stone,” and I feel that there are a couple of really gruesome images in “Philosopher’s Stone.” I think the first book contains more gruesome imagery than the second, despite the giant snake, because the cloaked figure drinking the unicorn blood is pretty damn creepy. It was to me when I thought of it, and I really, right up until now, all these years later, think that the idea of the face in the back of the head [Voldemort sharing Quirrell’s body] is one of the most disturbing images in the whole book. (The whole book; I call it one big book. In the whole series.)

So, yes, it’s intense, I agree with you, but I would say it’s been pretty intense throughout. There are a lot of things in there that are disturbing, intentionally so, but I really don’t think I’ve ever crossed the line into shocking for shocking’s sake. I feel that I could justify every single piece of morbid imagery in those books. The one that I wondered whether I was going to be able to get past the editors was the physical condition of Voldemort before he went into the cauldron, do you remember? He was kind of fetal. I felt an almost visceral distaste for what I had conjured up, but there’s a reason it was in there and you will see that. And I discussed that with my editor and she was okay with it. In fact, she was more disturbed with the idea of the grave cracking open. I think it’s the desecration idea, isn’t it, again. There’s nothing really to see there — but again it’s the violation of a taboo.

MA: What color are Ron’s eyes?

JKR: Ron’s eyes are blue. Have I never said that, ever? [JKR covers her eyes.]

MA: They’ve been dying for us to ask this.

JKR: Blue. Harry’s green, Ron’s blue, and Hermione’s are brown.

MA: What’s Ron’s Patronus?

JKR: Ron’s Patronus? Have I never said that either? Oh no, that’s shocking! [Laughter.] Ron’s Patronus is a small dog, like a Jack Russell, and that’s a really sentimental choice, because we’ve got a Jack Russell. He’s insane.

MA: This is not a short one but I really want to ask you this — with all the fame and wealth you’ve amassed, how do you keep your kids grounded and normal and rooted in the real world?

JKR: It is my top priority in life. I think and I hope that we lead a pretty normal life, believe it or not. Surreal things happen where I walk out of my house and into an illuminated castle, and so on, but that really has very little effect on them. I think as much as one can, we do lead a very normal life. We go out to the shops like anyone else, we walk around town like anyone else. That’s my feeling anyway. I also think that, importantly, all three children will grow up seeing Neil and I both working. There are no plans on either of our parts to stop working, put our feet up and go yachting around the world or anything, pleasant though that would be and does seem sometimes. We keep working and I think that’s a pretty good example to set to your children, that whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best. It’s doing your proper job, isn’t it?

MA: Yeah. Have you discovered the two missing Gryffindor students?

JKR: [Covers eyes] Ohh! [Frustrated.] I was going to go and get that for you, I’m sorry I haven’t got it, I’ll put it on my site.

MA: Did Ginny send Harry the valentine?

JKR: Yeah, bless her.

MA: Was it a Tom Riddle thing, or Ginny Weasley?

JKR: No, Ginny Weasley.

MA: Well, she got paid back for it.

JKR: [laughs] Eventually.

MA: I think you set that up from the train compartment scene [in book one], where he was watching — all the relationships, that scene probably set it up.

JKR: I think so. I hope so. So you liked Harry/Ginny, did you, when it happened?

ES: We’ve been waiting for this for years!

JKR: Oh, I’m so glad.

MA: Oh my gosh, that kiss!

JKR: Yeah.

ES: It actually materialized!

JKR: It actually happened, I know! I felt a little bit like that.

MA: Had you been trying to get them —

JKR: Well I always knew that that was going to happen, that they were going to come together and then part.

ES: Were you always -ing it? [We can’t figure out what Emerson actually said here.]

JKR: Well, no, not really, because the plan was, which I really hope I fulfilled, is that the reader, like Harry, would gradually discover Ginny as pretty much the ideal girl for Harry. She’s tough, not in an unpleasant way, but she’s gutsy. He needs to be with someone who can stand the demands of being with Harry Potter, because he’s a scary boyfriend in a lot of ways. He’s a marked man. I think she’s funny, and I think that she’s very warm and compassionate. These are all things that Harry requires in his ideal woman. But, I felt — and I’m talking years ago when all this was planned — initially, she’s terrified by his image. I mean, he’s a bit of a rock god to her when she sees him first, at 10 or 11, and he’s this famous boy. So Ginny had to go through a journey as well. And rather like with Ron, I didn’t want Ginny to be the first girl that Harry ever kissed. That’s something I meant to say, and it’s kind of tied in.

One of the ways in which I tried to show that Harry has done a lot of growing up — in “Phoenix,” remember when Cho comes into the compartment, and he thinks, ‘I wish I could have been discovered sitting with better people,’ basically? He’s with Luna and Neville. So literally the identical thing happens in “Prince,” and he’s with Luna and Neville again, but this time, he has grown up, and as far as he’s concerned he is with two of the coolest people on the train. They may not look that cool. Harry has really grown. And I feel that Ginny and Harry, in this book, they are total equals. They are worthy of each other. They’ve both gone through a big emotional journey, and they’ve really got over a lot of delusions, to use your word, together. So, I enjoyed writing that. I really like Ginny as a character.

MA: Does she have a larger importance; the Tom Riddle stufff, being the seventh girl —

JKR: The backstory with Ginny was, she was the first girl to arrive in the Weasley family in generations, but there’s that old tradition of the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and a seventh son of a seventh son, so that’s why she’s the seventh, because she is a gifted witch. I think you get hints of that, because she does some pretty impressive stuff here and there, and you’ll see that again.

ES: Why is Slytherin house still –

JKR: Still allowed!

[All laugh]

ES: Yes! I mean, it’s such a stigma.

JKR: But they’re not all bad. They literally are not all bad. [Pause.] Well, the deeper answer, the non-flippant answer, would be that you have to embrace all of a person, you have to take them with their flaws, and everyone’s got them. It’s the same way with the student body. If only they could achieve perfect unity, you would have an absolute unstoppable force, and I suppose it’s that craving for unity and wholeness that means that they keep that quarter of the school that maybe does not encapsulate the most generous and noble qualities, in the hope, in the very Dumbledore-esque hope that they will achieve union, and they will achieve harmony. Harmony is the word.

ES: Couldn’t —

JKR: Couldn’t they just shoot them all? NO, Emerson, they really couldn’t!

[All laugh]

ES: Couldn’t they just put them into the other three houses, and maybe it wouldn’t be a perfect fit for all of them, but a close enough fit that they would get by and wouldn’t be in such a negative environment?

JKR: They could. But you must remember, I have thought about this —

ES: Even their common room is a gloomy dark room—

JKR: Well, I don’t know, because I think the Slytherin common room has a spooky beauty.

ES: It’s gotta be a bad idea to stick all the Death Eaters’ kids together in one place.

[All crack up again ]

JKR: But they’re not all — don’t think I don’t take your point, but — we, the reader, and I as the writer, because I’m leading you all there — you are seeing Slytherin house always from the perspective of Death Eaters’ children. They are a small fraction of the total Slytherin population. I’m not saying all the other Slytherins are adorable, but they’re certainly not Draco, they’re certainly not, you know, Crabbe and Goyle. They’re not all like that, that would be too brutal for words, wouldn’t it?

ES: But there aren’t a lot of Death Eater children in the other houses, are there?

JKR: You will have people connected with Death Eaters in the other houses, yeah, absolutely.

ES: Just in lesser numbers.

JKR: Probably. I hear you. It is the tradition to have four houses, but in this case, I wanted them to correspond roughly to the four elements. So Gryffindor is fire, Ravenclaw is air, Hufflepuff is earth, and Slytherin is water, hence the fact that their common room is under the lake. So again, it was this idea of harmony and balance, that you had four necessary components and by integrating them you would make a very strong place. But they remain fragmented, as we know.

ES: Was James the only one who had romantic feelings for Lily?

JKR: No. [Pause.] She was like Ginny, she was a popular girl.

MA: Snape?

JKR: That is a theory that’s been put to me repeatedly.

ES: What about Lupin?

JKR: I can answer either one.

ES: How about both? One at a time.

JKR: I can’t answer, can I, really?

ES: Can you give us any clue, without misleading us [Emerson misspoke; he meant “without giving too much away”]—?

JKR: I’ve never, to my knowledge, lied when posed a question about the books. To my knowledge. You can imagine, I’ve now been asked hundreds of questions; it’s perfectly possible at some point I misspoke or I gave a misleading answer unintentionally, or I may have answered truthfully at the time and then changed my mind in a subsequent book. That makes me cagey about answering some questions in too much detail because I have to have some leeway to get there and do it my way, but never on a major plot point.

Lupin was very fond of Lily, we’ll put it like that, but I wouldn’t want anyone to run around thinking that he competed with James for her. She was a popular girl, and that is relevant. But I think you’ve seen that already. She was a bit of a catch.

MA: How did they get together? She hated James, from what we’ve seen.

JKR: Did she really? You’re a woman, you know what I’m saying. [Laughter.]

ES: How on earth did Fred and George know that Ireland would win and Bulgaria would get the Snitch?

JKR: Well, I think that if you were really into Quidditch you could have predicted that. What they had –

ES: But how can you predict that, because you don’t know when the Snitch is going to show up.

JKR: It was a risk. They risked everything on it. That is Fred and George, isn’t it? They are the risk-takers in the family. You’ve got Percy at one end of the family — conform, do everything correctly — and you’ve got Fred and George, who just take a totally different life path and were prepared to risk everything. They risked all they had, which is as much as anyone can do.

MA: How did they figure out how to work the map?

JKR: Don’t you — well. This is how I explained it to myself at the time, and this does sound glib. Don’t you think it would be quite a Fred and Georgeish thing to say in jest, and then see this thing transform?

MA: Yeah.

JKR: Can’t you just see them?

ES: But the exact word combination? Is that just a lot of luck, or Felix Felicis —

JKR: Or, the map helped.

MA: Yep, yeah. You can see them sort of answering and joking with each other —

JKR: And the map flickering into life here and there when they got closer and closer, and finally they hit upon the exact right word combination and it just erupts.

ES: What on earth was Aberforth Dumbledore doing with those goats?

[Big laughs from all]

JKR: Your guess is as good as mine! [Evil laugh!]

MA: Excellent. And Dumbledore makes a little joke about him in this one, about knowing people in bars.

JKR: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, that’s right. And you of course see Aberforth very briefly.

MA: Does the gleam of triumph still have yet to make an appearance?

JKR: That’s still enormously significant. And let’s face it, I haven’t told you that much is enormously significant, so you can let your imaginations run free there.

ES: I think everybody realized it was significant when they read it but we didn’t see it materialize in 5 or 6.

JKR: Well, it still is.

ES:We’ve been kind of waiting for the big revelation.

JKR: Absolutely, that’s for seven. That’s for seven.

MA: Here at the end you sort of get the feeling that we know what Harry’s setting out to do, but can this really be the entire throughline of the rest of the story?

JKR: It’s not all of it. Obviously it’s not all of it, but still, that is the way to kill Voldemort. That’s not to say it won’t be extremely an torturous and winding journey, but that’s what he’s got to do. Harry now knows — well he believe he knows – what he’s facing. Dumbledore’s guesses are never very far wide of the mark. I don’t want to give too much away here, but Dumbledore says, ‘There are four out there, you’ve got to get rid of four, and then you go for Voldemort.’ So that’s where he is, and that’s what he’s got to do.

ES: It’s a tall order.

JKR: It’s a huge order. But Dumbledore has given him some pretty valuable clues and Harry, also, in the course of previous six books has amassed more knowledge than he realizes. That’s all I am going to say.

ES: It seems like it would be impossible. If Harry had gone to the cave, he never could have done it on his own, it seems like.

JKR: Well, I’m prepared to bet you now, that at least before the week is out, at least one of the Horcruxes will have been correctly identified by careful re-readers of the books.

MA: Someone put it to me last night, that if Ginny, with the diary –

JKR: Harry definitely destroyed that piece of soul, you saw it take shape, you saw it destroyed, it’s gone. And Ginny is definitely in no way possessed by Voldemort.

MA: Is she still a parselmouth?

JKR: No.

MA: Does she have a life debt to Harry from book two?

JKR: No, not really. Wormtail is different. You know, part of me would just love to explain the whole thing to you, plot of book seven, you know, I honestly would.

ES: We wouldn’t want to hear it.

JKR: “Yeah, go on, we’re not listening!”


ES: Who is Harry’s godmother?

JKR: Didn’t have one.

ES: Really?

JKR:Well, Sirius never had time to get a girlfriend, let alone marry.

ES: They could have just picked some other close friend of the family.

JKR: At the time that they christened Harry, they were in hiding. This was not going to be a widely attended christening, because he was already in danger. So this is something they were going to do very quietly, with as few people as possible, that they wanted to make this commitment with Sirius. And — yeah. Can’t say much more.

[We’re starting to realize the time…]

MA: Can we do this again?


JKR: It’s a possibility.

MA: I mean, seriously, for a week.

[All laugh.]

JKR: Just lock me in some underground room —

MA: Well, my family is Sicilian, Jo –


MA: Hold on, we have to ask you one more question [Melissa puts on the green glasses and takes out the green quill that Lexicon_Bel~ and Puffin from the LeakyLounge prepared for her as a joke for Jo] –

[All crack up

JKR: RITA! I’ve missed you!

JKR: I tell you, there is only one way to deal with the Rita articles, and that’s laugh, otherwise you’re going to go slightly mad. And of course, I now have my Rubbish Bin [on my site]. It’s really amazing how liberating that is, to be able to say directly to people who read the books, “That was rubbish.” It’s never important stuff, but taken as a whole, it can really mislead a person, I think. Anyway, Rita. I like this, very much.

MA: Isn’t this funny? They made this up for me.

JKR: That’s fantastic. You know, Miranda Richardson is playing her in the “Goblet of Fire.” I’m so looking forward to that.

MA: We’ve seen, we went to the set on a day that she was working.

JKR: Did you?

ES: She looks fantastic for the role.

JKR: She’s such a great actress.

ES: Oh, I have a question about that. When you write the books now, do you see the actors from the movies, or do you see your own characters?

JKR: My own characters. Every time.

ES: Their faces don’t infiltrate your head at all?

JKR: Not at all. I still see my Ron, I still see my Harry, I still see my Hermione. I was writing them for too long before the films came out for the film images to displace what’s in my head. I was lucky in that sense. I’d lived with these characters so long, it just couldn’t have any effect. Occasionally I will — Ron/Lavender, I did kind of think of Rupert. I mean, it was always planned that way, obviously, but I would kind of emerge for a coffee break and I might have a wry smile about Rupert.

MA: Doing that?

JKR: Not so much doing it, he’ll be more than adequate to the task of doing it, but thinking about him attending the castings for Lavender, stuff like that. It just kind of makes you smile once you know the people who are acting it. But I really mean what I’ve said before – you would have to go a very long way to find three better-adjusted people, given what they’ve been through, Rupert, Dan and Emma. They’re incredible.

[Pause as we look at time…]

JKR: I know.

MA: Sixty-six pages of questions, Jo.

JKR: Oh my goodness.

ES: Let’s just keep asking questions until she throws us out.

[All laugh.]

ES: Hagrid’s Keeper of the Keys title: does that mean anything?

JKR: Just simply that he will let you in and out of Hogwarts, so it’s slightly more interesting than that but it’s not loads more interesting. So, again, that is something that people shouldn’t get too excited about.

MA: Will Harry and Ron ever read “Hogwarts, a History”?

JKR: Never. [Laughter.] It’s a gift to me, because all my exposition can be dressed up as, “When are you going to read it?” So Hermione fills in the reader as well, so I could never let them read it.

MA: Did Dobby know about the prophecy?

JKR: No.

MA: Did he know about the Potters —

JKR: He knew their story, but obviously his knowledge would be narrowed down to what was known in the Malfoy household.

MA: Oh, here’s one [from our forums] that I’ve really got to ask you. Has Snape ever been loved by anyone?

JKR: Yes, he has, which in some ways makes him more culpable even than Voldemort, who never has. Okay, one more each!

ES: Why don’t witches and wizards Disapparate when they’re in danger?

JKR: Well. This is like all of these things. It’s tedious to stop and tell the reader when you’re writing an action scene but there would be ways of stopping that happening. Sometimes they do Disapparate, but very often, when you’re watching that kind of scene, it’s within a place that you can’t Disapparate from, like Hogwarts. So, that’s not an option when Harry’s at school. There would be other reasons why you wouldn’t Disapparate. You might want to stand your ground and fight. But they do Disapparate sometimes. There has to be an equal and opposite action.

JKR: [to Melissa] Go on, hit me with it.

MA: Was there anyone else present in Godric’s Hollow the night Harry’s parents were killed?

JKR: No comment.

[All laugh.]

JKR: I’m sorry!

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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