Vieira, Meredith. "JK Rowling One-On-One: Part One." Today Show (NBC) , 26 July 2007

Source: MSNBC
Interviewer: Meredith Vieira
Context: This was one of the first interviews after the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so Jo could finally answer some questions she was reluctant to answer before.
Transcription credit: Julia Crimmons for Accio Quote!
Related transcript: Part Two

[Jo reads a segment from Chapter Two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows]

Meredith Vieira: It's finally done.

JK Rowling: I know.

MV: How does that feel?

JKR: Incredible.

MV: Incredible good? Incredible bad? A little bit of both?

JKR: At the moment-- it feels great, to be honest with you. It feels-- it's a really nice place to be. Yeah. I mean, I am sad. I was hard to live with for about a week after I finished this book.

MV: Because you realised this was over? Or because... I mean, you killed off some of the characters, too. I'm sure that was....

JKR: I think, I think the whole thing. It was this amazing cathartic moment. The end of 17 years' work. And, and it's very much tied in to things that I've done in my life for 17 years, so it brought back a lot of memories.

MV: Because when you started you were not in the same place you are now by any means.

JKR: No. And, in fact, when I started actually I was in a bad place. And then they, then, you know, life has its ups and downs. So, I mean, Harry's been with me as a result. I think it was that feeling more than any other that I wouldn't have that world to retreat.

MV: Do you feel like you've had to say goodbye to Harry?

JKR: Uhhhm. Yes and no. He'll always be a presence in my life really.

MV: You left us hanging little a bit.

JKR: It would have been humanly impossible to answer every single question that fans have. Because I am dealing with a level of obsession in some of my fans that will not rest un till they know the middle names of Harry's great great grandparents.

[MV and an audience of children laugh]

MV: Well you people have gotten a little obsessive.

JKR: No, I love it. I'm all for that. I'm delighted they feel that way.

[cut to next clip]

MV to an audience of children: I know all you guys have a lot of questions, so we're going to start. Omar let's start with you.

Omar, 17: Um, I understand you mapped out your vision of the books years ago.

JKR. Mmm.

Omar: How far was Book 7 from that original idea?

JKR: It's really close, particularly the last third of the book is um, is as I always planned it. It really is. The only exception would be the one character appears in that last third. And I thought that character was gonna die in Book five when I started writing. So someone...

MV: Who was that?

JKR: Umm, Mr. Weasley. [A clip of Mr. Weasley from the "Goblet of Fire" film is shown] So, he was the person who got a reprieve. When I sketched out the books, Mr. Weasley was due to die in Book 5.

MV: And why did he get the reprieve?

JKR: Well, I had to keep him there. Partly, partly because I couldn't bear to kill him.

MV: So what happened there? Why did he get the reprieve?

JKR: Well, I swapped him for someone else, and I don't want to say who for the people who haven't-- read. But I-- I made a decision as I went into writing Phoenix that I was gonna reprieve Mr. Weasley and I was gonna kill someone else. And if you finish the book, I expect you probably know and someone else who is a father.

MV: And did you ever consider killing Harry or Hermione or Ron?

JKR: Yeh, Definitely. I'm very proud of the fact that as we went into this book, many, many readers believed it was a real possibility that Harry would die. That's what I was aiming for, that you really felt that anyone was up for grabs.

MV: But did you worry at all, um Jo, when you were writing the book that you might have just devastated a lot of kids by taking Harry or Hermione or Ron?

JKR: Um, You def ... Of course that affects you. I can remember meeting a boy who said to me 'Please. Never ever, ever, ever, ever kill Hagrid, Dumbledore or Sirius'. [hoarsely, and on the verge of tears] And I knew that I had already done it. I'd already killed Sirius. And it ... I, I can't pretend that looking at him that I didn't feel quite awful.

MV: Overall, the loss of which character brought you to tears?

JKR: Definitely the passage that I found hardest to write of all of them in all seven books and the one that made me cry the most is Chapter 34 in this one. But that was-- and that was partly because of the content-and partly because it had been planned for so long and been roughed out for so long. And to write the definitive version felt like a-- a huge climax.

MV: And can you tell us what was in 34?

ROWLING: It's when Harry sets off into the forest. Again. So that's my favorite passage of this book. And it's the part that when I finished writing, I didn't cry as I was writing, but when I finished writing, I had enormous explosion of emotion and I cried and cried and cried.

MV: Jackson!

Jackson, 10: Is there anything you wish you had or hadn't written in Harry Potter, mainly deaths?

JKR: Um, I, no. The deaths were all very, very considered. I don't kill even fictional characters lightly!

[Cut to next clip]

Chelsea, 19; At the end you say that, or you tell us that Neville is a Professor at Hogwarts. What do Harry, Hermione and Ron do for a living?

JKR: Yeh, I think that's what everyone wants to do. Harry and Ron utterly revolutionize the Auror Department. They are now the experts. It doesn't matter how old they are or what else they've done. And Hermione, Well I think that she's now pretty high up in the Department for Magical Law Enforcement. I would imagine that her brainpower and her knowledge of how the Dark Arts operate would really give her a sound grounding. They made a new world.

MV: Why didn't you mention that in the book?

JKR: Well, um. To tell the truth, the first draft of the epilogue was a lot more detailed, but it didn't ... it didn't work very well as a piece of writing, but I do of course have that information for you, should you require it.

[Cut to next clip]

MV: We have also had also of e-mails, um, from people who have read book now and have questions. I want to go through some of them, set the record straight.

JKR: Yes.

MV: Was Snape always intended to be a hero?

JKR: [sharp intake of breath] Is he a hero? You see I don't see him really as a hero.

MV: Really?

JKR: Yeh. He's spiteful. He's a bully. All these things are still true of Snape, even at the end of this book. But, was he brave? Yes, immensely.

Greta, 8: If Snape didn't love Lily, would he have still tried to protect Harry?

JKR: No. He Definitely wouldn't have done. He wouldn't have been remotely interested in what happened to this boy.

MV: Okay. Number one, 19 years later, who's the headmaster at Hogwarts?

JKR: Well, it would be someone new. Erm, McGonagall was really getting on a bit. So someone completely new. But if I ever do the encyclopedia, I'm promising I will give details.

MV: You're gonna do that, aren't you?

JKR: I think I probably will. But I'm, I'm not going to do it tomorrow. (LAUGHTER) 'Cause I'd really like a break. So you may be waiting.

MV: You mean you haven't started that yet? (LAUGHTER)

JKR: Well, in a way I suppose I have because the-- the raw material is all in-- in-- in my notes. But-- I wanna take a break from publishing for a little while. It would be a-- you know, I've still got a young family.

MV: Do you-- do Ron and Hermione or Harry ever return to Hogwarts in any capacity?

JKR: Well, I can well imagine Harry returning to give the odd talk on-- on Defense Against the Dark Arts. And-- I-- and, of course, the jinx is broken now because Voldemort's gone. Now they can keep a good Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher from here on in. So that aspect of the-of the wizarding education is now provided for.

MV: Is it-- ending this series for you, is it a relief, or is there a sense of mourning? Or maybe a combination of the two?

JKR: Definitely both.

MV: Yeah?

JKR: Whole bundle of emotions wrapped up into one. Immediately after finishing writing, I was very...The first two days were terrible. Terrible. And--

MV: In what way? Tell me what you did.

JKR: Just-- I was incredibly low. I think what-- what-- what is probably hard for people to imagine is how wrapped up the 17 years' work is with what was going on in my life at the time. So it all-- it all merges into one. But I was-- I was mourning the loss of this world that I had written for so long and loved so much. I was also mourning the retreat it had been from-- from ordinary life, which it has been. And it forced me to look back at 17 years of my life and remember things.

And it was very linked to my mother dying, which happened-- because, you know, a huge-this big long passage from my life is now rounded off. So inevitably you think about what was happening at the beginning of that passage. Inevitably, you're thrown back in-- you know, I went through the birth of three children. I went through different country. I went through two serious bereavements. Breakup of a marriage.

And-- and then lots of happy memories, you know? My-- the birth of all three of my children and so on. But, you know, it threw me back into all that. I kept thinking about all of that.

The first two days were tough. But the whole of the-- week after finishing writing, I was quite low. And then after a week, suddenly I felt something different. I woke up on kind of Day Eight and-- felt actually quite light-hearted and thought I can write whatever I like. And the pressure's off. And it's not as though Harry's gone-gone from my life because he'll always be in my life. And-- yeah, I did. I woke up after about a week and thought, "Oh, what an upside." You know? It's-- there is relief. Of course there's relief. All through, even through the depressed phase, this is my favorite book and I think it's my best book of the series.

MV: Jimmy!

Jimmy, 11: Can you tell us a bit about the influences in you book.

JKR: Well, it' very, very hard to separate your influences. Things like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series, many are ...They, they take the form of quests. They take the form of good versus evil and what that does to people.

Lukas, 9: Is Harry Potter based on anyone that you know?

JKR: No, Harry is entirely imaginary. Erm, so I suppose that must mean that he comes from me a bit as well.

Kerry, 15: What to you is the most satisfying part of the entire Harry Potter phenomenon?

JKR: Er. This. Talking to people like you about the books, definitely.

Riley, 11: Do you plan to write more books after this?

JKR: Yes, definitely. I will always write, I can't imagine stopping writing. I've literally been doing it since I was five years old. I've always been writing, so I will still write un till I can't write anymore.

Riley: Will you write, like, about wizarding worlds, or will it be totally different?

JKR: I think I've kinda done the wizarding world.

MV: And so you can look out at these sweet innocent faces and say 'there will never be another Harry Potter book'.

JKR: [Laughing] I have done my Harry Potter.


>>Read Part Two of this interview

Original page date 27 July 2007; last updated 27 July 2007.