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The Author

Joanne Kathleen Rowling

A Summary of her life...

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Excerpted from Conversations with J. K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling Speaking:

    "My parents married at 19 and had me at 20. I was the older of two girls. My earliest memory is of my sister being born--she's just under two years younger than me. My family were big readers. My grandfather's were called Ernie and Stanley-- I named the driver and conductor of the Knight Bus, which comes to rescue Harry Potter, after them. One of my grandmothers was called Kathleen-- my middle name.  My other grandmother was obsessed with dogs, which she much preferred to humans. Their was a touch of Aunt Marge in her, to tell the truth.

    When I was younger I had a dog called Thumper, named after the rabbit in the Disney film, Bambi. I also had two guinea pigs later on but they were eaten by a fox. And we had another dog, who was around until after I went to university. I was born in Chipping Sodbury near Bristol. Until I was around nine we lived in and around Bristol, and then we moved to Tutshill, a little village near Chepstow in South Whales.

   It took me five years to plan the series out, to plot through each of the seven novels. I know what and who's coming when, and it can feel like greeting old friends. Professor Lupin, who appears in the third book, is one of my favorite characters. He's a damage person, literally and metaphorically. I think it's important for children to know that adults, too, have their problems, that they struggle. His being a werewolf is really a metaphor for people's reactions to illness and disability.

    I almost always have complete histories for my characters. If I put all that detail in, each book would be the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica, but I do have to be careful not to assume that the reader knows as much as I do. Sirius Black is a good example. I have a whole childhood worked out for him. The readers don't need to know that but I do. I need to know much more than them because I'm the one moving the characters across the page.

    I invented the game of Quidditch after a huge row with the boyfriend I lived with in Manchester. I stormed out of the house, went to the pub--and invented Quidditch.

    After Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published, my publisher was very encouraging and told me it was selling surprisingly well. Then y American publisher, Scholastic, bought the rights to the first book (where is was published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) for more money than anyone had expected. The burst of publicity terrified me. I was teaching part-time by then, and trying to write Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I felt frozen by all the attention.

    I remember my first ever fan letter, from Francesca Gray. It began, "Dear Sir..." I've since met her. There was a growing trickle of mail, but when the book began to sell well in America the letters poured in."


    NEWSWEEK: Will [Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire] be the biggest book? 

    ROWLING: No, I think book seven will be. Seven's going to be like the Encyclopedia Britannica, because I'm going to want to say good-bye. I always new four would be a long one, but I didn't know it would be this long. But it had to be. I've got no regrets. I like it. I'm very pleased with it. It's definitely the book that gave me the most trouble. But then Chamber of Secrets gave me a fair amount of trouble. Bizarrely, it seems that the two that were the most hell to write were the two I like best.

   LARRY KING: But how has all the success affected you? It has to affect you.

   ROWLING: It has. Obviously, it's had a massive impact. Day to day not much. People might be surprised to hear that, but my day is really very--what it always was, which is trying to get time to write, which used to be difficult because I'm a single parent and I was doing a day job. And now it's difficult because the phone never stops ringing so I still walk out of the house to write.

You can also visit the Interviews Section for more information about J.K. Rowling.

To contact J. K. Rowling, use one of the following mailing addresses:

J. K. Rowling
c/o Scholastic Inc.
555 Broadway
New York, NY 10012


J. K. Rowling
c/o Bloomsbury Publishing
38 Soho Square

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