Harry Potter author: 'He's a lot, lot, lot angrier in this book'

Jun. 20, 2003


The Jerusalem Post

Children may whizz through Harry Potter books as soon as they get them, but their author revealed Thursday that writing the young wizard's adventures is nowhere near that easy.

In a British Broadcasting Corp. television interview, J.K. Rowling said the pressure was once so great she fantasized about breaking her arm to avoid a rapidly approaching deadline.

Rowling, describing her literary technique as "the flogged horse school of writing," said the deadline pressure and media attention led to a very low point in her life as she was finishing the fourth in the series, "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire."

"I was very unhappy towards the end of writing 'Goblet,"' she said.``I was committed to a totally unrealistic deadline ... I was so unhappy."

"Press attention had reached a hitherto unknown level, and I couldn't work outside the house any more," she said.

Rowling said she survived the bad patch by taking time off between the fourth and the fifth installment: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which comes out Saturday.

Rowling revealed she has already started work on the sixth book, picking up a pen when still pregnant with her new son David.

"I actually did get some writing done the other day; and that's not bad going because he's only 10 weeks. So he's pretty full time at the moment," she said.

The financial rewards for Rowling's efforts are very large, and she acknowledged she didn't know just how much she made last year. She did, however, cast serious doubt on reports that she is richer than Queen Elizabeth II.

In April, The Sunday Times estimated Rowling's fortune at 280 million pounds (US$ 444 million), ahead of Queen Elizabeth II, whom the newspaper estimated be worth 250 million pounds (US$ 397 million).

"...I do know, ballpark, what I've got; I mean I'm not that clueless. And I certainly have not got 280 million," she said.

The twists and turns in the plot of "Order of the Phoenix" have been heavily guarded by publisher Bloomsbury before the release due shortly after midnight Friday, but Rowling said much of the secrecy was her idea.

"One could be cynical ... and say it was a marketing ploy but I don't want the kids to know what's coming because that's part of the excitement of the story; and having sweated blood over my red herrings and to lay all my clues ... it's a very important part of my life," she said.

Rowling plans to write a total of seven books about the adventures of Harry and his friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Her four previous Potter novels have sold more than 190 million copies in 55 languages and 200 countries.

The author has previously revealed that one of the central characters dies in book five.

On Thursday, she added that readers would find out more about characters including Voldemort, Snape and the new female tutor of defense against the dark arts.

The orphaned Harry himself is also changing in the new book.

"He's a lot, lot, lot angrier in this book. He really is quite angry a lot of the time, and I think justifiably so. Look at what he's gone through," she said. "It's about time he started feeling a little bit miffed at the hand life has dealt him."