Sunday, October 22, 2000

More 'Potter' magic ahead

Awaiting book 5, fans get two treats

By Sara Pearce
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Harry Potter fans, don't hold your breath waiting for book five. There is no deadline for the next book in the best-selling fiction series and no publication date yet either, according to author J.K. Rowling. “I want to take my time with it and make it as good as I want to make it.”

        There goes the anticipated summer 2001 release.

J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling
        Not to worry, Ms. Rowling knows exactly what she is doing. After all, she scoped out the entire series years ago.

        Meantime, she has cooked up two new Potter-related treats: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages will go on sale worldwide March 16. .

        The titles will sound familiar to those who have been reading about Harry, a seemingly normal English boy with astonishing powers of magic. The books are on the course list and in the library at Hogwarts, the extraordinary boarding school that Harry and his fellow wizards and witches attend.

        “I had massive more detail and this was a way of using it; they were really fun to write,” Ms. Rowling said during an interview Thursday morning from New York.

        The 64-page books will be illustrated with line drawings by Ms. Rowling. Their publication will benefit Comic Relief, which tackles poverty and homelessness around the world. “It's a charity I have always supported,” she said.

        The British author was in New York on a promotional trip for her U.S. publisher Scholastic Inc. The company launched a “How the Harry Potter Books Have Changed My Life” essay contest this summer with a grand prize of breakfast with Ms. Rowling this week in New York for 10 winners.

    More about J.K. Rowling:
    • Magical power she would like to have: “The ability to shrink people, not to hurt them, but some people need to be cut down to size.”
    • Harry Potter character she is most like: Hermione, the studious student who is one of Harry's best friends.
    • Harry Potter character she would most like to be like: Professor Minerva McGonagall, deputy headmistress of Hogwarts. “She is such a together sort of person. She's a little rigid but she inspires awe ... I would like to inspire awe in people.”
    • Hardest chapter to write: “The Dark Mark,” chapter nine in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. “I rewrote it 13 times. It half killed me.”
    • Favorite place to write: Cafes.
    • Rumor she would like to quash: That she wrote the first book on napkins. “It's not logical. If I had enough money for coffee, to go to a restaurant and order food and drink, then I probably had enough money to buy paper to write on.”
    • Time of day she feels most creative: “From midnight onwards.”
    • Kids books she recommends reading while waiting for HP5: Clockwork by Philip Pullman (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $14.95, hardcover; Scholastic, $4.99, paperback); Skellig by David Almond (Delacorte, $15.95, hardcover; Dell Yearling/Random House, $4.99, paperback); and Fire Bed & Bone by Henrietta Branford (Candlewick Press; $16.99; hardcover).
    • She and her daughter, Jessica, are reading: Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (Little Apple/Scholastic, $3.99, paperback). “It was given to me by a boy at a book signing. He said "I really like your books but I like this, too.' My daughter loves it, we both rolled around laughing.”
    • She is reading: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Bantam Doubleday; $26).
    • This year's Halloween costume: “I don't know yet, but my daughter (now 7) is going to be Harry Potter.”
        Close to 10,000 fans responded. One winning letter was written by an 8-year-old Florida girl who said the books kept her mind off living in a homeless shelter. Another came from a third-grade boy in New Jersey with leukemia, whose mother read the books to him during hospital stays.

        “It was the most humbling experience to read those essays,” she said.

        There are 42 million copies of the four Potter titles in print in the United States in paperback and hardcover. The books have been translated into 28 languages and have been published in 130 countries.

        A movie version of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, just started filming in the United Kingdom, for release next summer by Warner Bros. It is being directed by Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone) and stars an all-British cast. “I am so delighted about that,” Ms. Rowling said.

        She described the set of Hogwarts as close to how she sees it in her imagination. She also is thrilled by the selection of actor Daniel Radcliffe, 11, for the title role. “Harry was very difficult to cast. We were all starting to look at any 11-year-old boy in the street,” she said with a laugh.

        “I like Daniel, he gives the impression of strength and vulnerability.” Qualities Harry exudes in the books.

        Ms. Rowling considers Book Four, published in July, “the end of an era. It rounded off part of the story.”

        From here on out she said “life in the wizarding world will be very different. The plot is becoming quite intense.”

        While hesitating to reveal much about the work in progress (“I don't want to spoil it for kids”), she did say that it will mark a return to “normal life at Hogwarts with magic lessons and so on, but more going on than that, yet no big event coming to the school this year.”

        She hinted at a romance between Harry and fellow classmate Hermione (“with all those raging hormones, you never know what will happen”).

        And she said readers will learn more about the lightning-shaped scar left on Harry's forehead when his parents were killed by You Know Who (an evil wizard that fans know we cannot name).

        “The scar is very important. I wanted him to be physically marked by what he had been through in a prominent place, so other people would recognize him — as the chosen one and the cursed one.”

        The scar has certain powers, she said. “We already know it gives him warnings. There is lot more to say but, obviously, I don't want to say it.”

        Except for this: “I know who survives and what happens to the survivors.”

        As for the rest of us, we'll just have to wait — and read.


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