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  JK interview Part 1 - Fans and the four books
Updated 23 October 2002, 13.47

So King's Cross, amazing reception, what was it like?
It was the best - all those children, it was wonderful.

Is this the best part of doing the publicity for a book like this, actually travelling round the country meeting people?
My favourite thing's the writing and then when you have to do the odd promotional bits meeting the children is by far my favourite thing - it's wonderful. And the not so young children.

What's the weirdest thing a child's ever asked you at an event or promotion?
The most startling thing or things I've ever been asked are when children ask me questions that reveal that they are clearly following my thought processes a lot more closely than I would have guessed.

There was - I can say this now because book three's out - a boy asked me in San Francisco: "Where did Scabbers come from, what's Scabbers' history?" And Scabbers, for people who don't know, is a rat who subsequently was revealed not to be a rat at all and I found it quite spooky that he homed in on Scabbers because, of course, I'd known from the first book that Scabbers wasn't really a rat.

That kind of thing keeps cropping up and I think the thing is that children are reading them 12 times, or whatever it might be, and they really are starting to know the way my mind works.

Is that a danger with the Internet as well - you've got this community that ...
Twice I've been on the Internet. Friends of mine were telling me what was on there and I'd never gone looking. The first time I went in there I thought I'm never coming back because it's too scary because some of the stuff that's out there is very weird.

The second time I went in there I was looking for something specific, someone had set up an unofficial fan site where you could be sorted - they had the sorting hat and you could be sorted into a house, so I was Hufflepuff. I wasn't that pleased - obviously I'm supposed to be Gryffindor, if anyone's Gryffindor I'm supposed to be Gryffindor.

Do you find it's a worry that you can say one thing in a conversation somewhere, say something else in an interview somewhere, and people will put all these facts together and draw conclusions that are eerily close to what you're going to do in the books?
Mostly what's happened is that people have put together something I've said, something they like to think I said, something someone else said - which is completely false - and drawn completely the wrong conclusions. That's inevitable, that just happens. But no one yet has guessed what's going to happen or come anywhere close in fact.

Now book four, I finished it - early hours of the morning - very scary ending.
It is very scary isn't it? I think it's very scary.

How difficult was it to write that?
The first time ever I cried while writing - I actually cried twice during the writing of the ending of book four. Basically it's a powerful ending but as you well know from reading it there's a reason why it has to be that powerful, something very important happens at the end of book four, very important.

And having said all along that if you are writing about evil I believe that you should give children - you should have enough respect for them to show what that means, not to dress up as a pantomime villain and say - lots of smoke and thunder, I think, and it's not frightening at all really.

So I can only say that that's the ending I planned and I think it came off okay. I was very happy with it when I reread it, although bits of it made me cry.

Do you rewrite a lot and was it a difficult?
A huge amount. Once ever in the four books that are published I've sat down written something beginning to end and let it stand and that was in the chapter in the Philosopher's Stone where Harry learns to fly.

I remember vividly the afternoon, my daughter fell asleep I ran into the café on a beautifully sunny day, I sat down and I wrote that chapter from beginning to end and I think I changed two words and that's very unusual for me.

There's a chapter in book four I rewrote 13 times and at one point I thought the book will never happen if I keep rewriting chapter whatever it was.

And how vital is book four in the whole seven book series to Harry?
Crucial. The fourth is a very, very important book. Well you know because you read it, something incredibly important happens in book four and also it's literally a central book, it's almost the heart of the series, and it's pivotal. It's very difficult to talk about and I can't wait for the day someone's read all seven and I can talk completely freely about it. But it's a very, very important book.

What was it like with all the pressure? I know you write for yourself very much so, rather than to a target audience but it must have some effect - the expectation and pressure that's built up over the last year around Harry.
Actually the expectation doesn't bother me at all because I think my readers are just sort of thinking well they want to hear the story that I want to write. So I feel that they just want to find out what happens next and my version is the version they want to hear. So I'm kind of confident about that.

But there are other pressures dependent on having a very successful book which I have obviously got with the third book, that was difficult. But the weight of expectation from readers, no it doesn't particularly bother me.

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