August 9, 2007

j.k. rowling q&a

No more Harry Potter books! I'm so sad!

A selection of my favorite answers from the webchat with J.K. Rowling:

Q: In the chapter of Kings Cross, are they behind the veil or in some world between the real world and the veil?
A: You can make up your own mind on this, but I think that Harry entered a kind of limbo between life and death.

Q: From reading about the original owners of the Deathly Hallows, the Peverell brothers, I’m wondering if Harry and Voldemort are distantly related.
A: Yes, Harry and Voldemort are distantly related through the Peverells. Of course, nearly all wizarding families are related if you trace them back through the centuries. As was made clear in Deathly Hallows, Peverell blood would run through many wizarding families.

Q: Why is it that Albus Dumbledore can see Harry under his invisibility cloak at certain moments?
A: Dumbledore, who could perform magic without needing to say the incantation aloud, was using ‘homenum revelio,’ the human-presence-revealing spell Hermione makes use of in Deathly Hallows.

Q: Were the Deathly Hallows based on any real-world myth or faerie tale?
A: Perhaps ‘the Pardoner’s Tale’, by Chaucer. [I definitely thought of the Pardoner's Tale when I was reading about the Deathly Hallows! You know, the whole death's-gonna-get-you thing.]

Q: What does 'in essence divided' mean?
A: Dumbledore suspected that the snake’s essence was divided — that it contained part of Voldemort’s soul, and that was why it was so very adept at doing his bidding. This also explained why Harry, the last and unintended Horcrux, could see so clearly through the snake’s eyes, just as he regularly sees through Voldemort’s. Dumbledore is thinking aloud here, edging towards the truth with the help of the Pensieve.

Q: What was Dudley's worst memory?
A: I think that when Dudley was attacked by the Dementors he saw himself, for the first time, as he really was. This was an extremely painful, but ultimately salutory lesson, and began the transformation in him.

Q: Was the absence of Snape's portrait in the headmaster's office in the last scene innocent or deliberate?
A: It was deliberate. Snape had effectively abandoned his post before dying, so he had not merited inclusion in these august circles. However, I like to think that Harry would be instrumental in ensuring that Snape’s portrait would appear there in due course.

Q: Does Hermione still continue to do work with SPEW and is life any better for house-elves?
A: Hermione began her post-Hogwarts career at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures where she was instrumental in greatly improving life for house-elves and their ilk. She then moved (despite her jibe to Scrimgeour) to the Dept. of Magical Law Enforcement where she was a progressive voice who ensured the eradication of oppressive, pro-pureblood laws.

Q: What professions do Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Luna go on to have?
A: I’ve already answered about Hermione. Kingsley became permanent Minister for Magic, and naturally he wanted Harry to head up his new Auror department. Harry did so (just because Voldemort was gone, it didn’t mean that there would not be other Dark witches and wizards in the coming years). Ron joined George at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes, which became an enormous money-spinner... After a few years as a celebrated player for the Holyhead Harpies, Ginny retired to have her family and to become the Senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet!

Q: What did Dumbledore truly see in the Mirror of Erised?
A: He saw his family alive, whole and happy — Ariana, Percival and Kendra all returned to him, and Aberforth reconciled to him.

Q: How did Neville get the Gryffindor sword, is there a link to the hat?
A: Yes, there is very definitely a link to the hat! Neville, most worthy Gryffindor, asked for help just as Harry did in the Chamber of Secrets, and Gryffindor’s sword was transported into Gryffindor’s old hat — the Sorting Hat was Gryffindor’s initially, as you know. Griphook was wrong — Gryffindor did not ‘steal’ the sword, not unless you are a goblin fanatic and believe that all goblin-made objects really belong to the maker.

Q: How much does the fact that Voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his inability to understand love? Is it symbolic?
A: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union — but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him. The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can’t be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union.

Q: Do you think Snape is a hero?
A: Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero, perhaps. He is not a particularly likeable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity — and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love and, ultimately, laid down his life because of it. That’s pretty heroic!

Q: Did Lily ever have feelings back for Snape?
A: Yes. She might even have grown to love him romantically (she certainly loved him as a friend) if he had not loved Dark Magic so much, and been drawn to such loathesome people and acts.

Q: How does Dumbledore understand Parseltongue?
A: Dumbledore understood Mermish, Gobbledegook and Parseltongue. The man was brilliant.

Q: Does the wizarding world now know that Snape was Dumbledore's man, or do they still think he did a bunk?
A: Harry would ensure that Snape’s heroism was known. Of course, that would not stop Rita Skeeter writing ‘Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?’

Q: Is Teddy Lupin a werewolf?
A: No, he’s a Metamorphmagus like his mother.

Q: Whose murders did Voldemort use to create each of the horcruxes?
A: The diary — Moaning Myrtle. The cup — Hepzibah Smith, the previous owner. The locket — a Muggle tramp. Nagini — Bertha Jorkins (Voldemort could use a wand once he regained a rudimentary body, as long as the victim was subdued). The diadem — an Albanian peasant. The ring — Tom Riddle Sr.

Q: Why did Dumbledore want Ron to keep his deluminator?
A: Because he knew that Ron might need a little more guidance than the other two. Dumbledore understood Ron’s importance in the trio. He wasn’t the most skilled, or the most intelligent, but he held them together; his humour and his good heart were essential.

Q: What was the third smell that Hermione smelt in the amortentia potion in Half-Blood Prince (the particular essence of Ron)?
A: I think it was his hair. Every individual has very distinctive-smelling hair, don’t you find?

Q: What does it mean to be the master of Death?
A: As Dumbledore explains, the real master of Death accepts that he must die, and that there are much worse things in the world of the living. It is not about striving for immortality, but about accepting mortality.

Q: I was very disappointed to see Harry use the Cruciatus Curse and seem to enjoy it. His failure to perform that kind of curse in the past has been a credit to his character. Why the change, and did Harry later regret having enjoyed deliberately causing pain?
A: Harry is not, and never has been, a saint. Like Snape, he is flawed and mortal. Harry’s faults are primarily anger and occasional arrogance. On this occasion, he is very angry and acts accordingly. He is also in an extreme situation, and attempting to defend somebody very good against a violent and murderous opponent.

Q: What do you think is the funniest moment you have written in the series?
A: It sounds very vain to answer this! My favourite in this book is probably that line of Ron’s, ‘Really captures the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn’t it?’

Q: What did Petunia wanted to say to Harry at the end of the Dursleys departing?
A: I think that for one moment she trembled on the verge of wishing Harry luck; that she almost acknowledged that her loathing of his world, and of him, was born out of jealousy. But she couldn’t do it; years of pretending that ‘normal’ was best had hardened her too much.

Q: If Moody got a magic eye, and Wormtail got a magic hand, couldn't there be some way to form a magical ear, if only to cover up the hole and make George look more symmetrical?
A: Yes, he could wear a false ear (I’m starting to giggle at the thought. Perhaps he’s better off with the hole!).

Q: How exactly do Muggleborns receive magical ability?
A: Muggleborns will have a witch or wizard somewhere on their family tree, in some cases many, many generations back. The gene re-surfaces in some unexpected places.

Q: How come no one seemed to know that Lily and Snape were friends in school? They were obviously meeting for chats, etc — didn't James know their past?
A: Yes, it was known that they were friendly and then stopped being friends. Nothing more than that would be widely known. James always suspected Snape harboured deeper feelings for Lily, which was a factor in James’ behaviour to Snape.

Q: Will the Chudley Cannons ever win the Quidditch World Cup?
A: Bless them, perhaps. But they’d need to replace the entire team and down several cauldrons of Felix Felicitas.

Q: Why was Snape so badly groomed?
A: Hmm. Good question. Poor eyesight? Did he look in the mirror and believe he was gorgeous as he was? I think it more likely that he valued other qualities in himself!

Q: What ever happened to Aberforth?
A: He is still there, at the Hog’s Head, playing with his goats.

Q: Do you think Dumbledore was a little more fond of Ron than either Ron or Harry believed?
A: Yes, I do. Through Harry’s account of Ron, and from reports of the professors who taught Ron, Dumbledore understood Ron better than Ron ever knew, and liked him, too.

Q: What was your favorite scene to write in Deathly Hallows?
A: Chapter 34: The Forest Again. [When I read the book over I'm going to pay special attention to this chapter.]

Q: James' Patronus is a stag and Lily's a doe. Is that a coincidence?
A: No, the Patronus often mutates to take the image of the love of one’s life (because they so often become the ‘happy thought’ that generates a Patronus).

Q: Since Voldemort was afraid of death, did he choose to be a ghost?
A: No, he is not a ghost. He is forced to exist in the stunted form we witnessed in King’s Cross.

Q: How come Voldemort was no longer employing Occlumency against Harry, as he was in the sixth book?
A: He is losing control, and unable to prevent Harry seeing into his mind. The connection between them is never fully understood by Voldemort, who does not know that Harry is a Horcrux.

Q: Did Krum ever find love?
A: Of course, though he had to go back to his native Bulgaria to do so.

Q: Will we see Harry and his friends having their own history on Chocolate Frogs cards?
A: Definitely, and Ron will describe this as his finest hour.

Q: Was Snape the only Death Eater who could produce a full Patronus?
A: Yes, because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses.

Q: Have you had another alternatives as book title apart from Deathly Hallows?
A: The two other possibilities were ‘the Elder Wand’ (used instead as a chapter title) and ‘the Peverell Quest’, which I decided against quite quickly. I think the word ‘Quest’ is a bit corny! [HP and the Deathly Hallows > HP and the Elder Wand. DH is more dramatic, I think.]

Q: Did Bellatrix ever love her husband, or did she have love only for Voldemort?
A: She took a pureblood husband, because that was what was expected of her, but her true love was always Voldemort.

Q: Did Voldemort ever love a girl?
A: No, he loved only power, and himself. He valued people whom he could use to advance his own objectives.

Q: How did Snape get into Grimmauld place to get the second half of the letter, if there were protection spells on the house keeping him from getting in?
A: Snape entered the house immediately after Dumbledore’s death, before Moody put up the spells against him.

Q: Why was Kings Cross the place Harry went to when he died?
A: For many reasons. The name works rather well, and it has been established in the books as the gateway between two worlds, and Harry would associate it with moving on between two worlds (don’t forget that it is Harry’s image we see, not necessarily what is really there).

Q: Why is the scar on Harry's forehead lightning-shaped?
A: To be honest, because it’s a cool shape. I couldn’t have my hero sport a doughnut-shaped scar.