Saturday, August 25, 2012

JK Rowling

I love Joanne Rowling.

I was watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the other night. In the "Extras" section, there was an hour documentary "A Year in the Life" with JK Rowling. She fascinates me so I watched it. The first part of the video showed the interviewer asking her quick questions. She was supposed to just say the first thing that came to her mind.

What's your favorite virtue?

What vice to you most despise?

What's your most marked characteristic?
I'm a "trier".

What are you most afraid of?
Losing someone I love.

What's the quality you most like in a man?

What's the quality you most like in a woman?

What do you most value about your friends?

What's your principal defect?
I have a short fuse.

What's your favorite occupation?

What's your dream of happiness?
A happy family.

She shared about how her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1980, when Jo was 15, but Jo said she remembered seeing signs of it starting when she was 10. Her mother eventually died in 1990 when Jo was 25. That devastating experience of death affected Jo deeply and has always been a huge theme in her books.

Jo and her sister found it difficult to talk to their father. One of the reasons there are so many idealized father figures in the Harry Potter books (Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Sirius Black) is because Jo's own relationship with her father was far from ideal.

"I was very frightened of my father for a very long time. But also tried desperately to get his approval and make him happy. And then there came a point, quite shamingly late in life, where I couldn't do that anymore. And now I haven't had any contact with my father for a few years."

When her mother died, Jo was 25 and went to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. There she met and married Jorge Arantes, a Portuguese television journalist, and they had a daughter. However, they divorced after 2 years. Jo took Jessica (her baby) back to Britain where she had no mother, no relationship with her father, no job, she was divorced, and had a baby completely dependent on her. Jo went into a deep depression.

"And that's just characterized for me by a numbness, a coldness, and an inability to believe that you will feel happy again or that you could feel light-hearted again. It's just, all the color drained out of life."

I love that she shared that for two reasons. 1, because I can relate to her. And 2, because she used that experience to describe the dementors in her books. Those scary creatures who drain peace, hope, and happiness and leave you feeling cold, helpless and in despair.

The rest of the documentary was following Jo around. She showed the tiny cathedral she used to clean to make extra pocket money when she was 10-13 years old. None of her family went to church, but she went every Sunday and got baptized at 11. She then visited the flat she lived in when she first wrote Harry Potter. Lastly we got to see her going to the release of her seventh and final book. She spent 8 hours signing 2,000 books for children from all over the world.

The end of the video ends like it began. The interviewer asked questions and Jo said whatever came to her mind first.

When were you happiest?
Hospital for the birth of each of my children (she has had 2 more children with her new husband., Neil) and Venice last year with Neil.

What's your biggest regret?
That I didn't keep my mother on the telephone longer the last time I spoke to her.

What do you still want to achieve?
I want to get better.

Do you ever feel you just got lucky?
Having the idea was lucky.

Do you ever feel a fraud?
Less as I get older, but I have.

Why do you still write?
Because I love it. And I need it.

How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.

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