A rare chance to see an interview with JK Rowling. The Harry Potter author talks about insomnia, the Scottish referendum and what her most favourite recent novel has been.
Watch the interview and say whether the statements below are true or false.
1 Rowling doesn’t know what she will be having for dinner tonight.
2 Rowling is a heavy sleeper.
3 She didn’t enjoy the book Fifty Shades of Grey.
4 Rowling thinks Scotland should remain in the UK.
5 Rowling enjoys reading crime novels.
6 Writer Iain Rankin thinks the Harry Potter novels are crime novels.
7 Rowling has already finished the next novel she is going to publish.
8 Rowling would feel flattered if someone said her novel The Casual Vacancy echoes 18th century literature.
9 Rowling used to be a teacher.
10 Rowling prefers the kindle to paper books.
11 Rowling reads to her children.
12 She doesn’t know what TV programmes her children are watching.
13 Rowling spent one week talking to the guy who wrote speeches for Teddy Kennedy.
14 Rowling was dressed in disguise to buy her wedding dress.
15 Rowling takes offence if someone doesn’t know how to pronounce her name.
Do you enjoy being interviewed?
Not parti…. Depends on who’s doing it. Yes I do. It depends on who’s doing it.
There you are. I haven’t taken offence. What's the worst thing about your life today?
Yeah, you know, as in now.
I can't think of anything particularly bad about my life right now, to be honest with you. I can't think of anything particularly bad. The very worst thing, the very worst thing actually right now, this second is that we've got nothing in the fridge for dinner, which I… while you were interviewing me I thought, oh hell, what are we going to have for dinner but, big deal, I can't think of anything dreadful in my life.
What keeps you awake at night?
Virtually anything, I'm completely insomniac. If I work too late, I can't get to sleep. If I read something I like or don't like, I can't get to sleep. Yeah, anything will disturb my sleep, absolutely anything.
Have your read Fifty Shades of Grey?
No, I haven't. Have you?
I have. Why haven't you?
Well, if I'm truthful it’s because I promised my editor I wouldn't. Anyway, I’ve read a story of oh… I, you know, I don't need Fifty Shades of Grey. I’ve read the real thing.
But why did you have to promise your editor that…
It was a joke. He said, oh, don't read it, so I said alright then I won’t.
I don't think you feel like you're missing out, do you?
Not wildly, no, but well I don't know, it could be amazing but no, I haven’t read it.
Which way were you voting in the Scottish referendum?
I would, I'm pro-union. I would rather we stayed. I think the evolution’s been fantastic for Scotland but I think independence, personally, I’m not pro-independence.
What's the best novel you've read in the last year?
I… I would say… our… Song of Apollo I loved and, yeah.
You have a guilty pleasure when it comes to reading?
I don’t feel particularly guilty about them. Whodunits of the golden age I really love. I love… I love a good Dorothy L. Sayers, yeah. I don't feel guilty about that, there’s nothing wrong with it.
There's no shaming.
No shaming in Dorothy, no, there’s no shame in Dorothy.
There were loads of rumours that you were going to write a crime novel?
Yes, it all started by Iain Rankin.
What happened, explain.
Well, I think, I think Iain and I did once have a conversation in which he quite rightly said that the Potter novels are in the main whodunits or, and there’s one whydunit, so we were talking about that and, you know, the construction of that kind of novel and that led to him telling everyone that I was writing a crime novel , which was never…
Never the case.
Well, I never told Iain that I wanted to write… as far as I remember it, I didn't tell him that I wanted to write a crime novel but, yeah, that's where that came from, I think.
And what happened to the political fairy tales for children… There was talk of that.
Yeah, they’re still on my laptop and, yeah, I really like it and I think at some point I will finish it, it's, it's very new completion, but it's going to take its place in the queue so quite a few things on the table.
Do you know what the next will be, what the next publishes will be?
Yeah, I think it will be a different novel for children, which is also quite near completion. It's just because… I don't know why, I just, I just think it will be that one but I wouldn't want anyone to hold me to that because I like to be able, free to change my mind. I spent a long time committed to the next thing I was going to write so it's, it just feels great now that I can choose.
And if you could be compared to any author in your fantasy literary review where they draw an analogy between you, which would be able the author that you would most love to be likened to?
Oh my God, well I've written such different things, so on the children’s side a writer I always loved as a child and I'd love her still was E. Nesbit and on the adult side, I don't really know. I think that The Casual Vacancy is quite, it’s quite Trollope, to coin a nice adjective in a way, so if if anyone wanted to say that it was like one of those 19th century quite parochial novels, Trollope or Dickens or something like that, that would be a very, very, very flattering analogy, yes.
Some people say, my child just simply isn’t interested in books and he/she is never going to read this, there's no point trying. Is there ever such a thing as a child who wouldn't and couldn’t enjoy a book?
No, no, well I mean unless that child is, God forbid, in a coma or something, no, I don’t, I don't accept that and I think the way in is to read them, read them books, start by reading them books. Some children, I mean as an ex-teacher, I can certainly testify to the fact that some children are very intimidated by the process of reading, of having to physically read, and some children have problems with that but you can still lead them to a love of books by you just finding a good story and reading it to them, it's not that difficult. Unless, of course, the parent has literacy problems, so sometimes then it is difficult but then you would hope that at the child's school there is a teacher who loves books enough that they will read to the class.
Is the kindle the future of literature or is it the death of publishing?
It’s somewhere in-between. It's certain in my view, I think it certainly has… there's no doubt it’s had a huge impact on publishing but for all the do-mongering among writers and and and publishers, some of them, not all of them, about kindle we should all be encouraging that people do still want to read on whatever device it is, so let's just be grateful for that, for number one. Me personally I will never… I will always be faithful to paper, I love a physical book, I love a, but I do understand the appeal of the digital book, particularly when you're travelling, particularly when you're away from home, so I think it can be both, yeah.
If parents want their kids to read, should they stop them watching telly?
It wouldn’t hurt but I think that personally I believe in a fairly balanced approach, I don't believe in making the television taboo or banning it completely, but I read to my kids nightly ideally, it doesn’t always happen, when the time is very late, you know, people need to be put down, put to bed but yeah, I read to my kids and they are allowed to watch telly but I'm watching what they're watching, you know, so it's not uncontrolled.
Who have you been most star-struck about meeting?
Oh, Barack Obama and there's a guy called Bob… I’m going to get his name wrong, which is terrible. He knew Bobby Kennedy and he was a speech writer for Teddy and he was unbelievably fascinating, I could have talked to him for days and days on end, it's something like Shrum. Anyway, he’s amazing. Yeah, I could have sat and talked to him for a week so, yes, that was bigger than star struck, he was just such a fascinating man.
Have you ever had to actually go out in disguise to avoid people stopping you in the street and talking to you about Harry Potter?
I've never done it for those reasons but I did buy a wedding dress in disguise.
And you bought your wedding dress in…
Yeah, my own wedding dress. I’m not around in a wedding dress for fancy dress purposes, no. I was… that’s the only time I've ever done that, I was just… I just wanted to be able to get married to Neil without any rubbish happening, so yeah.
What was your disguise, what did it consist of?
I don't want to tell you in case I need to use it again.
Glad you won’t be buying it back together I don't think so.
No, I won’t be buying a wedding dress again, but I might want to buy something else, I don't want everyone else to know about, and as it worked I'm going to, I'm going to…
Are you eternally grateful that people think that you’re called JK Rowling when your name is really Jo Rowling? Is that helpful?
I answer to both. I can't remember the last time I corrected someone when they said Rolling, in fact in America I don't think everyone thinks I'm JK Rowling, so I just answer to both. Rolling is a fairly horrible name anyway so, you know, some might argue it’s improved by by being mispronounced. Are you relieved now that your original publisher said you should be JK rather than Jo in terms of being able to protect your anonymity.
I really like, yeah, I do really like having my pen name and… yeah, I do, there's something about it. There’s something about having my identity. It makes me feel there's a nice division between Jo, the writer, and Jo, the mother, which is the main split in my life, you know, Jo the mother is the place where I want to be most private, it is the place where I suppose I'm the least writerly in a way and I'm the least the public persona, so yeah, it's nice to have a split.
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