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Video: Exclusive: J.K. Rowling on final 'Potter'

By
TODAY contributor
updated 7/24/2007 3:31:58 PM ET 2007-07-24T19:31:58

Spoiler alert: This story reveals some key plot points in the final Harry Potter book. So if you've haven't finished the book, J.K. Rowling asks that you not read this story.

For the millions in the midst of the seven stages of mourning for the end of the Harry Potter era, take heart.

In her first tell-all interview since the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” J.K. Rowling told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira she “probably will” publish a Potter encyclopedia, promising many more details about her beloved characters and the fate of the wizarding world beyond the few clues provided in the seventh book’s epilogue.

“I suppose I have [started] because the raw material is all in my notes,” Rowling said.

The encyclopedia would include back stories of characters she has already written but had to cut for the sake of narrative arc (“I've said before that Dean Thomas had a much more interesting history than ever appeared in the books”), as well as details about the characters who survive “Deathly Hallows,” characters who continue to live on in Rowling’s mind in a clearly defined magical world.

Hogwarts, for example, has a new headmaster (“McGonagall was really getting on a bit”), and Rowling said she can see Harry going back to give the “odd talk” on Defense Against the Dark Arts. That class, by the way, is now led by a permanent professor, since Voldemort’s death broke the jinx that didn’t allow a teacher to remain in the position for more than a year.

Jen Brown/TODAYshow.com
Rowling freely offered up these details to Vieira and the 14 fans who asked her questions at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland on Tuesday. In fact, now that she is now longer burdened with guarding the secrets of Book 7, Rowling seemed to delight in discussing her plot choices and clearing up the mysteries that have previously surrounded the books.

The character Rowling couldn’t bear to kill
One of the big stories that has been floating among fans for more than a year is that one character gets a reprieve from death, while two others Rowling didn’t intend to kill end up dying in “Deathly Hallows.” “Mr. Weasley, he was the person who got a reprieve,” Rowling said. “When I sketched out the books, Mr. Weasley was due to die in Book 5.”

Instead, another father dies in the end of Book 7.

Though Rowling couldn’t bear to kill off Arthur Weasley, that didn't mean the other deaths in the book were easy to take. Given the bloodbath that is “Deathly Hallows,” the writing of it was bound to be an emotional roller coaster.

But nothing in the entire process of the series was more difficult than writing the scene when Harry, accompanied by his lost loved ones — including his parents, James and Lily, and his godfather, Sirius — walks into the forest with the intent of sacrificing his life in the name of defeating Voldemort, Rowling said, adding it is her favorite passage in all seven books.

“I didn't cry as I was writing [that chapter], but when I finished writing, I had an enormous explosion of emotion and I cried and cried and cried,” Rowling said.

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“That was partly because of the content — and partly because it had been planned for so long and been roughed out for so long. And to write the definitive version felt like a — a huge climax.”

“The Deathly Hallows” is the climax to the last 17 years of Rowling’s life, a time when she has gone from a single, divorced mother living on public assistance to a happily married mother of three and one of the richest women in the world.

It’s now time to sit back for a bit and enjoy the life that Harry has given her, Rowling said. And, when she’s ready, there’s always that encyclopedia waiting in the wings.

“I’m not going to do it tomorrow because I’d really like a break,” Rowling said, laughing. “So you may be waiting.”

TODAY will air the exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling on Thursday and Friday. Portions are scheduled to air Sunday on “Dateline NBC.”

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