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  • It's November, 2006.

  • J.K. Rowling is working in secret...

  • ...on the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows...

  • ...in a hotel room in Edinburgh.

  • Yeah, I've helpfully made the note for myself:

  • "This will need very serious planning."

  • I don't know when I wrote that.

  • And I was quite right in that.

  • The Harry Potter series has taken 17 years to write.

  • It's an epic saga of childhood confusion, danger and adventure.

  • But it's more than just a children's story.

  • Behind the witchcraft and the wizardry lies an intensely moral fable...

  • ...about good and evil, love and hatred, life and death.

  • My name is James Runcie.

  • I'm a writer and a filmmaker.

  • And I want to find out the secret of J.K. Rowling's success.

  • How has she done it?

  • And where has it all come from?

  • - You look really nice, Jo. - Oh. Thank you.

  • J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life

  • By: www.dementor.ir

  • Extracted By: gharibi6 [at] yahoo.com

  • This is J.K. Rowling's country house in Perthshire.

  • Once inside, I decided to start the film by asking a few direct questions.

  • - What's your favorite virtue? - Courage.

  • - What vice to do you most despise? - Bigotry.

  • - What are you most willing to forgive? - Gluttony.

  • - 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?

  • Morals.

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

  • Generosity.

  • What do you most value about your friends?

  • Tolerance.

  • What's your principal defect?

  • Short fuse.

  • What's your favorite occupation?

  • - Writing. - What's your dream of happiness?

  • Happy family.

  • The desire for a happy family comes, in part, from a difficult childhood.

  • Like her orphaned hero, Harry Potter...

  • ...Joanne Rowling was brought up on a suburban British street.

  • First in Yate, just outside Bristol...

  • ...and then a few miles down the road, in Winterbourne.

  • The house even had a cupboard under the stairs.

  • But unlike Harry Potter, Jo wasn't made to sleep there.

  • She shares the same birthday as Harry Potter, the 31st of July.

  • And together with her sister, Di, endured similar childhood economies.

  • - What were your haircuts like? - Oh.

  • -That's- That's just not- That's just wrong. - They were terrible.

  • - Honestly. This is child abuse. - They were terrible.

  • I've got it here.

  • - That's not- That- Look at my fringe. - But I was-

  • I don't think anyone can stomach that for long.

  • If you're wondering, Jo is the one on the right.

  • If you weren't used to cutting hair...

  • ...wouldn't you approach it in a gentle, slow manner?

  • - Wouldn't you go to a hairdresser? - Well, maybe they couldn't-

  • Wouldn't you just cut it slowly and not attack it like a hatchet?

  • I do think you've- Mine was always crooked, always.

  • - Did you wear similar clothes? - Oh, God, yes.

  • - Different colors, but... - Yeah, you always had pink.

  • And I always had blue.

  • - Because you were the boy, Jo? - Yeah.

  • - Because you were the eldest? - Yeah, and I was supposed to be a boy.

  • - So- - Simon John.

  • I was supposed to be Simon John. I even know who I was supposed to be.

  • - Had they told you? - Oh, yeah.

  • - She was a massive disappointment. - Yeah.

  • And so then I said quite hopefully:

  • "And when Di came along, were you disappointed too?"

  • "No."

  • I said, "Was that because you found out it was quite nice to have a girl?"

  • "No."

  • So then I just went upstairs and wept.

  • When Jo was 9 years old, the family moved to a village outside Chepstow...

  • ...on the edge of the Forest of Dean.

  • Here was a location that offered a whole range of imaginative possibilities...

  • ...magical creatures, mystery and intrigue.

  • I'm very drawn to forests.

  • And it's my favorite part of the Hogwarts grounds.

  • The advantage of a forest is it can be so many things.

  • It can be a place of enchantment.

  • You never imagine a crowd in a forest. It's a solitary place.

  • Is it because it used to be a place of shelter and safety to us, I suppose.

  • So I think- I'm very drawn to them. Even though they can be spooky.

  • Jo wrote stories from an early age.

  • There was resonant material all around her.

  • She even lived next door to a graveyard.

  • The family lived in this house.

  • Jo and her sister, Di, earned extra pocket money...

  • ...as part-time cleaners of St. Luke's church.

  • I cannot overstate how cold it got...

  • ...in this church in winter when we were cleaning it. It was freezing.

  • For a pound each. It's tragic, really.

  • We must be in here loads.

  • Because we used to sign this book all the time.

  • Oh, God, I know- Oh, look, it's me. There I am.

  • Me and Di together.

  • "Joanne Rowling, age 12. Dianne Rowling, age 10."

  • Ah. There's a name I stole for Harry Potter.

  • For an unpleasant character as well.

  • Hide the book. Lock it away.

  • Heh, heh. Forgotten about that.

  • Yes.

  • Jo was the only member of the family to attend church services regularly...

  • ...and was baptized here at the age of 11.

  • Do you believe in God?

  • Yes.

  • I do- I do struggle with it.

  • I couldn't pretend that I'm not doubt-ridden about a lot of things...

  • ...and that would be one of them. But I would say yes.

  • Do you think there's a life beyond this of some kind?

  • Yes, I think I do.

  • Jo's religious belief...

  • ...and her thoughts about love, death and the afterlife were severely tested...

  • ...when her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1980.

  • I was 15 when she was diagnosed.

  • But we now know that she was showing signs...

  • ...probably from when I was about 10 or 11.

  • She would have odd losses of feeling in limbs.

  • Her balance- Her balance actually was poor for a long time.

  • And then it just got worse and worse and she decided it was time to visit the doctor...

  • ...but she wasn't expecting to hear anything.

  • And then, you know, a year of tests and there we were.

  • She had a very virulent form of the illness.

  • And at that time there were no drug treatments at all.

  • They said, "Well, you've got multiple sclerosis. See you. "

  • The illness was to have a devastating impact on the two girls.

  • Particularly as they found their father difficult.

  • One of the reasons Harry Potter is so full of idealized father figures...

  • ...Hagrid, Dumbledore and Sirius Black...

  • ...is that Jo's relationship with her own father was far from ideal.

  • I was very frightened of my father for a very long time.

  • And- But also tried-

  • Well, it's a common combination, isn't it?

  • I also tried desperately to get his approval...

  • ...and make him happy, I suppose.

  • And then there came a point, quite shamingly late in life...

  • ...where I couldn't do that anymore.

  • And so I haven't had any contact with my father now for a few years.

  • The absence of any meaningful relationship with her father...

  • ...and the long, slow loss of her mother...

  • ...are two of the most important influences on Jo's writing.

  • Ann Rowling died in 1990.

  • She never knew about Harry Potter...

  • ...or the phenomenal success her daughter was about to enjoy.

  • The death of Joanne Rowling's mother was to have a profound effect on her writing.

  • In many ways, the whole of Harry Potter is one giant attempt to reclaim a childhood.

  • "You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us?

  • You think that we don't recall them more clearly then ever in times of great trouble?"

  • I'd been writing for six months before she died.

  • The weird thing is the essential plot didn't change after my mother died.

  • But everything deepened and darkened.

  • Harry was always going to lose his parents.

  • And it was always going to be a quest, really...

  • ...to avenge them, but to avenge everyone against this creature...

  • ...this being who believes that he can make himself immortal by killing other people.

  • So that's something I created before she died...

  • ...but, yes, it seeped into every part of the books.

  • I think, in retrospect, now I've finished, I see just how much it informed everything.

  • Was she the first person you saw dead?

  • No.

  • Because I didn't see her dead.

  • Which was in difference to my father's wishes.

  • I wanted to see her and he didn't want me to see her...

  • ...and I, mistakenly, as I look back...

  • ...I agreed not too.

  • And I really, deeply regret that.

  • I really, really, really wish I'd seen her.

  • It didn't matter what she looked like. I would have make it easier.

  • Because I do believe that the truth-

  • Which is another theme in the books and certainly stems from my own past.

  • I think that the truth is always easier than a lie or an evasion.

  • Easier to deal with.

  • And easier to live with.

  • After her mother's death...

  • ...Jo moved to Portugal to teach English as a Foreign Language.

  • She married Jorge Arantes, a television journalist.

  • Together they had a daughter, Jessica.

  • But the marriage failed after two years.

  • Jo succumbed to depression.

  • I'd had a short and really quite catastrophic marriage...

  • ...and I'm left with this baby and I've got to get this baby back to Britain...

  • ...and I've got to rebuild us a life.

  • And adrenalin kept me going through that, and it was only when I came to rest...

  • ...that it hit me what a complete mess I had made of my life.

  • And that hit me quite hard.

  • We were as skint as you can be without being homeless.

  • In other words, we were existing entirely on benefits.

  • And at that point I was definitely clinically depressed.

  • 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 lighthearted again.

  • It was just all the color drained out of life, really.

  • And I loved Jessica very, very much...

  • ...and was terrified something was going to happen to her.

  • Because I think I got into that very depressive mindset...

  • ...where everything's gone wrong...

  • ...so this one good thing in my life will now go wrong as well.

  • So it was almost a surprise to me every morning that she was still alive.

  • I kept expecting her to die or- It was a bad, bad time.

  • Jo's depression inspired her creation of the Dementors in the Harry Potter series.

  • "Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth.

  • They infest the darkest, filthiest places.

  • They glory in decay and despair.

  • They drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them.

  • Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory...

  • ...will be sucked out of you."

  • The Harry Potter books may be located in an alternative fantasy world...

  • ...but they're filled with the pain and dilemmas of real life.

  • They address serious moral questions about the nature of trust...

  • ...loyalty, integrity, and the need to make a stand against evil.

  • Through the series Harry Potter has to learn what it means to be a force for good...

  • ...against the dark arts of Lord Voldemort.

  • I think we all understand what an act of evil is.

  • And Voldemort qualifies extravagantly for acts of evil.

  • He has killed not out of self-defense, not to protect...

  • ...not for any of the reasons that we might all be able to envisage...

  • ...or most of us could envisage ourselves killing...

  • ...in certain extreme situations.

  • If people we loved were threatened or in war.

  • He'd killed cold-bloodedly, sometimes for enjoyment...

  • ...and for his own personal gain.

  • I call that evil.

  • And, yes, at the end of the book you have a clash of two utterly, utterly different...

  • ...again, for want of a better word, souls.

  • One that has been maimed and has become less than human...

  • ...because to me "human" includes the capacity to love.

  • And Voldemort has deliberately dehumanized himself.

  • And this very- This flawed, vulnerable, damaged...

  • ...and yet still fighting, still loving...

  • ...still daring to love and daring to hope, soul, which is Harry.

  • And they meet and they clash.

  • And it's what happens when they clash that gives us our denouement.

  • Jo locks herself in the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh...

  • ...to work on the crucial final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

  • It's January the 11 th, 2007...

  • ...and the end of 17 years of writing.

  • Yeah, I think I've finished.

  • - Hey, Jo, well done. - Thank you.

  • Well, you don't know, it might be rubbish.

  • Some people will loathe it.

  • They'll absolutely loathe it.