J. K. Rowling press conference in Odense, Denmark, October 19, 2010

On October 19, 2010 J. K. Rowling received the first “H. C. Andersen Literature Award” in Odense Concert Hall, Denmark. In that connection she gave a press conference where she answered questions from the Danish and foreign press. Here is the transcript:

Q: What do you see as your greatest achievement?
Rowling: It’s a pleasure to put money for example towards medical research. Multiple sclerosis is an area that I’m interested in. That was the disease that killed my mother. To be able to do things like that is a real privilege. I never imagined that I would be able to do that in such a scale. I think I’ve always tried to do something, but it increases your power when you have the resources. I’m proud of that.

Q: What inspires you?
Rowling: Everything, to be honest with you. I really need to write and I needed to write from a very early age. Harry Potter was far from the first thing I had written and I need to write now. It hasn’t gone away. After the publication of the seventh Harry Potter book - which could have been a very, very difficult time for me – for a few days I felt berefted, I thought it was over. The thing that shocked me, the thing that moved me so much and upset me so much, was that I can’t write it anymore: How awful. Getting past that there was only one solution and that was to keep writing. So it’s very difficult for a writer to say what inspires them. It’s a mysterious process, but I remain inspired.

Q: Are you used to adults screaming and shouting when you enter a room like it happened today in the concert hall?
Rowling: It has happened before. I must be honest with you. I did an event in Carnegie Hall in New York which was the closest I’ll ever get to know how it felt to be a Beatle. It was an extraordinary thing and it was very similar today to walk into a room and have a reception like that. I can’t imagine who wouldn’t enjoy that. It was amazing, just fantastic.

Q: The entire Harry Potter story is soon finished in both books and films, so what would you say to all the Harry Potter fans who want more?
Rowling: I would say…oh, goodness, me…I would say, it’s not over in the sense that you can always go back and read them. I think I have probably written my last Harry Potter book, but I’m not going to say never. Always through all these years I’ve always said that I don’t want to rule out the possibility of another book, because I might want to do it. When I’ve had a ten year break – and I say ten years for some reason, but maybe it won’t take that long for me to feel the need again - then it is possible. So don’t be too sad.

Q: What does it mean to you personally to be connected with Hans Christian Andersen and what are you writing on now?
Rowling: He’s the Shakespeare of children’s literature, that’s who he is, that’s how great he was. The standard of his works was so consistently high. What is extraordinary about Andersen is, and I’m aware that like Shakespeare he didn’t invent all of his plots, yet it’s his stories that have become the definitive form. We all know Andersen’s versions from his fairy tales. So it is a massive honour. He was an extraordinary writer. My favourite of his stories is the one with the tin soldier and the paper ballerina, which I think is a beautiful, beautiful story and of course he invented that. That wasn’t a copy story. Yes, it’s an immense honour. What am I writing now? I’m writing several different things now. After the Harry Potter finish, it was as though I had the reverse of writer’s block. All those ideas I’d had to put in notebooks and put aside over the years that I was doing the Harry Potter books, I’m now going to explore. It’s sort of an explosion and it has been fun.

Q: Do your life feel empty now that Harry Potter is over?
Rowling: No, not at all because I’m still working very hard and I’m very fortunate in that I have three children and a very happy marriage. I’m not going to deny that the ending of Harry Potter was immensely difficult in some ways because I’d been writing it for seventeen years and it was seventeen quite turbulent years in my life and I was always able to return to Harry. It was a constancy in my life and I think if I hadn’t had other things in my personal life, after the books were finished it would have been very difficult for me. But no, my life is not empty. It’s the reverse of empty. I have a very busy life.

Q: Are you still in contact with the actors from the movies and are you close to them?
Rowling: Yes. Some more than others. And I can truly say that you’d have to go a long way to meet nicer, more intelligent, well-adjusted young people than those actors. I last saw most of them at the opening of the Harry Potter theme park, which was a really nice reunion. It was lovely and I write to a few of them: We have quite close relationships, which is really nice.

Q: Have you ever been in Odense – Hans Christian Andersen’s town – before and are you going to stay a few days?
Rowling: We arrived yesterday so my husband and I had a small explore yesterday which was very nice. It’s beautiful and I had no idea that Odense is so beautiful so we definitely need to come back and explore it some more.

Q: One of your colleagues in fantasy writing is Stephenie Meyer. Have you read Twilight?
Rowling: I’ve not read Twilight. I merely wrote to Stephenie when she… I don’t know how this happened because I’m not a computer expert, but it was reported in the press that one of her Twilight books had been accessed by someone who shouldn’t have had access to it, which must have been very distressing, and I merey wrote to her then and said that I could identify strongly with the difficulties of writing something that is very eagerly awaited which obviously is mostly pure pleasure, but occasionally it is a little straining. I had journalists searching my dustbins when I was writing Harry Potter and it was sometimes quite surreal. I’m quite glad to be away from that.

Q: What do you see as the future for fantasy for kids?
Rowling: I’ve always said and I maintain this, that there will always be fantasy and I think another author will be sitting here in a hundred years time and they will have written a book about magic. There is something very elemental and primitive and important to us about magic. We seem to have a need for it.

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