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From the UK Telegraph, interview by Elisabeth Dunn:
She meant to leave Edinburgh after Christmas, but somehow never did. One rainy afternoon she told her sister, Di, the story of Harry and gave her those first chapters to read. "It's possible that if she hadn't laughed, I would have set the whole thing on one side," Rowling says today. But Di did laugh - and there followed six months of writing in conditions of poverty.
"I had no intention, no desire, to remain on benefits. It's the most soul-destroying thing. I don't want to dramatise, but there were nights when, though Jessica ate, I didn't. The suggestion that you would deliberately make yourself entitled . . . you'd have to be a complete idiot.
"I was a graduate, I had skills, I knew that my prospects long-term were good. It must be different for women who don't have that belief and end up in that poverty trap - it's the hopelessness of it, the loss of self-esteem. For me, at least, it was only six months. I was writing all the time, which really saved my sanity. As soon as Jessie was asleep, I'd reach for pen and paper."
She eventually got a part-time job and received a grant of pounds 8,000 from the Scottish Arts Council. Coming at a moment of penury, that meant more than the multiple noughts from her recent American publishing deal. Rowling hasn't received that money yet, but she has already spent pounds 100 on a jacket for television appearances. . .
READ the full article here
* * * * *This article was from the mid-nineties. Who knew where this little wizard was going to lead us.
I remember the first time I heard about Harry Potter was either 1998 or 1999. My co-worker's son wanted to be Harry Potter for Halloween and there were no costumes, in fact, not many people even knew who he was. She said she was thinking of using a graduate gown and needed round "Where's Waldo" glasses. I remembering asking if anyone would know who he was when he went trick or treating. She said, "The kids will know, but the adults will have no idea..."
And now, in 2007, who doesn't know who Harry Potter is. I have never read the book or (dare I say it), seen a movie all the way through. I've seen a lot of the first movie because we have it on DVD and my daughter was obsessed with owls when she was two. So that owl scene in the first movie where the letters are delivered? I've seen that about two hundred times.
But what I love about Harry Potter has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with the author. I think this is what makes writing magical--the "you never know what can happen" element. Had someone said to me in 1990 that there would be this kid's book that contained wizards that was so good that kids would read it and adults would read it too, and they'd even go to their local bookstore at midnight dressed as wizards to get it and there would be big book parties and bracelets with the next date of the next book on them, I would have said, "No way. America doesn't go crazy for books anymore." I can tell you that I am happy to be wrong.
I love that children and adults stay up all night to read the book. It's completely romantic and encouraging to me. On every level, I love that a woman felt strong enough to bring her baby to a coffeeshop to write with the faith that her words would be enough and that fact that it did work out.
My daughter is wearing a t-shirt today that reads: Living the fairytale. (There's a certain poet --Jeannine Gailey-- who I'd like to send this shirt to!) But I'd love to send a shirt like this to Rowling, of course, she's dressing better than this these days. But when it all works out, the idea becomes a book and we are someone in a coffeeshop and then we are an author, I find it inspiring and I am so thankful that this month the world will be giddy about a book (a book!) and we can forget our troubles for awhile in the pages of someone else's words. We can tuck ourselves into our beds and read under the covers with the flashlight or late into the night listening to jazz with a glass of red wine. Whatever we're reading, be it a poem or the last book you've been waiting for, the one you have to read before you hear the ending, how it all turns out, I’m thankful for those who still turn to words.