The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ruthless Rowling cries when characters die
- Plot a closely-guarded secret

Author JK Rowling was so upset about killing off one of the main characters in her latest Harry Potter saga that she burst into tears.

But the creator of the teenage wizard said it was vital to be strong because if “you are writing children’s books, you need to be a ruthless killer.”

The identity of the character who meets his or her end in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has been kept a closely guarded secret and Rowling hopes it will stay that way until the book is published on Saturday.

In an interview with the BBC, she said about killing off her character: “Well I had written the death, re-written it and that was it. It was definitive. And the person was definitely dead.

“And I walked into the kitchen crying and Neil (her husband) said to me: ‘What on earth is wrong'’ and I said: ‘Well I’ve just killed the person’.”

Even her husband does not know who the doomed character is and Rowling stoutly defended the secrecy surrounding the plot.

She told interviewer Jeremy Paxman: “Of course one could be cynical and... say it was a marketing ploy, but I don’t want the kids to know what’s coming.

“That is part of the excitement of the story and having sweated blood to create all my red herrings and lay all my clues ... it’s not my life but it is a very important part of my life.”

Rowling, who wrote the first Harry Potter book as a struggling single mother in Edinburgh, is now richer than Queen Elizabeth. But she is still passionate about her teenage wizard and has two more books up her sleeve to complete the saga.

Speaking about life after Potter, she said: “It’s going to be very difficult to leave it. I do look forward to a post-Harry era in my life because some of the things that go along with this are not much fun.”

“But at the same time I dread leaving Harry ... because I’ve been working on it over what I sincerely hope will prove to have been the most turbulent part of my life and that was the constant and I worked on it so hard for so long.”

Rowling denied she ever missed any deadlines on the latest book and never suffered from writer’s block. “No — I just produced a quarter of a million words,” she told Paxman in the interview which is to be broadcast on Thursday. Extracts were released in advance by the BBC.

Keeping Potter’s secrets is becoming increasingly harder as publication date nears. Thousands of copies of the eagerly awaited new saga were stolen from a warehouse in Northern England over the weekend.

The public were warned that anyone who tried to sell or buy the books between now and Saturday could face criminal charges.

“We hope that nobody will spoil the excitement for all Harry Potter fans who are looking forward to reading the book,” the publisher Bloomsbury said in a statement.

With the new Harry Potter book hitting retail shelves this week, the movie industry has trained an eye on whether the films about the British boy wizard can continue casting their lucrative spell over box offices and merchandise sales.

The stars, Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Potter, and Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who portray his sidekicks Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, are ageing beyond the range of their characters, and the series’ loyal fans are growing older, too.

The movies have been major moneymakers for AOL Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., which produced them and has an option to make movies of all of the seven planned books in the series by J.K. Rowling.

Combined, 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and last year’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets have raked in over $1.8 billion in global ticket sales and rank in the number two — behind Titanic — and number six spots, respectively, on box office charts.

Financial analysts said it is difficult to break down the exact impact of Potter magic on AOL Time Warner’s bottom-line, but everyone agrees it has been a hugely profitable franchise.

All signs indicate the next movie, Prisoner of Azkaban will help Harry Potter replace Jurassic Park as the third-largest money-making franchise in history when it hits theatres in summer 2004, said Kaufman Bros. analyst Mark May.

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