As a fellow author who is working on his third book (this time, science fiction), I can now relate far better to the success that J.K. Rowling has had with her books. When luck, creativity and a strong ambition come into perfect sync, you get the explosive success that she has enjoyed with her Harry Potter series. I have embed the YouTube.com segments for easier viewing, this is really fascinating stuff so I have also included a summary along with my comments.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in her Life Part 1 of 6
- November 2006 and J.K. Rowling is finishing-up the final book of the Harry Potter series in an undisclosed hotel.
- The entire Harry Potter series took 17 years to write.
- Documentary will focus on how she turned a small book into a global empire that crosses generational, social, geographical and religious boundaries.
- She hates bigotry,is most afraid of losing somebody she loves,likes moral men (she gives a laugh) and women with generosity.
- Her principal defect is a short view on things, favorite occupation is writing (no surprise there) and her favorite virtue is courage.
- She shares the same birthday as Harry Potter, the 31st of July.
- J.K. Rowling hated her childhood haircuts.
- Her parents were hoping for a boy but got a girl, she even knows the name her parents were going to name their son.
My initial impressions is that she is incredibly homely, she seems to understand how lucky she is to be in her position and is trying to get the most out of it while it lasts. She has a good sense of humor and isn’t afraid of making fun of herself, she also shares a lot of her own childhood with the main character in her Harry Potter books.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in her Life Part 2 of 6
- She moved out of the suburbs into the countryside at 9 years old, the woods, which played an important role in her books, are where she enjoyed a lot of her free time.
- J.K. Rowling considers forests spooky but is still drawn to them.
- She use to clean a church for some extra pocket money as a child, remembering how cold the conditions were in the winter.
- She struggles with her belief in God.
- In 1980, her mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when she was 15 years old, this had a profound effect on her.
- Her relationship with her father wasn’t on the best of terms, hence why Harry Potter idealized the father figures in her books, she hasn’t keep in contact with him for several years.
- In 1990, her mother died without every seeing the success that she was about to enjoy as she was six months into writing the first novel.
- Harry Potter was her way of dealing with the grief found in her own family, the sadness and darkness she felt had a profound effect on the characters and the way the plot developed.
- J.K. Rowling wishes she could go back and see her mother dead, she was convinced by her father not to see her mother in that state.
- “Truth is always easier to live with than a lie”
- She moved to Portugal, got married and was an English teacher but within two years, she got divorced but had a daughter called Jessica
- When she returned to England, she was severely depressed and unhappy with how her life was turning-out
- She was living entirely on benefits, extremely poor and became clinically depressed which inspired her dementor characters in the Harry Potter Series
The loss of her mother and a failed marriage while living in poverty was what motivated her to continue writing her book, she felt it was her one chance out of the hole she lived in. If it wasn’t for these internal struggles, Harry Potter probably wouldn’t have been as deep and dark as it came out to be. Out of extreme grief, she found direction and turned sadness into happiness through her writing.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in her Life Part 3 of 6
- Voldemort represents all that is evil in every imaginable form, he is the ultimate manifestation of the depression she felt writing the book.
- She accepts that some people will love her book and others will hate it.
- J.K. Rowling knows there is a lot of hype behind the final book in the Harry Potter series and that she has no hope in hell of matching everybody’s built-up expectations regarding her work.
- She really likes how the series has ended, regardless of what others may think.
- She brings the final manuscript to her agent, in person, at a coffee shop.
- J.K. Rowling goes through the book with the editor who makes sure everything is tied-up and making sense followed by a review by the publisher.
J.K. Rowling seems to accept the fame she has been given by her fans but also recognizes that no matter what she does, there will always be those who don’t wish the best for her. She isn’t under any illusions that the life she enjoys will last forever and also seems to have a deep longing for acceptance within herself. She is secure in who she is but has learned to look within herself for her own happiness.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in her Life Part 4 of 6
- Everybody through the publication process is sword to secrecy so everybody knows what happens at the same time depending on how fast they can read.
- On April 23rd, 2007, the audio book is recorded for the Deathly Hallows.
- Photography is taken of J.K. Rowlings and Jason Fry who recorded the audio for her book.
- J.K. Rowling’s goal in life was to be a published author, fame and fortune were never even a thought of hers while writing the Harry Potter series.
- Three weeks before the launch of her new and final book, she goes to the movies to watch the theater adaptation of “Order of the Phoenix”.
- She enjoys some aspects of her fame while other parts are horrible.
- J.K. Rowling likes to talk to people regarding her book but hates the extroverted aspect that is forced upon her when ever a movie or book is launched.
- The Harry Potter series has sold more than 350 million copies and is available in 65 different languages around the world! (as of 2007)
- J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the fastest selling book in history.
- She is in demand around the world, flying around in a private Jet (her publisher’s)
- She has two children with her present husband, who is a doctor
- Under extreme stress, J.K. Rowling’s husband says, she detaches herself from the situation and believes in only herself.
- She is a driven, single-minded person who only truly believes in herself, at the end of the day, to get things done.
- The marketing power behind her book launch and movies is global and astonishing in every respect.
- J.K. Rowling is constantly surprised at the levels of fame, expectation and demands her life now has, considering how many personal struggles she has had to endure earlier in life.
- The fans are very happy to finally have the conclusion of the Harry Potter series in their hands and can’t wait to listen and read the book.
She has experienced an incredible change in fortunes and it has marked her greatly. She is now living a life that, at one time, was the furthest thing from possibly ever happening to her. The Harry Potter series became her emotional anchor, to which, through hard work and dedication, lifted her out of the binds of poverty into a very wealthy and famous woman known around the world. She believes in herself because she is the one who is responsible for her success when probably, others, let her down and wrote her off as a struggling author.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in her Life Part 5 of 6
- She relishes in the success and influence she is having on a generation of young children and adults
- For J.K. Rowling and her alter ego, Harry Potter, love is the strongest power there is
- She has the entire future of the main characters in Harry Potter mapped-out
- When pressed about making one final book in the Harry Potter series, she pretty much closes the idea, she finished it and doesn’t seem to have any motivation to continue.
- She is happy taking care of her family and moving on with her life after 17 years of writing.
- J.K. Rowling says she is the happiest she has ever been in her entire life.
- Hollywood comes to her, not the other way around… showing just how much of a force she is in the entertainment industry.
- She still has difficulty accepting her importance after living in obscurity and being ignored for most of her life.
- “Half of her life is normal while the other is completely mad.”
- J.K. Rowling considers her financial affairs private but she does say that she has loads of money.
For all the fame and success she has endured, she still has, like many other successful people, a hint “when will this all end?” She is living the life of her dreams and seems to have a certain amount of anxiety about the whole affair. When everything becomes possible, the challenges in life seem to go away, which present their own host of problems.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in her Life Part 6 of 6
- J.K. Rowling loves her shoes and she worries little about friends wanting her money or it changing the way they view her now that she does have lots of it.
- She gets about 1 500 letters a week from fans and strangers alike asking for help of various kinds.
- She has a charitable trust that helps people in need.
- She really hates people who have no idea what it’s like living in poverty, social exclusion is a driving theme in her life and in her books.
- J.K. Rowling has never forgotten the feelings and struggles that came along with her life when she lived in extreme poverty with her child.
- She seems to have kept paying rent or bought places that marked her greatly while growing-up such as old apartments and homes, so she never forgets her struggles.
- She is deeply moved visiting the haunts that, at the time, she used to turn her life around and if she lost everything, those are the places she would return to.
- With her fame and fortune, she still seems very at home and at peace among other people, as if nobody knows her or will recognize her.
- She feels she was extremely lucky to enjoy the success she has created for herself and is slowly coming into realizing that everything she now enjoys is real, not a dream.
- She loves to write and needs that act in her life to feel whole.
My thoughts on J.K. Rowling
She came from very humble beginnings, had extreme hardships and depression but never lost hope in herself or abilities as a writer. Her goal was to be published and to live off her writing, never did she ever fathom the success and wealth she would have created for herself nor the happiness she now enjoys thanks to the Harry Potter series. She didn’t write to become rich and famous, it happened because she believed enough in herself to write something that others would enjoy.
The Bottom Line
Success comes out of love and passion for what you do, not greed.