13 Things J.K. Rowling Told "Nickelodeon Magazine" In 1999

Harry Potter was first published in June 1997. These were some of the author’s initial thoughts only two years after her series was introduced to the world.

Krystie Yandoli / Nickeloden Magazine

1. On writing stories when she was young:
“The earliest was when I was six. It was about a rabbit called Rabbit who got the measles and was visited by his friends.”

2. On how she came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series:
“The idea came to me while I was on the train. I dived into my bag for paper and a pen. I had the paper, but I didn’t have the pen. So I just sat there for four hours and thought of lots of stuff that actually ended up being in the book. My brain just went crazy. The moment I got home, I wrote furiously, sheets and sheets.”

3. On the spells that the Wizarding World uses:
“Some of them are based on what people once believed, but I made up most of them.”

4. On if she believes in witchcraft:
“Not really. I know quite a lot about it, but I don’t believe it works.”

Krystie Yandoli / Nickeloden Magazine

5. On the unique names in Harry Potter:
“I collect odd names. I look at maps and names of saints. Hedwig, the mail-carrying owl, is a German saint. I also invent a lot of names. Quidditch is an invented name.”

6. On how she came up with the concept of Quidditch:
“I love basketball, and I always wanted to see a game with four balls in play because it would be really funny to watch. The book I’m writing at the moment is called The Quidditch World Cup.”

7. On who Ron’s character is really based on:
“All of the characters are based on people I remember from my own childhood. Ron is actually based on one of my oldest friends. I was very nervous about giving him the finished book. I thought that if he didn’t like the character, it would be terrible. When he read the book, he said, ‘Oh, he’s all right. He’s quite cool.’ So that was lucky.”

8. On Hermione’s character being based on J.K. Rowling:
“She’s a caricature of me — a real exaggeration — because I was never that clever, and Hermione is a borderline genius. I don’t think I was quite that annoying, but when I was eleven I was very insecure. I covered up for it by studying hard and getting good grades. By twelve I loosened up. Hermione is going to loosen up, too.”

Krystie Yandoli / Nickeloden Magazine

9. On the author’s imaginary friends:
“I had loads. In fact, when I was a kid, I pretty much lived in a fantasy world.”

10. On her favorite subject in school:
“English, most definitely. My worst subject was chemistry, which is why Professor Snape teaches potions. I hated chemistry.”

11. On the kind of magical powers J.K. Rowling would want:
“I would make myself tidier because I’m very disorganized, and I would shrink people who annoy me and put them under a teacup for a bit to keep them quiet.”

12. On her writing habits:
“I can write anywhere. I made up the names of the characters on a sick bag while I was on an airplane. I told this to a group of kids and a boy said, ‘Ah, no, that’s disgusting.’ And I said, ‘Well, I hadn’t used the sick bag.’”

13. On her ability to do any magic tricks herself:
“I’m completely clumsy. I can’t even do card tricks.”

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