'Harry Potter' Author J.K. Rowling Describes Future Plans

"Harry Potter" series carried author from spare flat to splendid wealth.

ByABC News
July 14, 2009, 1:47 PM

July 16, 2009— -- It is Jan. 11, 2007. The author is putting the finishing touches on her latest manuscript. She adds page numbers, saves the document on her computer.

It's almost impossible to describe the level of expectation surrounding this one writer, this one book. The finished product is now the most valuable manuscript in publishing history.

"Well, you don't know, it might be rubbish," joked J.K. Rowling, the world-renowned author, about the seventh and final installment of her "Harry Potter" series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

Rowling talked about the book in an interview with filmmaker James Runcie obtained by ABC News.

"Some people will loathe it, they will absolutely loathe it, but the thing is, that's as it should be, because for some people to love it, others must loathe it," she said. "That's just in the nature of the plot, some people won't be happy because what they wanted to happen hasn't happened."

As "The Deathly Hallows" made its way to publication July 21, 2007, Runcie conducted repeated interviews with Rowling, tracking a year in the life of one of the most successful authors of all time. The "Harry Potter" series has sold more than 400 million copies around the world, and earnings for the first five movies -- the sixth movie in the series landed in theaters Wednesday -- have reached $4 billion.

Click HERE for Part 1 of the J.K. Rowling story.

Her success as a fiction writer has delivered Rowling from a life on the dole as a struggling single mom to a life of unimaginable wealth and celebrity. Now, she says, her days revolve around balancing her family life with the demands of work -- and, she says, exploring new directions in fiction.

Watch "J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life," Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Rowling's publisher holds a meeting to plan the launch of "The Deathly Hallows." Discussion turns to how many copies Rowling will be able to sign. One-thousand? Two? The author agrees to sign for eight hours.

"To an extent, there's so much expectation from the hard-core fans, I'm not sure I could ever match up to it," Rowling told Runcie. "But I'm really happy with [the new book], I like it, and I don't always feel like that."

In a factory in Suffolk, under conditions of extreme secrecy, the last book is printed. On July 20, 2007, at the Natural History museum in London, 1,700 people picked out of a lottery of 90,000 applicants await Rowling's arrival.

"I can't believe I'm here. I'm even more excited than I thought I would be," Rowling says on the way to the event. "I also really, really want a cigarette right now, and when I said that to [husband] Neil, he said, 'Have you got one?' and I should have done ... but then I would have been hooked and tomorrow I would have gone out and bought 20, I am, I can't smoke, it's... with me it's 40 a day or it's nothing."

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'

The new book is embargoed until one second after midnight. At that point, Rowling will open the book and begin to read.

The countdown takes place worldwide: 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two ... one...

"Chapter 1 -- The Dark Lord Ascending," Rowling reads.

"The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. For a second they stood quite still, wands directed at each other's chests; then, recognizing each other, they stowed their wands beneath their cloaks and started walking briskly in the same direction."

As she reads, fans across the globe anticipate the joy of reading their own copies.

"Oh, my God, I can't even believe I can go back to the hotel room and read this," said one fan. "I can read this, I can read 'Harry Potter!'"

In London, from 12:20 a.m. until 7 a.m., Rowling signs 1,700 copies of her book.

"Does it really matter now if I get a bit drunk and disorderly?" she says. "I've finished the books."

In the first 24 hours after publication, 2.65 million books are bought in the United Kingdom and 8.3 million books are sold in the United States -- that's over 7,000 copies a minute.

Rowling talked about how she finished the series.

"In some ways it would have been a neat ending to kill [Harry], a neater ending to kill him," she said, "but I felt it would have been a betrayal because I wanted my hero -- and he is my hero -- to do what I think is the most noble thing, so he came back from war and he tried to build a better world, I suppose, corny as that sounds, both on a small scale for a family and a larger scale."

But might there be another "Harry Potter" after "Deathly Hallows"?

"I think no, it's definitely time to stop, it's time to stop now," said Rowling. "It gives me a certain satisfaction to say what I thought happened, and to tell other people that, because I would like my version to be the official version still, even though I've not written it in a book. 'Cause it's my world. But no, I don't want to write anymore Hogwarts books."

J.K. Rowling Says Net Worth Is 'Private'

Instead, Rowling said, she is focusing on family life.

"I'm making David's birthday cake 'cause he's 4 tomorrow," she said about her son, "but it's just the family tea birthday cake, 'cause the day after that we have the party for all his friends and then he gets a shop-made Lightning McQueen from the Disney Pixar film with which he is obsessed.

"Baking really reminds me of my mother, 'cause she made fantastic cakes, so that really makes me feel like I'm doing the proper motherly thing when I'm making birthday cakes -- and David really likes my cakes particularly."

These days, Rowling is trying to balance two parts of her life -- a family life as normal as she can make it, and a public life with millions of fans and million-dollar deals, such as a planned "Harry Potter" amusement park.

There's also the question of money. According to some press reports, Rowling has amassed 570 million pounds -- almost $1 billion.

"Those reports are bollocks," said Rowling. She said she has "loads, but I'm not telling you how much ... but it's definitely not 570 million. ... I think it's private."

Rowling has given away millions of dollars. But she has never forgotten what it was like to have very little money. She made a visit with Runcie to the small apartment in Leith where she finished the first "Harry Potter" book, before success hit.

"This is really where I turned my life around completely," she said. "My life changed so much in this flat.

"I feel I really became myself here in that everything was stripped away, I had made such a mess of things, but that was all, that was freeing, so I just thought, 'well, I want to write, so I'll write the book and what, what is the worst that can happen, it gets turned down by every publisher in Britain, big deal.'"

What is she working on now?

"A story, uh, that I'd describe as a political fairy tale and it's for, I think, slightly younger children, so that will probably be the next thing that I finish," she said. "I'm not in a mad hurry to publish -- I would like to take my time."

Runcie had a few more questions for the world's hottest pen.

Runcie: What do you still want to achieve?

Rowling: I want to get better.

Runcie: Do you ever feel you just got lucky?

Rowling: Having the idea was lucky.

Runcie: Do you ever feel like a fraud?

Rowling: Less as I get older, but I have done.

Runcie: What keeps you going?

Rowling: I'm a born trier.

Runcie: Why do you still write?

Rowling: Because I love it and I need it.

Runcie: How would you like to be remembered?

Rowling: As someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.

Watch "J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life," Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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