J.K. Rowling talks Harvard speech, Harry Potter, and turning 50 on Today Show

In continuation with her interview on Friday, J.K. Rowling appeared on the Today Show this morning in a short clip with host Matt Lauer.

Watch in the clip below, as the author discusses Harry Potter, her age, and her new book, Very Good Lives, the published edition of her speech to the 2008 graduating class of Harvard University. As a highlight, Jo talks about dreaming about one special Harry Potter character…

In part one of the interview, Rowling mainly talked about her charity work with Lumos, as she is in New York City for the launch of the U.S. branch of the organization. On Thursday, J.K. Rowling lit the top of the Empire State Building with Lumos C.E.O. Georgette Mulheir — see pictures here.

Visit this page for the latest news on J.K. Rowling.

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J.K. Rowling and agent talk Harry Potter play, set to open in 2016

jkrtwitterJ.K. Rowling recorded an interview with Kathmandu radio station on Friday on her trip to the Napal capital, in which she spoke about future Harry Potter plans.

To listen to the interview, click here. Rowling discussed, specifically, the stage play about Harry Potter’s pre-Hogwarts days.

Harry Potter fan site SnitchSeeker provided the transcripts of the excerpts from the interview, below, in which she discusses the upcoming Potter attractions, including the stage play announced in 2013.

BFBS Radio: We will be seeing more of Harry Potter?
JK Rowling:
Not of Harry Potter exactly. I mean, I have no plans to write more Harry Potter books, though it’s constantly being rumored that I have. I’m afraid those rumors are, at the moment, false. But there are other things happening. For example, I’m currently working on a film script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – which is very much part of Harry’s world, which is a lot of fun. I’m really enjoying doing that. And there will be a Harry Potter play. So yes, there’s certainly more for fans to look forward to.

BFBS Radio: Have you thought about the name at this stage or not?
JK Rowling:
No, I haven’t. No.

BFBS Radio: So it could be anything?
JK Rowling:
Not quite anything. There are a couple of names are being mooted but I’m not allowed to say what they are.

Relatedly, SnitchSeeker revealed that J.K. Rowling’s agent, Neil Blair, spoke exclusively to the site at the launch for the Hogwarts Express expansion at the Studio Tour, saying that the play will open sometime to the public in summer 2016.

Read the initial announcement for the Harry Potter play here

Partner: An Interview with Bryony Evens – The Woman Who Discovered Harry Potter

Our friends at Always J.K. Rowling recently interviewed Bryony Evens, “the woman who discovered Harry Potter.” Bryony worked as a reader of “unsolicited manuscripts” at Christopher Little Literary Agency, who represented J.K. Rowling through the publication of the Harry Potter novels until 2011. On the job, Bryony came across J.K. Rowling’s submission and pushed for the agency to sign the new author, even though they did not represent new children’s book authors. That was 18 years ago, and we now have Bryony Evens to thank for the Harry Potter phenomenon.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

What stood out about J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” manuscript?

Two things – the book arrived in a folder, which had a clamp binding, which I’d never seen before. This caught my eye and made me look at the synopsis and standard three chapters which had been sent in. I started reading the manuscript and loved the tone of voice. When I got to the line about how Mrs Dursley had called to tell Mr Dursley that Dudley had learned a new word (“Shan’t!”) I giggled and realised I was on to something good! It took me back to a time when I was a kid, reading Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life ‘illegally’ under the bedclothes with a torch, long after lights-out time, and giggling at the scene in the church when all the stained-glass windows and stone statues come to life! Once I’d read the whole thing, it ticked all the boxes for the sort of books I enjoy: detective story, school story, magical excitement, the fairy tale discovery that someone’s family background is not what they thought it was – and of course there was a train in it too!

How has Harry Potter & J. K. Rowling personally affected you?

Thinking about it, it’s probably getting on for 20 years now since that first envelope arrived on my desk (20 years? Blimey! Where has THAT time gone?!) I’m immensely proud of my small part in the story of J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter, as it proves I know a good thing when I see it! Over the years since then, I’ve met Jo 4 times, and have had lots of lovely opportunities to do exciting things which would never have happened without me playing my part in the story…

To read the full interview with Bryony Evens, visit Always J.K. Rowling. You can also watch Bryony present her story here.

 

J.K. Rowling appears on ‘Good Morning America’, talks Dumbledore and more

J.K. RowlingJ.K. Rowling appeared via footage on Good Morning America this morning to promote the 15th anniversary of the US publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

As we said above, she was shown through a never-before-seen clip from her Scholastic webcast last year. In the clip, the author reveals which Harry Potter character she misses the most.

The video was released in honor of the 15th anniversary of the US publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic is marking the anniversary by releasing new paperback editions of the books, with all new covers designed by award-winning artist Kazu Kibuishi. You can read all about the new covers in our previous story. The new editions were released today, August 27.

Charlie Redmayne resigns from Pottermore

Charlie Redmayne

Charlie Redmayne

As we reported last month, Charlie Redmayne has reigned from his post as chief executive officer at Pottermore. Redmayne will be leaving J.K. Rowling’s company to head Harper Collins U.K.

Taking up the position in November 2011, Redmayne transformed Pottermore.com from potential failure to a pioneer in the publishing industry, as the exclusive place to purchase Harry Potter e-books and the only place to find new information on the world of Harry Potter from the author herself.

In the interim, current chief technology officer Julian Thomas will act in Redmayne’s position.

In honor of Redmayne’s leaving, we’re counting down his top five greatest achievements as c.e.o of the company…

1. Launch of the Pottermore Shop – For the first time Harry Potter e-books were available via the Pottermore Shop when it launched in March 2012. The launch was a landmark moment for not only Harry Potter fans, but also for the publishing industry; for the first time ever, major online booksellers like BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon agreed to direct their customers to the Pottermore Shop. The Pottermore Shop also marked the first time that an author set up their own exclusive shop to sell their books – leave it to Rowling to do so! About 1.5m dollars worth of e-books were sold in the first three months, which definitely sustains its top place on this list of the CEO’s greatest achievements.

2. Launch of Pottermore.com – After months and months of waiting and anticipation, Pottermore.com was launched quietly in April 2012, under the direction of Redmayne. Millions of fans flocked to the site to read new content from J.K. Rowling and to discover the Moments. Very few moments have been like that post-Deathly Hallows, and it was exciting to see the fandom in full swing once again.

3. Release of Sony Products, Wonderbook games (Book of SpellsBook of Potions) and Pottermore at PlayStation Home – Sony was a founding partner of Pottermore, and over the past year we’ve seen the release of three fantastic products – Book of Spells for Wonderbook for PlayStation 3, and its sequel Book of Potions, and also Pottermore at PlayStation Home. All three of them are groundbreaking innovations – both of the Wonderbook augmented-reality games are the first of its kind, and Pottermore on PlayStation Home is the closest MMORPG-like atmosphere for Harry Potter that fans can get. They have also been commercially successfully, with Book of Spells selling 1 million copies last Christmas.

4. Improvements to the Pottermore site – From the beginning, you could tell that Redmayne really wanted to take advantage of Pottermore and push it to its highest potential. The improvements took form in different ways, whether it was adding sounds or audiobook snippets to the site, making easier to comment or adding the user status bar for profiles, or most recently the major revamp of the site. Not all of them were a hit with fans, but you could tell Redmayne and the whole Pottermore team tried its hardest and continues to do so.

5. Marketing of the site – During Redmayne’s tenure as c.e.o., the marketing of the site has seen a great increase. We’ve seen ads all over the web (garnered this is due in part by the tracking of our research for this site), and even on television. Pottermore has done a great job advertising on fansites and keeping fans updated. They also partnered with Barnes and Noble, which hosted a Harry Potter party last year in stores. Redmayne personally stayed on top of his game, appearing at international book fairs and publishing conferences. All of these benefited the site and the visibility of the site’s offerings.

When we talked to him this past February, Charlie named the launch of the site and recruiting a “passionate, talented, and loyal team to deliver J.K. Rowling’s vision” as his greatest accomplishments. You can read our full exclusive interview with him right here.

We are sorry to see Charlie go but wish him all the best. He’s done a fantastic job as CEO and we’re sure he’ll do the same at HarperCollins U.K.

We will be sure to share with you once a permanent replacement is announced, so stick with us at Pottermore News for the latest.

Correction: A previous version of this post said that Redmayne started in October 2011. This was wrong, as he started in November of that year.

An Exclusive Interview with Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne: Part 2

Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne

Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne

Last week we shared with you part one of our exclusive interview with Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne. In the second and final part of the interview, Charlie shares his thoughts on the feedback of Pottermore, bringing Pottermore into new territories, and more.

Charlie has been CEO of Pottermore since November 2011 and has been responsible for the transition of Pottermore from beta to launch. Redmayne oversaw the launch of Pottermore.com in April 2012, and the launch of the groundbreaking Pottermore Shop in March 2012.

Pottermore News (PN): What do you view as your greatest accomplishment as CEO of Pottermore?

Charlie Redmayne (CR): When I arrived at Pottermore, there were some challenges in terms of getting the site live and out of beta. The challenges for the team at that time was that the sea of popularity, the demand for the site and the amount of time people were spending on it meant that there was a huge challenge to create a platform that could actually deliver on that promise.

So, I think that coming in and turning that situation around and getting the site up and running and working was probably the biggest challenge that I faced and also the biggest achievement.

The other thing I’ve done, and again fans of Pottermore probably won’t see any of this, but I have spent a lot of time recruiting some of the smartest people in digital publishing to work at Pottermore. There is a really brilliant team and they’re extraordinarily nice people and huge fans of Harry Potter and they are also brilliant at what they do.

I hope that you see the site grow and the different platform experiences roll out. You will see the quality of their work because they are an extraordinary group.

So, [my greatest accomplishment] is getting the platform up and running and the site up and running, along with recruiting a passionate, talented, and loyal team to deliver J.K. Rowling’s vision.

PN: What has been the hardest part about working on Pottermore? What has caused you the most stress?

CR: The platform concerns that had delayed launch [was the hardest part]. There was an immense amount of demand by people because a promise had been made, and the promise had been made by J.K. Rowling. We had to deliver on that and that was quite stressful. But we got there and we delivered it.

We saw what was being published and said on social media and people were rightly pushing and pushing and pushing. That created quite a lot of pressure. We went as fast as we could, but we wanted to make sure that when we launched, we launched something that was a really high quality product.

PN: Were you a Harry Potter fan before becoming CEO of Pottermore?

CR: I’m very old – I’m 46 years old – so I discovered Harry Potter by reading it to my children. My children are huge Harry Potter fans of the books I read to the them. I read the first few books, then they read them themselves as they grew older.  I was a fan,but it was through reading those stories to my kids that I got into it.

PN: What will we be seeing from Pottermore this year?

CR: We will be seeing more content to engage with and new developments with the site. We will see more books rolling out. I hope we are getting faster and better at doing that. I think that some of the feedback we got on the last rollout was that it was great and people got it before Christmas and weren’t expecting it.

At the same time, there was a little bit of disappointment in some areas of how much there was [in the release]. I think we need to strike the balance. We work very hard to make sure what we produce is really good. We’re working with an extraordinarily creative person in terms of J.K. Rowling. We need to make sure we get it right. There will be much more stuff coming out onto the site.

We’ll also be rolling out into more territories. At the moment we’re in English, both in the U.S. and U.K., French, Italian, German and Spanish. The site will be rolling out in Japanese. At the moment only the Shop’s in Japanese. We’ll also be rolling out in South Korea and Brazil. Those I can guarantee, but we may be rolling out into more countries as well.

Otherwise, you will see [the e-books in other languages.] They may not have their own shop but there will definitely be shops for Korea and Brazil. In some of the other territories, we’re going to make the ebooks available from the existing stores. You will see new digital platforms – the Book of Spells on PlayStation is just the beginning of what we’ll do in Playstation and other platforms.

[All of the different experiences will be about] experiencing Pottermore on all the platforms and access for us to do so. [Pottermore] will continually evolve. One of the great privileges of running a digital business is that we’ll be talking about things next year which we didn’t even know we’re going to exist this year. We need to react to those opportunities and make sure we stay at the forefront of what we’re doing.

PN: Will the Pottermore Shop be increasing it’s selection this year?

CR: Yes – absolutely. At the moment we’re selling the e-books and digital audio. We just made the products from the Warner Bros. store available too through an affiliate relationship. I hope that we’ll be bringing in some enhanced content.  That’s not a promise, but we’re hoping to do that.

We will be making e-books available in other languages. We will, I hope, be also making other products and “experiences” to make the Harry Potter world available from the Pottermore Shop. That’s what our plan is, and I hope you’ll be seeing that over the coming months.

PN: Has feedback for Pottermore exceeded your expectations?

CR: Feedback on the Shop has certainly exceeded my expectations. From the publishing industry perspective, it is seen as something that has broken the mold and really changed publishing.

I have also been delighted by the number of fans that found the purchasing experience very easy. They like the fact that we’ve gone with a light-touch DRM, in terms of watermarking, which meant we [didn’t push] any device and gave them the freedom of having to read the books on any device. On the experience side, the feedback has been great. People love Pottermore, but I know there’s also been some criticism. We need to react to that and keep getting better and better, and I promise you we will strive to do that.

It’s a big and complex piece of technology, and we work very hard to make it as good as it can be. When I came in and when we launched, I said it’s pretty good, but it will be brilliant. I want to make sure before we start really pushing this out, that it really is brilliant. Frankly, the books were brilliant, the films were brilliant and Pottermore must always be brilliant.

PN: What is your response to critics of Pottermore who say Pottermore has no value?

CR: Obviously it’s not for everybody. If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, then I wouldn’t think it does have value. But, if the extraordinary way that J.K. Rowling wrote those books and the magical world she created in her mind and the extra content that has come out of that and the product that has started rolling out with things like Playstation and other platforms – then I think it has immense value.

I think it is changing the mold of publishing. It is what digital publishing will become, and that it’s certainly what people aspire to be now, I think Pottermore is seen as a real leader. I hope it is something that Harry Potter fans will have a fabulous time engaging with on all different things that we do.

We built an e-book store that has finally made the e-books available and enabled people to read them and I think that that has had significant value. I think it will become a platform that will bring new fans of Harry Potter into the franchise, which is fantastic to have new kids discovering Harry Potter for the first time. It certainly has immense value to the publishers who publish the books, to Warner Bros. who made the films, and to Universal, who created the theme parks because there are millions of Harry Potter fans using Pottermore who could become their customers. So from a business perspective, it also has immense value.

But ultimately, what it was always meant to be, was J.K. Rowling giving something back to her fans. Running a website that has so many millions of people using it for free is an immensely expensive undertaking and I hope it does have value because it is certainly something that J.K. Rowling is investing a huge amount of time and money in making sure it happens. Nothing like this has ever been done before and it is a groundbreaking adventure.

We hope you have enjoyed this exclusive interview from Pottermore News. It was a pleasure interviewing Charlie and it has been great sharing it with our readers.

An Exclusive Interview with Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne: Part 1

Charlie RedmayneIn an exclusive interview with Pottermore News, Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne offers fans an insight into the future of Pottermore and more.

Charlie has been CEO of Pottermore since November 2011 and has been responsible for the transition of Pottermore from beta to launch. Redmayne oversaw the launch of Pottermore.com in April 2012, and the launch of the groundbreaking Pottermore Shop in March 2012.

Pottermore News (PN): In the future, how will you be using television and other platforms to promote the site and its products?

Charlie Redmayne (CR): We will be using television in the future, absolutely. When I came into Pottermore in November of 2011, there were some significant challenges for us in terms of the platform and getting it out of beta and actually being able to launch. I think that what we wanted to do was to invest time, money, resources in building something that worked, that the platform could support it, and to have enough great content on it to really mean that television advertising was worthwhile. This year we’re going to be focusing much more on adding more to the site. The site’s up and running, it works, it’s great, but we’ll be adding a load more to it. I think as we add more content to it and also more functionalities to it, then the marketing of it will start to emerge. But I didn’t want to invest lots of money marketing something that wasn’t quite ready.

PN: How do you plan to increase the site’s re-value? In other words, How do you plan to keep fans coming back to the site?

CR: I think that’s a really good point, and it is a very valid criticism. The site currently resonates very well amongst really hardcore Harry Potter fans. Also, I think that the thing that really attracts them is the new content. When we put new content live, we see large numbers of people coming back, consuming that content. Then quite a lot of people don’t spend enough time coming back to the site until we have a new content release. So, I think the best way of answering that question is that we are aware of that, and you will see change. 

We will continue to evolve the site by adding new content to it for people to enjoy, new content from J.K. Rowling, and to have new stuff for the fans. There will also be other changes that we will start to make, to invite new Harry Potter fans to discover more about the world; people who may have only read a couple of the books or seen a couple of the moviesPottermore needs to work for that audience too.

I think that you will see some changes not in the immediate future, but in the quite near future, whereby there is more content, there is more interactive content, there is more freedom in terms of community, and there is more flexibility in how you get to content. At the moment, you have to go on a very rigid journey [to get to content]. I think that, for it to work really well, we need to free up that and have some flexibility in that. I don’t want to say what we’re doing, but you’ll definitely see things changing, not immediately, but there are plans and we’re working on them. And I hope that by later in the year you will see the changes we have made will keep people coming back and we will also bring new fans to Harry Potter onto the site.

PN: How do you plan to increase user interactivity? Do you think that changing the restrictions on the site will fix some of the problems?

CR: We are going to continue to develop the site and we’re starting to use the community. I think that we get some pretty valuable feedback both directly on the site, through social media and stuff that’s sent to us. We are certainly aware of issues that come up and we try to respond to them. 

New developments for the community side of what we do will be coming. You will have seen some of these being implemented in recent months, enabling a level of communication. I think as we step forward we must be absolutely focused on safety, specifically child safety, because some of the people who use Pottermore are quite young, but at the same time we need to create a community and connect with the community and we are very aware of that. 

We also want to continue to improve the experience for all Harry Potter fans to enjoy and to participate and engage in. And we also want to curb the occurrences of cheating that do sometimes take place, and that’s something we’re very focused on. But, you will see more interactivity coming on the site. There are lots of valid reasons, which aren’t particularly interesting to fans as to why we haven’t got a lot of interactivity on the site at the moment, but we certainly see that as something we will be changing and we will be adding to it because I think it is critical. It ultimately needs to be an interactive experience.

PN: Will the J.K. Rowling Exclusive Content on Pottermore stay solely on Pottermore, or will we be seeing it in book form?

CR: Pottermore will evolve into a range of different digital platforms for people to spend time in, and J.K. Rowling’s Exclusive Content will appear in all of that. 

So if you look at, for instance, the Book of Spells, which is the new Sony product on Playstation3, it has new content from J.K. Rowling in it. But, as opposed to being published as a book or an e-book, it is being published as an augmented reality experience on Playstation. 

So I think you will see Pottermore on many different platforms, not just browserbased experiences, and what we will do is we will show that content using the functionalities of different devices that are available to make it the best possible experience.

PN: How closely involved is J.K. Rowling with Pottermore? What role does she play?

CR: J.K. Rowling is involved, obviously, with the site. It was her brainchild, her idea. She wanted to give something back to her fans. She is immensely grateful and respectful to her fans and she wanted to give something back and that’s why Pottermore was created. She oversaw the creation and she has written all the exclusive content. On a day-to-day basis, she’s obviously a writer, and wants to focus on that. But she’s certainly involved in any key decisions that are taken with Pottermore and she influences the direction the site goes in and things that we do.

PN: Does she look over the artwork?

CR: She certainly does see the artwork. The look and feel of the site and the artwork that is created for Pottermore is something that is critical to make sure that we get right. She is involved. She doesn’t have a day-to-day role in it, that’s the Pottermore team running it. Butcertainly the important stuff she is very involved in because she is very passionate about it.

PN: Do you think we will see more sites like Pottermore in the future?

CR: I think that we will see more businesses like Pottermore in the future and I think sites will be part of it. What I mean by Pottermore at the moment is obviously pottermore.com, which is the experience as we call it. It’s a free proposition – there’s no revenue generation from it, there’s no advertising on it – it’s just something that Jo wanted to give back to her fans. 

Then’s there a Shop, which sells e-books and digital audio and now other products. There is Playstation3 Wonderbook: Book of Spells and I think over this year you will see more Pottermore products and experiences emerging on different platforms.

I think that model is the model for digital publishing in the future, and I think that those people in publishing and in film companies and right holders see what we have done, and that they will follow. There are a lot of brands that can do some things we have done, and some things differently. But I think that you will certainly see this as the digital publishing model of the future.

Look out for part two of our exclusive interview with Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne next week. In part two, he will discuss his accomplishments as CEO of Pottermore and the future, address critics of Pottermore, and much more.

J.K. Rowling interviewed on CBC Radio Show

J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ hits stores September 27

To finish up a week full of interviews and appearances, J.K. Rowling was interviewed by host Jian Ghomeshi on the Canadian radio show Q to talk about her new novel for adults.

During the interview, Rowling was asked if it was a relief to publish the novel, to which she responded, “It was such a relief. It felt very liberating to finally have it publish and to be able to people talk about it… Yeah, I would say my over righting feeling was a sense of relief.”

The author again talked about not feeling the need to publish the novel. “For the first couple of years in the writing of The Casual Vacancy, I kept telling myself you don’t have to publish this…” Rowling elaborated, saying that it was “nice” to think that no one knew what she was doing, and that there was no rush to publish the novel.

Rowling also discussed about accepting the fact that she would never write anything as successful as Harry Potter. She explained that even as early as 2000 she knew that she would never do another Harry Potter because “lightning doesn’t strike twice.” She remarked that it would be wrong for her to try to “duplicate” Harry Potter, or even try to amount to the same success.

Interestingly, Rowling revealed her thoughts on failing, “I honestly do [feel free to fail]… I’m 47 years old… There are worst things in life than writing a book people don’t like.”

In concluding the interview, the two touched on the private author’s relationship with the media. Rowling responded to critics’ claims that she is reclusive saying, “It is absolutely false. I am not remotely reclusive.”

Listen to the whole interesting interview right here.

Watch J.K. Rowling on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Watch J.K. Rowling on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Watch the extended version of J.K. Rowling’s appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart NOW right here.

In the interview, the two touch on a variety of topics, but mostly the themes of Rowling’s new adult novel The Casual Vacancy, and both American & British politics.

Roundup of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Casual Vacancy’ Interviews

J.K. Rowling has done a number of interviews over the past week in promotion of The Casual Vacancy. She’s done so many interviews that it’s been hard to keep up! Because we didn’t want you to miss any of it, we’ve compiled a list of all the interviews Rowling has done for the new book. You can view the list below. We’ve also included some highlights from the interview.

Print Media:

The Guardian (UK) – Talks Fifty Shades of Grey, meeting Barack Obama, and the political fairytale she spoke of a few years ago

USA Today (US) – Discusses the possibility of a film adaptation of ‘The Casual Vacancy’, Pottermore, and appearing at the Olympics

The New Yorker (US) – The working title for The Casual Vacancy and Jo’s writing process for the novel is revealed

Videos:

“Writing For Grown-Ups: A Culture Show Special” (UK) – Reads from the novel, discusses its theme

“Life After Harry Potter” (AUSTRALIA) Talks about Harry Potter (and life after finishing it), her children, more about the new novel

Second part of Good Morning America’s interview (US) – Reads the from the novel, more

BBC Breakfast Interview (UK) – Discusses feeling tempted to do a “director’s cut” of the Harry Potter books, the possibility of a sequel for ‘The Casual Vacancy’, and more

ABC News (1) (US) – Talks about finishing up the Harry Potter novels and failure

ABC News (2) (US) – Continuation of the other ABC interviews and dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Interview with Jennifer Byrne – aired on Australia’s ABC1

Highlights from Southbank Centre event in London (UK) – Highlights from J.K. Rowling’s publication event

Radio interview with NPR (US) – Talks about the themes of the book, writing the novel, her daughter’s reaction to the novel

Thanks to MuggleNet and Snitch Seeker for the links