Every Friday, the Author invites a celebrated guest to interview him about his work as he strives towards literary success.
This week: J K Rowling digs for the truth...
JKR: Thank you for agreeing to this interview today Mark.
Author: That’s okay Jo, it’s a pleasure.
JKR: Can I just say before we start that I’ve not read your latest book.
Author: To be fair Jo, I’ve not read any of yours either.
JKR: Oh. What about my films? I’ve got absolutely loads of films out.
Author: Hang on a minute, I thought this was about my writing rather than yours.
JKR: Sorry, yes, I apologise. Okay, first question. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Author: To be honest Jo, I haven’t really thought about it too much. Fairly modest, I guess. I’d be more than happy to make enough to be able to write as a living.
JKR: How much would that be?
Author: Erm…I dunno…thirty or forty grand a year maybe?
JKR: That’s not very successful is it? Do you know how much I earn?
Author: No idea.
JKR: I don’t know either but it’s definitely loads and loads and loads.
Author: Success is relative to being happy Jo, not how much you earn.
JKR: Is that because you’re a bit fat. Do you find that your weight affects the quality of your writing? Don’t forget I’m svelte and lovely and everything.
Author: I think we’re going off track here Jo. Can we stick with the interview please?
JKR: Sorry, yes. Next question. Which writers inspire you?
Author: Strange as it may seem, I don’t read a lot of fiction so I certainly don’t take any genuine inspiration from fiction writers. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not. I think there’s less chance of copying other writers by not getting too wrapped up with other authors but it also means missing out on picking up the constructive techniques and storytelling of very successful authors. I like the way Dickens opens up the reader to social issues of the time but I’m not particularly attracted to the prose style. It’s not that I don’t like fiction writers, but it’s that I’m more interested in stories about real people. It’s important to me to write in an original style and I’m more influenced by the journalistic skills of someone like A.A. Gill or Paul Foot. What I’m really interested in are characters - and they already exist in real life all around us.
JKR: People like me you mean?
Author: Err…no, not really Jo. You’re wandering again. Can we stick with the interview?
JKR: Yeah, sure, sure. Were you good at English at school?
Author: That’s a good question. I’m going to answer “yes” to that. I could read before I went to school and have always loved words and what you can do with them. A lot was down to my mother who put the time into making sure I could express myself as best as I could from a very young age. When I got to Senior School as it was called then, I was bit of a class clown, messing about and stuff. But I always scored high marks on essays because I was interested in language and storytelling. I was also lucky enough to have two amazing English teachers. One was an ex-tank commander from world war two who used to regale us with fantastic stories of the war and the other was from New York. The last guy in particular, Mr Hook, was inspiring. As well as curriculum reading like Cider with Rosie and Of Mice and Men, he would read to us from Last Exit to Brooklyn which was extraordinary for the time given the hoo-ha surrounding its original publication. I must also say that…
JKR: Sorry Mark, I’m going to have to interrupt you there. It’s getting a bit boring. A simple “yes” would’ve done. What about your characters? Dr Ingoldsby is quite interesting.
Author: Yes, I’m really enjoying his antagonistic relationship with the rest of the world and with Matthew in particular.
JKR: There are elements of Harry Potter in him, don’t you think?
Author: No, not really. I thought you hadn’t read it?
JKR: My friend was describing him to me and I thought “blimey, that could be Harry Potter”. Did you deliberately copy my character that I created in a Scottish cafe?
Author: I think you’re going a bit far there Jo, to be honest. Dr Ingoldsby is a disillusioned middle-aged man with relationship issues. Potter is just a boy with glasses.
JKR: “Just a boy with glasses!”…“Just a boy with fucking glasses!” He could have Dr Ingoldsby with his wizardry any day. My characters are way better than yours! My characters have potions and strange pets and wands - fucking wands! What do yours have?!
Author: Actually, now you come to mention it, maybe there are some…
JKR: I bloody knew it! You want to be me!
Author: Calm down Jo. I definitely do not want to be you. Why don’t we end the interview here?
JKR: Calm down!? I’ll calm fucking down when you admit that I’m way better than you…Avada Kedavra! Avada Kedavra!
Author: That’s not a real wand. Jo…you can’t do magic either. And Harry Potter’s not a real boy. Jo, put that knife down…
Next week: The Prime Minister wants some answers...