O, The Oprah Magazine: Why do you love The Woman Who Walked Into Doors?

J. K. Rowling: It is the most remarkable book. Roddy Doyle gets inside the head of his character so utterly, so completely. I don't think I've ever encountered such a believable, fully rounded female character from any other heterosexual male writer in any age. I should emphasize that I would feel the same way about the book if it had been written by a woman; I would still think it was the most remarkable achievement. But when I sit back and think, 'A man wrote this?'—phenomenal. He has created a woman who, you imagine, will go to the bathroom and defecate. He also leaves her with her dignity, even though what she's going through is a horrific thing. And he does it all in such a subtle way. I do think he's a genius. His dialogue is irreproachable. And your're totally drawn into his books. I'm very passionate about Roddy Doyle, and I've never met him, which is a frustration to me.

O: Well, maybe you could now...

JKR: My editor edits Roddy. And I'm always just missing him! But I might freeze, being in the same room.

O: You're saying it's difficult to write outside your gender, but you've chosen to create Harry Potter. Is that hard?

JKR: If I say no now, that's going to sound really arrogant. But I had been writing the first book for six months before I stopped and thought, 'Why's he a boy?' And the answer is, He's a boy because that's the way he came. If I had stopped at that point and changed him to Harriet, it would have felt very contrived. My feminist conscience is saved by Hermione, who's the brightest character. I love Hermione as a character. She's kind of a caricature of me when I was younger. I was obsessed with achieving academically, but underneath that I was insecure.

O: We love Hermione, too! We identify!

JKR: I think we have a very strong female character in her.

O: You have a young daughter. Do you read Harry Potter to her?

JKR: I kept thinking you've got to be 7 years old before you read Harry. And then I cracked because it was unfair to her, really, that all these kids at school were asking her about this stuff and she had no answers to give them. So I started reading Harry Potter to her when she was six. Now they are her favorite books, which makes my life an awful lot easier.


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