January 05, 2014

On creating magic


I watched a clip last night which I cannot stop thinking about. A full interview of J.K Rowling by Oprah Winfrey. It’s not the usual big brash setting in which Oprah puts a spot light on her interviewee centre stage with a heckling crowd– quite the opposite. Winfrey travels to the green land of Edinburgh, and settles down to interview Rowling in the hotel where she wrote the last chapters of the final book. The books that the world were waiting for. She describes the hotel as being her sanctuary away from the chaos and inside of writing in her noisy house — loud kids, window cleaners, barking dogs — she was able to ‘throw money at the problem’, meaning she was able to reward herself some peace and quiet. She describes money as being something that gives her more freedom, more power, she rarely talks about it in a lavish, materialistic sense, which is quite refreshing.

It’s looks slightly out of place seeing such a big US name as Oprah sitting in the living room of a Scottish landmark building. But it makes the interview all the more special. It’s amazing to watch considering these two women are so different, but so similar in so many ways. They bond over the rags to riches stories they both share, their humble beginnings, and how they were catapulted to incredible success.

In this interview, Oprah touches on the subject of magic, she tells Rowling that she thinks the “greatest gift the Harry Potter series has given to the world is the freedom to use our imaginations”. They both agree, however this wild use of imagination did come with its criticisms, as all successful usually things do, so Oprah asks her a question on whether the subject matter may have been slightly “too dark”. 

Rowling finds anyone slating the decision to use witches and wizards ‘nonsensical’. She believes magic and wizards will probably continue to be around for around 300-400 years in books and parents are encouraged to read with their children, or indeed decide if the book is too old for them. 

Rowling adds: “There’s a quotation that I almost used in the book, I’m paraphrasing but ‘in magic, man has to rely on himself’… That’s the appeal of magic. I’m not saying I believe in magic or that I think magic is real, I don’t. But that’s the perennial appeal of magic, that we are ourselves have power and we can shape our world.”

This quote really stuck with me. J.K Rowling is saying she doesn’t believe in magic, but 17 years ago, she sat alone, at a keyboard and created some characters that bubbled up in her head and came out through her fingers on a type writer. Now there are 400 million books sold in 69 languages, 8 films, and even a theme park dedicated to the Hogwarts fantasy. Kids grew up with these characters and mourned when the books stopped. 

She actually created something out of thin air. (Is that not what magic is?)

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