Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Harry Potter steals charity spotlight

August 2, 2006

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— Author J.K. Rowling says writing the last of her seven Harry Potter books is proving to be "fun in a way that it hasn't been before."

"To an extent the pressure's off, I suppose, because it's the last book so I feel quite liberated," she said Tuesday. "Now I can just resolve the story."

Rowling was in the United States for the first time since 2000 to take part in an authors' reading for charity. She, Stephen King and John Irving read from their own works on Tuesday night at Radio City Music Hall, and will do so again tonight.

"An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp" is supporting two nonprofit organizations: The Haven Foundation, King's choice, which helps performing artists whose accidents or illnesses have left them uninsured and unable to work, and Doctors Without Borders, Rowling's pick, a humanitarian group that delivers emergency aid in more than 70 countries.

King, who came up with the idea after doing a reading for a favored cause of Irving's, said they hoped to raise at least $250,000 for each group.

Rowling said she was "well into" the writing of the seventh Potter book. While she will miss writing the series that have made her a global publishing phenomenon, there would also be an element of freedom, she said.

Authors, from left, John Irving, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King take questions from the media during a news conference in New York. The authors are appearing together this week to read from their books as a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and The Haven Foundation.

Authors, from left, John Irving, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King take questions from the media during a news conference in New York. The authors are appearing together this week to read from their books as a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and The Haven Foundation.

"There will also be a sense of liberation as well because there are pressures involved in writing something that's popular, and wonderful though it's been, I think that there will also be a certain freedom in escaping that particular part of writing Harry Potter," she said.

In talking about the writing process, both Irving and Rowling said they planned their plots out in advance so that they knew going into the writing whether they would be killing off characters, something that made writing the death scenes somewhat easier.

"I have a kind of casualty list of which characters make it and which characters don't before I write the first word," said Irving, author of works including "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules."

"By the time I get to write those death scenes themselves ... I'm not truly as emotionally affected when it comes to writing those scenes, it's as if they've already happened," he said.

Rowling agreed, although she admitted it still wasn't always fun to do.

"I don't always enjoy killing my characters, I didn't enjoy killing the character who died at the end of book 6," she said, declining to name that person in case someone had yet to finish the book. "I really didn't enjoy doing that but I had been planning that for years so it wasn't quite as poignant as you might imagine. I'd already done my grieving when I actually came to write it."

King, author of works including "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Carrie," said he was looking forward to the last Potter book.

"I want to read the book; I love that series," he said.

Both King and Irving pleaded with Rowling not to kill Harry Potter in the final book of the series, but Rowling made no promises.

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