J.K. Rowling Admits Obsession with Death

Harry Potter's creator reveals how her mother's untimely death influences her work

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling says she has obsession with death in her books, which she attributes to the trauma of losing her own mother.

In a rare interview, the reclusive Scottish author, 40, tells the Tatler magazine (excerpts are appearing in London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper) that she was writing the first Harry Potter novel in 1991 when her mother died after a 10-year fight against multiple sclerosis.

The loss, says Rowling, greatly contributed to her decision to kill off the parents of her fictional boy wizard. Her greatest regret, Rowling also admits, is that her mother did not live to see the enormous success her daughter has enjoyed. Harry Potter‘s adventures became a worldwide publishing phenomenon, with six novels produced, 300 million books sold in 63 countries and four films produced.

“Barely a day goes by when I do not think of her. There would be so much to tell her, impossibly much,” says Rowling, adding that her mother wasn’t even aware that Harry was coming to life.

“My books are largely about death,” says Rowling. “They open with the death of Harry’s parents. There is Voldemort’s obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality at any price, the goal for anyone with magic. … I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We’re all frightened of it.”

Rowling – who married her second husband, Dr. Neil Murray, in 2001 and has three children – will finish writing the seventh and final Harry Potter novel later this year. On her Web site, she revealed that she faces this final installment with a mix of excitement and dread. What she reveals in the Tatler interview is her fear about coping with fame.

“I’ve never said this before, but, when I was repeatedly asked ‘How are you coping?’ I would say, ‘Fine.’ I was lying to myself at the time. Denial was my friend,” she says. “I was hypersensitive because I had a daughter from my first marriage. It was as though I’d lived under a rock for a long time and suddenly someone had lifted it off and was shining a torch on me.”

She concludes, “It’s not that life under the rock was awful, but actually I was petrified and didn’t know how to handle it.”

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