Saying goodbye to Harry made her upset – until she realized he'll always be with her

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 24, 2007 04:50 PM

Even though Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold an incredible 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours on the American market – its author, J.K. Rowling, says reaching the finish line was bittersweet.

“At the moment, it feels great, to be honest with you … a big sense of achievement,” Rowling, who turns 42 on July 31, tells Meredith Vieira for a series of interviews to air on NBC’s Today show this week and during a one-hour Dateline special Sunday.

But, according to excerpts released by the network, “I am sad. But I’ve been sadder. I need to be off … writing,” Rowling also reveals.

Especially trying was the time immediately after finishing, says Rowling. “The first two days were terrible. I was incredibly low. I think what is probably hard for people to imagine is how wrapped up the 17 years’ work is with what was going on in my life at the time. So it all merges into one.

“I was mourning the loss of this world that I had written for so long and loved so much. I was also mourning the retreat it had been from ordinary life, which it has been. And it forced me to look back at 17 years of my life and remember things. And it was very linked to my mother dying, which happened. … This big long passage from my life is now rounded off.”

In those 17 years, says Rowling, “I went through the birth of three children. I went through two serious bereavements. Breakup of a marriage. And then lots of happy memories, you know? … But, you know, it threw me back into all that.”

The blue period lasted a full seven days, then, as if by magic: “I woke up on kind of Day Eight and felt actually quite light – light hearted and thought, I can write whatever I like. And the pressure’s off. And it’s not as though Harry’s gone-gone from my life, because he’ll always be in my life.”

Equally difficult during the development of the final saga were certain portions she had to face. “Definitely the passage that I found hardest to write of all of them in all seven books, and the one that made me cry the most, is Chapter 34 in this one,” says Rowling.

Without spilling any secrets, Rowling says Chapter 34 concerns “when Harry sets off into the forest. … So that’s my favorite passage of this book. And it’s the part that when I finished writing, I didn’t cry as I was writing, but when I finished writing, I had enormous explosion of emotion, and I cried and cried and cried.”