J.K. Rowling Reveals All In New Book, ‘Harry, A History’

J.K. Rowling might not have exactly have a new book out this year — do you count “Beedle the Bard”? — but for her boy Harry’s 10-year “birthday,” she’s got the next best thing. Leaky Cauldron webmistress Melissa Anelli interviewed the author — and got Rowling to write the intro — for her upcoming book, due out November 4, called “Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon.”

“It was never a selling point to any publisher, ’Hey, I know J.K. Rowling,’ you know? It was never like that,” Anelli said. “I was actually planning on writing it without her [participation]. It’s like when you watch the show ’The West Wing': yes, the president is very important, but it’s more about the staff. This is more about the people, the companies, the entities that brought Harry Potter into fruition. And using that analogy, having the president there adds so much, and adds so much interest, but I was counting on not having her.”

That was, until she decided she would regret it if she didn’t at least ask. Anelli had already sent Rowling a letter to notify her that she was doing the book in the first place, to assure her it wouldn’t be something about her personal life, or about the young actors who embody her characters. So Anelli sent another letter last fall, asking for an interview, and notifying her that she would also be asking all of Rowling’s agents, publicists, and editors as well. “She said yes, and then everybody else said yes, and it completely changed the book in the last four months of writing,” Anelli said. “It made things a little crazy, but it was really worth it.”

For one thing, Anelli scored a two-day interview at Rowling’s house in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a follow-up interview backstage at Rowling’s reading at Carnegie Hall. And while Rowling had been cagey in the past, not wanting to answer a lot of questions in fear of spoilers, “the floodgates were opened,” Anelli said. “I’ve been watching her for ten years now, and most of the time, she answers, ’Yes, mmm,’ and you can tell she really wanted to talk about it, but she had to stop herself. Now she can talk about it freely.”

So much so that Rowling wrote an introduction to Anelli’s book, and gave her a lot of “advice about the authorial process” and encouragement along the way. “She didn’t ask to oversee it,” Anelli said. “But she’s been very gracious about letting me know that certain feelings I have are normal, like feeling nauseated waiting for the book to come out. She’s been very helpful about helping me adjust to the idea that I’m going to be a published author. And that’s an even greater gift than what’s in the book.”

What would you ask J.K. Rowling if you got an interview with her? What are you doing to celebrate/commemorate Harry Potter’s ten-year anniversary this week?