J K Rowling leaked out plenty of information on her current project – the seventh and last instalment of the Harry Potter series – sending fans of the boy-wizard into a tizzy.
Six years after her last foray into the United States, J K Rowling teamed up with fellow cult writers Stephen King and John Irving for two benefit concerts in New York, on August 2, 2006. The three authors – Rowling of the Harry Potter novels, Stephen King of Carrie, The Shawshank Redemption and the Dark Tower series, and John Irving of Garp and The Cider House Rules – read out portions of their works at "An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp".
With incomparable comperes such as Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates and Jon Stewart, the show commenced with King reading out the gross yet hilarious scene of the revenge of Lard Ass Hogan from Different Seasons. John Irving’s reading was preceded by background information of A Prayer for Owen Meeney, after which he read out the portion where children were being selected for enacting a nativity scene at church. J K Rowling followed – to much acclaim – with a reading from her best-selling sixth part of the Harry Potter series – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Ten pages later, Rowling was bombarded with questions not just from the audience, but from her fellow writers as well.
Some of the more tantalising tid-bits she let fall are that although Albus Dumbledore – the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – was murdered in Half-Blood Prince, he would still have an important role in the final book, and furthermore, his killer Severus Snape (whose role is assayed by Alan Rickman in the Harry Potter films) is actually a good character.
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The latter bit, which had been a topic of much debate and speculation among Potter fans, was first voiced at the concert by author Salman Rushdie, who offered his theory that Snape and Dumbledore were in cahoots (over the latter’s murder) and that Dumbledore’s death was a hoax.
“In my opinion, Snape is good”, he declared.
Rowling’s answer: “And your opinion is right, but I feel I need to make one thing clear about Dumbledore: he is dead.”
Other items the usually-reticent author let fall were that Harry’s hateful aunt Petunia Dursley would have a very important part in the final book, and heavily implied that Harry and his two friends Ron and Hermione would survive in the book, whose title Rowling is still thinking up.
Rowling also said – in response to Stephen King’s question whether Harry Potter’s rival Draco Malfoy would be redeemed – that all her characters, barring the villain Lord Voldemort, “appear redeemable” and that Harry firmly believed that Draco Malfoy was not evil. This may or may not point to her claim earlier this year that while writing the book, one of her characters had been redeemed whom she hadn’t thought of redeeming earlier.
Later on, at a meeting with fans, Rowling also said that the final book would explain the deep connection between a wizard and his wand.
The concert was organised to benefit two non-profit organisations: The Haven Foundation, which helps performing artists whose accidents or illnesses have left them uninsured and unable to work, and Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group which delivers emergency aid in more than 70 countries.