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I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, and all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who did not know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.
In 1995, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was completed and the manuscript was sent off to prospective agents. The second agent she tried, Christopher Little, offered to represent her and sent the manuscript to Bloomsbury. After eight other publishers had rejected Philosopher's Stone, Bloomsbury offered Rowling a £2,500 advance for its publication.
Despite Rowling's statement that she did not have any particular age group in mind when she began to write the Harry Potter books, the publishers initially targeted them at children age nine to eleven. On the eve of publishing, Joanne Rowling was asked by her publishers to adopt a more gender-neutral pen name, in order to appeal to the male members of this age group, fearing that they would not be interested in reading a novel they knew to be written by a woman. She elected to use J. K. Rowling (Joanne Kathleen Rowling), using her grandmother's name as her second name, because she has no middle name.
The first Harry Potter book was published in the United Kingdom by Bloomsbury in July 1997 and in the United States by Scholastic in September 1998, but not before Rowling had received $105,000 for the American rights — an unprecedented amount for a children's book by a then unknown author. Fearing that American readers would not associate the word "philosopher" with a magical theme (as a Philosopher's Stone is alchemy-related), Scholastic insisted that the book be given the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the American market.
Rowling's publishers were able to capitalise on this buzz by the rapid, successive releases of the first four books that allowed neither Rowling's audience's excitement nor interest to wane while she took a break from writing between the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and also quickly solidified a loyal readership.
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Completion of the series
In December 2005, Rowling stated on her web site, "2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series." Updates have since followed in her online diary chronicling the progress of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with the release date of 21 July 2007.
The book itself was finished on 11 January 2007 in the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, where she scrawled a message on the back of a bust of Hermes. It read: “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (652) on 11 January 2007.”
Rowling herself has stated that the last chapter of the seventh book (in fact, the epilogue) was completed "in something like 1990".
In June 2006, Rowling, on an appearance on the British talk show Richard & Judy, announced that the chapter had been modified as one character "got a reprieve" and two others who previously survived the story had in fact been killed. She also said she could see the logic in killing off Harry to stop other writers from writing books about Harry's life after Hogwarts.
On March 28, 2007, the cover art for the Bloomsbury Adult and Child versions and the Scholastic version were released.
After Deathly Hallows
Rowling spent seventeen years writing the seven Harry Potter books. In a 2000 interview through Scholastic, her American publisher, Rowling stated that there is not a university after Hogwarts. Concerning the series continuing past book seven, she stated, "I will not say never, but I have no plans to write an eighth book." She has since said that if she does write an eighth book Harry Potter will not be the central character, as his story has been told, and that she would not begin such a project for at least ten years.
When asked about writing other Harry Potter-related books similar to Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, she has said that she might consider doing this with proceeds donated to charity, as was the case with those two books. Another suggestion is an encyclopedia-style tome containing information that never made it into the series, also for charity. She has revealed she is currently penning two books, one for children and one not for children.
In February 2007 Rowling issued a statement on her website about finishing the final book, in which she compared her mixed feelings of "mourning" and "incredible sense of achievement" to those expressed by Charles Dickens in the preface of the 1850 edition of David Copperfield, "a two-years' imaginative task." "To which," she added, "I can only sigh, try seventeen years, Charles…"
On July 24, 2007, Rowling announced in an interview that she "probably will" write an encyclopedia of the Harry Potter world, which would include background information cut from the narrative as well as post-Deathly Hallows information, including details of what happens to the other characters, who the new Hogwarts headmaster is, and more. Rowling refers to the encyclopedia as the "Scottish Book", a take on the Scottish play.
In a 90-minute live Web chat, Rowling revealed what several of the characters did in the years between the conclusion of the book and the epilogue.
Rowling has written an 800-word prequel to the Harry Potter Series.