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Harry Potter and the Tightly Grasped Manuscript

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Exhibiting fiercely maternal instincts over her seventh fictional progeny, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed on her website yesterday that airport security in New York tried to pry in-progress Book Seven manuscript from her protective clutches as she boarded a plane back to the U.K. last month. She made it clear, however, that stowing her baby was a no-go.

"The heightened security restrictions on the airlines in August made the journey back from New York interesting," she wrote. "As I refused to be parted from the manuscript of book seven (a large part of it is handwritten, and there was no copy of anything I had done while in the US). They let me take it on, thankfully, bound up in elastic bands. I don't know what I would have done if they hadn't; sailed home, probably."

JKRowling2 The bookish blonde billionaire had participated in a charitable book reading at Radio City Music Hall August 1 and 2 with fellow authors Stephen King and John Irving. Security regarding carryon luggage was drastically tightened after August 10 when British police intercepted a terrorist plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners.

Rowling, 41, addressed the reading in another site message. "My readings in New York with Stephen King and John Irving were so much fun. It's not often that I do something like that and wish I could do it all over again, but I would have happily done a third night. If you were there, and yelling, thank you: the crowds, both nights, could not have been more wonderful," she enthused.

"I did mess up one answer, though," Rowling continued. "I was asked, 'what question have you never been asked that you ought to have been asked?' … and my mind went blank," she admitted. "It occurred to me almost as soon as I got off stage that there IS a question I've always been surprised nobody's put to me … I can't make amends to the girl who asked, but it is in tribute to her that I give the answer, belatedly, under 'Miscellaneous', Extras section."

These British writers… the game is afoot and whatnot. Upon jogging over to the aforementioned coordinates, one finds this new entry under "NAS (not answered question)": "Why did Dumbledore have James' invisibility cloak at the time of James' death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?"

Hmm, good point. Rowling doesn't give the answer, but she does say, "There IS a significant – even crucial – answer"; meaning, I assume, it will will be addressed in the still-unnamed book seven.

She mentioned the title quest too. "I am currently trying to decide between two possible titles. I was quite happy with one of them until the other one struck me while I was taking a shower in New York. They would both be appropriate, so I think I'll have to wait until I'm further into the book to decide which one works best."

Rowling likes to say much and reveal little, it appears; though she did pull down the veil a bit on her emotional state. "I'm continuing to work hard on the book. I've done quite a lot, and I'm really enjoying it, though every now and then I look up and realise that it's THE LAST ONE," she almost audibly sighed.

"You might think I'd have got used to that idea during the sixteen years I've been planning seven books, but it still keeps hitting me… no more Harry after this… and then I bury myself in book seven again and tell myself I've still got plenty to write."

If she does kill off Harry, I will take it as a personal affront. Back in June, the author said, "The final chapter is hidden away, although it's now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve, but I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die."

Filming is currently under way on the fifth film in the Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    Airport security was concerned about what exactly? Paper cuts?

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Given the weight of the last two books, they probably thought she might club someone to death….

  • Eric Olsen

    I’m guessing her travel must have been right around the 10th, when things were really crazy tight. The yweren’t allowing ANY carryon going into the U.K. for a while.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Haven’t y’all seen any spy movies with items hidden inside books? By now it must be a classic theme of the paranoid imagination. Almost anything could be hidden in a big stack of pages.

    A book manuscript might hide a container of liquids, or some enriched uranium, or maybe even a gun.

    A manuscript might even have snakes hidden in it. Tiny snakes, so small you can barely see them, but armed with deadly venoms that have no antidotes.

  • http://www.lorimortimer.com/blog lori

    Great title, Eric, followed by a fun read. I’m sure if JK has stowed the manuscript, something evil would have happened to it.

  • http://none Patrick

    This story doesn’t smell right. Why was someone with Rowling’s wealth flying commercial airlines? She has plenty of money to charter her own plane and should be doing so.

    Aside from the fact that she’s an automatic target for harm-doers and should be treated like a VIP, it just makes NO sense for a billionare to have to suffer the airport hassles and delays like the rest of us. You don’t see Warren Buffett or Donald Trump doing that, and neither should JK.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks all – Patrick, maybe she doesn’t realize she’s a billionaire yet

  • Dawn

    That JK is a wily wordsmith I say. And quite thoughtful to her fans.

  • Eric Olsen

    was just talking to Josh for the BC Radio Podcast and said the exact same thing: she really makes a point of staying in touch with and fans and interacting with them. I think that will make truly ending the series after 7 books that much harder – she will have pressure to continue it the rest of her life.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/tinkie101 tink

    This is the book that I’m dreading as much as I’m eagerly awaiting it’s publishing date. With the escalation of importance of the characters that have died during the series, and knowing that the final book will be just that…it’s a fine line for all of us Harry fans. And it’s no wonder that Ms. Rowling was not going to let her working copy leave her sight during the trip. But…no backup what for she’d written during her trip across the pond…anywhere????

  • Eric Olsen

    think what that handwritten manuscript will be worth someday

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Odds were good it’d have been lost in her checked baggage too. Good title too, though I wish i’d beaten you to it with “Terrorist Harry Potter ordered bound in elastic by Airport Security!”

  • Eric Olsen

    as these things go, I was already working on it when yo usent your message to the group!

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    No no, that’s not what I meant, I was just regretting that you beat me to it!

  • Eric Olsen

    no regrets – the stories never end

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Kind of like BCRadio Podcast segments…

  • Eric Olsen

    we are digitally fecund

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    It really is amazing how many millions of eyes will eventually fall upon the words contained in that manuscript

  • Eric Olsen

    that’s a lot of collective subconscious funneled through one brain