Matt Smith Interview Doctor Who 50th Anniversary & New Companion

Matt Smith greeted long lines of devoted and delighted Doctor Who fans at last weekend’s Entertainment Media Show. During a fascinating question and answer session Matt spoke about everything from landing the biggest role in TV science fiction to the recent departure of Karen Gillan & Arthur Darvill.

Matt shared his favourite Doctor and talked a little about working with new companion played by Jenna Louise Coleman. He ruled out a return for The Ponds in any future episodes but hinted that Steven Moffatt has yet to decide whether or not the 50th anniversary episode will indeed feature a return for any of the past Doctors .

You can read the full transcript below:

What do you think is the magic of Doctor Who that’s allowed it to endure for so long?

Well for starters you have a show that isn’t bound by space or time. It’s not bound by logic, genre or place. So you can tell any story. Add to that, you have a main character that comes into dangerous situations with like a boiled sweet and a toaster and solves it. He still manages to wear a fez in the middle of it. There’s the magic of time travel, it’s such a brilliant televisual conceit. To regenerate the main character was also very very clever. That came about because William Hartnell couldn’t carry on for another season so they had to change it up and in came Partick Troughton.

What’s your favourite Doctor Who episode you’ve made so far?

I like an episode called the 11th hour, my first one, because I thought it was quite magic the way Steven Moffatt  introduced the companion. Recently I like the Angels take Manhattan and Asylum of The Daleks. I think Steven’s on brilliant form with those.

Speaking of 11th hour did you enjoy eating fishfingers and custard?

Yeah it’s nice. It’s not that bad. It really is okay!

Aside from yourself, who is your favourite Doctor?

Well, it’s tricky because I sort of love so many of them. I love David Tenant. Christopher Eccleston is also really brilliant. I mean form the previous incarnations of the show I think the second doctor Patrick Troughton is magnificent because he’s peculiar without ever asking you to find him peculiar, which I think is the cool thing with the Doctor. He has a wonderfully Doctory face. It’s hard isn’t it! John Pertwee, Colin Baker they’re all great and I feel proud to be part of that legacy of gifted actors.

Did you get any tips from David when you were taking over the role?

Well the thing is with this part. It has to be your version of the part. So I don’t think you could pass it on to another actor and say do it this way. It’s a bit like playing Hamlet. It has got to be you way of doing it. I mean we talked before I took over but he just said he’d had the time of his life and I would too. I did it’s been extraordinary. But I didn’t get any tips in terms of acting and stuff, you have to invent that yourself.

When you play a character for this long what keeps it fresh? And how much of yourself do you inject into the role?

Well it remains fresh because the part is so brilliant. I mean he’s over a 1000 years old. He’s strange, beguiling, mad. There’s just an infinite number of possibilities of things you can put into that character. The writing is so good, the quality of writing continually challenges you and I’m nowhere near the quality of man that he is, you know the Doctor is extraordinary and I’m just a normal human being so it keeps it alive because you’re constantly clutching at this brilliant man and his astonishing mind.

The costume is such a big part of The Doctor’s personality, how much involvement did you have in creating that?

It took like three days to come up with it. I was going to wear a completely different outfit. I went to the audition in a tweed blazer which I can never wear ever again. Then it took us about three days to finally get there. I wanted there to feel like there’s an element of the professor. I didn’t want him to feel too cool. I was very much part of the process.

The Doctor has such a wide emotional range, what does that offer you as an actor?

You get to play comedy, drama, tragedy; he gets to be angry and he gets to be ridiculous. He’s the cleverest person in the room and the most stupid in the space of two or three lines. I remember when I started I used to get excited at how he can go from A to Z and miss out every other letter. No other character can do that. He can go from A to Z then back to A in the space of four or five lines. When you read the script he’s happy, serious ad then back to being really ridiculous again. It’s rare that you can find characters that can change that quickly and that drastically.

Do you ever look back on scenes and wish you could change any part of your performance?

Of course, I think the Angels episode and a couple of the others I looked back and thought about it. But you always do that. But it’s just a case of woulda, shoulda, didn’t. You have to be prepared an detailed in the moment and just hope for the best.

How do you feel about Amy and Rory leaving the show?

I was very sad, because I love the ponds and I love Karen & Arthur. I didn’t want them to go. But the thing about Doctor Who is that it always changes. You’ve got to get used to it. Some people have been fans for longer than others and have seen a lot of people come and go. That’s kind of how it goes with this show you know.

Do you think you’ll ever be filming another episode that features the Ponds in any way?

No I don’t to be honest with you. Steven Moffatt doesn’t want or like companions coming back. He’s not that into that. So I think they’re gone for good.

Does constant media speculation about when you may leave the show bother you?

No it doesn’t because it’s part and parcel of being involved in this show. People are always going to speculate about those things and you’ve just got to go with it. I mean there are worse things to put up with I suppose. I could have someone moaning at me for dropping glasses in a restaurant which would be more annoying.

What can you see yourself doing after Doctor Who?

Just being miserable that I don’t do Doctor Who anymore! That’s what Steven Moffat says. He always says after Doctor Who it’s just a slow demise. You’ll see me at fan events going I was Doctor Who once… please come and let me sign an autograph for you!

I mean seriously I’d love to do theatre. I quite fancy a bit of directing. I’d quite like that. So I don’t know really. Karen’s out in A so maybe go out there and see her for a bit. Get a dog. I don’t know.

Arthur’s just started in the West End have you see his play yet?

I have actually I went the other night with David Tenant. It’s great and he’s fantastic he’s very different to Rory Pond.

You’ve said you’d like to go back on the West End,  are there any particular productions you’d was to be cast in?

I don’t know I’m a fan of new writing s something based around that would be quite interesting. But then they do great productions of old classics at the national, so something between those two would be great.

If you had to pick a companion form the previous companions who would you go for?

I’d probably want Rose. I’m really good friends with Billie Piper so she’d be fun to work with and she was one of the hottest ones I think.

If you could choose any actor to be a companion who would it be?

That’s a good question; I’d have to think about it. Who would I choose.. there’s a wonderful actress called Felicity Jones, she’s very interesting. I’ve got to think about it though, who can I pick, who’s really funny… Have you seen the show Nighty Night? Julia Davis from that show is great. I don’t want to jump into an answer though so next time you see me you can ask me again.

What if anything can you tell us about the new companion?

Not really much, she comes in Christmas in an episode with Hugh Grant as the dastardly villain. There’s a lot of snow but I can’t really say much more than that to be honest. It is really good though.

What’s Jenna-Louise Coleman like as an actress?

She’s a fantastic actress, she has movie star eyes. She’s very detailed and she’s been getting very detailed about the character. Because it’s quite a big show to jump into and you know what who fans are like as well. It takes us a while to accept change, even though we know it is coming. So she’s doing very well and I think everyone is going to love her.

With the 50th anniversary next year what would you like to see happen? Would you have any suggestions for the writers?

It’s a tough one. The thing is I would never try to presume that I would have a better idea than Steven. He’s cleverer than I am so I just let him get on with that and he gives me a script. I don’t know but it’s got to be something big and epic, it’s got to feel like it moves some sort of pivotal event in the show.

Will we perhaps finally see all the Doctors reunited on screen?

That’s a good question but I’m afraid I can’t answer it because I don’t know. They don’t tell me anything! But it would be really fun if they could. But I don’t know logistically I think getting it together nowadays would be very difficult. I’ve asked the same thing of Steven and I don’t think he knows at the moment or he just doesn’t tell me.

Would you like to see a new master or the old master?

Again it’s a tough one that because John was so brilliant, I like him and he’s such great actor. I don’t know though it’s sort of exciting to think there could be a new master out there sniffing around somewhere. It would be interesting, I’d quite like to face the master and whoop his ass! I don’t know what but I know that Steven will come up with something brilliant. Absolutely brilliant!

If you could film on location anywhere in the world where would you like to go?

Rio De Janeiro. My friend is over form Brazil and Rio is my favourite city the world.  Then New York and London. London is pretty hard to beat.

If you had a TARDIS in real life where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to do an episode in the lost city of Atlantis so I’d probably go there or else I’d go see England win the world cup.

Now that the Doctor Who confidential is no longer with us what’s the best way fans can stay up to date with life behind the scenes on the show?

Well online and twitter I guess. But Karen and Arthur were the only ones on Twitter. I haven’t been tempted myself. I think the clue is in the title, it’s Twit… errrr… Perhaps I suit the twitness but it’s just not for me really.

What advice would you give to young fans who’d like to go into acting themselves?

Join the National Youth Theatre. Go online tomorrow and join that, it’s a great start and a great way into acting. It’s an education in performance. Then go to watch plays, see as many stage productions as you can. Obviously watch films as well, just really try and study it from an early age.

Speaking of fans, what shows are you a fan of?

I love Breaking Bad, I love The Walking Dead, I just love Zombies! I’ve been watching a lot of Dexter lately, which is cool. He’s a cool character.

How would you feel about seeing the Doctor turn darker?

That’s a question for Steven really, I wouldn’t want to assume story wise what he would put off. But if you consider the history of the man all the empires and people he’s lost along the way. I mean his own race he basically pressed the button. So there’s a lot of blood on his hands.  Which is why I think ultimately he’s so daft and happy!

It means so much for fans to meet you but have you had any weird, special or memorable fan encounters yourself?

Oh yeah, Loads. When I first started and the majority of the Whovians out there in the world hated me, these people called the 11th Doctor club sent me this book of letters, before they’d ever seen me say a word on screen.  I’ll never forget it actually, it was full of letters of encouragement telling me don’t worry we think you’re going to be alright and we support you. I’ll seriously never forget that. I think there’s been so many special encounter though because I do think Doctor Who fans are the best in the world really. They’re always the loudest anywhere you go.

Generally people are really enthusiastic, although I did meet one lady today. She must have come round like ten times to meet me, with five things for me to sign each time. Then someone next to her said “Have you been enjoying the new series?” and she said “No, I’m boycotting it because I don’t like you as the doctor!”.  It was like why are you getting things signed then? But that’s just the nature of the beast. Not everyone is going to like you. But generally the support and enthusiasm of people is just glorious and it means a great deal to everyone on the show.

Have you ever had any scary Doctor Who style dangers to face in real life?

No not really and I don’t think I’d face them with the same silliness and courage that he does. He’s such an extraordinary man. Of course I’ve been afraid and exhilarated but the great thing about him is that when he’s meant to be really afraid he’s actually really excited. Everyone else is afraid and he’s just smiling.

Steven always says to me that if the Doctor isn’t funny then he’s nothing at all. He’s got to be funny; he’s got to have that sense of humour about him. He’s like a child in so many ways. I think that stuff is interesting. But that’s the great thing about the part really, that’s why you can keep reinventing it.

What does scare you in real life particular when you were growing up?

I was exposed to Friday The 13th far too young which was just horrific. That scared me! With Doctor Who people say the Angels scared them the most from the recent series. That’s a very interesting question though because I think for children to be scared early on has an interesting value about it. What’s great about the show is that when young fans watch it they’re scared and then hopefully when the Doctor arrives that fear becomes less because they know that character is there to resolve it.

In The God Complex what did you see in that room?

That’s a good question do you really want me to tell you… the thing is we don’t know what we’re supposed to be seeing in there but trying to be cryptic about it… what I imagined he saw was ten men hanging from ten nooses but one noose free or an 11th man, so that’s what I thought he saw.

Before you started attending fan events had you ever gone to get anyone’s autograph before?

No I haven’t but I would now. Today I totally went and had a photo with Frank Bruno and Mike Tyson. It totally made me realise actually when you go a queue up to have a photo, how important that few seconds is. I walked off thinking wow amazing I just met Mike Tyson. I hope you’ve had a nice day in a similar way with me.

If we ever get a first female Doctor what would she need to be?

She’d need to talk quickly, always appear cleverer than they are and always be funny! And sexy actually if you’re going to be the first female doctor I think she’s got to be pretty sexy.

People seem to come to Doctor Who to be reminded that live is beautiful and magic, but what do you think we should take form Doctor Who?

We’ll that. You’ve just nailed it. I think you should take pure fun TV you can watch on a Saturday night with your Grandma, son, nephew or mates. Hopefully it should always remain slightly barmy and slightly silly. But I don’t know, people take different things form it but I like that it’s a big mad adventure every week and you never really know what you’re going to get. At the heart of it is someone who essentially has all the good stuff that you look for in an adult but who isn’t cynical, that’s such a wonderful trait to still have in adulthood.

The Casual Vacancy J.K. Rowling Interview

The Casual Vacancy the long awaited new novel from Harry Potter author J K Rowling  was finally published yesterday, five years after the end of the beloved magical series. Speaking in London J K Rowling talked in depth about the critical reaction to the new book, swearing, secrecy,  Sikhism, Christian Fundamentalist interpretations of Harry Potter and her own obsession with death.

Read the full transcript bellow:

The last time you appeared in public it was in front of a crowd 80,000 people at the Olympic stadium and a television audience of a billion people:

That actually makes me feel sick when you say that! It was absolutely terrifying. I did take a little bit of persuading. Danny actually asked me to do it twice before I said yes. He sad can I just meet you and talk about it. He told me exactly what was going to happen, including the queen parachuting out of the helicopter. When he told me that I just thought, nobody is even going to remember I was there. It’s brilliant. I have to say it was one of the best things I’ve ever, ever done. It was so moving it was just wonderful. I was so proud to be part of it.

The moment when the giant Voldemort went into the air during the Opening Ceremony felt like another rite of passage for the Harry Potter saga:

That was one of those moments. I attended a full dress rehearsal of the Olympic ceremony before the night and I have to say that after 15 years of being that author of harry Potter to an extent the references to Harry Potter become white noise in your life and you get used to that cropping up here and there. But every now and again I get this sort of full body chill and I had it when Voldemort rose up out of the middle of the stadium. There was this 18 meter high Voldemort and I just went icy cold. There was something that started as an idea on a bit of scrap paper. It felt unbelievable so yeah it was quite a big moment for me.

How have you spent today, the publication day for The Casual Vacancy?

Well we flew down from Edinburgh today and then I’m here with my husband and my eldest daughter. Truthfully I’ve spent most of the day trying to avoid newspapers. I will read reviews but I don’t like to do it on the day I have to go out and talk about the book. It muddy’s things for me. I will say that some of the things that have been published have been great.

We sat in our hotel and watched Men In Black 3. It was great. I’d never seen it was really good. I probably will read reviews at some point. With deathly hallows I didn’t read any reviews at all for ages. I felt about Hallows the way I feel about this book, in this case I feel I’ve done the best that I can do the book is what I want it to be. I don’t mean it in an arrogant way, but that’s it. I’m done. So it doesn’t matter. I did read reviews for Deathly Hallows months later. But it takes the heat out of it if you’re not reading them on publication day.

One thing I did read was someone called it a  “500 page socialist manifesto”!  I high fived my husband when I read that. I thought that’s alright, I’m not sure why that’s meant to be offensive. It’s not meant to be that just to be clear. To give some context it was Jan Moir in the Daily Mail who called it that, what a shocker!

Have you ever responded to a review or been affected by it?

No, I’ve never stalked anyone; I think you’re ill-advised to do anything like that. But yes I’ve thought about my work because of reviews. Legitimate criticism can be very useful so yeah. Sometimes you’ll read a review and go okay so it’s not your thing but it’s my thing. That’s okay too. It depends very much on who’s reviewing and hat their take on it is.

It’s been five years since Harry Potter finished so at what point was Casual Vacancy in your mind?

I had the idea for The Casual Vacancy while I was on tour in America for The Deathly Hallows. I had the idea on a plane. I know… something about me and vehicles. I have to be moving clearly to have an idea. I came up with Harry Potter on a train and so now I’m going up market. The next idea will be on a space shuttle! I was offered a seat on one actually, for a mere two million pounds I could be up in space. But I turned it down. The train had stopped when I had the idea for Harry Potter but my plane hadn’t. It wasn’t like we were in a death spiral and I thought if I survive this I will write The Casual Vacancy! I was just sitting there having a perfectly nice flight. I don’t really know why, what made me think of it. It was local election sabotaged by teenagers basically. So like the idea for Harry Potter I can’t claim that the whole idea was there at once, but that was the start of the idea.

Had you decided before that, that your next book would be adult fiction?

No I was completely open at that point I had another book for children which was half written. It’s still half written. I had a couple of other ideas, but when I had this one I thought that’s the one I really really want to write. So everything else was put on hold.

The new book does the unthinkable and makes local politics seem fascinating!

I take that as a huge compliment! I told James Dancy a few years ago in a café what the book was about. I can still remember the look on his face when I said it’s about local council election. I cannot say that his face said “oooh you must write it!”

Teenagers are clearly one of your big themes as a writer would you agree?

Yeah I think that’s true. Though I would like to warn anyone who hasn’t read this book that it isn’t Harry, Ron and Hermione! These are very different teenagers. These are contemporary teenagers.

Themes of the book include drug addiction, racism, rape, alleged paedophilia…. It’s clear that this is a very different kind of book.

It’s a cheery book! Clearly a comedy, it’s a good beach read. But yes it is different, I genuinely think even though it sits a little oddly with that list of themes, that this is a humorous book. Some of the humour may be rather dark in places but yes its life in a small town ad everything that entails.

The book is set in Pagford was it inspired by anywhere I particular?

It’s not a real place at all. It is in the West Country, which is where I grew up so I know the area. But Pagford is entirely fictional. It made me smile because apparently places were claiming to be Pagford before the book come out and I though hmmm maybe when the books out they might not be so keen to say “We are the real Pagford”. It is a very beautiful place dominated by an Abbey, the place where I grew up was dominated by a Castle although it still isn’t really Pagford. It’s a very pretty town and it has unwilling jurisdiction over a council estate ten miles away. That is the conflict in the book. Barry the local politician who dies suddenly at the start of the book is someone who’s been quite keen to maintain the link, but many townsfolk would like to see it cut adrift.

The book focuses on a range of classes, races, genders and ages was it a deliberate choice to make it a panoramic story?

I think it’s a realistic view of what that kind of community is like. I di grow up in that kind of community, although this isn’t an attempt to depict Chepstow society. I haven’t lived there since I was 18 which was rather a long time ago now.  I did consciously set out to depict a small society and you get older people of different classes in very different situations.

Did you make a mental adjustment because you were writing for adults?

It’s hard to say because I have written for adults before. I need to be very careful what I say, because I don’t want to give the impression I’m sitting on a huge mound of manuscripts because I’m not. But I had tried writing for adults before Potter. So it’s not like I’d never done it before or that it was a struggle to find that voice. In some senses it’s freeing in other senses it was a challenging book because you have multiple points of view. It’s not a linear story necessarily. You’re darting around and at times moving back in time. So it had its own challenges so I loved writing t. I really really enjoyed writing it.

The book has quite a bleak and shocking climax , what sort of reaction do you hope it gets?

I don’t think I would have much to say to anyone who didn’t at least tear up a bit. I don’t think I would have warm feeling toward someone who didn’t. But it’s a vile thing to say to a reader, did you cry or are you some sort of sub-human?

Really the whole novel tends towards a point just before the final scene where the reader I hop has come to a point why three people don’t take a certain action. By then I hope that you as a reader will understand exactly why they do what they do. So I’ve had to really get inside a lot of character’s heads.

At one point in the book you write that a mother has tiny ghosts of her living children haunting her heart, is that something you can relate to?

Yes exactly and how they would hate it if they knew that. My daughter is here right now listening to that. We discussed that after she read the book. She said is that how you feel? And I said yes. Sorry but I do. The implication is that parenthood is a continual process of loss. If you enjoy being a parent it’s always bittersweet. I remember my husband saying to me about one of our youngest children, why do you feel sad when you look at them with such genuine love. I told him its mortality. We are on the conveyer belt at different points and a parting in inherent in the situation always.

Death is another theme in your books, why does it paly such a big part?

Is this my literary reputation? Well yes death obsesses me, I have to admit that. It does really. I can’t understand why more people aren’t obsessed with it. I think it does obsess them really I just may be a little more out about it. There are a few deaths in The Casual Vacancy but I wouldn’t worry about it you don’t really care about most of them. I guess I did keep killing people in Potter though. As to why death obsesses me I don’t know I think the easy answer is that my mother died when I was 25. She was only 45 at the time and clearly that was a very formative experience. But I think I always was a little preoccupied by the subject. I was born into an old family, by which I mean aged not aristocratic and people did die a lot throughout my teens. Elderly relatives kept dying quite a lot and my sister and I were the only two in my generation. So maybe that’s why because it was something I met repeatedly when I was younger.

Sikhism is a big part of The Casual Vacancy as well can you tell us about that?

I became very interest in Sikhism, years ago when I was about 25. I became very friendly with a girl who was from a Sikh family. Religion wasn’t a dominate force in her life, but we had one serious conversation about it. At the time I was very ignorant about Sikhism. But she told me how egalitarian it is and its founding principles. She was referring to the fact that men and women are set as equals in the holy books and were capable of performing all the same religious rites. I was very struck by that and never forgot it. For various reason I wanted this family at the heart of Pagford to be of a different ethnicity although in some ways they’re this perfect highly achieving middle class family.

I wanted them to be 2nd generation Britons, because that draws out a lot of attitudes among the other people in Pagford. In many ways this is a book about outsiders. These people are very much insiders and outsider simultaneously. From that small seed I ended up doing a vast amount of research about Sikhism, though ultimately very little of it made its way into the book. Ultimately that’s not what’s most important about this family. The kids in the family aren’t that bothered by their religion, they’ve been brought up at a Church of England primary school, but it’s in there in the mix.

As far as religious morality goes in this book, it’s Sikhism that provides that. Whereas the church of England is represented by very beautiful but largely empty church.

Do you have sympathy for religion yourself?

Yes, though clearly I say that as someone who’s had my run ins with Christian fundamentalists. It does amuse me because people have told me I’m so brave to tackling these subjects with Casual Vacancy. But I was thinking… I’ve had my books burnt! I wrote this cheery little book about wizards that I thought was so moral and it caused all this trouble. So I’ve got quite a way to go with to upset people as much with The Casual Vacancy. Very seriously I wouldn’t want to push the Christian metaphor associated with Harry Potter too far, because Harry was never supposed to be Christ! But it’s absolutely right to say there is Christian symbolism in the book.

I’m not being very evangelical, I struggle with faith a lot. But there’s poetry and beauty about the bible that I think most people in the western tradition will borrow from. The idea of self-sacrifice, that there’s no grater love than this, is so beautiful and powerful that I think there’d be very few people who would turn away form that idea. Am I drawn to spirituality and faith? Yes I am, I have a lot of questions and I struggle with them a lot. I think that’s apparent in The Casual Vacancy too.

Has anyone mentioned that some of the character names in The Casual Vacancy rhyme with those in Harry Potter? Like Barry and Harry or Robbie and Dobby?

I was so annoyed because it never crossed my mind. I swear to you. What’s so obvious to you isn’t obvious at all to me. I was going to call him Kevin instead of Barry and I now really wish I had. I was just looking for something that would have been a normal working class name for someone of my generation. Barry dies when he’s about 44 and I was about that age at the time, so he was my generation. I do wish now I’d called him Kevin. There’s nothing that rhymes with Hermione I know that!

Someone told me once how many characters are in the Harry Potter books and I can’t remember the exact number but it’s a ludicrous amount and it shocked me. It’s very difficult not to rhyme with any of the characters. I can’t spend my whole life trying to avoid rhyming with characters in the Harry Potter books. So no Robbie isn’t meant to be Dobby! You heard it here first. You know the truth… I thought that the mother who named him Robbie was the kind of woman who might like Robbie Williams! There you go, so now you know.

Your first Bloomsbury editor Barry Cunningham has said that you named Barry after him and to show your transition towards adult fiction you had symbolically killed him. Is that true?

I honestly think it would be simpler and achieve my aims better if from now on I just agree with every lunatic theory. Then they’ll all clash with each other and cancel each other out! But no I don’t seek out analysis of my books, that way madness lies! I would answer honestly if someone puts a direct question for me.

There are some very interesting characters in The Casual Vacancy, particularly in the way they’re left out and ignored by society

Yes Crystal (one of the teenagers) is ignorant and promiscuous, even occasionally violent. I don’t think any of us would be absolutely thrilled to find her in any of our children’s classes, but that’s the reality. The book is supposed to take a very close look at the attitudes that surround people like her and try to look at why she is like she is. I would also say that characters like Crystal have qualities that have been revealed by events in the book.

There’s been a lot of paper talk about the language in the book, particularly Crystal’s swearing can you talk about that?

It would have been ridiculous to write Crystal’s scenes without it. Firstly I attended a school very like the one in the book myself, so while Crystal isn’t a depiction of any one real person, I certainly was at school with people not dissimilar to her. Then I taught for a few years in a couple of schools that were very like this school too. So to depict a character like Crystal and not have her swear would just have been ludicrous! If I’m being honest and I think I am trying to be very honest in this book, then Crystal is going to swear.

The thing is Crystal doesn’t see what she’s saying as offensive. That’s how she’s been raised it’s the language she hears every day. In the book it even says she uses the word f*cking as interchangeable with the word very. What her middle class guidance teacher hears when Crystal speak is not what Crystal hears coming out of her own mouth.

When you were writing Harry Potter you had the odd experience that all the characters were being played by actors on screen at the same time. Did you maintain your own versions of the characters?

Completely with one exception! The only exception as Evanna Lynch who played Luna, that was such a perfect piece of casting that I did start hearing an Irish voice in my head when I wrote Luna. She really got into my head when I wrote Luna and she was just the most magnificent piece of casting ever. She had a huge identification with the character, she burningly wanted to play Luna and she was absolute perfection in the part. But if you want to be honest the Potter film cast were all too good looking! I really do love them but yeah.

With this new book you’ve been criticised by some press for the secrecy surrounding the manuscript and lack of access before it’s in stores.

I’ve said this before, I had a conversation with Stephen King in New York once, he’s the only writer I’ve ever been able to talk to about this. He’s in exactly the same position, he wanted to send out proofs in the normal manner but they kept turning up on ebay. He stopped sending out proof, so slowly the publisher to protect the public to move to this kind of position also. The internet really has changed everything. If you have the answer I really would love to hear it. It would be great to have a slightly more normal experience. As a writer you want to be able to give someone a whole book and not have it put up chapter by chapter on the internet by someone else. These things have happened. Stephanie Meyer famously had a manuscript just leaked onto the net before it’s even finished. It’s a horrible experience as a writer. This time we were giving the book to journalists ahead of time at least, with Potter it was insane we were asking journalists to review the book in half an hour. It just became horrible. There were so many things about Potter that were amazing but I hated that aspect of it. This time at least I got to speak to people well ahead of publication and they’d been able to read it in whatever time it took them to read it. Five years ago it wasn’t like that.

What is it like to see your words on a page turned into everything else which now goes with it for you?

Absolutely amazing.! I actually thought exactly that tonight. I saw a pile of the new books for the first time tonight. I hadn’t seen them on mass like that before and I had that feeling. God it’s here it’s done! Fantastic it’s out there. I did spend the first two years on this book telling myself “You don’t have to publish this” Just because I was revelling the thought that I had no contract and no one know what I was doing. It was a lovely pace to be in because there was so much pressure and expectation with Potter. Everyone was waiting for the next book three seconds after I’d published one. So I sent a couple of years luxuriating in the knowledge that for once nobody knew what I was doing. But in truth I always knew I was going to publish it, setting aside J D Salinger you write to be published. So today’s lovely it’s a celebration!