With seven books, eight film adaptations, a new Fantastic prequel trilogy, a stage production, theme parks, and treasure trove of merchandise, J.K. Rowling‘s wizarding world of Harry Potter has reached legendary status. Back in the day, though, she wasn’t even sure the second book would match the success of the first.
In a conversation with TV and radio personality Lauren Laverne for The Guardian, Rowling mused about measuring success, reflecting on the earlier days of Harry Potter.
“I remember, a week after I got my American deal, which got me a lot of press, one of my very best girlfriends rang me and said, ‘I thought you’d sound so elated.’ From the outside, I’m sure everything looked amazing. But in my flat, where I was still a single mum and I didn’t know who to call to do my hair, everything felt phenomenally overwhelming,” she explained. “For the first time in my life I could buy a house, which meant security for my daughter and me, but I now felt: ‘The next book can’t possibly live up to this.’ So I managed to turn this amazing triumph into tragedy, in the space of about five days.”
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She continued, “You did the thing that felt natural, and then you’re put in this position where it feels very unnatural. You’re trying to reconnect with this thing that felt normal five minutes ago.”
Following the wide success of The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets similarly earned a number of accolades, including the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and Scottish Arts Council Children’s Book Award — not to mention the millions of copies sold.
Head to The Guardian for more from Rowling’s interview.