To promote The Christmas Pig, the new book that is out tomorrow, J.K. Rowling did a interview with The Daily Mail, and read an extract of The Christmas Pig. These are the questions and answers, and at the end you can watch the video.
Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the story? What inspired you to write The Christmas Pig?
Although the story is invented, the initial inspiration came from a real toy, or rather, pair of toys.
My son David’s favourite, can’t-go-to-bed-without-him toy when he was little was a pig just like the one in the story, made of soft towelling material and filled with belly beans (although the real life toy isn’t called Dur Pig. That’s my invention).
David was prone to hiding this pig in all kinds of places, so bedtime was sometimes put off while we tried to track the pig down. At one point I got so worried that David was going to lose his pig for good that I bought a duplicate just in case.
One day, while poking around in a cupboard, three-year-old David found the replacement pig by accident, declared him to be his original pig’s brother and kept him, too, so they’re both still with us.
The story was inspired by my dread of David losing his beloved pig for good, and gradually I became interested in what it would mean to be a replacement toy, knowing that you couldn’t ever be quite what the original was, with all its many associations and memories. Slowly, the Land of the Lost started to take shape.
Did you have a treasured toy growing up?
My equivalent of Dur Pig was a large, blue-eyed, pink and white teddy bear, which was bought for me by my grandparents. I ended up calling him Henry, after one of the trains on Thomas The Tank Engine. He’s still with me, bald in places due to my habit of picking at his fur when I was very small.
Where did you write the story?
In my writing room in the garden, but I remember mapping out the Land of the Lost while our family was on holiday. My children were playing on the beach and I was huddled beneath a sunshade, drawing maps and thinking through the logistics of the world.
How different was it plotting out the Harry Potter series? Is there any magic in The Christmas Pig?
I’m a great planner and I knew exactly what was going to happen, and where, and how, before I started writing The Christmas Pig.
The Christmas Pig is a magical story, but in a very different way to Harry Potter. You’re entering a world that runs according to its own peculiar magical laws, and there is magic around Christmas Eve, but there are no wands and wizards.
If you had to describe the character Jack in three words, what would those three words be? And what three words would they be for the Christmas Pig?
Jack is brave, loving and a little lost, though he finds himself through his adventure with the Christmas Pig, and I’d describe CP in exactly the same way.
Do you lose things? What’s the worst thing you have ever lost?
I lose things constantly. It’s one of the things that irritates me most about myself. The worst thing I ever lost was my mother’s engagement ring; it still makes me sad to think about it.
Why do you think beloved toys and items are so important for children (and adults)?
Psychologists call these treasured toys ‘transitional objects’, which can soothe children and act as a comforting stand-in for a parent when needed.
That’s quite a clinical way of looking at it, though.
I see them as invested with a certain kind of magic. They may come to us formed, but we remake them in our own image, investing them with characteristics of our own and idealised personalities.
We look after them and they look after us. That special bond is what I set out to explore in the Christmas Pig.