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Success of Harry Potter bowls author over

CNN's Kathleen Koch reports on the response to 'Harry Potter'
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'Harry Potter' author J.K. Rowling talks with CNN
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October 21, 1999
Web posted at: 5:06 p.m. EDT (2106 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- J.K. Rowling says she's "still in shock" over the response to her highly popular Harry Potter books. "I don't think it's really sunk in," Rowling said Thursday in an interview on CNN.

Rowling, the rags-to-riches British writer whose series on a schoolboy wizard has enthralled children across the world, has had fans lining up for hours in the rain on a tumultuous tour of the eastern United States.

It's as if she's a rock star or all-star athlete. "Can you imagine what that's like, to get out of a car at a normal book signing and there's a thousand people outside screaming at you? It's amazing," she said.

Her three books exploded on the literary scene in the last year and currently fill the top three spots in the New York Times bestseller list. Harry Potter has been on the cover of Time Magazine, which compared the books with childhood classics like C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."

More than 7 million copies have been sold in the United States alone, where Rowling has been credited by some with drawing millions of children into the pleasures of book-reading. The books have been translated into more than 25 languages.

And what of the controversy raised by some parents who worry the tale of a young wizard promotes witchcraft and the occult? Her answer is direct and unforgiving. "I absolutely did not start writing these books to encourage any child into witchcraft," she says with an uncomfortable chuckle. "I'm laughing slightly because to me, the idea is absurd."

"I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, 'Ms. Rowling, I'm so glad I've read these books because now I want to be a witch.' They see it for what it is," she emphasized. "It is a fantasy world and they understand that completely.

"I don't believe in magic, either," she said.

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