Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Meet the illustrator of Harry Potter series

Can you imagine being one of the very first people on the planet to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final novel in the series by J.K. Rowling? Mary GrandPre, the illustrator for the American editions of the books, doesn't have to imagine, she is one of the lucky few. Reading the book is just part of her job.

We caught up with GrandPre by phone to ask her about saying goodbye to Harry and hello to a new chapter in her own life.

GrandPre, who lives in Sarasota, Florida, says she got the manuscript for Book Seven in January. That means she's known how the story ends for about six months. Is it hard to keep the secret? Do friends, family members or kids at bookstore signings press her for details? "Not really so much," GrandPre says. "I think people just know that I can't talk about it."

One question GrandPre does get a lot is: "Who's your favorite character?" "Besides Harry, I would say Hagrid is my favorite character," Mary says. Does GrandPre have a favorite book cover from the series? "I think the last one is my favorite," GrandPre says.

And speaking of the final cover, does she get a kick out of all the excitement created by the early release of her illustrations? "I think it's fun to see the reaction from people. The fans that are really diehard fans look very closely at the artwork," GrandPre says.

And they should. "I try to make everything have a meaning. There is a reason why something is in the illustration. I don't just put it in because it looks better. It really does have to have a meaning or part of the story has to support it."

Harry, Ron and Hermione have been a part of GrandPre's life for a long time the first U.S. edition of the first book was published about 10 years ago. So how does GrandPre feel as the final book is about to be released? "Oh gosh, it's actually quite a big relief that it's done," she says.

To see more of GrandPre's artwork, visit her web site at www.marygrandpre.com

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