Writer J.K. Rowling may have created the vast wizarding world of “Harry Potter,” but she’s not the only one who worked on the series–behind the scenes were editors, like continuity editor Cheryl Klein, who was featured on the first episode of Scholastic’s first podcast. Klein worked on the last two books in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
Klein explains that the term “continuity editor” is a term borrowed from the film industry and that her job was to keep track of various physical details in the books, a job normally done by a general editor. But because Rowling’s imagined world was so vast, the continuity editor came into play.
“By the time I joined the ‘Harry Potter’ series, there were so many physical details to keep track of, as Ms. Rowling’s world just kept getting bigger and bigger, more and more magical inventions and places and things, that it became my job as the continuity editor to track all of those physical details,” Klein said.
And some of those details can get very specific, like the number of legs on the Sorting Hat’s stool or the spelling of certain terms, especially with so many made up by Rowling.
Klein also discussed the secrecy behind the books and how Scholastic managed to prevent the book from hitting the Internet prior to its release.
“We actually flew the manuscript back and forth,” Klein said. “We would go to England and get the manuscript, and then we would bring it back to the United States.”
Of course, traveling with a manuscript has its challenges. Klein shared personal stories about traveling with the manuscript, including during a snowstorm and hoping the manuscript wouldn’t be discovered during a search by security.
As for why the series has become so popular, Klein thinks it’s because Harry is a character most people can relate to with some magical twists on everyday experiences.
“As a child, he hates his teachers, he struggles with homework, he goofs off sometimes in class, he has great friends and a pet, he crushes on a cute girl,” she says. “All these things that most American kids can really have that experience and really relate to, so we connect to that in him.”
“All the emotion remains really relatable and familiar,” Klein continues, “but the way she’s put this magical twist on it makes it fascinating and fun and new to us all over again.”
You can hear more from Klein in the full podcast on Scholastic’s website, including her interactions with Rowling and information on the fully illustrated editions of the series.