She's been like the mercurial great-aunt who knows all the family secrets but won't talk about them until she's good and ready.
Now J.K. Rowling is good and ready.
With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows out in the world for almost a week and the fate of the series' beloved characters known to millions, the author - who railed against a rash of prerelease spoilers and reviews - is talking at last about how she chose to end her seven-book saga.
She did it Thursday in the first of a two-part interview on NBC's Today and in an interview with USA Today. The second part of the Today interview airs this morning.
SPOILER ALERT: Although we won't say exactly what happened, stop reading now if you don't want any more details about the plot.
Rowling said that early in her writing process, it was up for grabs whether boy wizard Harry would survive his battle with evil-incarnate Voldemort. But she always wanted readers to believe Harry could just as easily die as live. And they did.
"I was very proud (of that) because . . . I wanted the reader to feel that anyone might die, as in life," she told USA Today.
Rowling also answered some of fans' most burning questions: Which character is the one she said, prerelease, would get a reprieve from death? Which two did she change her mind about and kill off? And why is the Deathly Hallows epilogue, which describes an encounter of some of the survivors 19 years in the future, so lame, in the opinion of many fans?
In the epilogue, Rowling told Today, she was aiming for "nebulous," something "poetic." She wanted readers to feel as if they were looking at the scene through a mist, unable to make out exactly who was there and who was not.
"But it didn't work very well as a piece of writing," she said. "It felt very much that I had crowbarred in every bit of information I could. . . . In a novel you have to resist the urge to tell everything."
The original version of the epilogue was "a lot more detailed," she said, and she shared many of the excised details in the Today interview, which was conducted by Meredith Vieira on Tuesday at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland in front of an audience of 14 young Potter fans.
Rowling once again said she may eventually reveal more details in a Harry Potter encyclopedia, but she knows even that won't satisfy the most rabid fans.
"I'm dealing with a level of obsession in some of my fans that will not rest until they know the middle names of Harry's great-great-grandparents," she said.
More from J.K. Rowling
The second part of J.K. Rowling's two-part Today interview airs this morning on the show, which runs from 7 to 10 on WFLA-Ch. 8.
IF YOU DON'T MIND SPOILERS: Read the Deathly Hallows details Rowling spilled in part one of her Today interview Thursday, and watch video, at today.msnbc. msn.com. Read her interview with USA Today at www.usatoday.com.