As someone who never read any Harry Potter book or saw any Harry Potter movie, this makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
Of the various tidbits that have been released in connection with the DVD, the one that interests me most is her claim that she knew she could never kill Hagrid because (SPOILER!) the image of him carrying Harry's lifeless body at the end was a perfect mirror to the image at the beginning of the first book of Hagrid carrying baby Harry to the Dursleys' house. I'm sure more careful readers got this, but the parallel never struck me at all before reading her quote to that effect.
That may well be what was in her mind, but there's so much cheating in these books, what with people interacting with dead people in portraits and half-flashbacks and dreams and visions and magic mirrors and what-nots, not to mention half-hanging out with them in pensieves, that if she killed Hagrid off, I'm sure she still would have been able to come up with some kind of work-around. Also, the mirror image isn't Hagrid carrying baby Harry; it's Hagrid riding up on a gigantic magical motorcycle. What ever happened to the magical flying motorcycle? I never really knew where Hagrid parked the thing. You don't just want to leave a motorcycle outside all winter. It's really bad for the rubber parts -- the hoses and stuff. Anyway, it sure felt like the magical world of Rowling's prologue was kind of half-baked and something she ran from as she developed the world. I don't really trust anything Rowling says about her process -- it all seems reverse-engineered to me -- and I certainly don't believe that she was thinking all along about a callback to the half-baked first few pages she wrote of this book.
The magical motorcycle parallel is there in the beginning of the last book, when Hagrid and Harry escape the Dursley's house on Hagrid's motorcycle with Harry in the sidecar (when six others disguise themselves as Harry as well and leave in different directions). So she has Hagrid bring Harry to the Dursleys on the motorcycle, and when the Dursleys' house is no longer a safe haven, she has Hagrid take him away from there on the motorcycle.Also, I kind of love that she almost killed off Ron (never my favorite character).
And also, the device that Dumbledore uses to put out the lights on Privet Drive in the prologue of the first book is the Deluminator that he leaves to Ron in chapter 7 of the last book, and which is an important plot point in that book (as it brings Ron back to Hermione and Harry when he can't find them). So she did call back to the first few pages she wrote.
I agree wtih Isaac - I do see the call-backs to book 1 in book 7 (and the call-backs throughout), but I certainly don't think Rowling knew she was going to use those exact images in book 7 when she wrote book 1. I think when she wrote book 1 she was a going-broke single mom who was worried about paying her rent, not thinking about what she'd be writing as a multizillionaire years and years down the road. I can imagine her thinking "wouldn't it be cool if I got to write all these books and then..." but I take her "I had it planned all along" stories with about as much seriousness as I do the Lost creators' "we always planned to end it like that" (I know a few writers who were on the show: spoiler: they didn't). Of course - not knowing exactly how things were going to turn out from day 1 by no means invalidates the awesomeness of Rowling's creaton, nor the at-times-awesomeness (YMMV) of the LOST series. You don't have to know every single detail the first day you have an idea...
You're stretching her comments to suggest she claimed to know exactly how things were going to turn out from day 1. She never claims she knew how things would turn out or that there would be multi-zillions of dollars (or pounds) or even seven books. But it is not a terribly incredible stretch to say that she envisioned her story of Harry Potter would someday end with an image to parallel the opening image. Nor is it a stretch to believe that the creators of Lost envisioned a final shot (whenever that would be) that paralleled the opening shot. In fact, I think it exemplifies the problems with writers. They focus a ton on the start and finish of a work and often lose their way in the middle.
I can't speak for anybody else, but my comment certainly was colored by the fact that Rowling has given interviews in the past suggesting that in fact she had the whole series planned out from day 1. I really don't think I'm stretching that. Then again, you shouldn't trust me, because (a) every time I say something about this series, somebody with an encyclopedic knowledge of it correctly points out that I have the details all wrong; and (b) I think that Rowling put out a really good story that was fairly poorly written and then seemed to appoint herself Queen Protector of Serious Literary England, which I found pretty irritating.
I can't speak for other interviews, but the one I mentioned above did not have the "I planned this all along" flavor. I think she planned the Hagrid image the same way the creators of LOST "knew" that the series would end with Jack's eye closing -- it probably wasn't envisioned from the start, but once the franchise became a franchise, and there was reason to think of it as such, they started thinking about how it might end. (In LOST's case, this is clear, because they initially planned to kill Jack in the pilot. [Insert joke about how much better that might have been.])
I'm going to simultaneously agree and disagree with your comment about writers. I'm a screenwriter, and there's no question that the middle (the Loooooooooooooooong middle) is the hardest part of any script, and the place where a lot of writers get bogged down. I don't think, however, that it's a "problem with writers." It's just the nature of the beast. I wouldn't say that beginnings (GOOD beginnings, anyway) are EASY, but they are easiER than middles or ends. And if you've done your job in the middle, the end SHOULD be fairly easy, because you should have been heading there all along. This is true of even a stand-alone 90 minute script, forget about a 6 or 7 season television series, or a 7-book (or 8-film) series.Speaking only for myself, a lot of times I'll find that while I might not consciously know, when an opening image comes to me, that I'll come back to that image at the end. But it is fairly common to do that, and often the writing process works on both a conscious and subconscious level at the same time. Consciously, maybe I don't realize that I'm writing about a specific theme or archetype. But later, when I look at it during a rewrite, I'll realize that theme was there all along. So I don't think it's necessarily a lie to say that a writer knows something from the beginning, because there are different kinds of knowing. You know?
I saw Margaret Atwood answer a question about the "writer's process" which went something like (and I'm paraphrasing, obviously): You start on one side of the valley and you have a specific destination within a town on the other side of the valley. At first the road is straightforward, but once you get into town there are many streets and other diversions you could encounter before arriving at your final destination.
What I take from this is that writers do not use Google Maps.