Monday, June 13, 2011

Will J. K. Rowling ever write again?

A Fandango article this morning reported on an interview with J. K. Rowling, in which she said (yet again) that she's not going to continue the Harry Potter saga. After being pressed relentlessly by the interviewer, she ventured that maybe she would revisit the Hogwarts world, but not for "another ten years" or so. That was enough to satisfy the interviewer.

The article didn't explicitly state this next point, but the flavor of the article prompted a string of reader comments, which asserted and debated the following hypotheses.
- JKR has an obligation to keep the Harry Potter / Hogwarts story going.
- JKR cannot, and will not, be successful at writing anything else.

By now, the JKR story is as famous as the Harry Potter story, and I don't need to go into the details about how she wrote the first book of the famous series. But I have a few opinions of my own.

1. Rowling is a damn good writer. Or she has a damn good editor. Or both. This was crystal clear in her first Harry Potter book. Her writing either stayed at the high level of the first book or improved as the series grew. I wish I could write as well as she does.

(Unfortunately, the books also got fatter. That happens to all successful authors. It also happens to successful automobile brands, mobile phones, and restaurant menus. I would like to read a successful author who can keep their follow-on works as slim and as powerful as their original bestseller.)

2. Rowling is extremely intelligent, and knows a lot about subjects other than the wizarding world. Unlike the loud and vacuous celebrities who appear increasingly stupid every time they open their mouths in public, JKR has chosen her words carefully, limited her public engagements, and never shown every card in her hand. But don't sell her short. She is not a one-trick pony.

3. Related to that second point, I think that JKR is capable of writing in any genre of fiction - or on any nonfiction subject - that she chooses. I would expect her future works to be readable and enjoyable, even compelling. I, for one, would not restrict my expectations of her future writing to Hogwarts, wizardry, or Harry Potter and his friends. I would pay good money to read what else she has to say about the world at large.

4. JKR is now very wealthy. She can spend the rest of her life sailing the world, gambling in Monte Carlo, or relaxing on a private estate and throwing parties for Radcliffe and company, if that's what she wants to do. She has no obligation to do anything, for anyone. And I say more power to her.

5. JKR has chosen a more private lifestyle, concentrating on her family and on a small number of charitable causes. Her fame, her wealth, and her wisdom (and prudence) put her in a unique position in the world. Lucky lady. Absent the fame, I'd like to be in that situation someday.

Edit, June 16, 2011: I'm not sure what this is about, but this link was the countdown to, and eventually the announcement of, Pottermore, an online experience for Rowling fans from all over the world.

Edit, February 23, 2012: A book for adults is in the works. She announced it today.

1 comment:

Scott Bevan said...

There are millions of things I could say about Rowling,all complimentary. Her work and her life have been a continuing source of inspiration to me for many years and Harry Potter is quite honestly the greatest book in the history of children's literature in my humble opinion.

The point is this-that,yes,of course Rowling could write anything else she chooses and it would become an instant best-seller and probably be very,very good even if it doesn't quite reach the heights of Pottermania,(which she realises herself is probably not going to happen. How could it? Nothing was as big as Potter). It matters not what the critics say to her fans and my thoughts are that it would be critically aclaimed as well and Rowling's freedom from the stress of Potter expectation can only benefit her writing. The question,however is WILL she. We have now gone what...four years since the final Harry Potter book? She has hinted from time to time that she has been writing other things but seems uninterested in publishing anymore. She spent her whole life trying to become a writer and then Harry Potter made her the biggest one in the world. You would think that she would relish the unique opportunity she has to have anything she writes so widely read now but perhaps the stress of Potter style expectation and fear of being considered that one trick pony if her work doesn't live up to it is holding her back. I couldn't rightly say not knowing her personally of course,(although sometimes we might feel as though we do). I very much hope that this changes however. It is 2011 and there is still no word of any plans in the works for another JKRowling novel. This is disappointing for her fans,old and young alike. I would love another Hogwarts book in the distant future too although I agree that the continuing story of Harry,while surely interesting to fans,is not going to make for the best novel. His epic youth is over and while we would all love to hear the official version of the grownup tales of Harry I can completely understand why she thinks the story that wanted telling there is pretty much over. It doesn't have to be a Harry Potter book though. She could write ANYTHING and be widely read and appreciated the world over. Isn't that the dream for any author? Why then,does she seem content to end her writing career here? I'm not one of those who thinks she probably did this all for the money,so why is she not publishing anymore?

I say this now and then probably next week we'll get a shock announcement of a marvellous new Rowling book on the way in time for Christmas or something LOL. I hope that's the case though because we all want to see what miss Rowling does next,no?