Skip to content

Poor J.K. Rowling!

Friday, August 18, 2006

It’s no secret—I love the Harry Potter series. The books. The movies. And I only got into them about a year ago, shortly after the sixth book hit the shelves. I’d heard so much, both positive and negative about the story, I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about. So I rented the three movies from Netflix—and miracle of miracles, they all arrived the same weekend and I was able to watch them back to back. I’d seen the first movie shortly after it first came out on DVD several years ago, but back then, it didn’t do anything for me. I don’t know what changed, but I’m glad I was able to watch all three together so that I didn’t have to try to remember the story from one to the next.

But the movies didn’t quite satisfy me. I bought the audio book of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on audio CD and listened to it. In the car. On my portable CD player as I mowed the grass . . . or at the grocery store . . . or pretty much any time I wasn’t doing something else. I went ahead and ordered Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on CD and immediately started consuming those, as well. But just listening to them wasn’t fast enough, even though I took a couple of trips where I could listen to them in the airport/on the plane. So, I ordered a set of the first five books in paperback through Amazon, picking up in book three where I’d been listening. I read through book five within a week . . . and this while in my third semester of graduate school! I bought the hardcover version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and read it in two sittings one weekend.

And then the waiting began.

Now, I’m not so totally consumed with this story that I’m online looking for updates on when the next book will be published (although I did set up an “author notification” through so that I’ll get an e-mail when the release date for Book 7 is announced). But I did get to thinking about this phenomenon.

What must it be like to be in J.K. Rowling’s unenviable (and enviable) position of having to pen the final book of the best selling fiction series of all time? She has been quoted in many articles that when she started writing this story, she already had the ending written. But what if it’s not the ending that her audience expects or likes? What if the ending that she always had planned for this story—for these beloved characters—doesn’t satisfy the rabid fans who have taken on very proprietary attitudes toward her characters? We all know how we want it to end: with Harry vanquishing Voldemort and becoming Minister of Magic (lifetime appointment) and everyone living happily ever after.

I know how much trouble I have writing when all I’m worried about is whether I’m going to get dinged on the technical aspect of overusing certain words, telling rather than showing, and giving too many details. I cannot imagine what the stress for her as a writer must be knowing that the collective happiness of millions of readers depends on the words she’s putting on paper. Talk about the potential for a major case of writer’s block! To know that out there on the web right now are HP fanatics writing blogs and putting up websites on how Dumbledore isn’t really dead, whether or not Snape really went back over to Voldemort’s side, whether Hermione should be with Ron or with Harry, and how Rowling can bring Sirius back from the “beyond.”

But what about J.K. Rowling? What must it be like to have had her characters hijacked from her to become “public property” like this? What is it like to sit through the films and have the characters do and say things she would never have written, or have scenes she loved left out? And what must it be like to have the characters who lived for so long in her head become flesh on screen—especially if they don’t match the images she had of them? Has that affected how she’s written them since the movies first came out? And will she ever be able to publish again under her own name without disappointing a large percentage of her current audience?

What power she wields with the magic wand of her pen! Oh, to be in that position.

  1. Alison Strobel Morrow permalink
    Saturday, August 19, 2006 9:08 pm

    As much as I wish I was selling as well as she is, you’re right–I would NOT want that pressure. It’s another reason, I think, why I haven’t wanted to write any sequels. (Well, and the fact that I don’t have any ideas for a sequel. Or didn’t–I do now. But I won’t get into that here. 🙂 I’m not into the Harry stuff that much (only read the first book) but I have been sucked into series before, and I remember being so mad at things the author did with the characters. But on the other hand, it’s a hallmark of great writing that you get so sucked in that you feel as though the characters are your friends–or yours, period!



  2. Jackie Castle permalink
    Tuesday, August 22, 2006 5:27 pm

    I’m another avid Potter fan, and I had to laugh when you said you frequent the websites looking for information on when the next book will come out. I do that too and it’s good to find a kindred soul. lol.

    I don’t want to be in her shoes. But I want to create something that definately grabs readers and keeps them going until the end. That I do wish to accomplish.

    Thanks for the article.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: