I know, I know, you’re thinking: Really? I’m actually excited about this book, despite the weird cover and the strangely bland synopsis? I’ve found lately that I’ve had to temper my outward enthusiasm for JKR’s work, especially in my role now as an editor, and especially in my role now as an editor of science fiction and fantasy. I’ve encountered a not insubstantial number of colleagues and authors who have never read, or had a desire to read, any of the Harry Potter series.
But, let the truth be known: I am a passionate fangirl of Harry Potter, and – as I’ve grown older and become a writer myself – a passionate admirer of JK Rowling.
There have been a few interviews with her recently, in the Guardian and USA Today. I’ve loved seeing her be a little more candid, a little more open in these interviews – but that’s because, like most Potterheads, I long to feel like I know this woman who so defined my childhood with her writing.
I thought that the video interview was quite telling. I was surprised to see JK (I just cannot bring myself to call her Jo, it feels too personal, too much like I’m pretending I know her in real life) appear relaxed, funny, gently self-deprecating – such a contrast to her interviewer who appears stiff (intimidated maybe?) and distinctly lacking in a sense of humour. In a way, I feel sorry for the interviewer – it must be daunting to be granted such a high profile piece, but I do wish it had a slightly more conversational air about it. I feel like she might have revealed even more that way.
That being said, the written version of the Guardian interview is impressive, and despite myself, almost moved me to tears. There’s something wonderful about seeing JK Rowling bringing out her first adult novel. It’s not hard to imagine the pressure she must feel – of course, she references it herself in the interview – and I think she is incredibly brave to be continuing to write.
But then, that bravery isn’t so surprising now that I find myself an about-to-be published author myself. She is a writer through and through – and that doesn’t change with mega-success or – at the other end of the spectrum – mega-failure. I’m so glad that there is nothing (not even a billion pounds) that would stop her from writing. It’s also gratifying to see she feels a sense of freedom – freedom to write something out of her (our?) comfort zone, freedom to take her time, freedom to write under her own name.
”I’ve published it because it’s what I really wanted to write. My writing path isn’t dependent on what people expect or say of the work. I will just keep plowing my furrow.”
I am a child of the Rowling era. Harry, Ron and Hermione were my best friends. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the book I loved most – and consequently was my favourite movie. I attended every midnight launch from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire onwards. For the release of the final book, I went to the midnight release at Indigo on Bloor Street in Toronto, despite having had major surgery the night before. Yes, I was supposed to be resting. Yes, my mum came with me to act as a bodyguard and prevent people from touching me. But there was no way I was missing getting my hands on that book the moment it was available to me. I remember reading all the stats from that night: three books per second sold through Indigo stores, over 96 books sold per second in the US, etc. and thinking, “Look at the impact this book has had. This book. Our book.” It was a sense of community that I haven’t seen replicated since.
I’ve been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to get my very own Deathly Hallow, I’m an ardent member of Pottermore, I’ve visited Christopher Little’s (her literary agent at the time) offices and ogled at the numerous first editions and translations, I’ve dressed up to see the movies, I’ve been to HP conferences, I’ve written university essays on Harry Potter, I’ve RPGed, and I’ve read each book more times than I can remember, in both French and English… and that maybe puts me in the ‘Minor Fan’ category. But even as a minor fan, Harry Potter so much defined who I am that I almost can’t escape its influence on my reading and on my chosen two careers, as both editor and writer.
And now, this Thursday, I’m going to the Southbank Centre to finally, FINALLY, see JK Rowling in person, and have her sign my copy of The Casual Vacancy. To say I’m excited is… well, severe understatement to say the least. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to hold it together.
And then, after that, I’m going to get on a train to Fantasycon, and I’m going to read The Casual Vacancy. Because first and foremost, I’ve been a fan of JK Rowling as a writer — and I can’t wait to devour what she has written next.
Watch this space for an update.
Before reading these articles, I never released JK Rowling was a West Country gal. Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up drawn to a West Country boy. And living in Clapham Junction too. Now all that’s needed is for me to move to Edinburgh. Hmm…