Say it ain’t so, Jo: Tell Oprah you will write no more Harry Potter books.
News that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling will appear on “Oprah” this Friday settles the burning question of which of these alpha-females, each among the richest entertainers in the world, is dominant. The slightly surprising answer: Rowling.
At least that’s the conclusion I draw after learning that Oprah traveled to Rowling’s castle in Scotland to land the interview. None of this visiting New York and sitting in front of an audience of raucous Americans for our Jo!
The Harryverse has been a-buzz with excitement since the interview was announced earlier this week. And rightly so: Rowling keeps a low profile except when a book or movie needs selling. The first film in a two-part adaptation of the last Harry book hits theaters in November.
I’d be much more excited if Rowling were going to appear on the “Late, Late Show” for a sit-down with fellow Scot Craig Ferguson. Okay, not much chance of that, as Ferguson has done a series of entirely uncalled for and hilarious skits lampooning Rowling and her wealth (more than a billion dollars and counting, all earned from Harry books and related products).
Check out Ferguson’s muggle-minded sketches here, if you want to work up a righteous sense of outrage, or merely collapse in a fit of giggles and horse laughs. (“I’m bigger than Ooprah! Unless she porks out again.”)
Ahem. So…anyway, I can just imagine millions of Harry Potter fans (all ages, too), sitting in front of their televisions Friday, fists clenched in wishful supplication for Jo to tell O of her plans to write an eighth novel about the boy wizard. Alas, that would be a really bad idea.
In the seven existing novels, Rowling tells a long and complicated and magical story and ends it on a resoundingly satisfying note in the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Nothing can be added to the near-perfection of these books.
Attempting to rebottle that magic, however devoutly we may wish it, will only result in the dilution of the elixir we’ve already imbibed with such joy. Writing more Harry books will pose an intolerable risk: If they don’t measure up, they may well cast the first seven in a poor light.
The only reason for Rowling to write more Harry stories is money, ego or fame. As Ferguson reminds again and again in his sketches, she has plenty of money. She’s probably, at this point, more famous than Madonna. As for ego, I can only hope for her sake that it’s satisfied by the adoration of hundreds of millions of readers worldwide.
Still, the Oprah interview will have it’s points of interest, if this excerpt released at oprah.com is an indication: Rowling talks about the stress of sudden massive fame. She names Irish novelist Roddy Doyle as her favorite living writer, with other faves including Jane Austen, Colette, Elizabeth Goudge, E. Nesbit.
And, in a bit of news that will could make him a very rich man, anoints David Almond’s Skelllig “the best children’s book I’ve read recently.”
Rowling reveals that Hermione is “kind of a caricature of me when I was younger. I was obsessed with achieving academically, but underneath that I was insecure.” Awww. That’s not only sweet, it has the ring of truth, too, doesn’t it?
It’s fun to mock someone as rich and famous as Rowling, but as I’ve said here before all indications are that she’s a decent sort. But — and I can’t emphasize this strongly enough — it doesn’t matter whether she is or not.
Forgive the finger-wag tone, but the person is a separate entity from the writer. All we have the right to expect is her very best work. I hope Rowling takes up her pen again, but if, like Harper Lee, she chooses not to, then we can still be grateful for the immense reading pleasures she’s given us.