J.K. Rowling is “writing hard,” but don’t expect any more fantasy novels.
As the Coast Guard mobilizes for the final Harry Potter tidal wave, due to crash upon American shores this Friday, the sound of millions of little hearts breaking can be heard beneath the roar: J.K. Rowling’s next book will not be a fantasy.
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Oh, hello. Chauncey Mabe here. Yes, I was gone for a couple of days, attending to pressing deadlines from magazines that you’ve never heard of and, let’s face it, probably never will. Publications that pay poorly, if at all. But beggars in the brave new world of digital journalism can seldom be choosers. Sigh. Did you miss me?
So Jo’s not writing another fantasy epic, ala Harry Potter and the Whatever Whatever. That’s the bad news. The good news is that she’s writing at all. Not only writing, but, according to the Guardian, “writing hard” on something.
Indeed, Rowling now confesses she’s done “quite a lot” since completing the book version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows way back in 2007:
“I think I always felt I didn’t want to publish again until the last film was out because Potter has been such a huge thing in my life. I’ve been writing hard ever since I finished writing Hallows, so I’ve got a lot of stuff and I suppose it’s a question of deciding which one comes out first”
What? Which one?!? OhmyGod!OhMyGodOhMyGod!!! Aaaaiiiieeeeeaaaa! That means she’s got more than one thing written! Yayayayay! Oh! I have to sit down! I can’t breathe. Aaaaiiiieeeeeaaa!
Actually, Rowling has let slip in the past that she’s working on, or thinking of working on (she’s always coy), a book for children younger than the Young Adult audience for the Harry Potter books — although Harry Potter proved, famously, to have wide appeal for adult readers, too.
So it comes as no surprise to learn that Rowling is at work on something “not for children,” as she teased in 2007.An adult work from Rowling will be a fascinating exercise — where will her talent for invention, character, moral seriousness and story take her in the grown-up world?
Will it be something like the hard-edged romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca) or John Buchan (The Thirty-Nine Steps)? Will she be drawn to the gritty sci-fi so profitably explored by other genre part-timers, like Margaret Atwood (Year of the Flood) or P.D. James (Children of Men)?
Or will she prove adept, like William Boyd (A Good Man in Africa, Brazzaville Beach, Restless), at any adult genre she takes up?
I can hardly wait to find out. At any rate, we can expect it won’t be fantasy: “I think I’ve done my fantasy. To go and create another fantasy universe would feel wrong, and I don’t know if I’m capable of it.”
Unless, of course, she changes her mind and not only writes fantasy again, but returns to dear Harry. As she teased wee fans at the British premiere of the new movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two: “Never say never. It is my baby and if I want to bring it out to play again I will. You know what? Maybe I’ll just write another one.”
Now, that’s just cruel. But devotees and casual fans alike will be forgiving so long as Jo writes something, anything. And that, at least seems guaranteed. I was beginning to wonder if, like Harper Lee, she had been spooked into silence by the stupendous success of her first project.
“I will publish again,” she said at the premiere. “In a sense it’s a beginning for me as well as an end.”
Notes: The Guardian has a cute piece on the magic words and phrases Rowling made up for the Potter books, while Newsweek has a very nice essay by Ralph Fiennes, the actor who plays the evil Lord Voldemort in the pictures:
“Sometimes kids would come to the set,” Fiennes says, “and I could see them looking at me anxiously. I once walked past the young child of a script supervisor, and he burst into tears. I felt very good about myself.”
For some reason, the thought of Fiennes, in full make-up and Voldemort regalia, taking satisfaction at terrifying innocent children makes me very happy. Craftsmanship is always admirable, no?