Harry Potter is the lead character in a phenomenally successful series of children's books written by the Scottish author JK Rowling. It was subsequently made into a series of movies.
Famously Rowling (whose first name is Joanne, but publishers were concerned a female name would put off boy readers) was rejected by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury published Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It was with the fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, that Rowling really got major attention, and Harry became a cult figure.
Elaborate plans to coordinate the marketing of the next Harry Potter book to fit neatly between this month’s release of the DVD and video of Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone and the November premiere of the second movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, have apparently gone up in smoke.
J.K. Rowling is seemingly under some sort of spell–the British author hasn’t been able to finish her fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in time to be published this summer, as fans of the kid wizard had hoped.
Instead, Rebecca Salt, the London-based spokeswoman for the reclusive Rowling, said the eagerly anticipated book might not be ready until 2003.
“It could be this year and it could be next year,” said Salt, while rejecting the notion that the now very rich and married Rowling was suffering for writer’s block.
Apparently, J.K. Rowling’s successful movie-making career and the success of the first four Harry Potter books has just plain drained her. What a tragedy. How Sad. Actually there are a few things about the opening paragraphs that piss me off. First, Rowling can’t be bothered to address the situation herself. You ARE a celebrity and your books ARE popular. Look at the house, car and nice things you’ve bought with our money. Deal with it. Second, that she “hasn’t been able to finish.” What, exactly does that mean? Last, the denial that the “now very rich and married Rowling was suffering from writer’s block.” I don’t care if you are and if you’re not, does that imply that you are just too busy with the nice life to make it worthwhile for the fans that have given you that nice life? This is appalling:
Rowling has previously admitted to feeling the pressure of her worldwide success. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (I assume they mean the movie..) has grossed more than $317 million in the U.S. alone, and that doesn’t include the vast amount of tie-in merchandise…
How sad that she has made so much money. I feel terrible. Hey! I’ve got a wonderful idea on how to help her. How about you give the money to ME and concentrate on writing! Another little tidbit that annoys me:
“I understand her fans are eager, as we are, but J.K. Rowling writes substantial books, and they are not turned out as small novellas. Her last book was over 740 pages,” said Judy Corman spokeswoman for the New York-based publishing house… (ed. note Scholastic is the U.S. publisher for Harry Potter)
So the publishing house has to cover for her, since she is such a “recluse” that she can’t come out and talk to her fans. Fine, whatever. I’m just a little put off by the “substantial books, and they are not turned out as small novellas.” thing, since she did put out a book a year between 1997 and 2000. I am going to attempt a little mathematical analysis of this situation, so bear with me. First, let’s just assume for argument’s sake that each book IS, in fact 741 pages (they aren’t… even the one Ms. Corman is referring to, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is only 734 pages, which if I’m not mistaken is just UNDER 740 pages, not OVER 740 pages, but I digress…). Between 1997 and 2000, Ms. Rowling managed to write 2.0301 pages per day. Oh wait, that can’t be, since the books were published a little more than a year apart. I’ve got to take into account the editorial and publishing process. I’m not a writer or publishing insider, so I don’t know how long that takes. I’m going to throw out a random number of 150 days (5 months at 30 days per month) I’m in no way sure of that number, but I’m going to use it. (go ahead, fact-check my ass!), so taking into account that there are 365 days per year, and 150 of them are being taken out for the editorial and publishing process, that still leaves us 215 days of active writing. I’m going to assume that a full-time writer will be dedicated and disciplined enough to write on weekends, but I’m still going to give vacation and personal time, so let’s give up another 30 days. that leaves us with 185 days of active writing. This is the number I’m going with. The grand total is a whopping 4.0054 pages per day. I know that wouldn’t be MY number. I tend to get extremely obsessive-compulsive and if I’m running with an idea, I run full-tilt until I’m dead-tired. I shall assume that the 4.0054 number is an average though. I don’t see as though that’s an unreasonable amount of writing, considering that I’ve read that she already has a rough outline of ALL of the Harry Potter books done. If you know your major plot points and have a rough outline of where you want to go, shouldn’t it be a realistic goal to have a book done within 3 years?? That’s 555 days of writing, or .7489 pages per day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy to write a book. If it were, every yahoo (including this one) would be doing it. However, in the book Conversations with J.K. Rowling, she states that she has a rough outline and most major plot points for the entire series of books. Even taking into consideration the following PC-bullshit excuse, it shouldn’t be THAT difficult to write ONE book:
There is speculation that the increasingly darker tone of Rowling’s books might have given her pause, especially following the terrorist attacks of September 11, and led to reworking preconceived ideas for the fifth volume. And, with Harry and his pals now 15 and no longer tweens, it is believed that Rowling might be having difficulty handling their burgeoning sexuality.
What a crock of shit that is. I’m surprised that September 11th is EVEN mentioned here. How can you possibly say that you need to rework the plot of a series of books based on the events of September 11th? That is ridiculous. When do the events of September 11th stop getting blamed for ALL of the subsequent actions of the entire civilized world? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling the terrorist attacks or the ramifications of such, but we are talking about A BOOK, not a foreign policy initiative. The “burgeoning sexuality” of the characters is also a total fucking non-issue. Look at the classic series of books that I grew up on, The Narnia Chronicles. There was no issue of “burgeoning sexuality.” Granted, after the third book, the characters changed, but the main characters from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe reappeared constantly throughout the seven books. This is literature folks, not real life. If you’re uncomfortable addressing such pre-teen and teen subjects, LEAVE THEM OUT. These books aren’t about coming-of-age, they are about a story, plain and simple.
All of that being said, here’s my Open Letter to J.K. Rowling, as a fan of the Harry Potter series:
I truly enjoy your Harry Potter series of books and I look forward to sharing each of them with my eight-year old daughter. She is as much of a fan of your series as I am. Apparently, by observing the sales figures and successes of your books, the movie and all of the merchandise that is prevalent here in the U.S., we are not alone.
That being said, we are only so patient in eagerly anticipating the next book in the series. We are deeply disappointed over the delays in the publishing of the fifth volume of the series. I understand that there are human and business concerns that have been keeping you busy and that you may not have had time to finish writing the book. I sympathize with these concerns and have tried to remain patient.
I would also like to clearly express that while I truly enjoyed the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I would have enjoyed another book even more. A movie is a great tool for promoting a book and for allowing people to visualize the story as the author has, but it is in no way a substitute for the actual experience of reading. When I read, I picture the story in my head much better than a Hollywood interpretation ever can. I will go and see the movie that is due to be released in November, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. However, I respectfully suggest that you hold off on producing any more movies in this series until all of the books are released. I will absolutely not go to see any additional movies until I have read the remaining books.
I realize that I am only one fan, and I don’t represent, nor speak for, the entire fan base of your books. I have no intention of speaking for anyone else, but I for one am fed up. The ending for the last published volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had such a cliffhanging ending that it is not fair to the readers to make us wait three-plus years for the next one. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was supposed to be out for July 2002. I understand the need for some time off and some time to work on the other aspects of this huge phenomenon. I firmly believe that two years is more than enough time and it is far past time for the book. I would also suggest that you finish writing the series of books prior to expanding the franchise any further into the movie and merchandising fields. Every story has a beginning, middle, a climax and an ending. All I am asking is that you give us loyal readers all of those aspects of this wonderful, magical story.
I (hopefully) remain a fan,
Thanks to Mark Mavroudis for the link. I am well aware that this may be an unpopular view of the writing/publishing world. I look forward to anyone who would like to either fact-check my ass or provide a retort. Feel free to comment right here, or fire an e-mail back at me.