Even J. K. Rowling Has To Deal With Fear And Change

I've always found J.K. Rowling to be a fascinating woman, particularly after hearing her Harvard commencement speech in 2008. On the eve of the release of her first book for adults, The Casual Vacancy, and the first book after the Harry Potter series, Ian Parker writes a revealing in-depth profile of Rowling for The New Yorker. 

I asked her if publishing the new book made her feel exposed. “I thought I’d feel frightened at this point,” she said. “Not just because it’s been five years, and anything I wrote after Potter—anything—was going to receive a certain degree of attention that is not entirely welcome, if I’m honest. It’s not the place I’m happiest or most comfortable, shall we say. So, for the first few years of writing ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ I kept saying to myself, ‘You’re very lucky. You can pay your bills, you don’t have to publish it.’ And that was a very freeing thought, even though I knew bloody well, in my heart of hearts, that I was going to publish it. I knew that a writer generally writes to be read, unless you’re Salinger.” After all the fretting—“Christ, you’re going to have to go out there again”—she discovered that she was calm. “I think I’ve spent so long with the book—it is what I want it to be,” she said. “You think, Well, I did the best I could where I was with what I had.” She laughed. “Which is a terrible paraphrase of a Theodore Roosevelt quote.”

It seems Rowling is very shy and despite the success of the Potter series still has to confront the fears of creating work and putting it out into the world. 

I read “The Casual Vacancy,” which is five hundred and twelve pages long, in the New York offices of Little, Brown, after signing a non-disclosure agreement whose first draft—later revised—had prohibited me from taking notes. (With this book, Rowling was hoping for a “more run-of-the-mill publishing experience,” but that hope goes only so far.) Within a few pages, it was clear that the novel had not been written for children: “The leathery skin of her upper cleavage radiated little cracks that no longer vanished when decompressed.” A little later, a lustful boy sits on a school bus “with an ache in his heart and in his balls.” But reviewers looking for echoes of the Harry Potter series will find them. “The Casual Vacancy” describes young people coming of age in a place divided by warring factions, and the deceased council member, Barry Fairbrother—who dies in the first chapter but remains the story’s moral center—had the same virtues, in his world, that Harry had in his: tolerance, constancy, a willingness to act.

The profile is worth the long read. In it you'll learn the through-line between Potter and Vacancy ("Mortality and morality",) where the title of the new novel comes from and above all that Rowling is very much a writer who is going to continue writing other books, for adults and children, of which the Potter series was simply the beginning. 

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Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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