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Not a Misprint

Fantasy Author J.K. Rowling Doesn’t Read Fantasy Or Sci-Fi Books, Names Her Favorite Literary Heroine


The New York Times recently sat down with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling to discuss something near and dear to her – books! But in the midst of talk ranging from classic authors, to books that made her cry, and her favorite literary heroine, something huge was revealed. Rowling doesn’t read fantasy or sci-fi. DOES NOT COMPUTE!!! 

Let’s get right down to it. The NY Times asked Rowling, “Any literary genre you simply can’t be bothered with?” She said:

“Can’t be bothered with” isn’t a phrase I’d use, because my reading tastes are pretty catholic. I don’t read “chick lit,” fantasy or science fiction but I’ll give any book a chance if it’s lying there and I’ve got half an hour to kill. With all of their benefits, and there are many, one of the things I regret about e-books is that they have taken away the necessity of trawling foreign bookshops or the shelves of holiday houses to find something to read. I’ve come across gems and stinkers that way, and both can be fun.

On the subject of literary genres, I’ve always felt that my response to poetry is inadequate. I’d love to be the kind of person that drifts off into the garden with a slim volume of Elizabethan verse or a sheaf of haikus, but my passion is story. Every now and then I read a poem that does touch something in me, but I never turn to poetry for solace or pleasure in the way that I throw myself into prose.

But…what…how? This is really wrecking my brain. Why would you write seven fantasy novels if it wasn’t something you were already interested in? Perhaps that’s why she steered clear of it with her follow-up novel, The Casual Vacancy. Coincidentally enough, that’s the last book that made her cry. “I bawled while writing the ending,” she said, “while rereading it and when editing it.”

As to the last book that made her furious? Rowling gave an answer I’ll be utilizing from now on, “As Margaret Thatcher might say, I don’t wish to give it the oxygen of publicity.”

What about her favorite literary heroine? “Jo March,” she said. “It is hard to overstate what she meant to a small, plain girl called Jo, who had a hot temper and a burning ambition to be a writer.” But if she could choose to be any literary character she answered, “Elizabeth Bennet, naturally.”

The full interview is chock-full of interesting answers to interesting questions. I highly recommend giving it a read.

(via Blastr)

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  • http://twitter.com/StevenRayMorris Steven Ray Morris

    I think it’s great when authors traverse many gardens so to speak. Genre is always great when it’s infused with a bit of outside opinion.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had the suspicion she didn’t read much fantasy since the HP books are so FULL of cliches. I feel like she’d have avoided them otherwise. I know a fair few folk who stopped reading them because of that, even though there’s so much more to HP, and seriously, how jaded do you have to be at 11 years old to go, “Fake Latin spells? NO SIR.”
    Also, that “No sex next to unicorns” thing – says who? There’s plenty of fantasy lady-porn! Oy.
    In other news, the next short I wrote after reading that interview featured lesbian sex next to unicorns. It was rubbish, but it made me happy anyway. :)

  • Anonymous

    After that weird comment she made for her new book, that she couldn’t be ‘graphic’ or write about sex in Fantasy I am not in the least bit surprised. Always felt she owed more to Enid Blyton than any of the great English fantasy wrtiers – even Lewis.

    I still think her books are great but no – she was never a real fantasy writer. Just a really good storyteller.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    Elizabeth Bennett. Bah. Why is it always her? Anne Elliot is far more interesting.

  • Anonymous

    I know of some authors who don’t read in the genre they write because they don’t want to be influenced by anyone else, even subconsciously. I also wonder how she defines fantasy and sci fi — maybe she just has a very narrow view of what “fantasy” is. In that same article she says she read ‘Song of Achilles’, which I admit I haven’t read, but the info on Goodreads says it involves mythology and some readers have shelved it as fantasy. So maybe she reads it & just doesn’t know it…

  • http://twitter.com/XandraDust Alexis the Unicorn

    Is anyone else assuming she meant supernatural romances by chick lit. fantasy? She could just mean books like Twilight, where it’s a fantasy romance aimed at teen girls, not the entire genre of Fantasy on a whole. I really doubt she’d dislike fantasy so much it’s not even worth reading if she wrote an entire fantasy series.

  • http://wrongsirwrong.blogspot.com/ Magic Xylophone

    At least she doesn’t pretend her books aren’t fantasy, like Margaret Atwood does with science fiction. Great writer, but man does that quirk of hers tick me off.

  • Anonymous
  • Shauni Farella

    actually, in an interview she flat out stated she didn’t realise harry potter was a fantasy until after the first book was published. Terry pratchet rather pointedly noted that all the ‘witches, wizards, unicorns and magic hats’ should have really clued her in.

  • http://twitter.com/mildeabandon Eudora Quilt

    Word on the Enyd Blyton comparison.

    To me, Harry Potter is best described as “St. Clare’s(Mallory Towers meets Lord of the Rings” and I always found she was better at capturing the St. Clare’s element. When the Lord of the Rings-Epic-Battle-of-Good-vs.Evil-element took over in the later installments, I lost considerable interest, but I might be in a minority here.

  • Anonymous

    She isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and her disowning Fantasy has always smelled of “I write *real* books, me”.

  • http://wrongsirwrong.blogspot.com/ Magic Xylophone

    That is hilarious.

  • TheSquirrel

    Huh. I thought I saw a nod to Tolkien in her references to Butterbeer.

  • Not Impressed

    It’s a surprise that people are surprised. The Harry Potter books have the feel of being written by someone who had no clue what they were doing. This interview simply confirms it.

  • Anonymous

    On the plus side, Margaret Atwood explained that she just has a narrow view of what sci-fi means to her. She’s noted that she intends no disrepect to the genre when she says she doesn’t think she writes it.