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Now J.K. Rowling Is Just Writing Bad Self-Insert Fanfic

J.K Rowling attends the UK Premiere of "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald"

Just when you probably thought to yourself “oh good, J.K. Rowling has been quiet,” she senses that in the water and rears her head once more. The once-beloved author turned loud transphobic Twitter user is still writing books and putting things out there (which is to be expected, people are, unfortunately, still buying her things) and now she has a new book out that seems … a little too close to home.

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Every day that there’s a new Rowling story is another day when I sigh and ask why she couldn’t just keep herself to herself (which I’m sure she’ll have a problem with since she loves to act as if she’s silenced when she, a world-famous author with a net worth of more than $1 billion, is tweeting these thoughts out to millions of followers on Twitter ).

Rowling, who in 2020 showed her true TERF-y colors online, has been in a two year long battle to prove to the ghosts of who the f**k cares that she’s in the right about her trans exclusionary and gender essentialist views. (She’s not.) This means that she’s just tweeting it out and those who already agreed with her are the ones listening, while the rest of us have moved on from her harmful mess. Even companies and entities once associated with her wizarding world have distanced themself from her after her public transphobia. (Remember when the sport of quidditch changed its name to “quadball”? Now, that is seemingly bleeding into her work whether she wants to admit it or not.

So now what is she doing?

According to the review from The Telegraph, Rowling’s new book is about a female celebrity who is being “hounded by self-righteous children’s fantasy fans” and … girl, come on. Rowling, who is writing under the male pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is continuing to put out work in her Cormoran Strike series and this novel seems to really be just bad self-insert fic.

For context, the summary according to Amazon is as follows: “When frantic, disheveled Edie Ledwell appears in the office begging to speak to her, private detective Robin Ellacott doesn’t know quite what to make of the situation. The cocreator of a popular cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, Edie is being persecuted by a mysterious online figure who goes by the pseudonym of Anomie. Edie is desperate to uncover Anomie’s true identity. Robin decides that the agency can’t help with this—and thinks nothing more of it until a few days later, when she reads the shocking news that Edie has been tasered and then murdered in Highgate Cemetery, the location of The Ink Black Heart.”

So again, really bad self-insert fanfic. Now, not to put a bad taste for self-insert fanfic in your mouth—because we certainly think there’s nothing wrong with self-insert fic! But this is like if you took the worst of the worst of those tropes, added some grievances and a persecution chip on the shoulder, and then gave it a massive public platform. That’s what Rowling seemingly did here. The idea is, I’m assuming, that she’s akin to the popular co-creator who ends up being martyred for her views (which we’re guessing are also totally justified in the book). Running with the core concept here of a popular property’s creator being hounded by no doubt evil denizens of the Internet sure is a choice that she made.

Full offense to J.K. Rowling, the woman who no longer owns Sirius Black (that’s me and I will find the money to take him away), but the only time I’ve seen people really double down calling her a TERF is when she doubles down yet again on her warped ideas about the trans community.

What Rowling has continued to do is turn herself into a victim. If you simply look at the “news” section under her name, it is all about how social media is a gift to trolls or that she’s done nothing wrong to get the hate she’s been getting, and there is no recognition from Rowling that she is constantly tweeting harmful things about the trans community. She’d seemingly rather play the victim than listen, despite pleas from countless former fans, educators, and institutions dedicated to countering her claims or calling out her behavior.

So her new book painting a transphobic and racist creator as a victim is uhhhhh not surprising, and is the kind of fanfic that you’d start to read and go “ew god no” and never come back. Here is what appears to be an apt one-star review from the book’s Amazon page, under the succinct heading of “Trash”:

Over 1000 pages for a character that feels like a victim and never takes responsibility for their actions. Reflecting Rowling’s real life the character can’t seem to understand the difference between an “opinion” vs ideas and ideals that when spread, invalidate people, their struggles, and their battle for human rights equal to that of every one else in the world. 

Don’t worry though, Rowling says that this isn’t in relation to her own life and online story. On The Graham Norton Radio Show, Rowling claims that this has nothing to do with her own online history. “I should make it really clear after some of the things that have happened the last year that this is not depicting [that],” Rowling said. “I had written the book before certain things happened to me online. I said to my husband, ‘I think everyone is going to see this as a response to what happened to me,’ but it genuinely wasn’t. The first draft of the book was finished at the point certain things happened.”

But then, as Them. pointed out, much of what reportedly happens to her new character happened to Rowling so … believe what you will!

(image: John Phillips/Getty Images)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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