This is topic Some thoughts on Rowling. in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
Ok, so here some questions about JK Rowling and her new movie coming out in November called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I would like your thoughts for an article I am writing.

Everyone knows Rowling is a billionaire now and really has no need to do another thing for the rest of her life but sleep on her big pile of money. The new movie is based on the encyclopedia she released by the same name. Her recent release of a detective novel under the pen name Robert Galbraith called the cuckoo's calling, only did 1500 in sales until it was leaked that it was rowling, then it jumped up to no. 1 seller on amazon. She followed cuckoo with the silkworm and career of evil. Both to mixed reviews.

Back to fantastic--

Rowling states that she didn't trust anyone else to write for her characters in the new movie so she did the script herself. So here are your questions.

Did Rowling decide not to write the book first so she would be the only choice to write the script? Because if she wrote the book first then a professional script writing team would be brought in to transfer the book to screen.

Do you believe she circumvented the book in hopes to get a screenwriter's award?

Do you believe the low sales of her other books aka casual and cuckoo's discouraged her from writing a new complete book, set in the harry potter world, knowing she is already assured of success whether it is good or not?

Do you believe she wants a screenwriter's award because it is something she does not already have on her shelf, and her highest chance for success is with the fame of her harry potter world? It's category would be, original script, because she did not adapt it from a book first.

If Rowling has no need for money why jump to the screen first before being true to her craft and writing the book?

Lastly, do you believe she actually owes it to the millions of children who love harry potter to promote reading first by writing the book first and release it before all these kids file into a movie theater? After all - she is a knight of the French court and an officer of the English court, but it would only be true to history that royalty put money and awards before the needs of the people. A writer may write about a noble heart, but that doesn't necessarily make them noble.

I hope I'm wrong about her. She has the power to influence millions of children and inspire them to read. It would be a shame if she threw that gift away for the all-mighty-dollar. I can understand her want to break out and spread her wings into adult subject matter, but what I don't understand is why when she decides to revisit her potter world would she not bring smiles to all those children that would love to hold it in book form first.

Anyway, I'm looking for your best thoughts. Please keep them professional and insightful.

Please be respectful and don't scoop me either. If you wish to simultaneously publish your own article on this subject matter let me know here and I will email you a release date.

*Notes here may be used in an article for publish.

Thank you for your time and insight.

Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
That what I comment here may be used elsewhere and for publication intents is a deal breaker for me.
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
I think you're wrong. She does plenty for children with that "big pile of money" and with her online presence.

Maybe she just wanted to try a different kind of writing.

Oh, and in the spirit of Hatrack, permission to use anything I say on this forum elsewhere IS NOT GRANTED. That's not what this forum is about.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
Ditto for me as regards publishing any comments I make on this forum. If I want my opinion published, I'll do it myself.


PS: Writers need to write, and that's all I have to say on the subject.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
My goodness, people, it's your opinion about JK Rowling, not state classified secrets. W, you're welcome to use my opinion, for what it's worth.

Which may not be much, because I don't really like Harry Potter to start with.

I doubt it's the money talking. She's already richer than God, so why would that be a driving force in her decision making process?

I'm not so cynical to think she's just doing it for an award, either. I can't imagine any successful artist doing it just for awards. Art is just too hard to make for some award to be a worthy payment.

Maybe she's just bored and wants to try something new. Maybe her lackluster performance writing non-HP books contributed to her artistic wanderlust, or maybe not. Who knows?

But then again, maybe it is just greed. How should I know? I never met the lady.
Posted by pdblake (Member # 9218) on :
I believe she does an awful lot for children's charities with that pile of money.

Also, whatever function she might play in the French or English court, she's not royalty. Is there really even a French royal court?
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I think she's in the catbird seat here; she can dictate terms, and she wants a modicum of control over her creations, her characters. She could'a demanded to direct, and maybe gotten away with it.

You know how writers lose control of their characters when they let movies be made of them. Tarzan was a pretty bright and articulate guy before the movies made him nearly mute. Sherlock Holmes's relationship with Doctor Watson was smart guy narrator / smarter guy, but the movies made it smart guy / dumb guy. Aragorn didn't have any doubts about being king, but the movies made him a tortured soul.

Rowling may just want a little more control than is usual...and finds herself able to get that control, after a fashion.
Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
E and GOG - Sorry you feel that way. I was meaning more along the lines of if you have credible source material about the subject matter. Personal opinion will not be quoted from here since that would be bias, but I did want to get a general feel of what other writers thought when asked. This was more a curiosity on my own part. It will not affect the research for the article unless something truly thought provoking is said and points to something I can corroborate.

And I do believe there is something important here, and it goes back to a subject I often bring up here about does the subject matter of your story or book actual say anything. Sure it has monsters, swords, maybe laser guns, starships, and a cast of variable characters, but is there anything of substance you are trying to convey to your reader besides look how creative I am.

It's not just about Rowling. Look at the craze over the new star wars movie. There is a book. You can get it by download as of today, but an actual physical book you can't get till February.
The USA is a country always trying to say we put our children first, and in a time where we have to practically force feed teenagers to read over watch, would it not have been pertinent to release a book first before the movie, but no, no one wanted the plot to get out till the movie was released, that's where the money is: Merchandizing. Plus you can't have credit going to an author before the director, especially JJ Abrams.

We live in a time now where we don't stop to think and ask ourselves what is right anymore.

Our kids get more and more addicted to cell phones, social media, and video games but we just keep moving forward. We blame them that they have no attention span, and yet we buy them new cars and $800 phones.

Writers like Lucas and Rowling have made a fortune on writing about chivalry. The flip side, they inspire kids to read. Take that away and the core value of a writer, to inspire, fades.

When I look at the success of walking dead and Game of thrones I am just as bad. I don't see story's that inspire me but appeal to my darkest thoughts, including greed. Sex and violence always sells, but it has now become our new norm. If writers like rowling and Lucas, sell out also, what will be left?

And PD, you are right, perhaps being given the highest award of the french government can be viewed as a novelty, to be knighted, but that title has always throughout history born only the significance the bearer holds for it. As I am sure many of us here have included in our plot lines.

Think of kids in children's hospitals suffering from illnesses that can't go to a movie theaters. A book, whether they read it or their parent or nurse reads it to them, is their gateway into a world of hope. Take it away and you leave them out.

I'm not knocking any of these authors accomplishments, maybe one day I will be lucky enough to join their ranks. I just believe there is still a core value in reading over watching that soon may go extinct. So I plan to write something about it now before that day comes.

Sorry this was so long winded.


[ December 18, 2015, 02:28 PM: Message edited by: walexander ]
Posted by Captain of my Sheep (Member # 10362) on :
Do you believe the low sales of her other books aka casual and cuckoo's discouraged her from writing a new complete book, set in the harry potter world, knowing she is already assured of success whether it is good or not?
I know we all think that since she has that pile of money to roll around with she is immune to all the literary insecurities we might have, but she's not. It must have been discouraging for her when her new book didn't sell as well as the publishers thought. No matter her success, she's a writer and it's not insane to believe she wants to explore other worlds. Some authors can write 30 novels with the same characters, some cannot. They get bored.

It would be a shame if she threw that gift away for the all-mighty-dollar.
Woman has more money than the Queen. She might be motivated by money, I can't discount that. But I have my reservations about it being her primary motivator for doing anything.

If Rowling has no need for money why jump to the screen first before being true to her craft and writing the book?
Because she's a human being seeking a different experience?

Lastly, do you believe she actually owes it to the millions of children who love harry potter to promote reading first by writing the book first and release it before all these kids file into a movie theater?
No. If she wants to write a book, fine. If she doesn't, good. It's her life. She's not murdering puppies, she's just trying screenwriting.
Posted by Pyre Dynasty (Member # 1947) on :
Well, I think Elizabeth Gilbert has a good perspective on the subject of what happens after doing the great thing. I think this has a lot to do with what Rowling is going through. Success like that can be a curse in a "what have you done for me lately," kind of world.

If she was just in it for the money we would have 14 more Hogwarts novels by now. (If my wish was true, Seven about Teddy Lupin and seven about young Snape.)

Honestly, we are living in the market that Rowling built. She created more readers than anyone ever. Don't you dare say that a single timing situation invalidates that.

Your comment about her not caring about children in hospitals implies that you don't know about her Lumos charity. I hope you did more research before writing your article. (And I also hope you have learned to stop putting an apostrophe s for plurals because it just makes me sad when I see that.)

Edited to add: Dude, the book came out last June. I think there were limited versions way before that. So I don't know what you are talking about.
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Hmmm, I just wandered by to see what was happening and decided I had opinions to express on this subject.

I don't know her at all so I wouldn't know if the French knighting and being an Officer of the English court would influence her thinking all that much. Maybe more the second than the first.

And I don't think she owes children anything except perhaps to tell a good story in whatever form. And it's not children that read the Potter books.

She has continued the Potter story even if it is in Play-as in the theater-form. And isn't this movie based on the Potter world?

I wouldn't have thought of any of those maybe motivations personally. It could be money but as some said it could be just wanting to stretch herself. Or both or she lost a bet. I kinda of doubt the last but as I said I don't know her.

As to restating my opinion in a paper or some such_(shoulder shrug) I don't mind.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
It's possible, far as I can tell, that Rowling feels she is at the height of her powers---i. e. she can turn 'em out relatively rapidly and can get 'em published with the greatest of ease. And she's not so heartily sick of Harry Potter that she could abandon it all, either...

You know others have trouble. I just heard the other day that George Railroad Martin is going to miss the deadline for turning in the next "Game of Thrones" book...I suspect, there, that he is sick of it and would rather be doing something else, or possibly nothing else...
Posted by James Maynard Gelinas (Member # 10484) on :
When David Bowie got sick of making music he painted. Did anyone accuse him of doing a disservice to his fans by picking up paintbrush and easel?

Rowling can do whatever she wants. She has the funds to write, produce, and direct a film. Even star in it if she cares. And no one could stop her. For that matter, if she wanted to spend her life drinking morning champagne and spending the afternoons shopping for the most chic London fashion, nobody would care. Nor should anyone.

Her projects are her business.
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Robert, You could be right about Martin. I barely knew who he was before Thrones got on TV and don't know much more know.

However he does seem to be a late writer. The last three books, at least, have been significantly late. That does not include this one. Of course his books are longer than usual so that may play a small part of it. I don't know how he did with the first few books-time wise.

This could support your view but I think he just takes a long time to write a book. He evidently isn't the only writer who does.
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
James I would imagine some did accuse David Bowie of doing a disservice to his fans. They may not have made as much noise as those who say Rowling is but it happens to everyone who has fans then changes art form.

As to Rowling, I don't follow her writing all that much so I don't have much an opinion if this switch is bad or or just is. She can do what she wants but I can see how fans would be disappointed if she stopped writing or started to take a long time to do anything.
Posted by James Maynard Gelinas (Member # 10484) on :
Yeah, I'm not a Potter fan. But I'm happy for Rowling's success. She's earned her money. And the freedom that comes with wealth.

Whatever her fans have to say about her choices are probably less relevant to her than even me. And I'm not sympathetic to their 'concerns'.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Re: "the late" George Railroad Martin: Well, I knew him as an SF writer in the magazines, then novels, all through the seventies and early eighties...great work, work that had a big influence on me and continues to do so to this day. But, really, I never picked up "Game of Thrones" out of my dislike for neverending series...

Lots of writers get sick of their creations. I've just been rereading the Sherlock Holmes stories, and A. Conan Doyle, well...he killed Holmes off, brought him back by popular demand, eventually stuck him out in the country raising bees in retirement...and, in one novel, inserted an entirely different non-Holmes novel to pad it out.
Posted by AndrewR (Member # 1563) on :
FYI, Robert (for what it's worth), A Song of Ice and Fire does have an ending. Martin has been foreshadowing it from the beginning. It's one of the great things about the series--it's been obvious from the beginning that Martin has a plan and has outlined the whole story.

He may have padded it in the middle (A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons definitely got out of his control), but he has a definite end he's working to. We all just hope he lives that long.
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
A good writer could probably predict that ending based on certain historical events. I've been told there are a lot of parallels between his books and the War of the Roses.
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
AndrewR, if he doesn't, maybe his estate will hire Brandon Sanderson to wrap things up. [Smile]
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I was originally waiting for the conclusion to be published, then I'd buy and read all six volumes---but, last I heard, Martin switched to an open-ended series with no fixed time for the end. Pass.
Posted by James Maynard Gelinas (Member # 10484) on :
RE: Martin. Vast number of believable characters with full arcs. Tapestry structure. Very clean - almost minimalist - prose. The NY Literary types hate him. But he's writing literature.
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Well I have a couple problems with Martin even though I love fantasy. The whole story arc isn't that interesting to me even though I am not totally sure why.

Second is how many characters he kills off, even popular ones. I have problems with David Weber doing that at times. I mean he does it at times.

I have never read Harry Potter even though I have seen certain scenes of the movies. I might break down and read that series though.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Some of the things I've heard about "Game of Thrones" are like that, far as plot and character (and character killing-off) go. It makes me suspicious, that this series was conceived as the anti-"Lord of the Rings," which makes Martin the anti-Tolkien...
Posted by ForlornShadow (Member # 9758) on :
walexander I think I understand what you're getting at and I agree. Kids today would rather watch TV, go online, or look at their phones than read a book or play outside and I think it's a major issue. But part of that I think comes from the adults. I see people of all ages doing to same thing: rather be on their phones or watch TV than pick up a book to read. I come across this everyday when I go to my classes. I'm in college and it's tough to find time to read so whenever I have a few minutes in between classes or when I'm eating I usually whip out a book. People ask what I'm reading and the question is usually followed by "What class is that for?" I tell them it's not for school and then comes the facial expressions. Usually they're surprised, as if reading was a skill I shouldn't have, or they're disbelieving. Sometimes I even get "Wouldn't you rather watch TV?"
As for Rowling I don't really have much of an opinion on that. In a perfect world, releasing the movie would be a fan pleaser, nothing more. But in this day and age it might not be, who knows, no one is a mind reader.
I think the most important thing for any writer or author to remember is that it's not about the money, not about the characters, it's what can you give to your readers that they will remember. Be it a life lesson, an experience, both, or maybe even more.
Posted by Reziac (Member # 9345) on :
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Second is how many characters he kills off, even popular ones.

Someone pointed out GRRM never kills off a POV character. To the best of my recollection, this is correct.

Originally posted by LDWriter2:
I have never read Harry Potter even though I have seen certain scenes of the movies. I might break down and read that series though.

I read the first book and part of the 2nd, and became bored with it. I felt no urge to see the films. Probably dandy stuff if you're fresh to it, but to me it seemed like "the Bobbsey Twins plus magic".
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
Originally posted by Reziac:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Second is how many characters he kills off, even popular ones.

Someone pointed out GRRM never kills off a POV character. To the best of my recollection, this is correct.
Actually, he's killed off POV characters at least twice.

Spoilers ahead, in case anyone still cares about that...


Eddard Stark was a point of view character, as was Catelyn. According to what I've heard about the TV series, it's entirely possible Jon Snow won't be pulling through either. The Starks are a death magnet.
Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
It's interesting to see where this has gone while I stepped away for a moment to write. Again I never really meant to knock Rowling. David yates, director of the last four potter movies says the script, and I quote, "Is beautiful. Filled with imaginary characters."

The thing is I wouldn't expect anything less from Rowling. This was more a curious question in my head about fame. Yes, easily anyone could say it is only fair now that Rowling has made her billions she should do whatever she wishes, she's earned it. But in her case it does seem to play to how can I beat what I've already done. Her primary fan base is children. Her goal was to create something special for them. This she has done. The simple question is: Does she owe these children anything that have made her who she is today. The reason she gets to do "whatever" she pleases now is because of these kids and their loyalty to her. It's a blessing and a curse, it a responsibility, there is no getting around it, and I still stand by my own belief. That she owes these children a book. If the gods grant you a wonderful gift that pulls you out of poverty to inspire million of young minds, your a fool to waste it, no matter how many billions you have. But that is just my opinion and I don't expect anyone else to agree with it. It's easy to forget who you were before the millions and honors rolled in.

And I'm not knocking diversifying either. That's great, more power to her. Like I said above, Yates says the script is good, but we won't know until the movie comes out. I have to admit, I'm kind of curious to find out if it is not a success just like the casual vacancy cable series how rowling will take the criticism. When there's a book that sells well first, pretty hard to blame the writing.

I have to laugh about Martin. I'm part of what are called the super forecaster's that actually try and predict the outcome of future events before they happen and are rated by our success and failures. It is all science based, no crystal balls involved. Well, one of the questions last year was would martin release his new book before season six started considering the fact the series is poised now to move beyond anything martin has written.
I said he wouldn't. That even though there is a real need for him to finish, there is absolutely no reason personally for him to do so. He can just give notes on future events to the writers of the show and rake in the cash as he does off royalties and speaking engagements. It's already out now that he won't release a book before and there is no real date of if he ever will. Let's face it. Martin has no children fan's to disappoint, so as long as the series stays successful, and I'm pretty sure it will, I doubt anyone really cares if he ever does release. They only care when season 7 will be coming out, and martin will say, "Show me the money!"

Maybe I'm too hard on rowling, but I'm not an outside the business critic. I'm just watching, and learning, for my own hopeful future.

Here's a fun fact about reading and the world that might surprise you.

Did you know that an American comic book judgement to be successful is that it has sold an issue with a readership of over a hundred-thousand readers? This is before any movie or series was created about it.

Now that you know that. Did you know that for a Japanese manga comic book to be considered successful it has to sell over a million copies, most of the top ones selling over two million?

Did you know that most of the kids follow these series will loyally read the manga long before the animation is ever out.

Did you know that manga is so popular a reading form in japan that they use it to teach things like physics to children and adults that regularly would have no interest in it?

Did you know that the most popular of the series core values are the same as the harry potter series, inspiring friendship, loyalty, and the dangers of abusive power. This is all through reading first before any cartoon is created.

Just some fun facts about the power of reading.

Ok, stepping off my soap box. Thanks for reading [Wink]

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
She doesn't owe her readers anything but good storytelling.
Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
It's just an opinion Robert. It would be my same opinion if someone had a gift for being a children's doctor, but had enough money now after being their doctor to pursue a more lucrative career of a plastic surgeon. Yes, both are still in the medical field and maybe you'll be a great plastic surgeon, but there is a fundamental difference. So what's so wrong about having an opinion that I believe she is wasting her gift now. Like I said, more power to her, I hope she writes a whole bunch of great films and detective stories, still won't mean I won't feel she's wasting a true gift, one that brightens the lives of millions of children and at the same time encourage them to read. Like I said above, It's just a fundamental question.

And I realize, I am a hopeless romantic, not a realist. I still do believe in love and heroic action and all the crazy stuff I write about. As a writer and an Artist I could drone on about how difficult our art form is and the criticism it brings. I could even fool myself into believing how horribly hard it must have been for Rowling to write those seven books and say with a straight face, "Oh my gosh! How did she handle the pressure of writing books 4 through 7 in that horrible expensive hotel room with the royalties of the first movie coming in. It must have been painstaking. Yes, your right, we need to give her break. She has slaved to earn these billions and owes those children nothing now, except -- "A good story." I would have rather have read it in book form and I believe so would have millions of children. But hey, if a film is the best she can do now, I'll take it, and look forward to seeing it on the screen when it comes out.

But yes Robert, There is a fundamental difference and I know you know it as a writer yourself. The ability to write on a blank piece of paper a story that can inspire a child's mind into a vivid world of imagination vs write something out and turn it over to a multimillion dollar Hollywood special effects director and team to do your visualizing for you. One's a gift -- the other is a job, but it can win you new trophies.

But that's just my opinion.

Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
Speaking of manga, have you heard of manga bibles?

Apparently things like manga may be the only way some people are able to access some material.
Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
Yes KDW,

Manga has made a big shift in the last fifteen years. The churches have all jumped on their popularity. A couple of the top anime have to do with holy knights, priests, power of angels, power of God. "Bleach" is a classic example. like I said above, science, mathematics, religion, history, etc. Manga is a popular way to get younger fans or troubled readers interested.

I know that they do have bible stories in manga, but so do Americans in cartoon and storybook form. These things pass through restricted areas a lot easier.

But that's really the limit of my knowledge. The only reason I know anything is through research on similar subject matters.


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