Authors Are A Funny Lot



In this morning’s checks of my favorite websites (see links list at right on homepage), I came across two articles on two of my favorite authors…Harper Lee and J.K. Rowling…both creating a little stir today…and both giving me a little bit of headache.

Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird, has decided to end her 40-year publicity sabbatical to write a letter for Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine and discuss her life as a child in rural Depression-era Alabama.

In her letter to O, Lee, now 80, writes about becoming a reader before first grade and the scarcity of books when she was young. And I was pleased to learn that Harper, like myself, enjoyed Uncle Wiggly stories when she was young.

“Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.”
–Harper Lee, O Magazine

Lee’s 40-year absence from the spotlight has, no doubt, added to her larger-than-life persona for me. For this reason, I suppose, I’m a little disappointed to see her words printed in such a casual venue as a magazine…even if it’s a magazine run by, basically, the most powerful woman in the nation.

I love Oprah and realize she has the best intentions…having Lee’s words in O instead of some crusty, pompous literary academic journal will be so very much more far reaching. I also realize that Lee has never been one to revel in her success publicly and has never carried the air of what one would think someone so prolific would carry. Still…it’s friggin’ O Magazine.

Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, announced today that in the upcoming seventh and final installment of the Potter series two main characters will die…and one could possibly be the young wizard himself.

I guess I’m torn between the irritation I have for public relations spinning and the respect I have for doing what needs to be done (read: building excitement) to make sure the book sells. I know Rowling is building reader anticipation, but it’s hilarious that she would announce that main characters will die…but then say she won’t name names because she doesn’t want to get hate mail.

“The final chapter is hidden away, although it’s now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve. But I have to say two die that I didn’t intend to die,” she said. “A price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil here. They don’t target extras do they? They go for the main characters. Well, I do.”
–J.K. Rowling, AP

Let me assure you, Ms. Rowling, no matter if you named names or not or if you killed off every character…the fact that this is the last book in the series is cause enough to generate tons of hate mail. I know I’m pissed about this being the last book…and I’m pissed about anyone dying…well, unless it’s Lord Voldemort…or Hagrid (he irritates the crap out of me…he’s so damn obtuse)…ducks in preparation for barrage of shit that will certainly be hurled after last comment.


16 Responses to “Authors Are A Funny Lot”

  1. Staci Says:

    I have to share my softer side–I’m sad to know that Harry could die. Yes, I know of your entire diatribe, that’s not the main point… but there you have it.

    I agree on your points about Ms. Lee’s choice of publishing venues and that Ms. Rowling is not dodging any bullets with her comments… and I even concur that Hagrid is an oaf… if a loveable one. (I can’t say I hope he dies… and I still think Dumbledore’s coming back. NO death is final in magical literature! šŸ™‚

    I love to read. I love to engross myself in a character that is so totally foreign to anything I am or could ever be… and I’m so envious of writers like Lee and Rowling who have REAL original thought that moves me to tears. (Yes, I did cry when Dumbledore died… even if I don’t believe he’s dead.) So, since they have this awesome power over my psyche, why can’t they weild it more appropriately in the mass media? Right on, Shell.

  2. Shelley Says:

    Great feedback, Stace…and not just because you agreed with me. ;)For the record…I, too, think Dumbledore will be returning…somehow.Also, to build on what you said about being envious of writers like Lee and Rowling…I’m with ya, chick. You know, when I read the Potter books, I find myself stopping every so many pages and thinking…”Man, I wish I had thought of that…brilliant.”

  3. brokedownpalace Says:

    As much as I hate mainstreaming anything (more or less killing any shred of intergrity or authinticity), I have to give Oprah props. She is reintroducing many people to reading. I think as much as a writer hates the notion of commericalization, he or she is thrilled to see some of the books Oprah (most likely someone Oprah is paying) is re-introducing into mainstream readership (in lieu Judy Collins, et. al). Cry Thy Beloved Country, Night, To Kill A Mockingbird, last summer’s Faulkner reading list, The Heart is A Lonely Hunter–it reads like a list of my favorite books!

    I am prone to literary elitism, so I have to force myself to admit that Oprah (overly senitmental, day-time TV mogul) is positively influencing our culture; I respect her attempts to raise awareness on social/humanitarian concerns as well. Maybe Harper Lee is just happy people all across the country (maybe the World) are rediscovering her book.

    Just don’t tell anybody I admitted this…

    P.S. I don’t know how to make this thing do italics.

  4. Shelley Says:

    By the way…after reading Rowling’s quote again… “A price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil here. They don’t target extras do they? They go for the main characters. Well, I do.” I have to ask…is she calling herself evil?LOL

  5. Holeigh Says:

    Oh, boy, I haven’t been to MuggleNet yet today…don’t kill off anyone in the trio Jo, that would break my heart! I realize that this is pure evil we’re dealing with, but I love these characters, haha.

    On to the other topic. I completely agree with you about Lee, Shell…TKAM is my absolute favorite book and I’m fascinated in Lee’s decision to never write another novel and stay out of the public eye all because “I said all I had to say.” As much as I love hearing about her, I think the persona she has made for herself is much more intriguing. I’d rather she write a book about her life than publish something in a magazine, really.

    Off to read the JKR interview…

  6. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Dumbledore is alive. He lives in my closet with Cedric Diggory.

    I will send hate mail to JKR if she kills one of the kids. That IS pure evil.

    I’m not sure what Lee was thinking. I hate to disagree with you, Shelley, but….I can’t STAND Oprah. Gag! And her magazine?? I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. (I do think she’s done a lot to promote great lit to the masses, blah, blah, blah. That much I give her. And that might be why Lee thought it was a good idea.)

  7. Shelley Says:

    Dumbledore is alive. He lives in my closet with Cedric Diggory.

    I knew I liked you bamaborntxbred. šŸ˜‰


    Holeigh…I thought I was the only muggle to visit MuggleNet…glad to know that we are not only Hickskateers…we’re also Potter fans! šŸ˜‰

  8. Shrewspeaks Says:

    I’d like to comment on Harper Lee…To Kill A Mocking Bird is a story that has followed me al my life. Experiences are far and strange from my mother watching the first broadcast and going into labour with me (I swear for years she used to torment me with the fact that I made her miss the ending of a great movie…no shit!)to Berkley Breathed’s deep facination with the book and Lee herself though my alter-ego, a little pistachio eating penguin. I have always been moved by the messages with in this classic American story. If you haven’t read it…please do.

    I admit I was a bit flumexed to see Lee writing for O, yet with the Oprah book club and Lee’s supreme dedication to that form, I can see why she chose this particular vehicle.

  9. Shelley Says:

    Shrew…I hope for Mother’s Day next year you buy your mom a DVD of TKAMB, wrap it up in a shiney bow and sign the card…”Now get off my back!”

  10. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Already done.

  11. Quossum Says:

    Noooooooooo, not Hagrid!!!!

    Intead, Ron must go. He’s annoying. Or Hermione, little know-it-all, givin’ us brains a bad name and all.

    But Luna Lovegood must live. I lurve that gel!


  12. Quossum Says:

    Hey, Shelley, was reading the comments of the people at Worst, where I posted this tidbit the other day, and look at this person’s speculation:

    “The 2 that are going to kick the bucket I think will be Ron and Neville or Hagrid. I really don’t think Ron is going to make it. He always feels inferior to Harry and I think he will have a chance to step up and will sacrifice to save Harry or Hermione or someone. Neville is in a bad position because of the prophecy and Hagrid dying would probably send JK the most hatemail.”

    There, now we can both be pissed off! LOL


  13. Shelley Says:

    If Ron dies…I’m swimming to England and kicking Rowling’s scrawny little arse.Kill Harry, Hermione, Hagrid, Neville, Jenny, The Entire Weasly Clan, Snape, Malfoy, Luna, Seamus, all the professors…bring Dumbledore, Cedric and Sirius back and kill them all again…and let Voldemort live before you kill Ron.Is my point made yet? šŸ˜‰

  14. Ash Says:

    I linked you to my other blog.

  15. Z Says:

    Geeze! WHAT is Rawlings obsession with killing people off! Can she not think of anything else to do with the poor kids!

    Good thing this is the last book. Cause she is running out of people to off… Now me personally I would have just blown up Hogsworth while all of the kids were there (and maybe the parents too on like graduation or something…) That way there could never be anymore Harry Potter at all!

    Oh well… I guess we will *soon* find out who it is..

    (Q’s Little Sis)

  16. Holeigh Says:

    Shell: I looove MuggleNet and I listen to MuggleCast every week! šŸ™‚

    Z: Hi there. I know what you mean about JKR killing people off, but she only does it when “they aren’t needed anymore.” People that can’t teach Harry anything more often end up under the knife, which is sad. I understand why she does it, but I prefer to believe šŸ˜€

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