kottke.org posts about JK Rowling
On Twitter this morning, Little Brown UK announced that they will be publishing an 8th Harry Potter book called Harry Potter and Cursed Child. The book is the rehearsal script of the play of the same name co-written by Rowling. Which is a bit disappointing, to be honest...play scripts are not fully-formed books. Anyway, from the play's website, here's the vague plot:
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Even though employees are probably still in their jammies at home, you can already pre-order the book on Amazon. (via mic)
In a piece for the Pottermore web site, JK Rowling writes an update on how the gang from the Harry Potter books is doing. The piece is an account of the Quidditch World Cup Final written by Rita Skeeter, the gossip columnist from the books. You need a login to read it on Pottermore, but someone uploaded it to Reddit as well.
The Potter family and the rest of Dumbledore's Army have been given accommodation in the VIP section of the campsite, which is protected by heavy charms and patrolled by Security Warlocks. Their presence has ensured large crowds along the cordoned area, all hoping for a glimpse of their heroes. At 3pm today they got their wish when, to the accompaniment of loud screams, Potter took his young sons James and Albus to visit the players' compound, where he introduced them to Bulgarian Seeker Viktor Krum.
About to turn 34, there are a couple of threads of silver in the famous Auror's black hair, but he continues to wear the distinctive round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient twelve-year-old. The famous lightning scar has company: Potter is sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone. Requests for information as to its provenance merely produced the usual response from the Ministry of Magic: 'We do not comment on the top secret work of the Auror department, as we have told you no less than 514 times, Ms. Skeeter.' So what are they hiding? Is the Chosen One embroiled in fresh mysteries that will one day explode upon us all, plunging us into a new age of terror and mayhem?
That last line is one of a few references to possible new stories in the piece...the last paragraph mentions a new biography of Harry and his pals due out at the end of this month:
And for those who want to know exactly how imperfect they are, my new biography: Dumbledore's Army: The Dark Side of the Demob will be available from Flourish and Blotts on July 31st.
Could Rowling be setting the stage for an eighth Potter book or is she just winding us up?
Well, sort of. Rowling is writing a screenplay for Warner Bros. based on a Hogwart's textbook called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt's story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry's gets underway.
Last month it was revealed that JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame recently published the crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. How'd she get outed? Turns out it was a tip-off from her law firm, but with just an anonymous tip there wasn't much to go on. Time to call in the language experts. Ben Zimmer at the WSJ has a good general report but the real meat of things is in a post that computer science professor Patrick Juola wrote for the Language Log blog.
I was given e-text copies of Cuckoo to compare against Rowling's own The Casual Vacancy, Ruth Rendell's The St. Zita Society, P.D. James' The Private Patient and Val McDermid's The Wire in the Blood. [...]
I actually ran four separate types of analyses focusing on four different linguistic variables. While anything can in theory be an informative variable, my work focuses on variables that are easy to compute and that generate a lot of data from a given passage of language. One variable that I used, for example, is the distribution of word lengths. Each novel has a lot of words, each word has a length, and so one can get a robust vector of % of the words in this document have exactly letters. Using a distance formula (for the mathematically minded, I used the normalized cosine distance formula instead of the more traditional Euclidean distance you remember from high school), I was able to get a measurement of similarity, with 0.0 being identity and progressively higher numbers being greater dissimilarity.
Of the 11 sections of Cuckoo, six were closest (in distribution of word lengths) to Rowling, five to James. No one else got a mention. [...]
Does this prove that Rowling wrote Cuckoo? Of course not. All it really "proves" -- suggests, rather -- is that out of the four authors studied, the most likely candidate author is probably Rowling.
On the eve of the release of her first novel specifically written for adult readers, Ian Parker profiles J.K. Rowling for the New Yorker. In many ways, this passage about Harry Potter sums up Parker's take on Rowling herself:
For all the satisfying closure provided by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," gloomier readers may still detect a note of melancholy; there is a narrowness of life for former Hogwarts students, whose career opportunities barely extend beyond the wizard civil service, wizard schoolteaching, and professional Quidditch. This magical society has no use for science; there's little commerce; and thousands of years of wizarding seems to have generated no culture beyond a short volume of fables and a tabloid newspaper. (Wizard technology is often a cutely flawed approximation of non-wizard technology -- owls for e-mail -- and one wonders how quickly Harry and his schoolfriends could have won their battles against the evil Lord Voldemort, given two or three cell phones and a gun.) In a time of wizard peace, at least, Harry's separation from the real world -- even as he lives in it -- can seem tragic.
In a time of personal prosperity, Rowling's separation from the real world -- even as she lives in it -- can seem tragic.
Rowling's writing process visualized. Looks like this page is from The Order of the Phoenix. (via famulan)
Transcript and video of JK Rowling's Harvard commencement address, The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.
You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
Imagination as Rowling perceives it is essential in telling other people's stories and is sorely missing in the media today. And the blogosphere can almost be defined by its lack of empathy. (thx, adriana)
Rita Skeeter J.K. Rowling:
Albus Dumbledore is gay and had fallen in love with fellow wizard and friend, Gellert Grindelwald.
Fan fiction writers, you know what to do.
The cashier at Barnes and Noble, she sure saw me coming. "You trying to catch up before Book 7 comes out?"
"Yes'm," I said, staring at my shoes. My vacation reading plan had gotten me hooked on the Potter series and I was now devouring the series at a work-shirking rate. Oh sugary literature, I can't resist you! The first three books were bit boring (I'd already seen the movies) and had I not been on vacation, I might have given up on the whole thing. I decided to press on, and, like my friend Adriana assured me, it started to get more interesting about halfway through Goblet of Fire when Rowling starts pulling back the curtain on an entire world of wizardry and backstory. I raced through Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. Since I somehow hadn't heard any spoilers about the series, the end of HBP left me reeling, my mind racing, my body jonesing for another hit. _______ killed ____________!!!1!1ONE!
That was all a few weeks ago. The other day, I did a very bad thing. While in the bookstore on non-Potter-related business, I stopped by the kids section to see if they carried a book that my friend David had alerted me to, Mugglenet.Com's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 (warning: spoilers). When David told me about it, I was adamant about not wanting to know anything about Deathly Hallows before it comes out. But now that I was confronted with the thing in person, I was unable to resist taking a peek at the table of contents. Snape. RAB! Horcrux!! Are my pet theories true? I flipped through a couple of chapters, little kids flowing around me in the aisle, feeling exhilarated (and a little disappointed) that the authors' theories agreed with mine and ashamed at what I'd become, a 33-yo man with deeply held theories about future plot developments in a children's book series.
My willpower finally returned and I returned the book to its shelf, but I think I might go back for it. I just need to think of a good hiding place so that Meg doesn't catch me with it. I fear for the future of my marriage and, more importantly, the fates of Harry, Hermione, and Ron! Hurry July 21, you cannot come soon enough.
An unauthorized electronic version of the new Harry Potter book is now available online. Rowling won't do an e-book version of the Potter books, but one made its way onto the web about 12 hours after the hardcover was released in stores.