What I love about JK Rowling

James Garside


Photo by Shayna Douglas on Unsplash

I hate Harry Potter but love JK Rowling — this is why.

When I taught Creative Writing to young people on the gifted and talented young people programme I had recourse to defend my hatred of Harry Potter — not of JK Rowling personally, just of the books.

First, I agreed that Harry Potter was entertaining. And I emphasised that there are things that I like about Harry Potter and adore about JK Rowling. This is always a good idea when faced with a room full of Harry Potter fans.

What I disliked about Harry Potter series: They’re badly written and badly edited. They got flabbier with each book — from the first slim volume to doorstoppers that weighed-in at over 700 pages.

I believe in quality, not quantity. And the idea that “they’re only kid’s books” doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be made as good as they possibly can before they go out. It’s important for children’s literature to be great.

I also worried that “the Harry Potter phenomenon” eclipsed other books that were just as good, if not better, and worthy of attention.

What I liked about Harry Potter: I watched the special where JK Rowling read from the new book.

Several thousand excited kids were screaming and cheering when JKR arrived, as though they were waiting for their favourite rock star. All this for a writer!

They then sat spellbound as she read, and cheered at the end… all this for a book!

In the days of Playstation and Xbox, Britney Spears and the Tweenies, Harry Potter made reading cool.

Thousands of young people have taken an interest in reading, and are willing to queue around the block to get a copy of a book on the night it is published.

When I was doing my MA in Creative Writing, I was the only bloke doing a module on women’s writing. The tutor would let her daughter sit in on the lesson. She would sit there quietly reading Harry Potter, and now and then giggle to herself and continue reading.

THAT is why I like Harry Potter.

What I like about JK Rowling: She wrote the Harry Potter books. She’s intelligent, smart, and seems like a lovely person. She has donated lots of money to charities and worthy causes, and is perfectly level-headed and pragmatic about the whole thing in interviews. She also managed to charm Jeremy Paxman!

What I dislike about JK Rowling: Nothing, I don’t know her. She seems very likeable and people that are critical of her success are probably just jealous.

But there are better writers out there — some starving, mad, dead, or languishing in obscurity — people that I’m passionate about and would give blood to get other people to read.

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NCTJ-qualified British independent journalist, author, and travel writer.


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