By Kat Coffin
Word Count: 840
Summary: Kat argues why J.K. Rowling should just stop now.
It’s been good couple of years for Harry Potter fans—or so the media tells me. What with the film release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the semi-canon stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the information about the Harry Potter world released from the website Pottermore and J.K. Rowling respectively, Harry Potter fans should be utterly thrilled. And many are, in all fairness. It often feels that I am the only one who gets progressively more upset with every new Harry Potter related news release.
I am a fan. I know this is hard to believe, given how cranky I’ve been towards Rowling lately, but I really and truly am a fan of Harry Potter. I have fond memories playing Harry Potter with my friends in elementary school. I had a Ravenclaw pennant hanging on my bedroom door, growing up. I attended book release parties in costume and was a proud member of the Harry Potter club in high school. I even wrote a very detailed fanfiction that took place in the wizarding world.
So why is it that with every Tweet, Pottermore update, and Warner Brothers announcement, I want to scream at J.K. Rowling, “JUST LEAVE IT ALONE ALREADY!”
I fully acknowledge that I do not own the Harry Potter series. She can do what she wants with it. She’s the writer, after all. But the books ended in 2007. She doesn’t seem that interested in adding to her body of work through more books—just tweets and Pottermore information. And of course, Cursed Child, which read like bad fanfiction, and a movie.
But part of this is because with every new reveal about a character, I feel like part of the Harry Potter world is taken away from me. I don’t want to know what house James Potter (the son of Harry, not his father) was sorted into. I really don’t want to know that George Weasley married Angelina. (A nonsensical, disrespectful character choice that I’ll never forgive Rowling for.) I don’t want to know where Scorpius ended up. I don’t want to know about the other schools that exist, and I don’t want to believe the American word for muggle is No-Maj. I don’t want to hear a whitewashed history of Ilvermorney, the American magic school. Could she please stop?
Why do I want her to stop? As an avid Harry Potter fan, should I be thrilled with all of this information about the Harry Potter world?
When C.S. Lewis finished “The Chronicles of Narnia”, several children wrote him letters asking for more Narnia stories. His answer was, “I am delighted to hear that you liked the Narnian books. There is a map at the end of some of them in some editions. But why not do one yourself! And why not write stories for yourself to fill up the gaps in Narnian history? I’ve left you plenty of hints—especially where Lucy and the Unicorn are talking…I feel I have done all I can!”
I think this adorable anecdote of Lewis explains why I’m becoming so frustrated and upset with J.K. Rowling. When she finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it closed the book on a beautiful and inviting world, while still allowing the readers to come up with their own ideas and stories. I had my own idea on what the American wizarding schools (because OBVIOUSLY there would be more than one) looked like, what American wizarding culture was like. I had my own stories about Harry and Ginny’s kids, my own fanfictions about who George married (definitely not Angelina, Angelina was Fred’s girlfriend, George and Fred are not interchangeable and I am bitter). I know of people who had their own headcanons about different wizarding schools around the world (Africa is not a country, there cannot possibly be only ONE wizarding school on such a giant continent).
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
The fact of it is, I am a fanfiction writer. I don’t own the Harry Potter series—it has and always will belong to J.K. Rowling. But it sort of felt like she gave it to us readers ten years ago and now, slowly and surely, she’s taking the gift back. It’s probably unfair of me to expect Rowling to do the same as Lewis and allow her readers to come up with their own ideas of the Harry Potter world. But I can’t help but wish she’d leave us alone to our imaginings. Or at least take a basic U.S. History course to gain an understanding of American culture and how you might intertwine your fantasy wizarding world with it.
In the end though, my cranky bitterness about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the mess that is Ilvermorney, and all of this doesn’t come from a hatred of the series. It comes from the love of a fan.