On Rowling’s new Ron/Hermione reveal: The ships have sailed; it’s time to move on.

J.K. Rowling’s latest revelation about the Harry Potter series, which came in the form of an interview conducted by Emma Watson for “Wonderland” magazine (February/March 2014 issue), has re-awakened the long-slumbering Potter Shipping Wars of old. It seems that everyone has written something about the topic, from a very insightful analysis of love in the series, to a passionate defense of Ron, to suggestions for other ships.

I’m on the crew of the HMS Orange Crush (Harry/Ginny) myself, so Rowling’s confession bothered me, especially how it was first reported: that Jo regrets writing that Ron and Hermione ended up together and that she should have married Harry. I told myself I would wait for the full interview to be released before commenting because, more often than not, people tended to misinterpret or to put words into Jo’s mouth.

Nowhere in the interview did she say that she “regrets” writing Ron/Hermione. Emma asked her if she had a new perspective on Hermione, and she replied:

What I will say is that I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione [ended up] with Ron.

I know, I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.

It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it… I’m not sure you could have got over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can’t believe we are saying all of this – this is Potter heresy!

[Later, she adds]

Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They’ll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical.

When “Deathly Hallows” was published, I felt that the Epilogue seemed out of place. I knew from following every single interview that Rowling gave (I am on the staff!) that she had been writing toward a particular ending and even a particular last word (“scar”) for a long time. Maybe this has blinded her to how her characters evolved as she wrote them, and how they may not fit that ending anymore. If she just left out that Epilogue, then there wouldn’t be this much hullaballoo over what could have beens.

The troubled Ron/Hermione relationship differs a bit from her other post-Potter reveals (e.g. Dumbledore is gay) in that she does not seem to be insinuating that this is Canon. It’s understandable that she now has a different perspective on the relationships of the Trio. Whether or not it was prudent of her to have revealed what she thought is another story, but I want to look at this as a glass half-full: at least she didn’t say “Ron/Hermione shouldn’t be together”, and the Canon remains unchanged.

For the record, I agree that Ron and Hermione would have had difficulties in their relationship, and that if they worked on it, they would eventually be okay.

Credit: Naomi (potterpuffs.livejournal.com)

Credit: Naomi (potterpuffs.livejournal.com)

As for Harry/Hermione…

In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit and I’ll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn’t told [Steve] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.

And actually I liked that scene in the film, because it was articulating something I hadn’t said but I had felt. I really liked it and I thought that it was right. I think you do feel the ghost of what could have been in that scene.

I’ve always hated the way Steve Kloves kept putting in those Harmonian moments when there weren’t supposed to be any, and how that undermined a lot of Ron’s contributions and importance in the series as it is portrayed in the movies.

I do think the tent scenes, as they were written in the book, were okay, and that maybe the “ghost of what could have been” may have been present, but I never felt any strong romantic vibes there. And if Rowling says she felt something there, then she either did her characters a great disservice by not letting things go where they should, or what she felt so strongly wasn’t powerful enough to make her deviate from the ending she was writing towards.

I also agree that Hermione and Harry are a good fit–and I concede, better than Ron/Hermione–in many ways, but that doesn’t mean they should be in love or would fall in love or get married. Why can’t they have a perfect friendship and why should Harry and Ron be Hermione’s only choices?

I’ve long thought that it was weird that Rowling married Luna off to someone we didn’t know from the 7 books; I even secretly thought it was cute if she had married Neville, after all, everyone was marrying their childhood sweethearts already. But on hindsight, I now like that Luna married someone else and that she met other people outside of their Hogwarts circle. So why not Hermione?

All this says something very powerful about the character of Hermione as well. Hermione was the one that stuck with Harry all the way through that last installment, that very last part of the adventure. It wasn’t Ron, which also says something very powerful about Ron. He was injured in a way, in his self-esteem, from the start of the series. He always knew he came second to fourth best, and then had to make friends with the hero of it all and that’s a hell of a position to be in, eternally overshadowed. So Ron had to act out in that way at some point.

But Hermione’s always there for Harry. I remember you sent me a note after you read Hallows and before you started shooting, and said something about that, because it was Hermione’s journey as much as Harry’s at the end.

Yes, her sacrifice was massive, completely. A very calculated act of bravery. That is not an ‘in the moment’ act of bravery where emotion carries you through, that is a deliberate choice.

Of course it was Hermione’s journey as much as Harry’s…as much as Ron’s, Voldemort’s, Dumbledore’s, Snape’s…it was EVERYONE’S journey. Maybe it was more personal for Harry, but everyone had a stake in the battle. And while we cannot belittle Hermione’s “calculated act of bravery”, we should not reduce it to an impetus for a romantic relationship either. From the tone of their conversation, Rowling seems to be highlighting this as a plus factor for Harry/Hermione (or I could be wrong.) Anyway, we must also not forget that Dumbledore’s and Snape’s sacrifices were just as calculated, and that they have even lost their lives.

And, finally, was it prudent for Rowling to share all these post-Potter revelations? Personally, I think people should stop asking all those “what ifs”; the Potter world, as it is, is difficult enough to keep up with! Rowling has to answer when she’s asked, and she has always been very honest and forthcoming about Potter, which is good. And of course she has the right to add new things to her world and comment on aspects of it (I actually appreciate that about her), but I think she should be careful about what else she reveals. I suppose that as long as she doesn’t change Canon, it’ll be okay. But while she owes readers nothing, really, it is a fact that fans have dissected and new readers do dissect the series to the tiniest detail. How I read Dumbledore before is likely going to be different from how my nephew would read him knowing that Dumbledore was gay. Maybe it will be an interesting literary exercise to compare how different generations interpret it.

Those subtext-shattering revelations are part of why I am excited but scared of what the “Encyclopedia” she never published contained, and why I approach every new thing that pops up on Pottermore as if they are radioactive. She had 7 books and 3 booklets to put in the most important things about Harry’s and the Wizarding World’s stories. Ultimately, it’s what’s in the books that’s important. I believe that’s how it should be.

The ships have sailed; it’s time to move on.

Cover Reveal: “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

Publication Date: 27 September 2012

I am not in love with this cover, to be honest, but that’s not important. J.K. Rowling is publishing a friggin’ new novel and that’s more than enough.

In other news, she’s also going multimedia with an interactive Potter-related book for the Playstation 3 called Wonderbook: Book of Spells : click!

Miscellany: OMG, the Rowling book now has a title and a synopsis!

↣ Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s upcoming The Raven Boys (click!), and boy, was it creepy. It definitely piqued my interest. 😉

The Casual Vacancy is the title of J.K. Rowling’s much-talked about adult novel, which is scheduled for a September 27th publication.

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

It sounds so pleasantly different from Harry Potter, and seems to be the kind of story that will match JKR’s writing style very well. I’m really looking forward to this book.

↣ Lastly, my story on Lauren Oliver and her visit to Manila is now up at GMA News Online (click!)

J.K. Rowling’s first non-Potter novel!!!! For adults!!!!

 
This news deserves extra exclamation marks! J.K. Rowling is finally going to publish her first non-Harry Potter novel, and it’s for adults, to boot.

*let’s bring out our clapper for the second time today*

Little, Brown Book Group and Little, Brown and Company are delighted to announce that they will publish J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults worldwide in the English language, both in print and ebooks.

David Shelley, Publisher, Little, Brown Book Group, will be J.K. Rowling’s editor and will be responsible for publication in the United Kingdom with Michael Pietsch, Executive Vice President of Little, Brown and Company, responsible for publication in the United States. The book will be published by Hachette in Australia and in New Zealand and by Hachette’s companies and normal appointed agents for the English language in other markets.

The title, the date for the worldwide publication and further details about the novel will be announced later in the year.

In the press release (full text here: click!), she said that it’s only fitting that she work with another publisher for this new phase of her career. I think it’s a good move, especially if we’re talking about the huge sales that will be generated by just her name on the cover alone. Harry Potter has made millions for Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and her other international publishers, and it’s nice to know that JKR is spreading the love around by giving this book to Little, Brown.

Of course, LB already has The Twilight Saga as the big moneymaker on its roster, so… good job, LB, good job. 😉

I’ve worried for so long about how she can’t seem to tear herself away from Potter after repeatedly saying that Deathly Hallows will be the last of it. We got The Tales of Beedle the Bard, her producing credits for the last 2 Potter films, and Pottermore. Not that I’m complaining, but I love JKR’s writing, and I don’t want her to go down in history as a one-trick pony, so this new book is welcome news.

I wonder what kind of story JKR has seen fit to throw at her adult fans. I hope it’s not a fantasy novel. Or if it is, I hope that the fantasy part is more subdued. If it turns out to have even half the kind of wit and detailed plotting of the Potter books, though, I can breathe a sigh of relief.

But oh, the critics and fans alike who will most likely look at this novel under their version of an electron microscope! Oh, the pressure to come out with something brilliant!

No matter what, this Rowling fan is still going to buy it and read it. *excited*

Edited to add: Lisa reminded me of that old speculation that JKR’s next non-Potter book will be a mystery, but it was from an unconfirmed source. Well, JKR can probably write a great mystery, something like an Agatha Christie meets Katherine Neville. Or maybe a Steve Berry-esque historical adventure with a dash of fantasy? Hrmmm…

And so begins The Great Next Novel Speculation.

What do you think it’ll be, folks?

Edit #2: JKR just tweeted!