Can we talk about what an uproar JK Rowling’s latest interview caused?
If you’re not familiar with what happened, JK Rowling reportedly admitted during the interview, that she regretted putting Hermione and Ron together, and she wished she had paired her with Harry. This made a lot of Ron/Hermione shippers VERY angry, and twitter was a storm of hurt feelings and angry replies just a few days ago. Personally, I felt a little betrayed. I invested a lot of time into the Harry Potter series, I’m a huge fan. I love Hermione and Ron together, and I feel that putting her with Harry would be a cliche. The leading lady always ends up with the leading man, right? Just once, it was nice to see the “sidekick” end up with the girl.
If Hermione and Harry had been together, that would have resulted in Ron being the most awkward third wheel EVER, trailing along behind the smart Hermione and the heroic Harry. And who knows, at that point, maybe JK Rowling WOULD have killed him off.
So should Rowling have kept this to herself? I’m going to say yes. If you have doubts about how you ended a book, don’t share them. You very well might ruin the magic for fans.
When Readers React Strongly.
Most of the comments on twitter were perfectly reasonable. We were sad, we were mourning a romance that was firmly fixed in our heads. I didn’t see anyone go off the rails, threatening or calling names or anything like that. I was surprised, actually. So much of the time when there is backlash against an author it has the tendency to turn ugly. One such example is the angry reaction to Veronica Roth’s book “Allegiant”, which is the final installment in the Divergent series.
Fans were livid, and occasionally someone still pops up in her twitter feed to yell at her about how they hated the ending. Do fans have a right to be angry? Absolutely. They have a right to whatever emotional reaction the book creates while they’re reading it. There’s no WRONG way to read a book. But do they have a right to take to twitter to tell Roth how much they hated it? Maybe. But some fans crossed even that line, going up to the author at signings and telling her the book was horrible and how much they hated it. There were death threats, and threats of physical violence directed at her online.
There’s a line, and fans crossed it.
Another example is Charlene Harris, the author of the “Trueblood” series. Fans hated the ending of the book series, and they took it out on her verbally. For me, a fan who stuck with the books until the very last two books (after that I put them down) I could see that the series was slowly unraveling. The plot was meandering all over the place, and aside from a new influx of potential boyfriends each novel, I couldn’t see where it was going. So I put it down. Other fans stuck with it until the end, and when they were finished, they were outraged. A lot of the feedback came in the form of “we have been your loyal fans for years, and you didn’t give us what we wanted”. Yes, this is the reader feeling ENTITLED.
But, is it warranted?
Well, yes. And also no.
What Does the Author Owe Us?
I expect the author to write the best story they can. I expect characters to act the way they naturally would, and not to fit in with a plot line they had already planned out. I expect sacrifice to have meaning, and for things to be wrapped up with no major plot lines left hanging. In short, what I’m entitled to is a good story. The best story that the author has in them.
Sometimes I feel like what I’ve just read wasn’t the best story, and in that case, I have a right to say so in a review. I do not have a right to verbally assault or threaten the author. Personally, I would also never tell an author on twitter “I hated your book”. As a reader, are we entitled to do so? Maybe. But don’t expect any answer back from the author.
In many cases, readers are demanding the books come out faster, or there is backlash if the publication date is delayed. But shouldn’t our favorite authors have time to write the book the best way they can? It seems readers either complain about a drop in quality (the books are getting sloppy!) or they complain they aren’t coming out fast enough (you pushed the date back).
Authors Can’t Please Everyone.
It’s impossible. Trying to do so would result in an absolutely ridiculous story. When authors have TRIED to do that, they’ve ended up with something that pleases no one.
What are your thoughts on reader entitlement? What does an author owe their readers?
Tune in this Sunday for the Word Nerds live chat. We’ll be discussing the issue live, as well as answering questions or comments you send our way.