J.K. Rowling is our trickiest yet most beloved children's book author. She's always apologizing for the adored characters she very deliberately killed, or owning politicians on Twitter. She's very inspiring, but she also plays with our emotions, is all I'm saying. Now in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, she admits that she wrote a fairy tale that will probably never be published. In fact, to read it, you'd basically have to break into her house, sneak into her closet, and steal one of her dresses.
In the interview, Amanpour asks her, "I read that you were considering writing a political book for children, young people?"
That sounds great and I would read, but it turns out the whole thing fell apart and somehow ended up on a dress Rowling was literally wearing for her birthday.
"On my 50th -- the theme of my 50th birthday, which I held at Halloween, even though that's not really my birthday, was come as your own private nightmare," she explains. "And I went as a lost manuscript. And I wrote over a dress most of that book. So that book, I don't know whether it will ever be published, but it's actually hanging in a wardrobe currently."
It's out there, but you'll never get your hands on it.
The interview offers a bunch of other info about Rowling, and at least one part of it is as depressing. J.K. Rowling is her pen name because her publisher thought she'd sell more books if people weren't sure she was a woman. Amanpour asks why she has the initials there instead of her name, Jo.
"Oh, because my publisher, who published Harry Potter, they said to me, 'We think this is a book that will appeal to boys and girls.' And I said, 'Oh, great'. And they said, 'So could we use your initials?'" she explains, "Because, basically they were trying to disguise my gender. And obviously, that lasted about three seconds, because -- which is wonderful. I'm certainly not complaining, but the book won an award and I got a big advance from America and I got a lot of publicity. So I was outed as a woman."
Amanpour seems shocked by this, and Rowling even admits she wouldn't have picked the name herself. "I quite like J.K. ... I think I -- I wouldn't have chosen it," she says. "It's -- and I wouldn't have chosen it for that reason, either. But I was so grateful to be published, if they told me to call myself Rupert, I probably would have done to be honest with you. But now, I actually quite like having a pen name, because I feel that's -- to an extent, that feels like an identity and then I'm -- in private life, I'm Jo Murray. And it feels like quite a nice separation."
I guess it's good when sexism works on? But to end on a positive note, Rowling also discussed her foundation, Lumos, which aids children in orphanages. Harry Potter is an orphan after all, but Rowling says she felt she had to do something about it when she found out how the kids in Czech orphanages were kept:
Rowling says she was pregnant and looking at her Sunday Times, when she saw a picture of a small child screaming through a chicken wire. The image accompanied a story about a Czech prhpange where children with special needs were kept in literal cages.
"It's a cot for a baby covered in -- covered in mesh, covered in wire," she says, "And that was his existence. And from that, that's how it all began. I was just appalled and horrified."
"I think my worst fear, my personal worst fear, is powerlessness and small spaces," she continues, "So when you think about that little boy trapped in the cage-bed, he is totally voiceless. And nobody was speaking for him. And I think that -- we all have something that touches us on a very visceral level. I mean -- and I think that's mine. That's my thing.
She adds that it's probably why her hero, Harry Potter started out his life in a cupboard, as an orphan.
"Because this is my fear, being trapped and being powerless, just powerless to get out of that space. So yeah, on a very crude level, I think that news story tapped into something that I found personally horrifying."
Okay, that is a bummer. But Harry escaped his circumstances, and because of Rowling's work, now a lot more boys and girls will. That's her power!
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