Specifically, she wrote the first book mostly at the Elephant House, a little coffee shop just down from the castle. That fact is now displayed quite prominently on the shop's front window. Quite a number of places mention their connection to Harry Potter, and we frequently saw tour groups being lead by someone in a wizard's robes. These groups mingled with the regular tours at places like St. Giles Cathedral and Greyfriar's Kirk, but the guides didn't point out the nation-changing weddings or historical characters (like Deacon Brodie, the inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), instead they pointed to tombstones bearing names that matched fictional characters in the Potter series, or places J.K. was believed to have visited or gained inspiration from. It made me reflect a little on how a children's book will fit into the history texts of the future.
Now, I'm not trying to bash anyone who likes the books. I have no problem with adults reading children's literature. Everyone can enjoy whatever they want and I think that Harry Potter expanded the world of readers and has done great things for books in general. It's just the analysis of what makes one book so successful while others languish in obscurity that's so hard to figure out - probably impossible, but worth the effort to learn what I can and bring it to my own writing.
And the rest of the characters are equally thin, especially the bad guys. Could the Dursleys be any more terrible people? Could Malfoy be any more generic of a bully? Why do Ron and Hermione reset to the same personality after each book, showing little growth or change from what happened last year? And why are all the adults so clueless? Even Dumbledore, who, at the end of every book, seems to have known what was happening all along, never figures out all the stupid things the kids are doing that could end in serious harm. Wizards are so clever but they can't figure out how a telephone works or how many stamps to put on an envelope. And how come the best wizarding school in the land has teachers that are totally incompetent or just plain awful human beings when it comes to interacting with students? It's all funny and silly but even as a child I would have been annoyed with the lack of depth and cut and dried good vs. evil message. Magic beans and silly candy only take you so far.
|Heriot School (Hogwarts?)|
I do understand many of the elements that lead to the success of Harry Potter, but I ultimately think that success at that level comes from somewhere else. It's random, a cultural phenomenon that has no complete explanation and certainly no repeatable path to follow. Nothing deserves such success, and it certainly isn't earned, but in this day and age there are far worse things that rise to the top in various media. Harry Potter isn't for me, but it's a good book (or several). J.K. seems as good as person as any, and better than many, to be rewarded by the capriciousness of fate. I'll keep writing what appeals to me and hope it merits at least a little success.