Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rowling and Potter and Doris Lessing

I think my favorite thing about being a writer is having an overwhelming desire to know the backstory of the books I read. That's the part that the writer knows in her head, but doesn't necessarily put on the page. A bit might show up here and there, but for the most part it's all the history before page one.

(And we all know not to put any backstory on page one, right?)

Recently J.K. Rowling revealed that the Harry Potter saga was inspired by Christianity. This is no surprise, really, if she'd said different I would have had to call bull pucky. It's the great battle between good and evil, the forces gather on each side, alliances are formed, there are betrayals, innocent ones die.

And then she announced that Dumbledore was gay. And for some great reason, I was not surprised. It fit just fine the way she'd written it in the book. He's an old, single man and the only real infatuation we read about is with a young man from his past. It fit.

Now you're probably wondering why a Christian like myself is so fond of not only a book that some say promotes witchcraft, but also of a gay character.

I have no good answers for you other than a) I don't think it promotes witchcraft and b) if God wanted me to worry so much about homosexuality, I think he might have listed it in the top ten.

But back to Rowling.

I think the reason that I was not surprised by either is because that's the beauty of well crafted backstory. It's there, but you don't see it, it's woven so faintly into the tapestry like a pale blue thread, that you only pick up on it when held up to another blue cloth. Then you see it there and think "oh yes, of course that fits perfectly".

Now, as an aside. I find it very interesting how different sites reported this.

According to Guardian Unlimited:

'My truthful answer to you...I always thought of Dumbledore as gay.'

Which, despite being reported from the exact same event, differs from how the Associated Press reported it:
"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause.

Now why is that, do you think? I've seen similar "massaging" of quotes before. Most recently with Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize retort. Some quoted her verbatim while others shortened her words up just enough to make her sound really snotty.

Personally, I think she is just a quiet older woman who is used to being lambasted in public for her views and she was surrounded by cameras and microphones while trying to climb out of a car from a shopping trip. We writers are not known for our improv skills, otherwise we'd be speakers, not writers. Even Churchill, one of the most amazing writers and speakers was first a writer. All those witty retorts? Written and memorized.

Now what do you think of Lessing's reaction?


Angela WD said...

I LOVE her reaction! I was cracking up while watching that. What the heck do they expect her to say when they ambush her coming home from grocery shopping?

You are so right - it's not easy or fair to have the right thing to say on the spot. I know I'm no good at it. That's why I write.

Carolyn Erickson said...

Oh my gosh I loved that "it's a Royal Flush" remark! LOL!

I like her attitude. Really, if she's won every other prize given, then it probably isn't that big of a deal! And she didn't have time to think up an acceptance speech fit for mass consumption, did she?

Given a few minutes with the word processor, I'm sure she would have had a gracious response. :) Maybe. Then again, maybe that's just who she is!