I’m not ashamed to say that Harry Potter has significantly shaped who I am today. It played a major role in my childhood. I didn’t just go to the midnight release parties—I actually volunteered at Spellbound, hosted by Mugglenet, and got Galadriel Waters to sign my copy of the Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter. I’ve been to the actual Platform 9¾ twice. I own a wand that doubles as a remote control for my TV. My Pottermania seemingly has no limits.
I don’t want any more new Potter content.
I don’t want a Book 8, even if it wasn’t in some bizarre play format, released in two different versions. I don’t want J.K. Rowling to keep releasing tiny bits of information on Twitter that’ll inevitably generate fluffy clickbait stories across the web. I don’t even really want the Fantastic Beasts movies, though they’re certainly the lesser of evils.
The Potter series was pretty damn near perfect. It’s rare to feel satisfied by the conclusion of a beloved series (*cough* Divergent). Why mess with it? Why dilute a series that felt so whole and complete with new material that will always be seen as secondary? When series linger on after they’ve claimed to wrap up, usually it’s because the author is seeking to extend their 15 minutes of fame (*cough* 50 Shades *cough* Twilight) because they’re incapable of striking gold with anything else. J.K. Rowling, however, is of a much higher caliber than that. While The Casual Vacancy and the Cormoran Strike series haven’t made even an eighth of the impact that Potter did, they’re brilliantly written books in their own right. Rowling has proven that her skills as a writer stretch beyond the boundaries of Hogwarts, so why does she keep going back?
I don’t believe it’s for the money. The money she would’ve earned from The Tales of Beedle the Bard all went to charity. I also don’t believe it’s because she had always intended to stay in this world. Upon wrapping up the Harry Potter books, Rowling admitted that she was willing to write an encyclopedia for charity, but that would probably be it. There’s no real reason for a Book 8.
So… what happened? Was it simply a case of buyer’s remorse? Was Rowling looking to try her hand at writing for visual mediums, and Potter was the only gateway that would get her there?
It’s tough to know how to follow up a phenomenon like Potter. In the eyes of the public, you’ve already peaked. I’m not sure if there will ever be another series that captures the world’s imagination in the way that story did. Upon subsequent series re-reads, I’m struck by the line McGonagall says in the beginning of Book 1: “There will be books written about Harry, every child in our world will know his name.” It’s absolutely true. It’s not even a matter of wondering whether lightning could strike twice; it’s knowing that lightning was never even meant to strike like this. With our growing dependence on the Internet, it’s almost impossible to imagine a book series ever again having this kind of impact.
If you’re Rowling, how do you move on from that?
I don’t think the answer is in returning to Potter in any capacity. There are already two theme parks, an illustrated series, a traveling exhibit, and a disappointing interactive website. Do we really need more? Can’t we just let the readers’ imaginations take it from here?
Rowling has other interests as demonstrated in her other written works. Her commentary on sexual abuse, wealth, and the media are fascinating and worth discussing. She’s invested in larger world issues and brings those opinions to light on social media and in her writing. It’s a powerful thing. Until the day she dies, she’ll be able to get across any message she wants simply for being the author of the Harry Potter series. It’s a powerful gift and one that she uses quite well when she so chooses. I just wish it wasn’t getting lost among the clatter of unnecessary, supplemental Potter material.