Rainbow Rowell speaks out on writing Harry Potter fan fiction

Rainbow Rowell has revealed that she wrote Harry Potter fanfiction after getting “kind of depressed” between writing two of her own novels.

The American author, who has been promoting her books in the UK this week, also revealed that reading Harry Potter fanfiction led her to start thinking about fans and fandom, the subject of her YA novel Fangirl (Macmillan Children’s Books).

Fangirl focuses on a teenager who writes fanfiction based on a series of books about a magician called Simon Snow and his nemesis Baz, a vampire.

Rowell’s Harry Potter fanfiction – a 30,000-word novella written between Fangirl and her new novel Landline (Orion) – focuses on Harry and Draco, a popular romantic pairing amongst the Harry Potter fanfiction community, and is set in the future.

“It’s funny because it’s where I was in life,” Rowell told The Bookseller. “It’s Harry and Draco as a couple who have been married for many years, and they’re raising Harry’s kids, with Ginny, she has not been vilified.

“It’s them dealing with attachment parenting and step-parents and all these middle-aged issues of what it means to be a step-parent.”

Rowell, who has never published the work online, will read an extract from it when she appears at the Harry Potter fan convention LeakyCon in America later this month.

“Someday I’ll meet J K Rowling and I’ll be mortified,” Rowell told The Bookseller. “If our paths were ever to cross, I don’t want this to come up.”

Rowell said she read a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction after the final film adaptation of Rowling’s book was released, and that led to her thinking about what life would have been like if she was growing up now, which was the thought behind Fangirl and its main character Cath.

“I was always the sort of teenager who would get really excited about things, and then not always have anybody to talk to about them,” she said. “And so just the idea that I would have been able to make that connection [online], I would have felt so much less alone as a teenager, but… if I had had this internet life I wonder, with my social anxiety and shyness, I might have had a harder time breaking through that?

“Why even try when you can have a rich real life online? So that’s where I got the idea of Cath from, who I don’t think is choosing between real life and the internet, but I do think she’s sort of choosing how much she is going to relate to people face to face and how much she’s going to push herself and how much of her childhood is she going to take with her into adult life.”

A spokesman for Rowling’s literary agency, The Neil Blair Partnership, said: “Our view on Harry Potter fan fiction is broadly that it should be non-commercial and should also not be distributed through commercial websites.

“Writers should write under their own name and not as J K Rowling. Content should not be inappropriate – also any content not suitable for young readers should be marked as age restricted.”

Image by Augusten Burroughs