Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guest Post: JK Rowling, Unmasking the Superhero

Today we welcome to the blog Lisa Gail Green, published author of YA Paranormal/Fantasy stories and blogger at Paranormal Point of View. Lisa was one of the first people to welcome me to the Blogger/Twittersphere when I started Harry Potter for Writers. We share a love of Harry and of writing and I have found out since that Lisa has a delightfully twisted mind. :-)

She's also incredibly talented, as I discovered recently when I read her newly released short story "Identity Crisis" in the superhero inspired anthology Gods of Justice. Lisa's heroine, Leslie, is an identical twin living in the shadow of her superhero sister, until she's called upon to use her own awesome powers that she didn't even know she possessed. Check it out at Amazon.

So, thanks Lisa, for visiting with us today and setting us straight about the superhuman capabilities of that enchanting storyteller, JK Rowling:

To most writers, JKR is an icon. Someone untouchable, someone we can aspire to be, but never truly match. But I want to tell you a secret. Well maybe not a secret, it’s actually kind of obvious if you stop to think about it.

J.K. Rowling is human.

She isn’t a witch, or a werewolf, or even a vampire. She’s more of a muggle really. Just like us. Is she amazingly talented? YES. Is she unbelievably successful? YES. But she didn’t start out that way. Here are some facts about JKR that you probably know but may have never thought of in comparison to yourself as a writer.

  1. JKR has had a hard life. It wasn’t all publishing contracts and Oprah interviews. She had it rough. She was a single mother. She lost her own mother to a horrible disease (Multiple Sclerosis).
  2. JKR was rejected. It’s a fact. A good number of editors (or perhaps ex-editors now if their bosses found out) said, “No. It isn’t for me.” Yes, the books that have made her a billionaire, been made into wildly successful films, and even garnered their own theme park, were rejected over and over again.
  3. She had a story to share. Writers know that it’s really about the story. That sometimes characters won’t let you go. They demand to be heard. Aren’t we glad Harry was demanding?
  4. JKR made mistakes. Susan covered many of them just this past week. But the point is that she MADE them. And you can tell they are in fact errors because they improve with every book. You won’t find nearly as many adverbial dialogue tags in Deathly Hallows as you will in Sorcerer’s Stone. The backstory in book two (to catch up readers that missed book one) is far more distracting than in later books.

So when bad things happen, when we get rejected, when we feel the indescribable drive to write, and when we make mistakes – we can rest assured that at the very least we are in good company. That those things don’t make our goals unreachable. On the contrary those are things that make us writers.

So thank you, Ms. Rowling. For Harry and for being such an incredible example to the rest of us.

And thank you, Lisa, for sharing with us today!

Did you all know that JK Rowling's first book was reportedly rejected by 12 publishers?  And that her first print run was only 500 copies!?

What do you all think of the human face behind the Superhero Phenom mask?

Bio: Lisa Gail Green's work includes numerous short stories and poems. The latest are,"Identity Crisis," which can be found in Gods of Justice, and "Cursed," featured in the anthology Playthings of the Gods. Lisa lives in Southern California with her husband and two kids, and no matter how much she resembles that one superhero you're thinking of, she vehemently denies any connection. Find her online at her blog, Paranormal Point of View and Twitter.


  1. Morning, Lisa and Susan! I've heard JK Rowling was rejected, and it gives me steadfast hope as I continue preparing my MS for querying.

    And it really is the story. We writers have one to share (and characters which bug us to get the story written - that's something I'm not sure my non-writer friends understand. I'm glad my writerly ones do. =)

  2. It is so true. When we are admiring other writers, we sometimes forget that they've shared our road - rejections, mistakes, learning the craft, struggling with "finding the time" and everything else this journey entails. Even the superstars like Rowling had to trek down this path. Thanks for showing the human - or muggle - side.

  3. I totally understand, Barbara. And JK Rowling's story inspires me in so many ways.

    You're right, Tina. JKR was once in the trenches, struggling as well. That's one reason her 500 book run always interests me. The phenom started with the story.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Susan and Lisa, this was great! I love that JKR was just a regular person who hit the literary jackpot. No special treatment, no unusual connections. Just a really great book that hit a nerve with readers. Amazing. And YAY for Lisa's book!!!!!!!!

  5. I always think about J.K. Rowling's story whenever I need inspiration and boost as a writer.

  6. Thanks Julie and Farida. It's always amazing to me how many people, young and not-so-young, whom JKR has inspired from all corners of the world!

  7. Susan - thank you for hosting me! It was fun. I especially appreciate the comment "delightfully twisted mind." I might have to put that on my blog or something sometime... :D

    Barbara, Tina, Julie and Farida - Thanks for coming by! JKR inspires me, so I was glad to share my view. She really is an amazing story. Like Julie said, no special circumstances, just a good book!

  8. 12 publishers? Am I the only one creeped out by the fact that the thirteenth conceded? lol

    I love reading inspirational posts about J.K.Rowling. She really is an example to us all. And perhaps the fact that she got it tough made her work even better. I firmly believe that the more the writer's learned in their life, the more truthful they can be on the page.

    I love Jo. I love this blog. And I love this post. Overall a great day. Thanks, Lisa! And thanks, Susan. :)

  9. Thanks so much Lyn! I just visited your blog and loved the guest post you had on there today from Ava about Harry. What a coincidence! :-)

    And you're so totally right about experience informing your writing. I love how you said that.

    Thanks for your lovely comments, and it's great to get to know you!

  10. I have to agree with Lyn, I can't get enough of inspirational JKR posts.

    We often forget the journeys our favorite authors (or icons in general) have because they seem...well, as Lisa said, untouchable. Sometimes we need to take a step back and remember that they've gone through the same trials we have--and made it through!

    Wonderful post. Thank you Lisa and thank you Susan.

    Let the Harry Potter blog day continue!

  11. Welcome Ava!

    You know, I think a planned out Harry Potter blog day would be great! We could time it for around the release of the last movie, or if that's too soon, for the opening of Pottermore. We could focus on either the writing, the mysteries, or fandom...or whatever.

    What do you all think? Make a one-day blog tour of Harry?

  12. Susan, love, love, loved your chat with Lisa - who by the way IS a superhero. She's not only creative, but she had a dead on editorial eye. Thank goodness JKR believed in Harry when the rejections rained down. I can't - and don't want to - imagine a Potterless world.

  13. Lisa, Great post. I love HP and JKR. Thanks for reiterating her journey and the hardships she had. It's a truly inspiring story. And timely, as I'm reading HP1 to my daughter right now.

  14. AHHH I just wrote a long post that got eaten. Let me summarize.

    JK Rowling = awesome
    No matter how many times I see that she was rejected the nagging self doubt that lives inside of me still manages to not believe it.

  15. It's always amazing to know the greats like JKR, Stephen King, Dean Koontz even Mark Twain were rejected and editors tore their work to pieces with criticisms. Great reminders.

  16. Ooh! A Potterless world. A chill just went down my spine. Don't speak of such horrors, Leslie. :-)

    And Lisa is most definitely a superhero!

  17. Hi Trish and welcome! Reading HP1 to your daughter -- what memories that brings back. Is it her first time? I so hope that the new generation to the books can get the same thrill the first did, even without waiting for the new releases, the guessing.

  18. Angela - and yet she was. Take comfort. :-)

    Hi Phillip and welcome! Thanks for visiting and the comments. Have a look around while you're here!