Rowling Ink Black Heart Q&A Bonanza: Twenty Four New Strike6 Comments

Patricio Tarantino has posted the twenty seven questions and answers about Rowling-Galbraith’s Ink Black Heart as one continuous film on The Rowling Library YouTube channel (see above). The page for this conversation includes a full transcript, albeit one that is broken up in drop down sections beneath each question.

How are we to mine this rich vein of commentary from The Presence? Beatrice Groves on the moderator channel suggested I post an open thread of sorts for Serious Strikers to share their thoughts about favorite parts of Rowling-Galbraith’s discussion. I will share two or three of my reflections after the jump and then give the open microphone to our readers here in the hope that they, to include our adjunct faculty and full professors, will jump in with their observations, corrections, disappointments, and delights.

First Thoughts: My Predictions Were Spot On — and Way Off

Yesterday I posted five predictions that all turned out to be true, perhaps a first in my experience. The interactive nature of the posting had nothing to do with taking questions from the Peanut Gallery, epigraphs merited a significant mention if she didn’t explain anything about them (they are such child’s play that it it “doesn’t take a genius” to get the relationship of Gray’s Anatomy and Victorian era women poets…), Strike’s “issues” were explored, and Robin’s leap to super-heroine status was celebrated. I’m scoring that five for five.

The predictions I made were also, alas, completely wrong-headed. I imagined that we’d be getting at most ten or twelve new questions and answers, something akin to previous Rowling self-interviews. I thought, too, that she wouldn’t go into any depth beyond what she’d already shared about anomie as a theme. With these as my thinking premises, my predictions were all small beer in relation to the stiff drinks Rowling served up with the inevitable teevee and obligatory romance fluff. I have to give myself a ‘T’ for ‘Troll’ in this regard, making my guesses, once again, entertaining perhaps but something best forgotten. Except for the epigraph ideas, about which, more on Sunday.

Second Thoughts: My First Notes

On the HogwartsProfessor moderator channel, I wrote notes as I read through the nine question categories with three questions each. Here are the highlights from those first impressions:

Louise will enjoy Rowling’s linking books five and six — and feeling the need to add “this is the sixth book.” She adds later that she has been planning Strike6 “since three books ago,” by which I suppose she means Career of Evil? More evidence for the 5-6 Flip?

I also think my predictions about what she would say about Strike and about Robin were close to spot on. Love that she hints that Robin’s snogging with Pez and her ability to do that without attachment issues or guilt came as an important revelation to her…

I like that she sighs more than once about the sexual tension fans among her readers, while acknowledging she has stoked that fire deliberately. There’s a hint of Shakespearean allegory in her saying that she’s planned their relationship to be a lot more meaningful than “jumping into bed four books back.” But only a hint.

Was anyone else surprised by her BTW observation that “sickness” “of course is one of the overarching themes of the book”? “Probably the overarching theme of the whole book”? Mental illness everywhere, certainly, anomie, and spiritual heart disease, but Strike’s physical collapse and Michael Ellacott’s heart attack didn’t add up to an “overarching theme” to me. I’m guessing that “sickness” in the UK is not as suggestive or restricted as it is in the US to bodily ills.

It’s a “nillness,” right?

Fun that she admits, insists that her bird symbolism is intentional, that she talks about the sacrificial “piety” of the Pelican, a Christ symbol, and that she leaves out Robin and Cormoran(t), the little and Big Birds of the series… Messengers, indeed.

“We the reader,” what a hoot… Hard to think of her as being on our side of the author-reader divide.

Great bit about Highgate and anomie, her exposition of the “it doesn’t take a genius” line with respect to the epigraphs. Score one, I think, for my Estecean reading of the anatomy text and poetry epigraphs.

Conclusions: much more substantive than I thought and predicted, but with as high a percentage of fluff as I dreaded. 

She only balked at answering one or two questions in order not to spoil the story (the presence of which suggests she didn’t choose the questions? a deliberate plant?), which is a little bizarre as a concern; who is reading this Q&A who has not already read the book?

She only repeated herself once, when talking about YouTube being a relatively ‘Wild West’ in 2015, and neglected to explain the seeming gaffe discussed on our thread about the app for programmed tweeting that existed seven years ago.

She spoke about anomie, about sickness, about bird symbolism, about the epigraphs every reader should understand immediately (yo, Beatrice!), about the Strike-Ellacott story arcs, and she teases books five and six with notes about their relation and when she started plotting Ink Black Heart.

All the stuff about the teevee show, the romance, and a question about Strike’s “private life putting the agency at risk” (how can his being blackmailed by Jago Ross be thought of as his fault?), I could have done without. De gustibus.

Best Ever? Not as important as the Lake and Shed interview, as challenging as the Grossman Basement Tapes, or as revealing as the Amini exchange, so, no, not best ever. I think, though, it has to be included on any Top Twenty list of Rowling interviews, staged as it was. I look forward to the discussion at HogwartsProfessor.

Third Thoughts: Over to you!

Serious Strikers have already tried to start the discussion of this interview over at my two posts about the Q&A pre-publication, but I blocked them lest we have discussions going on in different virtual locations. My apologies for that and my thanks for your patience. Please do jump right in now and share your thoughts here about Rowling-Galbraith’s most generous Strike interview to date!

Rowling Ink Black Heart Q&A Bonanza: Twenty Four New Strike6 Comments