Harry Potter editor: “I’m just a stand-in for the reader”

I just noticed on Mugglenet a link to an interview with J.K. Rowling’s U.S. editor, Arthur Levine, published in the Washington Post on Wednesday. (The Wizardly Editor Who Caught the Golden Snitch by Bob Thompson) It’s a great example to students of how even the best and most famous writers need an experienced and interested reader to give them feedback.

“I’m not her collaborator. I’m just the stand-in for the reader,” he explains. She doesn’t need him to shape her story. His job — along with Rowling’s British editor, Bloomsbury’s Emma Matthewson — is to say, “This is how I reacted.”

Sometimes, he would say, “I do not know what’s going on here,” and Rowling would say, “I didn’t want you to have that reaction at this point, so I think I’m going to move some information.”

At other times, when he asked about something in one of the earlier volumes, she would say, “That’s a good question. I’m okay with your wondering that here. I will answer that in Book 5.”

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