EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—Speaking though her publicist, author J.K. Rowling shocked fans and the publishing world Monday when she announced that she has opted to end the best-selling Harry Potter series because she has discovered boys.
"For many years, writing the Harry Potter books was the most important thing in Joanne's life," said publicist Mark Knowles, who is "just good friends" with Rowling. "She's been experiencing a lot of changes lately. She still wants to keep in touch with her fans, but she doesn't feel she can sit in a room at her computer all day while there are so many cute boys running around."
According to Knowles, instead of working on the as-yet-untitled sixth installment in her series, Rowling has spent the past two months sunning herself at the beach, reading fashion magazines, and talking on the phone for hours.
"I know many of you are upset by this news," Knowles said. "But Ms. Rowling was tired of devoting herself to something that no longer held her interest—namely, writing books about wizards, flying broomsticks, and candy that jumps. She's a lot older than she was when she wrote the first book. She'd much rather be going to the mall, looking for cute outfits, and talking to the boy with the curly red hair who works at the Hot Sam pretzel shop."
Friends of Rowling say her increasing interest in boys first became obvious during the 2003 release of her series' fifth installment, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. At book signings, Rowling often had her longtime friend Mindy Harrison pass notes to cute boys in line. But according to Harrison, the author would blush and be unable to speak whenever one approached her.
In fact, sources say delays on Phoenix stemmed from Rowling's unrequited infatuation with Randy Powell, winner of the PEN Center USA West Award for Children's Literature and author of Run If You Dare and Tribute To Another Dead Rock Star.
"She had such a big crush on him, it was crazy," Harrison said. "She'd call his house and hang up. She'd draw pictures for him, but never send them. If she wasn't looking him up online, she was talking about him endlessly. She finally got the courage to e-mail him, but he never responded. I don't think I've ever seen her so depressed. The only reason she finished Order Of The Phoenix was because she knew it would outsell all his books put together."
Many of Rowling's fans disapprove of the author's decision to quit writing the Harry Potter series. Some here also complained about the amount of makeup Rowling has begun to wear, her choice of friends, and her recent decision to get her belly button pierced.
"I can't believe she would give up something she worked so hard on, just because people might think it's not 'cool,'" said Nancy Listrom, a Boston resident and fan of the Harry Potter books. "I blame that Mindy girl. She's a bad influence."
Added Listrom: "And I can't believe her publicist allows her to show up at a bookstore appearance dressed in that pink skirt. It barely covers her butt. Her writing is a better way to get attention."
Philadelphia fan Jack Powell said discipline is the solution.
"If it were up to me, I'd ground her until she finished the series," Powell said. "If we let her quit now, what kind of message does that send?"
It seems unlikely that fans' comments will do anything to reverse Rowling's decision. Last week, the author said she can't believe how "immature" her novels are.
"When I look back at these books, I am, like, humiliated that anyone read them," Rowling said in a June 12 article in the London Times. "I wish they would all just go away. Whenever I meet a boy that I like, someone always shows him my books and makes a big deal about how they're the best-selling books in the world. It's so embarrassing."
Knowles reassured fans that Rowling is "probably just going through a phase."
"Ms. Rowling loves writing, but she's just a little boy crazy," Knowles said. "Like any 39-year-old woman, her hormones are raging. Right now, all she wants to do is go to parties and daydream about her wedding, but that won't last more than a few years. Watch what happens after her first big breakup."