Artists, like the rest of us, need growth. Otherwise, art becomes orthodoxy, just another brand of fundamentalism.
That's why I am not signing the Waterstones' "if-you-killed-him-bring-him-back" petition to J.K. Rowling. Today, Rowling gave her response to the petition—the familiar "we'll see" line that every kid and most parents know so well.
I think we will, in fact, see a Book 8, and for a number of reasons. Rowling has already indicated that she may write one for charity, as she did with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. Another reason is far more prosaic: Warner Bros. will soon be on their tear-stained knees before her, begging for something, anything, to help keep the Potter mania alive through movies six (2008) and seven (2009, we presume). It will take a while to build that theme park, after all.
For the rest of this year, however, there will be enough magic in the air: movie five (I'm seeing it tomorrow), Book 7, the dvd later this year, and the paperback of 7, probably in the spring or summer of next year. That will take us to movie 6, and it's around then, or soon after, that we may see a Book 8.
Here's another reason: numerology, one of the classes they teach at Hogwarts.
So I fully expect to see a Book 8 (maybe on 8-8-8, August 8, 2008). It will not likely measure up to the quality of suspense and perhaps even workmanship of its seven predecessors; yet I will buy it and read it. Meanwhile, however, I will not demand anything of this artist who has given, and received, so much. I'd be far more interested in seeing where her path of growth takes her from here.
Later this week, a small review of movie 5, and some predictions on Book 7.