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What do we expect of our authors?

Hint: A lot.

A lot of people are tearing into J.K. Rowling lately with the release of her new, not-for-kids novel. It's just too good a story, it practically writes itself: "Beloved children's author is not a nice person." This Salon article rightly takes a New Yorker interview to task for being snarky about Rowling's personality.

But why should it matter? Who cares if J.K. Rowling is prickly and distant? That doesn't change the Harry Potter books a bit. It also reflects badly on our celebrity starved culture, that we want - nay, demand - anything different.
 
Stephen King is a victim of this phenomenon from the other direction. How many interviewers have been surprised to discover that King is, in person, a pleasant and congenial person. I guess they assume that the man who wrote the world's most popular gore and horror novels would be a vicious, snarling beast.

The same goes of the reading public. I suppose it's only natural to be reading about Pennywise the Clown and think, "What a sick bastard must have imagined this." Or to read Harry Potter and think, "What a kind person must have imagined this."
 
The truth is, authors are human beings. Some of them are nice, and some of them are not, and they don't always fit the roles you may have dreamed up for them in your mind. And to confuse the issue, sometimes the nice ones say mean things, and vice versa. How many people have been surprised to learn that the author of the Twilight novels - which are all about love, death, blood, sex, and lust - is a prim and proper Mormon lady. 
 
You never know, maybe that interviewer caught Rowling on a bad day. We've all had them, and being worth a bazillion dollars doesn't change that. (It just means that instead of bills and car repairs, Rowling is getting frustrated that, I don't know, her diamond fountain got backed up or her gold-plated zebra ate the petunias again.)
 
It's titillating, the idea that a famed author of YA novels could be a prickly person. In some ways it's even more titillating than what is often the truth, which is that many high profile children's book authors have been genuinely terrible people.
 
Personally, I understand the craving to know more about the person who created the book you just enjoyed. But it seems like a lot of the time, when it comes to authors, ignorance really is bliss. And in this case, there is nothing wrong with that!