When a book has really great characters, when I love them ceaselessly and with every fiber of my being, I need to know every mundane thing about them.
I recently finished the Six of Crow duology by Leigh Bardugo (recommend recommend recommend) and stumbled upon an interview of Bardugo in which the interviewer asked several questions such as, “What books would your characters read?” “What kind of YouTube channels would they have?” and “What would they order at Starbucks?”
God bless that interviewer, because those are my some of my favorite kinds of questions. Yes, tell me your character’s favorite holiday, what music they listen to, what their first word was, how many pairs of socks they own. It is imperative that I know!!
However, I understand that some readers hate this kind of info, and some authors hate giving it. Why should anything else be important, if it’s not within the pages of the book?
I, for one, love it, and see it as harmless and fun- just extra bits of knowledge that does nothing to contradict the story that the author has already established in their works. It works off of it, and makes no real difference if we know it or not. It’s the stuff that we can store in the fluffy parts of our imaginations.
However, if it does contradict what the author has established in their novels, then I have a problem.
My favorite example of this? Harry Potter.
I loved learning the additional epilogues not written in the pages of the last book after it was released nearly 10 years ago, when I was a teenager. It was fun to learn Luna’s job, who Neville had married, the names of everyone’s kids. It was only as years passed and J.K. Rowling starting revealing the…less savory details of the adult lives of my beloved childhood characters that I started getting upset.
She revealed that Ron and Hermione would need marriage counseling, that Hermione should have ended up with Harry- she confirmed the entirety of Cursed Child to be canon when she didn’t write it herself. That is a bit different than if J.K. had told us Harry loves a good iced mocha latte.
Telling a generation of readers who grew up on these stories and grew irreversibly attached to these characters that all might not actually be well- when the book literally ended with the words “All was well” is a little…unfair.
Sure, I was in my twenties when J.K. Rowling decided to announced the strife with Ron and Hermione, and it had been years since I’d been invested in them as a couple- but I had been invested. I’d been invested as a child, and as a teen. It broke my little shipper heart. How could J.K. Rowling spend 7 books getting them together, and then tell us she changed her mind? I was BETRAYED.
(I won’t go into a rant about Cursed Child, but I reject it. Maybe if J.K. Rowling had written it, maybe if any of the characters in the play matched their characterizations in the book series, maybe if it didn’t break all the rules of Harry Potter, I could try. But alas, it’s too far out there. In the trash it goes for me.)
So yes, give me all the useless details – a character’s favorite ice cream, what they dreamed about last night – but don’t change the plot outside of the book. Unless one intends to write it in a new book (and not a play written by someone else).
Or maybe my heart is just too scarred by Harry Potter. (Except…for real, what would he order at Starbucks???)
What do you think of additional information from authors outside of their books? Agree? Disagree? I’d love to know!