J.K. Rowling, the bestselling author behind the wizard world of the wildly popular Harry Potter books, has invented hundreds of words – Muggle, Quidditch, apparating to name a few – that have entered pop culture vocabulary. When it comes to today’s new digital language filled with LOLs, JKs, and OMGs, Rowling says her latest book embraces the new lexicon, though she had to enlist an assistant to sort them out.
“[Those kind of abbreviations,] they really interest me because language isn’t and shouldn’t be static, ever. So, I’m the reverse of the person who wants to preserve it in aspic and say, ‘We still conform to a certain way of speaking and writing because that’s how it was done 100 years ago,’” she told “Nightline” co-anchor Cynthia McFadden, in an interview for ABC News and the ABC News/Yahoo series, “Newsmakers.”
To keep up with the always-evolving slang of the younger generation, Rowling says she was “tutored by a real professional,” her eldest daughter, Jessica.
“There are loads of them that I got wrong. Loads of them. And to the extent, I don’t wanna tell you what — how badly I got one of them wrong that I had to go and get– to get a crash course with Jessica,” Rowling said, adding that some of today’s abbreviated slang is “quite ugly.”
“I remember the first time I heard a teenager say ‘LOL.’ Just what? But it means ‘laugh.’ Why don’t you just laugh? What are you doing?” Rowling says.
“It’s not really for me. I’m a middle-aged woman. So as a writer, I find it very interesting, but it would be embarrassing if I started trying to use it too fluently. Sometimes you’ve got to accept you don’t belong in that gang.”
Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy, is her first novel written for an adult audience and is a tremendous departure from the fantasy world of Harry Potter series, which sold 450 million copies worldwide and made the author a household name. The novel is set in the real world of a small English village where secrets and conflicts lie beneath the seemingly idyllic surface and explores dark topics such as adolescent sex, cutting and death.
The frenzied anticipation for the book has been building for months ahead of the Sept. 27th release date. It has already spent 83 days in the top 100 of Amazon’s bestseller list, climbing to the second most popular as of this writing.
While The Casual Vacancy is already a bestseller online, don’t expect Rowling to have the e-book version. As a reader, she says she prefers to hold a printed book in her hands, and says the day when fans will exclusively be reading her writing in digital form versus in print is far off.
“I would always want printed books. So maybe — maybe when I’m 70, my latest novel will be [only digital]. I’ll just have one specially printed for me because I’ll always want them to be ink and paper,” she said when asked about the future of reading. “Honestly, I think we should be delighted people still want to read, be it on a Kindle or a Nook or whatever the latest device is.”
For the first time last summer, Rowling says she downloaded tons of books onto her iPad instead of her usual approach: filling an entire suitcase with heavy books. She says it was “a revelation.”
“I just couldn’t fill the [suitcase] with enough books to keep all of my kids and me happy. So … I downloaded a lot of books and it was a revelation,” she said. “I loved knowing that I had, you know, 200 books to choose from with me, having a little library. But physically to me, it’s not the same. But I enjoyed it. You know, we were on the move a lot and it was perfect. So I think I’m going to be one of those people who downloads but has a physical copy at home.”
In the interview, McFadden noted that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, has cited studies that show what people miss about printed books – even above holding it in their hands — is the nostalgic smell of the old glue.
“Oh, I can believe that,” Rowling said. “And there’s a mold on library books, as well, that’s quite addictive … It’s a very, it’s a physical experience.”
Speaking of the physical…while sitting down with the arguably most famous and successful author of all time, the latest adult fantasy book, Fifty Shades of Grey, inevitably came up.
“Everyone, everyone has asked me if I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey and I haven’t. I read The Story of O and I think, you know, if you’ve read The Story of O you’ve kind of you’ve read the ultimate,” she said about the 1954 erotic novel.