I did a Harry Potter marathon to celebrate Rowling's birthday, in addition to which, she is the author I'm featuring this month.
Brief Bio: Born in Glouchestershire in 1965, Rowling studied at Wyedean School and College, then pursued her B.A. in French and Classics at the University of Exeter. She moved to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language, married a journalist, but they separated a year later. I guess the story of how she came up with Harry Potter is so famous that I don't have to repeat it here. If you don't know it, check it (and lots and lots more) on her website www.jkrowling.com. She is now married to Dr. Neil Murray and has 3 kids.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
My Views: J.K. Rowling is indeed one of the coolest fantasy writers I have read. I owe my initiation into fantasy to her. I used to believe that fantasy was for kids. But she opened my eyes to the wealth of stories that the fantasy genre encompasses. I learned that fantasy is not just cute and lovey-dovey, with happy endings, it can be grim, dramatic and heart-breaking as well.
Rowling's imagination is possibly her biggest asset. She comes up with such cool stuff, from Quidditch to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, things that you so wish were a part of your world. She also draws from a variety of stories and legends, and adapts them to suit her story. For example, the bit about Death and the three Peverell brothers in Deathly Hallows is similar to a story in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; the concept of Horcruxes drawn from legends of putting your soul in someone else's hands for safekeeping, the search for the Horcruxes themselves remind you of the quest for the Holy Grail. Her knack of foreshadowing makes every book very interesting to read; clues to future books are strewn all around, sometimes as a major plot element (Chamber of Secrets), sometimes in a couple of words (the locket and diadem in Deathly Hallows). This is something I find really cool, it makes you go back and read the previous books again and say, Oh, look, it was there all along!
Rowling's style of writing is simple and direct, not much fruity prose, a little bare-boned, if you can say that. She is a children's book writer and that might be expected, I do expect a little more description when it comes to fantasy. I mean, what makes Tolkien's works so enjoyable (among a lot of other things) are his elaborate descriptions of Middle Earth. It's not that Rowling doesn't manage to create vivid images of Harry's world before my eyes, but...well, maybe I'm cribbing too much. I was a more than a little disappointed with her later books, the magic, the enchantment seemed to be missing, lost in the whole PR exercise. But if you consider the series as a whole, it is a gem.
A lot of people credit Rowling for bringing children back to reading, and believe she is a wizard. Well, she is, kind of, because she brought to her books the hallmarks of a good storyteller: engaging writing, well-thought plot and memorable characters, elements that distinguish an ordinary author from an awesome one. Her books are easy to read, but not just bits of magical floss. She weaves in concepts of loyalty, friendship, courage, greed and evil into her stories very well. I don't know if her books can be called classics, it's too early to tell. But of one thing I can be sure: 50 years from now, children will enjoy her books as much as I did when I first read them, so maybe you could call it a classic. I'll leave you with the school song from Philosopher's Stone, a song which always makes me laugh, and wish that my school song had been this fun, instead of the usual sermon on honour and hard work.
Hogwarts, Hogwarts, hoggy warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald,
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling,
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.