Rowling Asked About Parallel Series Idea

The Rowling Library earlier this week published an article by Oxford Research Fellow Beatrice Groves called ‘Harry Potter and the Ink Black Prince.’ In it she discussed Rowling’s latest novel, The Ink Black Heart, in light of the Parallel Series Idea (PSI), a theory discussed here beginning in 2014 that argues Rowling-Galbraith is writing the Strike series as deliberate echoes of her Harry Potter novels. You can read about these playful parallels and echoing between each of the first six Strike mysteries at the HogwartsProfessor Pillar Post on the subject and the page on the Heart-Prince touches.

More after the jump about PSI and the question posed to Rowling about whether it is a valid theory.

PSI is an off-spring of the idea that Rowling’s predominate story-telling structure is a chiastic circle that anthropologist Mary Douglas called ‘Ring Composition.’ Each of Rowling’s novels is written as a ring, her two series of books have strong ring notes when read as a set, and the PSI holds in addition that she has attempted to create the ‘extra’ resonance and internal allusion of her work to her two book series, Strike and Potter, i.e., that the former includes highlights taken from the latter; Strike Extended Play explains how this might work for a ten book series instead of seven.

Both these ideas have been ‘givens’ in Strike fandom at least since Lethal White, which book had so many links in it to Goblet of Fire, the fourth Harry Potter novel, that Serious Strikers like Evan Willis recognized Raphael Chiswell as the Barty Crouch, Jr., equivalent immediately. Louise Freeman had predicted pre-publication based on PSI that White would take place in 2012 with the backdrop of the London Olympics —  rather than the year following the wedding in Career of Evil — because of the Quidditch World Cup in Goblet

I have tried more than once to prod journalist friends to publicize PSI, most notably novelist Lev Grossman, who has connections to the Skeeters of the world from his days at TIME magazine. No interest. I have repeatedly written that the natural way to get more Harry Potter readers to try Cormoran Strike is to explain to them that in a curious way Rowling is re-writing their favorite books. That, too, has been a vain effort.

Now that StrikeFans has heard of the idea via The Rowling Library — stop the clocks! — and reached out via Twitter to The Presence for her confirmation or denial of the accumulated evidence, perhaps at last PSI will become as well known to the larger community as it has been here since the PSI discussion began at HogwartsProfessor after Silkworm’s publication eight years ago.

Three questions for your consideration:

(1) Do you think Rowling will condescend to respond to StrikeFans’ tweet?

(2) If she denies she has inserted deliberate echoes of the Potter books in her Strike number equivalents, does that mean anything in light of the mountain of evidence compiled about and the demonstrated predictive value of PSI?

(3) What might it mean if she affirms PSI? Will she be pilloried, celebrated, or ignored — or all three by the usual partisan factions in Rowling fandom and the world press?

My answers are ‘No,’ ‘No,’ and ‘All Three, mostly “ignored”.’

The more interesting question I wish StrikeFans had asked, one we all should be asking at this point, is not whether Rowling is writing a series in parallel with the Hogwarts Saga, but why she is doing it. There is reason to think it is because the Lady in Rowling’s Lake still has issues around using sex and conception within relationships for leverage and that not working out (cf., Merope Gaunt, Krystall Weedon, Leda Strike, and Gloria Conti).

But that’s a discussion for another day. Please share your answers to my three questions above and any thoughts you may have about PSI in the comment boxes below!


  1. Louise Freeman says

    1. No. If she ever addresses the topic it will be after the series is concluded.
    2. No one could realistically deny it after LW. It would be like CS Lewis saying he just accidentally wrote Aslan as a Christ figure.
    3. None but the most dedicated to both series will care.

  2. I don’t know what (if anything) Rowling will say about PSI… but do think it would now be “safe” for her to acknowledge it without giving much away. If she’d given us this key to the series after Book 1 or 2, it would’ve sparked endless theorizing about how future Strike Books could resemble HP books.

    Now, though, I think it would let us predict very little. We already know Book 7 won’t be the final Strike book—so even if it mirrors HP Book 7 in some ways, it can’t really be a perfect analogue because it won’t be the grand conclusion to anything. And as for Strike books beyond 7? Who knows? Clever readers will certainly have their theories, but HP gives us nothing concrete to go on.

    So, she could confirm this now and still leave us with many more questions than answers… which seems like her style if she chooses to go that way.

  3. “It would be like CS Lewis saying he just accidentally wrote Aslan as a Christ figure.”

    I read the Narnia books over the course of months when I was very young. I have a specific memory of reading the fourth book in the waiting room when my mum, pregnant with my baby brother, was in for a scan. He was born when I was 6yrs3months so that’s a terminus ad quem.

    I felt angry at the seventh book, “The Last Battle”. It was so depressing but after the villains were defeated it got worse and nobody noticed. They DIED at the end? And it’s supposed to be a HAPPY outcome?! Aslan tells them they’re going to be staying in a Narnia that’s even better than the one they’ve visited in the past but they’re still DEAD. That MAKES NO SENSE.

    A little later in life, can’t remember when, but well before I finished primary school, I realised it was linked to Christianity. Right! It was supposed to be happy because if you believe in heaven then that makes sense! And then the next realisation… ASLAN BEING KILLED AND BORN AGAIN IN THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE JESUS.

    Forgive this ramble about my reading history but consider it support for Louise’s confident statement. A child close to her sixth birthday didn’t spot the link with Christianity- but did think something was missing for the series to make sense. An older child, perhaps ten, spotted the link and thought: Author’s Intention Divined. Mystery Solved.

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