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Lori Devoti has an interesting column up at RTB.

She’s talking about authors, and whether they actually own the characters they create.

She cites J.K. Rowling as an example of somebody who’s created popular characters that people all over the world know and love. Devoti states that she wasn’t too happy about Rowling’s revelation that Dumbledore was gay. (Not because of any moral or political judgements btw, so no need for twisted knickers) She felt it was unfair to reveal this piece of information when, A, it wasn’t even hinted at in any of the HP books, and B, when there’s no possibility of closure, seeing as she’s done with the series.

Devoti writes:

My answer is that although the author creates the characters, I don’t think she solely owns them. Of course she can do with them what she wants, she has the pen after all, but I think she does owe some consideration to the fans.

Now I’m not saying she should write to please her readers because that would just be crazy talk, but I do think she has a duty of care to the people who buy her books, to ensure that she doesn’t irreparably damage her characters, or totally change who they are. (In terms of how they are perceived by her readers at least.)

For instance, I love Nora’s In Death books, and I love, love, love Roarke and Eve. With a passion. Now if Nora were to kill off either of them, I’d never read another one of her books again . Seriously. Also if she wrote a book where Roarke had an extra-marital affair, that would be another deal-breaker for me.

Of course Nora wouldn’t do either of the above (one would hope) because I think she understands that the readers would probably go berserk feel betrayed.

As the people who are familiar with Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series will know, in her last book, she killed off one of the main characters just because she could. I will not be spending another penny on her again.

I feel very strongly that Slaughter totally gave her readers the finger, by doing what she did. As a result, some of her fans (Read: me) will be voting with their money, the next time she releases a book.

So waddaya think? Does an author owe a duty of care to her fans or not? Also, does the author solely own the characters she creates, or do they mainly belong to her readers?