The New Yorker publishes profile of J.K. Rowling, revealing more about The Casual Vacancy

Cartoon of J.K. Rowling in The New Yorker, a magazine famous for their cartoons.

The New Yorker magazine published their extensive profile and interview with J.K. Rowling today, the first of two United States print interviews Rowling will be giving as part of publicity for The Casual Vacancy.

The piece is a lengthy, in-depth profile of the Harry Potter and Casual Vacancy author. It describes the many roles Rowling has played in her life – from a troubled teenager to a poverty-sticken single-mother to the most famous and richest author in the world. With each of the new roles, Rowling explains, came benefits and disadvantages.

We won’t be excerpting the article completely because of its length, but we highly encourage you to take the time to read it. It is written by a brilliantly witty journalist who has taken the time to describe things only fans of Rowling would appreciate. He compares Rowling’s Edinburgh offices to a “well-funded embassy” and describes an argument between Neil Blair, then Rowling’s lawyer, and the London Sunday Times for “quoting rights” in a piece they did in 2003. Most importantly the article is about Jo. Part of it is Jo. Much of it is people speaking highly of Jo, which Potter fans also seem to enjoy. Check out it out here if you want to read it.

Here are some important highlights from the article:

  • The idea for The Casual Vacancy came to her on a private plane during the book tour for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, five years ago.
  • The initial idea for the book was a local election, much like the idea for Harry Potter was a boy wizard who goes to a wizard boarding school.
  • For a long time, the working title of The Casual Vacancy was “Responsible” (at least in Rowling’s mind), until she came across a handbook for local administrators with the phrase “a casual vacancy” in it – she knew at once that it would be the title.
  • One of the first things Rowling did before the writing the novel was draw out a map of Pagford, where the story takes place
  • Rowling explains that she is ready to write for a different audience, in a different genre – “I had a lot of real-world material in me, believe you me,” Rowling said. “The thing about fantasy—there are certain things you just don’t do in fantasy. You don’t have sex near unicorns. It’s an ironclad rule. It’s tacky.”
  • Rowling is currently working on three projects – two for children “slightly younger” than the audience of Harry Potter, and another adult novel that “is pretty well plotted”, but only a “couple of chapters” have been written
  • In a brief revelation, Rowling gives away that Dudley Dursley has two children
  • Rowling thought about publishing the novel “anonymously”
  • Rowling talks for the first of her split with Christopher Little, her agent of 15 years – “Neil and Christopher reached a point where it wasn’t working, the two of them together, and I had to make a decision. It was very, very difficult.”
  • She initially turned down numerous times to appear at the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics, only agreeing to do it after she met Danny Boyle, the show’s director

As we stated above, this is the first of two United States print interviews Rowling will be giving as part of publicity for The Casual Vacancy. The second will be for USA Today, which is released this Tuesday, September 25.


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