The Most Interesting Tidbits from J.K. Rowling’s ‘New Yorker’ Profile


In spite of her ubiquity — she’s sold an estimated four hundred and fifty million books — J.K. Rowling is known for being a private person who does relatively few interviews; but with The Casual Vacancy , her first novel geared toward adults due out on Thursday, she sat down with The New Yorker’s Ian Parker for a massive profile that is now available for free online. Assuming that most muggles won’t have the patience to wade through all ten pages of the piece, we’ve plucked out a few of the highlights below. Check them out, and let us know in the comments if you plan on picking up Rowling’s latest, which apparently is already setting pre-order records.

The insane degree of secrecy surrounding Rowling’s work: “In 2007, more than twenty-five million copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were printed, in the first edition, and Rowling estimated that only seven people in the world, including her British agent and her editors in New York and London, had read the novel before stores began selling it.”

Rowling’s perceived responsibility to her “young Harry Potter readers”: “There is no part of me that feels that I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher. I was always, I think, completely honest. I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.”

Rowling on desiring a genre change: “I had a lot of real-world material in me, believe you me. 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 on her teen years: “I wasn’t particularly happy. I think it’s a dreadful time of life. I came from a difficult family. My mother was very ill, and it wasn’t the easiest.”

Rowling on Harry’s chances for a normal life: “Harry, as a character, can’t. The person who is leading the quest — it seems that they have to have this weird purity about them. And, after all, if Harry really had gone through everything he went through, he probably wouldn’t be mentally healthy enough to survive anywhere, would he?”