Even rarer than finding a reliable Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher is finding a truly informative interview with Joanne "J.K." Rowling.
The wealthiest woman in the world and mother of modern wizard fiction understandably doesn't need to gab to the press very often. But when she does, as in this epic new 10-page profile in The New Yorker, the revelations flow like butter beer. While you wait with asthmatic breath for our Casual Vacancy Book Club to kick off, treat thine hungry brain-stomachs to these 34 revelations we just read about CasVac, HP, and one of the most famous, yet least familiar, authors of our lifetime:
- Her house in Edinburgh, Scotland is surrounded by crazy 20-foot-tall hedges.
- Rowling has written 10 tweets in 3 years.
- The world produces about 1000 new pieces of Harry Potter fan fiction every week.
- Rowling is worth nine hundred million dollars.
- She loves English crime writers Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers.
- She wears glasses and takes her coffee black. (Siriusly!)
- She listened to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto while writing the first few chapters of Harry Potter in Portugal.
- Her agent, Neil Blair, says, “She takes a lot of time getting it right and then hands in a book that doesn’t need much editing.”
- Drawing a map of Pagford is "one of the first things" she did when starting to plot The Casual Vacancy.
- CasVac is set in a contemporary Britain "Familiar with Jay-Z and online pornography"
- The idea for the story came to Rowling while on a private plane, touring the US to promote Deathly Hallows.
- CasVac's working title for a long time was Responsible.
- Unlike HP, there's gonna be a bit of sex in CasVac. Explaining the difference, Rowling says, "You don’t have sex near unicorns. It’s an ironclad rule. It’s tacky."
- Rowling doesn't care if this bothers parents: “There is no part of me that feels that I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher… I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.”
- Like HP, there will be "young people coming of age in a place divided by warring factions," and Barry Fairbrother, whose death begins the story, will possess similar morals that Harry did: "tolerance, constancy, a willingness to act."
- Rowling admits the "resentfully uprooted teen-age Londoner" in The Casual Vacancy is a partial reflection of her teenage self
- Rowling regularly attended church next to her house while her family lived in the village of Tutshill. Her parents did not.
- She describes being a teenager as "a dreadful time of life.”
- When Rowling was fifteen, her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died ten years later, at age 45.
- Rowling’s father, Peter, was an engineer at the Rolls-Royce aircraft-engine plant in Bristol.
- JK and Peter have always had a strained relationship. He sold his Harry Potter first editions, including a copy of Goblet of Fire, "given to him on Father’s Day, 2000, and signed, 'Lots of love from your first born,' with a drawing of a hand reaching for a running gnome" for $48,000.
- Rowling's old English teacher, Steve Eddy, says “I suppose you could say she was a bit Hermione-like. I’d ask a question, and some hands would shoot up, and she was definitely one of the group.”
- She didn't make the cut at Oxford University, so studied French at Exeter instead.
- In 1986 she took a job with Amnesty International.
- In 1990 she received her inspiration to write HP; later that year, her mother died.
- In 1991 she became an English teacher in Portugal, where she met and married her first husband, Jorge Arantes, a journalist.
- In 1993 her daughter Jessica was born.
- In 2001 she married Neil Murray, her current husband and father of two. Neil is a general practitioner in a drug-addiction clinic, and his work inspired parts of CasVac.
- Rowling took a stressful train tour around the U.K. to promote Goblet of Fire. After this, she hired a public relations team and "became a little sequestered."
- During the height of her fame Rowling dealt with "ten or fifteen paparazzi outside her home," who heckled and occasionally spat on her to provoke a response. Her phone was hacked. When her daughter Jessica was five, she once came home from school with a note in her schoolbag placed there by a reporter.
- In a 2003 interview with the London Times JK stipulated "precisely when the interview would occur and who would be the interviewer and photographer; how and where it would be advertised and promoted in the paper and on radio" and demanded "full approval of captions, headlines, straplines, line drawings, graphics, headings, advance trails, quotes and photographs."
- Rowling recently bought and demolished a $1.6-million next door in order to expand the grounds of her Edinburgh estate.
- Dumbledore is gay, and Dudley Dursley eventually has two children.
It's on the Internet, so IT MUST BE TRUE!!!
Do you feel like you know the artist formerly known as Joanne Rowling a little better now?