On the eve of Casual Vacancy’s release (it’s still sealed and padlocked, in the back of the store), I’ve been considering it as a book quite a lot.
The plot: small town politics, murder, and the secrets and conflicts that lurk behind the doors of the most picture-perfect families. Essentially, the English novel.
It’s such a departure from Harry Potter that I can’t really imagine it, possibly because I keep trying to superimpose H.P. style writing into a different book. I’m not sure I’m going to like it, and we’ll see what the reactions from the legions of rabid Harry Potter fans have to say about the departure.
I will say, though, that I was really impressed by an interview with her that I read in Jezebel, in regards to making the leap to a different genre with a different audience:
And it’s [the business] a real bore. Should I be more diplomatic? Oh, I don’t care. No, there is literally nothing on the business side that I wouldn’t sacrifice in a heartbeat to have an extra couple of hours’ writing. Nothing. That sounds hideously ungrateful because it’s made me an awful lot of money, and I’m very grateful for that. But it’s not something that interests me, and there have been lots of opportunities to do things that make more money, and I’ve said no.
She also explained that one of her biggest fears was that her post-Potter book would get picked up by a publisher immediately, on the strength of previous success:
Absolutely, that was my worst nightmare. The moment I said I’d finished a book, I knew what would happen. There would be a bidding war, and I would end up with someone who’d got the fattest wallet, who had bought it because I’d written Harry Potter. That would have been why.
In a sense, Rowling said, writing such a different book — which she considered publishing under a pseudonym — without anyone to impress but herself was a bold way to go about moving on from her work on the Potter series:
But in some ways I think it’s braver to do it like this. And, to an extent, you know what? The worst that can happen is that everyone says, ‘Well, that was dreadful, she should have stuck to writing for kids’ and I can take that. So, yeah, I’ll put it out there, and if everyone says, ‘Well, that’s shockingly bad – back to wizards with you’, then obviously I won’t be throwing a party. But I will live. I will live.
Whatever I think of the new book, the lady’s got guts, and I admire that.