Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Rowling lives on with new book, website launch

By Emily Merlino

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Acclaimed “Harry Potter” series author J.K. Rowling is lending her magic to a new genre.

“The Casual Vacancy,” Rowling’s first novel for adults, has no centaurs or wizards, but publisher Little, Brown and Company still has high hopes for Rowling’s first foray post-Hogwarts.

“Vacancy,” which will be available worldwide on September 27th of this year, will be a darkly comic “tale of rivalry and duplicity,” according to Little, Brown and Company. The novel is set in a small English town called Pagford where, despite its pastoral façade, menace and mystery lurk.

The novel opens with the sudden death of a popular man on the local parish council. The battle for his seat on the council sets off “the biggest war the town has yet seen,” according to jkrowling.com.

“Vacancy” will be published as a hardcover and as an e-book.

The 12th richest woman in Great Britain – according to the Sunday Times “Rich List” in 2008 – has been keeping busy after Harry’s defeat of Voldemort. Rowling recently unveiled Pottermore, a website that will serve as a permanent online home for the wizarding world of all things Harry Potter. The site began registration for the limited beta release in July of 2011 and opened for all on April 14, 2012.

Pottermore features many of Rowling’s notes, several pages of text that were not included in the novels and a service that will sell e-book and audiobook versions of the “Harry Potter” books. So far, the interactive experience is only available for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” but the other books will become available in time.

Obviously, fame and fortune has been a quite literal reward for Rowling’s imagination, but not too many casual fans know more intimate information about the writer, for example, Rowling’s preferred political party or private interests. For example, despite allegations that Rowling’s novels support witchcraft and evil, Rowling is in fact a member of the Church of Scotland and has been for years.

Rowling is obviously known for her astronomically successful “Harry Potter” series, but the English-born writer also deserves recognition for her philanthropy efforts. Rowling champions various causes, most notably anti-poverty, multiple sclerosis and reading charities and programs. Rowling, once a single parent living on welfare in Edinburgh, is the president of Gingerbread, an organization devoted to supporting one-parent households.

Because of her personal experiences with poverty, Rowling is a supporter of Britain’s Labour Party and disagrees with Britain’s Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron, over his fiscal policies.

A collective bittersweet sigh was let out all over America this past July as Harry’s journey drew to a close. For many, an all-important chapter had just closed on a life where preordering the new “Harry Potter” book a year in advance was an adrenaline-filled rush of emotion and frantically torn packaging.

Although another “Harry Potter” book will never be anxiously anticipated again, the magic isn’t setting anytime soon on Rowling’s illustrious career.

Emily Merlino can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @EmilyMerlino.

 

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