- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Rowling launches novel to fanfare, mixed reviews
LONDON (AP) - After months of hype and anticipation, J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults has appeared, swept into the arms of hopeful booksellers and an army of grown-up Harry Potter fans eager to find out what his creator has done next.
A gritty and darkly humorous tale of ugly realities in a pretty English village, “The Casual Vacancy” seems a long way from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and reviewers gave it a mixed reception. But Rowling said Thursday she wasn’t worried about the response.
“I’ve had my books burnt,” said the author, whose magical stories were condemned as Satanist by some Christian groups. “I’ve got quite a way to go to upset people that much with `A Casual Vacancy.’”
A story of ambition, envy and rivalry, the novel recounts the civic warfare sparked in the fictional Pagford when the unexpected death of a town official leaves a vacancy on the governing body. Characters set on a collision course range from the affluent lawyer Miles Mollison to the Weedons, a ramshackle clan living in The Fields, the run-down housing project on the edge of town.
Rowling told a 1,000-strong audience at London’s Southbank Centre that the idea for the book _ “Local election sabotaged by teenagers, basically” _ came to her on a plane several years ago.
Writing for a more adult readership, she said, had been “freeing” _ though “in other senses it’s a challenging book,” told from multiple viewpoints.
Rowling said the book’s focus on teenagers, the heart of Pagford and of the novel, was not a million miles from her previous work _ although these troubled and profane youngsters are “not Harry, Ron and Hermione.”
“They are very different teenagers,” Rowling said. “They are contemporary teenagers.”
The book’s sex and swearing have drawn the most comment so far _ some audience members were startled to hear the F-word pass Rowling’s lips during Thursday’s reading. But the presence of death is perhaps the book’s most adult element, and one that loomed over Harry Potter’s world, too.
“Death obsesses me,” Rowling said. “I can’t understand why it doesn’t obsess everyone. Think it does. I’m just a little more `out.’”
Five years after the last Potter book appeared, Rowling remains the world’s most successful living writer. The lines were shorter and the wizard costumes missing, but “The Casual Vacancy” appeared to some of the same fanfare that greeted each Potter tome, with stores wheeling out crates of the books precisely at 8 a.m. as part of a finely honed marketing strategy.
And Rowling retains the intense loyalty of Potter fans. In contrast to the tight security that preceded the book’s release, the atmosphere at Thursday’ reading was warm; it felt like a reunion. Several audience members asked Potter-related questions, which Rowling answered at length. One young man, wearing a “Rowling is our Queen” T-shirt, asked if her could give her a present. Rowling accepted it graciously.
Many in the crowd were young adults who had grown up on Harry Potter and we keen to follow her wherever she wanted to go.
“She’s been such an inspiration to everyone,” said 18-year-old university student Milly Anderson. “She’s not just influenced people’s childhoods _ she’s molded them.”
Anderson said she was loving “The Casual Vacancy” _ once she’d got over the change from stories of the boy wizard and his Hogwarts chums.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- CPAC 2014: Rand Paul urges conservatives to fight for liberty
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- EDITORIAL: Connecticut revolts against gun controls that could criminalize 300,000
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Protests in Russia against Putin's actions in Ukraine a shift in attitudes
- Russian lawmaker wants to outlaw U.S. dollar, calls it a Ponzi scheme
- Aronofsky's 'Noah' banned in Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again