Bath Literature Festival: JK Rowling on the freedom of Potter to bed, a new book for children... and her first snog

 

Harry Potter fans still clinging to the hope that JK Rowling may return to Hogwarts to write a prequel should take heed: it's not likely to happen.

Rowling, speaking at the Independent Bath Literature Festival last night, said she was not planning to return to the story of the "Marauders" – who attended her fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft before Harry Potter – because she didn't think much of prequels. "I'm never going to say never but I have no current plans. I think prequels are not generally very successful," she said.

For a bestselling novelist who is famous for guarding her privacy, Rowling was in remarkably open mood as she faced her ebullient audience of 1,600 fans. Walking out to the stage in beige trousers and a stripy top, she was greeted by uproarious cheering for the first few minutes of her appearance.

She talked about her first sexual experience (a "French kiss at a youth club disco" with a boy much older than her 12-year-old self), her writing habits ("I'm really good at writing in the front passenger seat with the three children and the dog in the back"), and the phenomenal reception of the Harry Potter series which she likened to "Beatlemania". Her own adolescence partly inspired the teenage characters in her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, she added, as well as her former job as a teacher.

James Runcie, the artistic director of the festival, asked her about the adult content of her latest book which encompasses gritty themes of heroin addiction, prostitution, drug dealing, online porn, self-harm and the rape of a teenage girl.

"I have never ever sat down and thought... 'now is the moment to write a book with a penis or with swearing in it'. This was a book I was burning to write… I draw on my own adolescence... and on my experience of adolescents as a teacher... I see adolescence as very fragile. When I watch my two young children, who are eight and 10, they will watch shows on Nickelodeon where teenagers are wholly false."

The Casual Vacancy is being adapted by the BBC for television.

Rowling referred to the children's book she was writing but refused to reveal much more other than that it might be for a younger age group than the Potter series: "It will be shorter. I'm very bad at estimating what sort of age group will like this... I think it might be for slightly younger children."

Rowling said she felt "utterly liberated" when she finished writing the last in the Potter series, although there was a sense of bereavement too. "From about 2000, I knew there would never be any topping Harry Potter. My publishers had got this train for the book launch which consisted of me leaving Kings Cross. I looked out at all the people screaming. It was like Beatlemania. I remember thinking 'you will never top this'. [Now], I can say 'oh, I will never top it' or I can see how lucky I am… I truly feel completely free."

Speaking of her life as a writer, she admitted to moments of self-loathing at the beginning of her career, when she would put away the Harry Potter stories for two months at a time. Now, juggling novel writing with three children and a husband, she said she craved the enforced solitude that the job requires. "One of my children said 'if it was us or the books?'. I said 'you, but I would be really grumpy'."

Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices