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During a live-streamed reading to promote her heavily- anticipated new novel The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling’s earlier Harry Potter series still managed to cast a significant shadow over the event.
Still, a light-hearted Rowling joked often about her famous boy Wizard and the inevitable comparisons to her new book.
She quickly drew a line between the teenage characters in her new book and the iconic Harry Potter trio, during today’s sold-out event at London’s Southbank Centre. The moderated question-and-answer session was also live streamed over YouTube.
“This isn’t Harry, Ron and Hermione. They are different teenagers,” Rowling says about the characters in The Casual Vacancy, emphasizing that they are more “contemporary.”
As for the rhyming between some of the characters’ names in The Casual Vacancy with those in Harry Potter, namely Barry Fairbrother (a major character in her new book) and Harry himself, Rowling stresses that it was unintentional.
Rowling said that given the large number of characters she created in Harry Potter, it would be very difficult for her to avoid these coincidences.
But Rowling does admit to exploring similar themes in The Casual Vacancy as in the Harry Potter books, in spite of their different audiences. She notes that death figures prominently in The Casual Vacancy, drawing from her long-time obsession over the issue of mortality. Unlike in Harry Potter though, there are some deaths that “[readers] won’t care much about,” Rowling joked.
Religion is a major part of The Casual Vacancy as well. Rowling quipped that her previous run-ins with religious fundamentalists over her Harry Potter books have prepared her for any potential backlash.
While she confessed to having some personal struggles with faith and religion, Rowling revealed that some religious themes, like the idea of self-sacrifice, have influenced her past works.
The talk also touched upon the inclusion of Voldemort during the pening ceremony for the recent London Olympics. Rowling said she got chills when she saw the villain blown up because it was an idea she had in the past.
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