JK Rowling, author of the insanely popular Harry Potter books, is for the first time ever releasing a novel not written for kids–without witches and wizards as main characters–and it hits book shelves today. “The Casual Vacancy” is a book about a small town called Pagford that reveals a town at war when an empty seat on the town council becomes available and is the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet to see.
Here are the top 10 facts you need to know about Rowling’s new adult novel.
1. The Causal Vacancy is About a Town at War
Here’s the synopsis taken from Amazon.com:
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
2. This is Not a Book for Children
Unlike Harry Potter, “The Casual Vacancy” is not a book meant for the eyes of children. For instance, a female character is introduced as her “leathery skin of her upper cleavage radiated little cracks that no longer vanished when decompressed.” Another scene describes a condom “glistening in the grass beside her feet, like the gossamer cocoon of some huge grub.” Not quite like the Bertie Botts and Chocolate Frogs at Hogwarts.
3. It’s a Book About Politics, Class, Sex, and Violence
The story is very political and themes of social class, drugs, and teen sexuality are present. Main characters include a pompous chairman, a prostitute, a heroine addict, and bratty teenagers (No, not Ron and Hermione).
4. Rowling Pulls Inspiration From Her Own Life in ‘The Casual Vacancy’
Life as a single mother in the nineties, pre-Harry, serves as the inspiration for many of the struggles that the characters go through, especially class issues.
5. It’s Going to be Hard to Follow ‘Harry Potter’
Let’s face it, Harry Potter was an insane success for the author, being that she is the first person ever to make a million dollars off of a book. The pressure is going to be on for JK Rowling as fans scramble to read her first book of a different genre that she is used to writing in. I’m just saying it’s going to be a tough act to follow.
6. Rowling was Ready for a Change After Years of Fantasy
“I had a lot of real-world material in me, believe me,” she told the New Yorker magazine. “The thing about fantasy – there are certain things you just don’t do. You don’t have sex near unicorns. It’s an ironclad rule. It’s tacky.” However, she insisted her decision to write for adults was “not that I just wanted to write about… sex.”
7. JK Rowling is Richer Than the Queen
In 2003, her £280m fortune made her the 122nd richest person in England, 11 places higher than the Queen.
8. Had She Written This Book First, There’s No Way it Would Have Made Her as Rich
Some reviewers are already labeling “The Casual Vacancy” as a bit dull. Compared to the magical world of witchcraft and wizardry, the small town of Pagford is no competition. But Rowling is thankful that Harry Potter has given her the freedom to write about basically anything because it will sell no matter what.
9. She Thought of this Story While on a Plane
So everyone knows the story of how JK Rowling thought of Harry Potter while on a train written down on old napkins. “The Casual Vacancy,” while was kept to public transportation, was thought up on a plane.
“This time I was on a plane. And I thought: local election! And I just knew. I had that totally physical response you get to an idea that you know will work. It’s a rush of adrenaline, it’s chemical. I had it with Harry Potter and I had it with this. So that’s how I know.”
10. The Author Doesn’t Care How the Book Sells
It’s a good attitude to have considering the book might completely flop. But what does it really matter? Not many authors get the luxury of writing purely for the love of it, without worrying about money. One thing we know about Rowling is that she is a fantastic writer, so how bad could it possibly be?