J.K. Rowling has announced her first children’s novel since the Harry Potter series, and she’ll be initially publishing it online for free.
On her website, Rowling says that she started writing the new novel, The Ickabog, while writing the Harry Potter series, but shelved it after deciding she wanted to take a break from publishing for kids. Her draft came out of the attic a last month when she had an idea:
“A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).”
Chapters will be published online for free consumption over the next seven weeks with the first two chapters already available at TheIckabog.com. The book will be published in physical and eBook formats this November.
“The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling says. “To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”
Rowling adds that all author royalties from The Ickabog will be going to groups who’ve been impacted by COVID-19.
In 2018, Rowling had teased that she’d be writing a children’s book after she finished working on Fantastic Beasts 3. It’s not clear if The Ickabog is the book she was talking about.