J.K. Rowling has written a new book about a character being persecuted for transphobic views.
The announcement of the book comes after previous comments from the Harry Potter author, in which she mocked an article with the phrase “people who menstruate” in its headline and published a 3,000-word essay titled JK Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking Out on Sex and Gender Issues, resulted in a significant backlash from the trans community and beyond.
Among those to criticise Rowling were Harry Potter stars Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. “Trans women are women,” Grint wrote. “Trans men are men.”
Rowling’s new book, published under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is titled The Ink Black Heart. Coming as part of her crime thriller series Cormoran Strike, it follows a character who has a public downfall following statements that were received as transphobic.
According to Rolling Stone, the synopsis of the book is as follows: “Rowling introduces readers to Edie Ledwell, a creator of a popular YouTube cartoon who sees internet trolls and her own fandom turn on her after the cartoon was criticised as being racist and ableist, as well as transphobic for a bit about a hermaphrodite worm.
The creator is doxxed with photos of her home plastered on the internet, subjected to death and rape threats for having an opinion, and was ultimately found stabbed to death in a cemetery. The book takes a clear aim at “social justice warriors” and suggests that Ledwell was a victim of a masterfully plotted, politically fuelled hate campaign against her.”
Despite the clear comparisons to her own recent experience, Rowling told Graham Norton in a new interview that most of the book was written before these events, and that it is a coincidence that it tracks so closely with her experience.
“I should make it really clear after some of the things that have happened the last year that this is not depicting [that],” she told Norton on his Virgin Radio UK show.
“I had written the book before certain things happened to me online. I said to my husband, ‘I think everyone is going to see this as a response to what happened to me,’ but it genuinely wasn’t. The first draft of the book was finished at the point certain things happened.”
Elsewhere, Rowling has revealed that she “didn’t want to” appear in Harry Potter 20th anniversary reunion special Return To Hogwarts, and wasn’t blocked from taking part.
Return To Hogwarts saw Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) reunite with other cast members to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first film in the series based on Rowling’s books, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.
Upon the show’s airing in January, many critics noted the absence of Rowling, who only appears in archive video clips. There was then speculation that the writer was shut out of the programme after her previous comments about the trans community.
In the same interview with Norton, Rowling revealed that she was in fact asked to take part in the show, but decided not to.
She said: “I was asked to be on that and I decided I didn’t want to do it,. I thought it was about the films more than the book, quite rightly, that was what the anniversary was about.”
Rowling added: “No one said don’t [do it]… I was asked to do it and I decided not to.”