But Rowling isn't relying on magic as the release date for her adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, draws near. She believes her reputation for creating great characters and compelling stories will trump any spell that Harry or his mentor, the all-powerful Professor Dumbledore, could ever conjure.
In her only U.S. newspaper interview before Thursday's publication of The Casual Vacancy (Little, Brown, $35), Rowling, in a sit-down interview in the Scottish capital where she lives, shares with USA TODAY why she wrote the novel that takes her career in a new direction, and the excitement she feels in the run-up to its release, five years after the final Potter book was published.
"Of course this might change tomorrow, but I thought I would feel more nervous because it's been five years -- and this is a very different kind of book -- but actually I feel quite excited," says Rowling, who appears relaxed and self-assured during the interview this month in unmarked business offices she keeps in one of this city's ubiquitous Georgian-era townhouses.
"I don't think everyone will like the book," she says. "But I'm proud of this book. I like this book. It is what it's meant to be. As an author, you really can't say more than that. I don't mean this arrogantly, but if people don't like it, well, that's how it should be, isn't it? That's art. It's all subjective. And I can live with that."
In a wide-ranging interview in which she talked about her writing, her family, her participation in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics and her testimony last fall in the British inquiry into the press phone-hacking scandal, Rowling, 47, offers an intimate look into her life as one of the world's most beloved writers, one whose books have sold 450 million copies around the world (there are no numbers available on e-book sales). Her vivid imaginings of the life and adventures of a boy wizard, published from 1997 to 2007, have spawned amusement parks, toys, video games, blockbuster movies and Pottermore, her fan site for everything Harry Potter.
And because Pottermania is deeply rooted in our pop culture landscape, Rowling says she understands and accepts that many readers would rather she just keep writing about the boy wizard.
"Yes, I understand that point of view. If you love something -- and there are things that I love -- you do want more and more and more of it, but that's not the way to produce good work. So as an author I need to write what I need to write. And I needed to write this book."
Read the full report on USA Today.
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