The creator behind one of fantasy's biggest literary and cinematic creations is bringing a new fantastic beast to life. J.K. Rowling, the author behind the inescapable Harry Potter franchise, announced today that she's written a fairy tale, called The Ickabog, and that it will all be released for free in the coming weeks. This is the first return to non-adult fiction for Rowling since the series' completion and the first non-Wizarding World work of that kind.
Writing on her website, Rowling explains that she "wrote most of a first draft in fits and starts between Potter books, intending to publish [The Ickabog] after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Then she took a break, then she published her adult-oriented crime novels. Now — thanks in part to the isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic — it's finally time for the fairy tale to reach the general public.
"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," Rowling wrote. "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."
The book, aimed to be read to children (though any ages 7-9 could read it themselves), is "about truth and the abuse of power" and isn't meant to be timely or topical — especially considering Rowling thought up the idea "well over a decade ago." These readers will be able (and encouraged) to submit illustrations for the story, which may be featured when the story is published in print, eBook, and audio formats this November. Rowling has also pledged her author royalties to groups "particularly impacted" by COVID-19.
The Ickabog will be published a chapter "(or two, or three)" at a time on its own website, every weekday starting today, May 26, and July 10.