J.K. Rowling is the author behind the beloved Harry Potter series. But fans have been clamoring for new content from her for years. Now Rowling will take a step in a new direction, by releasing a standalone fairytale called The Ickabog. The story will publish online periodically over the next month. Perfect for kids stuck at home languishing in boredom over summer break. Rowling says that she will donate author royalties from The Ickabog to organizations impacted by the global pandemic. The author swears that this story is not at all related to the Harry Potter universe. However she did come up with the idea while writing the Potter books so it is at least Harry Potter tangential. Let’s learn what The Ickabog is all about.
Author J.K. Rowling | Image via Wikimedia Commons
The Ickabog Is A Fairytale For Rowling’s Children
Rowling says that “The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power. 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.”
On her website Rowling talks about how she worked on this story during Harry Potter as a fairytale for her children. However, after the release of the last Potter book she wanted to move into adult fiction. This is something she did with with mixed success. She published The Casual Vacancy in 2012. She also published The Cuckoo’s Calling under a pseudonym (Robert Galbraith). Rowling put the pages of The Ickabog into the attic, and only recently decided to revisit them.
Rowling tells the story on her website. “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).”
A Preview Of The Text | Image via Author’s Twitter
Kids Get To Illustrate The Book Themselves
Rowling is also soliciting artwork from kids inspired by the story. According to her Twitter post she says: “I’d like children to illustrate the book for me! I’ll be suggesting ideas for pictures as we go, but nobody should feel constrained by my ideas. Let your imaginations run wild!” Rowling herself will not be judging the artwork (that will be up to her publishers). But the ‘best pictures’ will be published in the print and ebook editions of the books due out in November 2020.
Chapters of The Ickabog will be published online every weekday between May 26 and July 10, 2020. Keep an eye on Rowling’s Twitter, or her website for updates on when the chapters of this new story will be published.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.