JK Rowling: 'Releasing my new children's book gave me a sense of purpose during lockdown'

JK Rowling said releasing her new children’s book The Ickabog gave her a "sense of purpose" during lockdown as she worried about the impact of coronavirus on families.

The Harry Potter author told BBC Radio 2 she was inspired to release the children's book as she thought "how difficult it was going to be for families with children".

She said: "It did give me a particular sense of purpose thinking, 'This can help, this can do something', because I'm married to a doctor, which makes you feel very inadequate when there's a pandemic going on.

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"Watching people in my family who are key workers go out there and face it all, simultaneously I was so proud of everyone but I was feeling anxious for them."

JK Rowling, and Caitlyn, from Portobello, whose drawing was chosen to feature in Ickabog
JK Rowling, and Caitlyn, from Portobello, whose drawing was chosen to feature in Ickabog

Rowling said she was very aware of the challenges that some families were facing with Covid-19 lockdown restricting day-to-day life, particularly those with young children.

"I just know how difficult it was going to be for families with young children and particularly people who didn't have gardens,” she added.

"It is really intense, looking after small children, if they can't have play dates.

"I was just thinking, 'This is going to be so tough for people', and that's when I thought I could do something."

She added: "It gave me something under lockdown that I could never have had otherwise, it was so inspiring."

Ickabog is the first foray into children’s storytelling since JK Rowling published Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007.

The author confirmed the book is not a “spin-off” from Harry Potter, and it cover the themes of “truth and the abuse of power”.

It was written by Rowling a decade ago as a gift to her children, but with the enthusiastic backing from her children, she has decided to release it for free to children as a distraction from Covid-19.

All author royalties will help groups who’ve been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

Every installation of the story can be read at theickabog.com

In line with The Ickabog’s release, the author ran an illustration competition for children during lockdown.

Eight-year-old Caitlyn Mote has had her drawing hand-picked by Harry Potter author JK Rowling to feature in her latest novel.

Released chapter by chapter during the lockdown Caitlyn said she was ‘excited’ to win the competition as all her ‘hard work’ has paid off.

Caitlyn drew a colourful picture of character Captain Goodfellow captured in chains in the depths of a dungeon for her entry.

The delighted schoolgirl said: “I can’t wait to see my picture of Captain Goodfellow in the book and I’m so glad that the judges liked it.

“I chose to draw Captain Goodfellow in chains, I added a little mouse in the corner and I think this is one of the reasons my drawing was chosen as a winner.”

JK Rowling has said that the “most exciting” part of publishing The Ickabog has been: “seeing all the wonderful illustrations coming in.”

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